Explained This

– Entertainment Analysis and Reviews

Ghost in the Shell: Exploring the Legacy of a Seminal Anime Classic

Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell is a seminal anime movie released in 1995, directed by Mamoru Oshii and based on the manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. The movie is widely regarded as a landmark work in the anime and sci-fi genres, and has had a significant influence on subsequent works in those fields. The movie’s story takes place in a futuristic society where cybernetic technology has become ubiquitous, and follows a cyborg policewoman named Major Motoko Kusanagi as she investigates a hacker known as the Puppet Master. Along the way, the movie explores themes related to identity, consciousness, and societal structures, and features a blend of action, philosophy, and introspection. Despite its initial mixed reception, Ghost in the Shell has gone on to become a cult classic, and its influence can be seen in a wide range of anime, sci-fi, and cyberpunk works.

Plot summary

Ghost in the shell characters, production history and reception, legacy and influence, visual and audio elements, legacy and impact, ghost in the shell 1995 explanation.

The plot of Ghost in the Shell revolves around a police investigation into a hacker known as the Puppet Master, who has the ability to hack into human brains and manipulate memories. The protagonist of the movie is Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg policewoman who works for the Section 9 division of the police force. Along with her team, which includes the hacker and former soldier Batou, Kusanagi attempts to track down the Puppet Master and uncover its true identity and motives.

The movie is notable for its complex and philosophical exploration of themes related to technology, identity, and consciousness. Throughout the story, Kusanagi grapples with the question of what it means to be human, given that she herself is a cyborg with a mostly artificial body and brain. Meanwhile, the Puppet Master challenges traditional notions of selfhood and agency, leading Kusanagi to question her own motivations and allegiances.

Overall, Ghost in the Shell is a thought-provoking and visually stunning movie that blends action, philosophy, and science fiction. Its themes and ideas continue to resonate with audiences today, and the movie remains a touchstone for fans of anime and sci-fi.

Some key elements of the plot and themes of Ghost in the Shell include:

  • A future society where cybernetic technology has become ubiquitous, leading to questions about the nature of humanity and the relationship between technology and the self
  • The character of Major Motoko Kusanagi, who grapples with questions about identity, consciousness, and the nature of the self as a cyborg with a mostly artificial body and brain
  • The hacker known as the Puppet Master, who challenges traditional notions of selfhood and agency and raises questions about the nature of consciousness and free will
  • The relationship between technology, memory, and identity, as characters’ memories are manipulated and controlled by advanced computer systems

ghost in the shell anime

  • Major Motoko Kusanagi – A cyborg who works for the government agency Section 9. Major is a strong-willed and determined character who is skilled in combat and hacking. Her primary motivation is to complete her assigned missions and protect society from cybercrimes, but she also grapples with questions about her own identity and place in the world.
  • Batou – A fellow cyborg who works alongside Major in Section 9. Batou is a loyal and dependable character who is often used for his strength and combat skills. He is protective of his teammates and shares a close bond with Major.
  • Togusa – The only human member of Section 9. Togusa is a detective who brings a unique perspective to the team. He is highly analytical and often serves as the voice of reason, questioning the morality of some of Section 9’s actions.

ghost in the shell characters

Each of these characters plays a critical role in the movie’s story and themes, and they are all depicted with a level of depth and nuance that is rare in anime.

Ghost in the Shell was directed by Mamoru Oshii and produced by Production I.G, with a screenplay by Kazunori Itō. The movie was based on the manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow, which was first published in 1989. Oshii’s adaptation was a departure from the source material in some ways, emphasizing philosophical and political themes rather than action and violence.

When Ghost in the Shell was first released in 1995, it received mixed reviews from critics and audiences. Some praised its striking visuals and thought-provoking ideas, while others found it confusing or overly slow-paced. However, over time the movie has become a cult classic and a major influence on the anime and sci-fi genres.

One reason for the movie’s enduring popularity is its innovative animation style, which blends traditional 2D animation with computer-generated imagery (CGI) and digital effects. The movie’s use of shadow and lighting also creates a distinctive mood and atmosphere that contributes to its overall impact.

Ghost in the Shell has also been praised for its exploration of philosophical and sociopolitical themes related to technology, identity, and society. The movie raises questions about the nature of the self, the ethics of technology, and the impact of corporate power on individual freedoms. These themes continue to resonate with audiences today and have influenced subsequent anime and sci-fi works.

Ghost in the Shell has had a major impact on the anime, sci-fi, and cyberpunk genres since its release in 1995. Here are some ways in which the movie has influenced subsequent works:

  • Style and animation: Ghost in the Shell’s innovative animation style, which blends traditional 2D animation with CGI and digital effects, has been imitated and expanded upon in numerous anime and sci-fi works. The movie’s use of lighting and shadow to create atmosphere and mood has also been widely praised and emulated.
  • Philosophy and themes: Ghost in the Shell’s exploration of complex themes related to technology, identity, and consciousness has inspired many subsequent works in the anime and sci-fi genres. The movie’s use of philosophy and introspection to explore these themes has set a high bar for intellectual depth and complexity in storytelling.
  • Action and violence: Although Ghost in the Shell is known more for its philosophical and thematic elements, the movie also contains striking action sequences that have influenced subsequent works. The movie’s blend of action, philosophy, and introspection has become a hallmark of the cyberpunk and anime genres.
  • Characters and world-building: The characters and world of Ghost in the Shell have become iconic in the anime and sci-fi communities. Major Motoko Kusanagi is a beloved and influential protagonist, and the world of the movie has inspired many subsequent works set in futuristic, cybernetic societies.

ghost in the shell plot explanation

Ghost in the Shell is known for its distinctive animation style, character designs, and visual effects. The movie’s use of a hybrid animation style that blends traditional 2D animation with CGI and digital effects was innovative for its time, and it still stands out today as a visually striking and ambitious work.

