I got into anime in roughly 2001. Things like Tenchi Muyo and whatnot. In my quest to explore more anime, I joined various forums and heard tons and tons of praise for an anime movie called Ghost in the Shell. I watched it and was shocked at how graphic it was in terms of sexual content and violence. I wasn’t into paying attention to artists or directors at that time, just the name. So Ghost in the Shell, to be abbreviated GitS for the rest of this review, became something that I wanted nothing to do with. By 2004 I was more aware of things like artists, creators, directors, etc, etc. I became a huge fan of the Appleseed movies and realized that Shiro Masumi was the creator of them. That was when I realized that he was also the creator of GitS. So I figured I’d check out the source material for GitS and read the manga. That was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in regards to my anime/manga time. Halfway through the manga was a large section that was in color and it was a pornographic orgy between the Major and her lovers. I’ve never read another manga by Masumi again and it cooled my interest even in Appleseed.
When I met Miss Librarian, later to become Mrs Bookstooge, we both had an interest in anime and manga. She started talking about this tv show, GitS: Standalone Complex (abr GitS:SaC). I was shocked that this lovely christian woman was watching something like that, as I figured it was at the same level as the original movie or manga. Thankfully, she informed me otherwise and we ended up watching it together after we got married and it became one of my favorite animes. GitS:SaC 2nd Gig was just as fun for me. GitS: Arise (a reboot/retelling of the origins of Section 9) was even better but had such a limited dvd run that I was never able to afford them.
Edited to Add: It appears that Amazon has the Arise franchise on bluray for pretty cheap. I now know what I’m getting myself for Christmas
So the long and the short of it is that I have a very mixed set of feelings about GitS. I love the ideas, what it means to be human in a world where robotics and humanity are almost interchangable. I just didn’t like the graphicness of the movies.
Ok, now on to the review for this live action 2017 movie.
First, I probably wouldn’t have given this the time of day, given my history with the movie side of GitS, except for all the ballyhoo by “social justice warriors” decrying the complete rascism and whitewashing of everything in Hollywood. I think Hollywood is already a pit of iniquity, so to hear people like the SJW’s suddenly getting up in arms about it just made me roll my eyes. It also kicked in my perversity gene so now I wanted to watch this. Yep, kind of the opposite side of the “it’s popular so I must hate it” coin.
This was the origin story of Major Kusanagi. I enjoyed my time watching this. There is a lot of angst about just what Major is, as she can’t remember things very well before her inception into the new robotic body.
Plotwise, I was afraid they were going to just copy a version of GitS:SaC and have the Laughing Man storyline. Thankfully they didn’t and had their own little cyber-hacker monster storyline. It did a good job of introducing us to the world of tomorrow. I did feel that Section 9, which deals with cyber-terrorism, wasn’t explained so well. I had no problems with it but I’ve also got some GitS experience to fill in the blanks.
I really liked that the head of Section 9, Aramaki, spoke in japanese. I’ve seen the guy in other japanese movies and enjoyed his performance. Aramaki was always in the background and that was kept the same here, as it should be. The guy they chose to play Batou was spot on and I enjoyed how he got his distinctive set of eyes. I thought Johansson did a good job of playing Major and that the studio made the right choice in employing a big name actress in the lead role. They wanted to draw in more than just die-hard GitS fans and Johansson’s presence would definitely do that. With the Major being a construct, they can also easily replace her with other actresses in future movies and have it be explained by her changing shells. Bodies for the Major are like clothes, easy to change.
Overall, I enjoyed this more than Doctor Strange. Not a movie I’d want to own or even rewatch to be honest but if they make more and turn it into a franchise, kind of like the Resident Evil franchise, I’ll definitely tune in. If you liked this movie, then I’d definitely recommend watching the 2 GitS:SaC tv series.