Ghost in the Shell has been my favorite anime for a very long time. It was my introduction to the world of “real” anime and it has had an influence on my writing and conceptualization for when I start thinking about film making. The depth of the world you fall into when you start watching any iteration of GitS is peeled away layaer after layer and it keeps you intrigued because you always want to see whats next. There is so much in every story that you almost have to see it more than once to really understand the complexity of the story. It delves into ethics and psychology and philosophy in a way storrytellers typically won’t.
The new Ghost in the Shell movie is no exception. While the dialogue isn’t puctuated with complex monologues the way the animes are, there is still the overlying concept of ethics and corporate corruption. Scarlett Johansson portrays the Major in a way I honsetly don’t believe anyone else ever could. The story is an origins story and it borrows from Arise, the Original Movie, and season 2 of Stand Alone Complex. The elements and select scenes are remodeled to fit the story but not in a way that they are unrecognizable. The opening sequence is familiar from the the original movie, but they tweeked it with elements from season 1 episode 1 of Stand Alone Complex. The boat schene from the original movie is in there, again tweeked to fit the story. Most important is the end scene where The Major finds herself up against a tank. It plays out wonderfully in the visually compelling way the anime portrayed it. It was absolutely wonderful.
What I found lacking was the development of the other characters. Aramki and Batou are there for a lot of the movie, but we don’t really get the feel of how important they are. We see a very small bit of Togusa, just enough screen time that we see him briefly weilding a Chiappa Rhino as a stand in for the Mateba he carried in all of the animes. Saito doesn’t show up until the very end, and Ishkawa, Borma, and Pazu are practically nonexistant. The writers clearly wanted The Major to be the focus of the story, but i feel as if the lack of character development with everyone else kind of robbed the movie of a little bit of its essence. The animes really do a good job of making it clear that every member of section 9 is vital to its operation and I think this movie fell short in that respect.
Even with the lack of team element, it was visually beautiful and well made. It is definitely worth going to see if you like sci fi or are a fan of the original stories. I liked it quite a bit and look forward to getting it on blu-ray to see what gems are hidden in the extras.