The character designs in Ghost in the Shell are also notable for their realism and detail. The movie’s protagonists, including Major Motoko Kusanagi, Batou, and Togusa, are all depicted with a level of physical and emotional nuance that is rare in anime. The movie’s use of lighting and shadow to create atmosphere and mood also contributes to its distinctive visual style.

In terms of audio, Ghost in the Shell features a haunting and memorable score by Kenji Kawai. The movie’s use of choral vocals and traditional Japanese instruments creates a sense of otherworldliness that complements its futuristic and philosophical themes. The movie’s sound design is also noteworthy, with a mix of ambient soundscapes and intense action sequences that create a sense of immersion and tension.

Compared to other anime movies and TV shows of its time, Ghost in the Shell is notable for its technical achievements and ambition. The movie’s blend of traditional and digital animation techniques set a new standard for animation in the late 1990s, and its use of complex themes and introspection marked a departure from the more straightforward action and adventure stories that dominated the genre. Today, Ghost in the Shell remains a benchmark for technical excellence and artistic ambition in anime and sci-fi storytelling.

Since its release in 1995, Ghost in the Shell has become a touchstone of the anime, sci-fi, and cyberpunk genres, and its influence can be seen in numerous works of popular culture. The movie’s themes of identity, consciousness, and technology continue to resonate with audiences, and its innovative animation style and visual effects have set a high bar for technical excellence in storytelling.

The Ghost in the Shell franchise has also spawned numerous adaptations and spinoffs, including anime series, manga, video games, and a live-action movie. While not all of these works have been well-received, they demonstrate the enduring popularity and appeal of the Ghost in the Shell universe. The franchise has also introduced a new generation of fans to the original movie and its complex themes, ensuring that the movie’s legacy will continue for years to come.

In the broader context of anime and sci-fi history, Ghost in the Shell stands out as a groundbreaking work that pushed the boundaries of what was possible in animation and storytelling. The movie’s blend of action, philosophy, and introspection marked a departure from the more straightforward adventure stories that dominated the anime genre in the 1990s, and its influence can be seen in subsequent works that explore complex themes related to technology and society.

Ghost in the Shell is a seminal anime movie that was released in 1995. The movie is set in a future world where technology has advanced to the point where humans and machines have begun to merge together. The story follows the adventures of Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg who works for a government agency called Section 9.

As Major Kusanagi investigates a series of cybercrimes that threaten the security of her world, she begins to question her own identity and place in society. The movie explores complex themes related to identity, consciousness, and the relationship between humans and technology, as Major Kusanagi grapples with the nature of her own existence and the morality of the work she is doing.

Ghost in the Shell is known for its distinctive animation style, character designs, and visual effects. The movie’s use of a hybrid animation style that blends traditional 2D animation with CGI and digital effects was innovative for its time, and it still stands out today as a visually striking and ambitious work. The movie’s protagonists, including Major Motoko Kusanagi, Batou, and Togusa, are all depicted with a level of physical and emotional nuance that is rare in anime.

ghost in the shell (1995)

In conclusion, Ghost in the Shell is a groundbreaking anime movie that has had a significant impact on both the anime and sci-fi genres. Its exploration of complex themes related to identity, consciousness, and the relationship between humans and technology has resonated with audiences for decades. The movie’s innovative animation style, character designs, and visual effects have set a high standard for technical excellence in storytelling, and its memorable score and sound design complement its futuristic and philosophical themes.

The movie’s continued influence can be seen in numerous works of popular culture, and the Ghost in the Shell franchise has spawned numerous adaptations and spinoffs that further explore the movie’s themes and concepts. Its legacy as a seminal work in the anime, sci-fi, and cyberpunk genres is secure, and it will continue to inspire and captivate audiences for years to come.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of anime and sci-fi or a newcomer to the genre, Ghost in the Shell is a must-see movie that offers a thought-provoking and visually stunning experience. Its themes and technical achievements make it a work of enduring significance, and its influence can be felt in numerous works of popular culture. Ghost in the Shell remains an important and influential work, and it will continue to be celebrated by fans and critics alike for its innovative storytelling and visionary worldbuilding.

William Jones

Hi, I’m William Jones, the administrator of the exciting website explainedthis.com, which offers movie, music, and book reviews. With a deep passion for entertainment, I created this platform to provide a trusted source of information for fellow enthusiasts who want to stay up-to-date on the latest releases and trends.

I take great pride in my team of reviewers to provide high quality content that is informative and entertaining. Each review is thoroughly researched and written to ensure readers have a complete understanding of the subject matter.

Explained This

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Attack on Titan Finale

  • Main content

How the original 'Ghost in the Shell' changed sci-fi and the way we think about the future

You probably didn't know about "Ghost in the Shell" until the Scarlett Johansson live-action adaptation, out Friday, came around. That movie has now been clouded by the controversy surrounding alleged "whitewashing" of what was originally a Japanese character — a necessary, though complicated , conversation about the story's origins and how Hollywood operates. But if nothing else, hopefully  the new movie sends people back to the bold, brilliant manga and anime franchise on which it's based.

"Ghost in the Shell" has had a cult following in the US since the 1995 release of the anime movie directed by Mamoru Oshii (and it's big business in Japan). But it has also quietly influenced many of the movies you watch, and how we think about the future of technology and humanity for decades. You've seen bits and pieces of it before.

The Wachowskis openly cited the anime movie as an inspiration for "The Matrix." James Cameron called "Ghost in the Shell" "a stunning work of speculative fiction," and the future of his "Avatar," in which humans remotely operate alien bodies, certainly bears a resemblance to the anime.

But the Wachowskis' movie looks closest to "Ghost in the Shell." The 1999 blockbuster even has the same holes in the backs of characters' necks to "plug in." The "digital rain" of green Matrix code contains reversed Japanese characters, a shoutout to its predecessor. 

The ideas that drove "The Matrix" are also ripped straight (lovingly so) from "Ghost in the Shell." Oshii and the creator of the "Ghost" manga (a type of Japanese comic) Masamune Shirow posed serious philosophical questions about a potential future when our human bodies have been intimately fused with technology — mechanically enhanced and able to plug into the internet straight from our minds.

In the '95 "Ghost in the Shell," Major Motoko Kusanagi is a brain inside a manufactured body, the "ghost" inside the "shell." Her robotic parts are owned by the government, and she does the bidding of an anti-cyberterrorism task force known as Section 9. She questions who she is, who she was, and what it even means to be human. If even your brain has been augmented by technology, are you still you? 

In one crucial scene, Major explains that she thinks about becoming someone else. She feels constrained by her cyborg self and dreams of something more. Meanwhile, a hacker known as the "Puppet Master" who was designed as a government tool has gone rogue and is hijacking people's brains, implanting false memories.

At the end of "Ghost in the Shell," in an unsettling twist that speaks to the deeper philosophical meaning of the movie, Major actually merges with her ostensible enemy, the Puppet Master, who is not chained to a body. The old Major does not exist, and neither does the Puppet Master, but rather they've created a new being, who's free to roam around what Major calls "the net," which is "vast and infinite."

You know what else is vast and infinitie? The Matrix, where human beings live out programmed lives while their physical bodies atrophy in pods. As in "Ghost in the Shell," their memories have been implanted. The question of what is "real" and what is virtual — and whether the difference even matters — is at the heart of both movies.

"Ghost and the Shell" and "The Matrix" became central to what was known as "cyberpunk" sci-fi in the 1990s. It's often remembered for its aesthetics — the dark trench coats, that mix of grimy urban sprawl with futuristic computer enhancement — but cyberpunk was also a movement that, at the end of the millennium, challenged people to think about how technology would fundamentally change what it means to be human. 

Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks bought the US movie rights to "Ghost in the Shell" nine years ago, and it's not hard to see why. Spielberg's 2001 movie "A.I." resembles "Ghost in the Shell" not only in its cyberpunk atmosphere, but also in its own wrenching philosophical conundrum: If you build a "robot who can love," is his love any different from a human's? Is his love "real"?

Of course, "Ghost in the Shell" hardly invented these questions. They've vexed people as long as technology itself. But  it did wrap up those themes in a cool-looking package that continues to hook filmmakers and cult-movie fans. The recent acclaimed indie hit  "Ex Machina" imagines the power (and possible destruction) of a robot who can think for herself — and dress up just as if she were a real woman. (Sound familiar?)

The new "Ghost in the Shell," while full of thrilling cyperpunk action and visual detail, sadly takes only small stabs at the deeper philosophy of the franchise. In the most provocative scene, Major hires a female prostitute simply so she can feel the woman's flesh-and-blood body, what it's like to be "fully human." When asked what she is, Major says, "I don't know." You can feel Scarlett Johansson doing everything to convey the character's anguished searching for herself, how she lives between cyborg and organic worlds. But by the end, the movie cops out with a corny and racially uncomfortable backstory reveal that, as one critic points out , is more "Bourne" than cyberpunk.

Johansson's "Ghost in the Shell" may not live up to its source material, but the "vast and infinite net" imagined by the groundbreaking anime movie is still out there, haunting our dreams of the future.

what does ghost in the shell mean

Watch: There's a formula to winning the Oscars, and it's all in the statistics

what does ghost in the shell mean

The Meaning Behind The Song: Ghost In The Shell by Chief Kelly

The song “Ghost In The Shell” by Chief Kelly is a powerful and thought-provoking piece that delves into the complexities of the human experience and the impact of technology on our lives. With its captivating lyrics and haunting melody, the song takes listeners on a journey through the depths of one’s consciousness, exploring themes of identity, connection, and the blurred lines between reality and the digital world.

Table of Contents

At its core, “Ghost In The Shell” explores the concept of a fragmented self, where individuals find themselves questioning their own existence and grappling with the duality of the physical and virtual realms. The lyrics paint a picture of a world where technology has become intertwined with human consciousness, blurring the boundaries between what is real and what is artificial. Chief Kelly’s evocative vocals and poetic lyrics beautifully capture the feeling of disconnect and the longing for a deeper sense of meaning in an increasingly digitized world.

The song serves as a profound commentary on the human condition, urging listeners to reflect on their own sense of self and the impact of technology on their lives. It prompts us to question the authenticity of our connections in an age of virtual communication and to consider the consequences of losing touch with our own humanity. “Ghost In The Shell” invites listeners to embark on a contemplative journey, provoking introspection and encouraging a deeper understanding of the complexities of our existence in the modern world.

Frequently Asked Questions About “Ghost In The Shell”

1. what inspired chief kelly to write “ghost in the shell”.

Chief Kelly drew inspiration from various sources, including the renowned anime film “Ghost In The Shell.” The film’s exploration of the relationship between humanity and technology deeply resonated with him, sparking the creation of this powerful song.

2. What is the significance of the title “Ghost In The Shell”?

The title “Ghost In The Shell” is a metaphorical reference to the idea of an intangible essence or consciousness existing within a physical form or shell. It reflects the deeper themes explored in the song, highlighting the struggle to find meaning and authenticity amidst the advancements of technology.

3. How does the song relate to the concept of identity?

“Ghost In The Shell” tackles the complexities of identity in the digital age. It raises questions about the impact of technology on our sense of self, inviting listeners to reflect on their own identity and the blurred boundaries between reality and the virtual world.

4. What emotions does the song evoke?

The song evokes a sense of introspection and contemplation, tapping into universal emotions of longing, disconnect, and the desire for deeper connections. It resonates with listeners on an emotional level, as it explores the complexities of the human experience in the face of technological advancement.

5. How does “Ghost In The Shell” address the themes of humanity and technology?

The song serves as a commentary on the interplay between humanity and technology. It prompts listeners to consider the consequences of our increasing reliance on technology, challenging us to find balance and maintain our sense of humanity in an increasingly digitized world.

6. Does the song offer any solutions or conclusions?

“Ghost In The Shell” does not explicitly provide solutions or conclusions; instead, it invites listeners to introspect and engage with the deeper questions it poses. It encourages a thoughtful exploration of the themes and ideas it presents, leaving room for personal interpretation and reflection.

7. How does Chief Kelly’s musical style enhance the song’s message?

Chief Kelly’s musical style, characterized by haunting melodies and emotive vocals, perfectly complements the introspective nature of the lyrics. The combination of his unique sound and poetic storytelling elevates the song’s message, creating an impactful and immersive listening experience.

8. What sets “Ghost In The Shell” apart from other songs in the genre?

“Ghost In The Shell” stands out due to its profound lyrical content and the depth of its meaning. Rather than relying on superficial themes, it explores complex ideas and challenges listeners to contemplate their own existence and relationship with technology.

9. How has the song been received by audiences?

“Ghost In The Shell” has garnered positive feedback from listeners, who appreciate its lyrical depth and the emotional resonance it evokes. Many have expressed how the song has prompted them to reflect on their own lives and the impact of technology on their sense of self.

10. Can “Ghost In The Shell” be interpreted in different ways?

Yes, like any art form, “Ghost In The Shell” can be interpreted in various ways depending on the individual. The song’s rich symbolism and thought-provoking lyrics allow for multiple perspectives, inviting listeners to find personal meaning within its evocative soundtrack.

11. Has Chief Kelly spoken about the inspiration behind the song?

Chief Kelly has provided insights into the inspiration behind “Ghost In The Shell” through interviews and social media. He has shared his fascination with the merging of humanity and technology and his desire to provoke meaningful discussions through his music.

12. Are there any future projects related to “Ghost In The Shell”?

While Chief Kelly has not made any official announcements regarding future projects directly linked to “Ghost In The Shell,” his music continues to explore the themes of identity, humanity, and technology. Fans can look forward to further captivating and thought-provoking releases from this talented artist.

With its captivating lyrics and profound exploration of the human experience, “Ghost In The Shell” by Chief Kelly stands as a testament to the power of music to provoke introspection. The song’s themes of identity, connection, and the impact of technology resonate deeply with listeners, encouraging them to reflect on their own existence in an increasingly digital world. Chief Kelly’s unique sound and poetic storytelling have created a timeless piece that invites us to contemplate the meaning behind our own consciousness.

About The Author

Leave a comment cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Things you buy through our links may earn  Vox Media  a commission.

A Beginner’s Guide to the Ghost in the Shell Universe

what does ghost in the shell mean

The Scarlett Johansson version of Ghost in the Shell is being released this Friday, whether we want it or not. It’s been notoriously tricky for Hollywood to successfully adapt anime and manga titles, even if they later get a critical reappraisal (see: Speed Racer, Edge of Tomorrow ). But in the case of a classic franchise like Ghost in the Shell , which most American viewers know from the 1995 Mamoru Oshii film, there’s more of a known quantity to live up to — this is one of the most influential franchises in anime history.

Still, most American moviegoers have only seen Oshii’s film, if that, and Ghost in the Shell, like many anime franchises, exists over multiple films, TV series, and manga that were still going strong as recently as 2015. And the cyborg heroine Major Motoko Kusanagi has been reincarnated in multiple ages, temperaments, and bodies (or lack thereof). In other words, if ScarJo’s take flops, she won’t be the first Major that fans have accused of ruining the series.

The silver lining, of course, is that it’s an excellent excuse to dig into the heady world of Ghost in the Shell. Here’s a quick guide to the essentials to get you started.

what does ghost in the shell mean

The Ghost in the Shell (1989), by Masamune Shirow The manga that kicked off the franchise may surprise first-time readers already familiar with the anime, due to its lighter tone and depiction of the Major. The manga, after all, debuted in the late ’80s, before Japan fell into an extended recession, when the tech boom was still a source of gee-whiz inspiration for sci-fi comic authors and animators. Shirow’s first series follows the episodic adventures of the special-ops security force Section 9, headed by Major Motoko Kusanagi, a tomboyish tough-girl who happens to be 97 percent cyborg.

Shirow is responsible for the technical concepts of cyberbrains, prostheses, and ghost hacking, as well as the “Puppeteer” plot that would serve as the basis for the 1995 film. He writes copious idiosyncratic notes in the margins, fleshing out various ideas more thoroughly for whomever cares, and cracking jokes. He’s also a bit of a lech, and never saw a female character whose crotch he wouldn’t draw in loving close-up. It can be distracting in what is otherwise a densely conceived and entertaining sci-fi procedural. Still, “cute Motoko,” with her silly faces and easygoing fraternal relationship with her colleagues, is a fun variation on her more well-known anime counterpart, swilling beer with abandon, not yet affected by post-bubble ennui. Shirow followed the original series up with Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface in 1997.

Ghost in the Shell (1995), directed by Mamoru Oshii Arguably the high point of the franchise, and certainly the most internationally known, Mamoru Oshii’s feature film adaptation took a subplot from Shirow’s manga and turned it into a meditation on consciousness and the philosophy of the self. It’s a bold direction to take with the source material, placing the Major on the brink of an existential crisis, and flipping the manga’s fetishization of her body on its head (but not getting rid of it, heavens, no).

The film’s brilliantly creative action sequences inspired Western filmmakers from the Wachowskis to Steven Spielberg to take note. But Oshii does a lot with character — making a more sensitive figure out of the Major’s cyborg partner Batou, and letting mostly biological Togusa act as a wide-eyed audience surrogate. The real supporting star, however, is the iconic, haunting score by Kenji Kawai , whose main theme elevates the virtuosic opening sequence and halfway-point montage of the city, which is plot-free and dialogue-free but vividly evokes Motoko’s alienation — from the society she lives, and even her own body. This is Ghost in the Shell at its moodiest, and perhaps incidentally, its most successful.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002–2005), directed by Kenji Kamiyama The Major and the crew at Section 9 returned for this alternate-timeline anime series headed by Kenji Kamiyama, who had previously worked on the Patlabor series with Oshii, among others. The series, which spans 52 episodes in total, is a procedural-serial hybrid. Some episodes, labeled “Stand Alone” in the first season, are just that — sci-fi one shots about various scenarios in the cybernetic world of Newport City. The rest are “Complex” episodes, part of an overarching plot — the first season focuses on the “Laughing Man” hacker and his many imitators, the second on a refugee uprising.

For many fans this is the definitive iteration of the franchise, fusing Shirow’s roving, speculative storytelling with Oshii’s more impressionistic, philosophical approach. The animation is a peak example of how to meld CGI and traditional animation — it’s deployed just enough to make those car chases more thrilling and those Fuchikomas more lifelike. The Major herself is not quite the sassy pinup of the manga, nor the haunted soul of the film, but a tough operator who can crack a joke now and then — and whose past is fleshed out in much more detail over multiple episodes. She exists as part of a colorful ensemble, with Togusa and Batou in particular getting more depth and story lines of their own. (There’s also a 2006 Stand Alone Complex movie, Solid State Society , also directed by Kamiyama.)

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004), directed by Mamoru Oshii Oshii returned to the franchise nearly a decade after the first film to explore another thread in Shirow’s manga, this one about illegally manufactured sex androids who start murdering their owners. Oshii, master of not giving the people what they want, sets this after the events of the first film, after the Major has (spoiler) fused herself to the Puppet Master and exists more or less full-time in the network. Batou takes the lead — which is great, because Batou is great — but Motoko’s absence is felt sharply, most of all by him.

The animation is a more ambitious CGI hybrid than Stand Alone Complex , and unfortunately, much of it has not aged well. (The CGI is mostly reserved for scenery and vehicles, while the characters remain hand-drawn, giving it a weird video-game feeling at times.) But it also lends itself to some of the film’s more unsettling moments — this is a scarier film than the first Ghost in the Shell , and a sadder one, too. When the Major does make her long-awaited entrance, Oshii intentionally makes it a sadly empty encounter.

Continued viewing: Arise, Sleepless Eye , Patlabor The most recent iteration of the franchise is the 2015 prequel series Arise, which depicts a younger, post-adolescent Motoko meeting the team that would become Section 9 for the first time. It’s more or less based on the 2013 manga series Arise Sleepless Eye, and fan reaction has been mixed at best.

If, however, after an initial tour of the films and the manga, you sense that you’re more of an Oshii fan than a Shirow or Kamiyama fan, then I would recommend checking out the two Patlabor films that Oshii directed prior to his first foray into this franchise. His Ghost in the Shell is such an iconic post-bubble ’90s work, and it’s fascinating to see where his mind was with regard to Japan’s relationship to technology before the recession. Patlabor deals with many of the same themes of artificial intelligence, and has a deeply wonky fascination with infrastructure and politics, but it’s also a brighter, sunnier production with equally impressive animation and action sequences. Fans of Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell will find a lot to love here, including a very familiar and very atmospheric tour through another dilapidated shantytown in another hypermodern vision of urban Japan. It’s ghosts all the way down.

  • vulture homepage lede
  • ghost in the shell

Most Viewed Stories

  • All the Winners of the Creative Arts Emmys
  • Katt Williams Scorches the Earth and Every Comedian on It
  • Taylor Swift’s Team Is Straight Up Not Happy With the New York Times
  • The 2024 Golden Globes Winners
  • Jo Koy’s Golden Globes Monologue Might Send the Writers Back on Strike
  • The Highs, Lows, and Whoas of the 2024 Golden Globes
  • See the Best Red-Carpet Looks From the 2024 Golden Globe Awards  

Editor’s Picks

what does ghost in the shell mean

Most Popular

What is your email.

This email will be used to sign into all New York sites. By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy and to receive email correspondence from us.

Sign In To Continue Reading

Create your free account.

Password must be at least 8 characters and contain:

  • Lower case letters (a-z)
  • Upper case letters (A-Z)
  • Numbers (0-9)
  • Special Characters (!@#$%^&*)

As part of your account, you’ll receive occasional updates and offers from New York , which you can opt out of anytime.

what does ghost in the shell mean

Ghost in the Shell thrills but ducks the philosophical questions posed by a cyborg future

what does ghost in the shell mean

Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Director of the Sheffield Robotics Institute, University of Sheffield

Disclosure statement

Tony Prescott receives funding from the European FET Flagship Programme through the Human Brain Project (HBP-SGA1 grant agreement 720270). He is a director and shareholder of Consequential Robotics a UK company that develops companion and assistive robot technologies.

University of Sheffield provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation UK.

View all partners

How closely will we live with the technology we use in the future? How will it change us? And how close is “close”? Ghost in the Shell imagines a futuristic, hi-tech but grimy and ghetto-ridden Japanese metropolis populated by people, robots, and technologically-enhanced human cyborgs.

Beyond the superhuman strength, resilience, and X-ray vision provided by bodily enhancements, one of the most transformative aspects of this world is the idea of brain augmentation, that as cyborgs we might have two brains rather than one. Our biological brain – the “ghost” in the “shell” – would interface via neural implants to powerful embedded computers that would give us lightening fast reactions and heightened powers of reasoning, learning and memory.

First written as a Manga comic series in 1989 during the early days of the internet, Ghost in the Shell’s creator, Japanese artist Masamune Shirow, foresaw that this brain-computer interface would overcome the fundamental limitation of the human condition: that our minds are trapped inside our heads. In Shirow’s transhuman future our minds would be free to roam, relaying thoughts and imaginings to other networked brains, entering via the cloud into distant devices and sensors, even “deep diving” the mind of another in order to understand and share their experiences.

Shirow’s stories also pin-pointed some of the dangers of this giant technological leap. In a world where knowledge is power, these brain-computer interfaces would create new tools for government surveillance and control, and new kinds of crime such as “mind-jacking” – the remote control of another’s thoughts and actions. Nevertheless there was also a spiritual side to Shirow’s narrative: that the cyborg condition might be the next step in our evolution, and that the widening of perspective and the merging of individuality from a networking of minds could be a path to enlightenment.

Lost in translation

Borrowing heavily from Ghost in the Shell’s re-telling by director Mamoru Oshii in his classic 1995 animated film version , the newly arrived Hollywood cinematic interpretation stars Scarlett Johansson as Major, a cyborg working for Section 9, a government-run security organisation charged with fighting corruption and terrorism. Directed by Rupert Sanders, the new film is visually stunning and the storyline lovingly recreates some of the best scenes from the original anime.

Sadly though, Sanders’ movie pulls its punches around the core question of how this technology could change the human condition. Indeed, if casting Western actors in most key roles wasn’t enough, the new film also engages in a form of cultural appropriation by superimposing the myth of the American all-action hero – who you are is defined by what you do – on a character who is almost the complete antithesis of that notion.

Major fights the battles of her masters with increasing reluctance, questioning the actions asked of her, drawn to escape and contemplation. This is no action hero, but someone trying to piece together fragments of meaning from within her cyborg existence with which to assemble a worthwhile life.

A scene midway through the film shows, even more bluntly, the central role of memory in creating the self. We see the complete breakdown of a man who, having been mind-jacked, faces the realisation that his identity is built on false memories of a life never lived, and a family who never existed. The 1995 anime insists that we are individuals only because of our memories. While the new film retains much of the same story line, it refuses to follow the inference. Rather than being defined by our memories, Major’s voice tells us that “we cling to memories as if they define us, but what we do defines us”. Perhaps this is meant to be reassuring, but to me it is both confusing and unfaithful to the spirit of the original tale.

The new film also backs away from another key idea of Shirow’s work, that the human mind – even the human species – are, in essence, information. Where the 1995 anime talked of the possibility of leaving the physical body – the shell – elevating consciousness to a higher plane and “becoming part of all things”, the remake has only veiled hints that such a merging minds, or a melding of the human mind with the internet, could be either positive or transformational.

In the real world, the notion of networked minds is already upon us. Touchscreens, keypads, cameras, mobile, the cloud: we are more and more directly and instantly linked to a widening circle of people, while opening up our personal lives to surveillance and potential manipulation by governments, advertisers, or worse.

Brain-computer interfaces are also on their way. There are already brain implants that can mitigate some of the symptoms of brain conditions, from Parkinson’s disease to depression . Others are being developed to overcome sensory impairments such as blindness or to control a paralysed limb . On the other hand, the remote control of behaviour using implanted brain stimulators has been demonstrated in several animal species , a frightening technology that could be applied to humans if someone were to choose to misuse it in that way.

The possibility of voluntarily networking our minds is also here. Devices like the Emotiv are simple wearable electroencephalograph-based ( EEG ) devices that can detect some of the signature electrical signals emitted by our brains, and are sufficiently intelligent to interpret those signals and turn them into useful output. For example, an Emotiv connected to a computer can control a videogame by the power of the wearer’s thoughts alone.

In terms of artificial intelligence, the work in my lab at Sheffield Robotics explores the possibility of building robot analogues of human memory for events and experiences . The fusion of such systems with the human brain is not possible with today’s technology – but it is imaginable in the decades to come. Were an electronic implant developed that could vastly improve your memory and intelligence , would you be tempted? Such technologies may be on the horizon, and science fiction imaginings such as Ghost in the Shell suggest that their power to fundamentally change the human condition should not be underestimated.

  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Transhumanism

what does ghost in the shell mean

Library Site and Facilities Support Officer

what does ghost in the shell mean

Director, Global Digital Farm

what does ghost in the shell mean

Provost and Senior Vice-President, The Australian National University

what does ghost in the shell mean

0113942 Associate Lecturer/Lecturer in Psychology (Identified) and Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Indigenous Health (Identified)

what does ghost in the shell mean

Head of Newsletters and Social Media

Ghost In The Shell Ending Explained: The Next Stage Of Post-Human Evolution

Ghost Shell Movie Major Motoko Kusanagi

This post contains spoilers for the ending of "Ghost in the Shell."

At least twice throughout its 82-minute runtime, Mamoru Oshii's 1995 anime film adaptation of "Ghost in the Shell" quotes from a biblical passage. On a boat in the fictional New Port City circa 2029, Major Motoko Kusanagi, voiced by Atsuko Tanaka in Japanese and Mimi Woods in the English dubbing, hears a whisper from her "ghost" and says, "For now, we see through a glass, darkly." This same line is referenced in the title of "A Scanner Darkly," with that book's author, Philip K. Dick , having penned the source material for "Blade Runner," a notable influence on "Ghost in the Shell." (Though set in Japan, New Port City more resembles Hong Kong, which inspired the look of both films. The key word "replicant" also appears.)

Toward the end of the movie, Kusanagi quotes again from the passage in 1 Corinthians more at length, saying, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things." The irony is, "Ghost in the Shell" ends the opposite way, with Kusanagi becoming a child and putting away adult things (namely, her cyborg body parts, some of which she's ripped off, or which snipers have blown off, after her climactic confrontation with a spider tank).

So, what are we to make of Kusanagi becoming an even younger, doll-eyed cyborg in "Ghost in the Shell?" The movie's chase scenes and action set pieces belie a deeper meditative quality, and it has an ending that might really fry your cyber-brain, especially if you're trying to parse the sci-fi technobabble through subtitles while keeping one eye on the arresting imagery.

Enter the Puppet Master

Based on Masamune Shirow's 1989  manga series , "Ghost in the Shell" puts Kusanagi and her partner Batou on the trail of a phantom hacker dubbed the Puppet Master. Described as "the most unique hacker in the history of cyber-brain crime," the Puppet Master uses phone lines to "ghost-hack" people and get them to carry out offenses. In the cyberpunk future "Ghost in the Shell" envisions, people's brains are encased in hardware that enables them to access the internet — and, in turn, be accessed and controlled from outside.

One of the Puppet Master's victims is a garbage man who has fake memories of a family that doesn't exist implanted in his mind. Things like this are a "violation of cyber-brain policy," we're told, but they go along with the Puppet Master's original programming.

After the Puppet Master's ghost, or consciousness, is trapped in a new cyborg shell at Megatech Body (the same company that manufactured Kusanagi's current form), we learn its true nature as Project 2501, "a life form that was born in the sea of information." While Kusanagi is an agent of Section 9, another Public Security department, Section 6, created Project 2501 as a tool for industrial espionage and data manipulation.

Kusanagi's boss thinks the Puppet Master is human and has left his real body a lifeless husk somewhere, now that he's stranded in this new one at Megatech. But as the Puppet Master explains, "There will be no corpse, because until now, there was never a body." It's not a man; it's a machine, a computer brain that became self-aware as it "wandered the various networks" and took a special interest in Kusanagi, a fully cyborg individual with whom it had something in common.

Post-human, pre-Matrix

"Ghost in the Shell" influenced "The Matrix," and you can definitely see echoes of it across that film's acupuncture needles, green lines of code (or digital "Matrix" rain), and images of people jacking into a neural network via plugs on the backs of their necks. In "The Matrix Reloaded," there's also the recurring image of a gun-toting woman falling backward through the air from a skyscraper window.

Kusanagi, like the Puppet Master, is post-human: someone whose body is a "full-replacement" shell. Her ghost, which the movie likens to a soul using the Japanese word tamashii , has been inserted into a new cyborg frame, leaving her disconnected from her former self. Throughout the movie, this leaves her in a state of ontological uncertainty, questioning the very nature of her own being with statements like, "the real me died a long time ago," and, "Maybe there was never a real 'me' to begin with."

It also means traditional concepts of gender and race maybe no longer apply to Kusanagi. This is something the live-action remake of "Ghost in the Shell," starring Scarlet Johannson, would explore further with its controversial plot involving a Japanese woman in a white woman's body . In the anime Kusanagi, we see the potential for the trans allegory that "The Matrix" would later become for writer-directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski .

Though "Ghost in the Shell" has some typical, scopophilic moments of fan-service nudity, having Kusanagi strip down naked when she activates her thermoptic camouflage and turns invisible isn't just about fetishizing women's bodies. As she struggles to lift the lid off the spider tank, every muscle in Kusanagi's mechanical body bulges, making her look more masculine, like a weightlifter, and thereby complicating the sexualization of her as an object of feminine desire.

Neither the Puppet Master nor the Major

Project 2501/the Puppet Master is the answer to the question, "What if a computer brain could generate a ghost and harbor a soul?" As it lobbies for political asylum as an autonomous new life form, it argues that human memories are as good as fantasy and that, "the DNA you carry is nothing more than a self-preserving program itself." If the garbage man can be rewired with the virtual dream of a family, who's to say anyone's memories are real?

Though a virus would pose a threat to the Puppet Master, it lacks true humanity in that it can't die naturally or beget unique children. It can only copy itself, so it wants to prevent its own extinction by merging with Kusanagi and bearing "offspring into the net itself." This it manages to do before Section 6's snipers destroy both their bodies.

Luckily, Batou is able to save Kusanagi's cyber-brain and outfit it with a new child-sized cyborg shell that he got on the black market. He explains that the Puppet Master case has been covered up as the work of a terrorist and that it "ended in a draw" between Section 9 and Section 6. Meanwhile, Kusanagi has been reborn into a new body, her voice now gravitating between a child's and her old recognizable adult voice.

"Here before you is neither the program called the Puppet Master, nor the woman that was called the Major," she tells Batou. As the credits roll and composer Kenji Kawai's score gives way to U2 and Brian Eno's "One Minute Warning," the audience has witnessed the next stage of post-human evolution, while Kusanagi and the Puppet Master's daughter is left to look out over the city, pondering where she might go in the "vast and limitless" net.

Movie Reviews

Tv/streaming, collections, great movies, chaz's journal, contributors, ghost in the shell.

what does ghost in the shell mean

Now streaming on:

“Ghost in the Shell” is full of dazzling images that suggest a rich, profound narrative the film is never able to achieve. A young woman brutally rips the hatch off a tank. Her skin and bones crack, revealing mechanical sinew underneath her human exterior. Holographic advertisements the size of skyscrapers glitter across the city’s landscape. Surgeons wear uniforms the color of fresh blood. A robot fashioned in the form of a geisha bends her appendages, crawling up the wall like a frightened spider. These visual delights may provoke momentary awe but they have little impact.

Director Rupert Sanders and his collaborators aren’t married to recreating the influential manga or its 1995 anime adaptation wholesale. This isn’t inherently a problem. But how they choose to change this material is. They take the basic skeleton of the story and some its tantalizing imagery, but strip them of their power.

“Ghost in the Shell” takes place in a future in which cybernetic enhancement isn’t just routine but expected. Characters outfit themselves with tech that makes alcohol poisoning a thing of the past, gives them great abilities, and allows them to survive harrowing accidents that would have previously left them dead. The latter is the case for Major Mira ( Scarlett Johansson ). She was rescued in the wake of an attack on a refugee boat that left her so gravely injured that the government-funded Hanka Industries saves her by placing her mind into a completely artificial body. As characters repeat ad nauseam, she’s the first of her kind. The Major, as she’s routinely referred to, is the perfect blend of the organic and the synthetic, man and machine. She has the mind and soul (or “ghost”) of a human woman coupled with the astounding advantages of a machine form. Reborn in this new body, the Major works as an efficient if somewhat reckless agent for Section 9, an ill-defined anti-terrorism division led by Aramaki ( Takeshi Kitano ). But there’s something amiss beyond the Major’s poor understanding of her own humanity and place in the world. She’s having “glitches,” visual and auditory hallucinations, with increasing regularity, suggesting that her superiors are lying to her. Once the terrorist that Section 9 is hunting down, Kuze (a bored Michael Pitt ), warns her not to trust Hanka Industries, the Major searches for the truth behind her existence.

“Ghost in the Shell” jettisons the complex preoccupations of the source material in order to traffic in a distinctly American story about heroic individualism. There’s also an interest in exploring corporate resistance, which is a bit hypocritical considering the behemoth behind this film, and that the narrative rests these problems on individuals rather than dissecting the systematic forces that make their actions possible. For this approach to the material to work, the characters and the world they inhabit need to feel distinct. Unfortunately, one of the most damning faults of this adaptation is that its world building, while having the appearance of intricacy, proves to be as hollow as the rest of the film upon closer examination.

The visual landscape of “Ghost in the Shell” suggests a host of fascinating questions. What does the chance of being hacked suggest about the quicksilver nature of identity in this world? If you don’t have cybernetic upgrades what does that mean for your life personally and professionally? The team members of Section 9 seem to be diverse—has technology affected the way people relate to their own race and gender? Unfortunately, these questions are only momentarily considered or blithely ignored in order to reiterate just how special the Major is, in case you forgot from the twenty other times characters mention it.

This lack of detailing extends to the characters themselves. The Major spends a considerable amount of time with her Section 9 teammates but I honestly couldn’t name one single personality trait for any of them beyond being dedicated to their work. The only one who gets enough focus to rise above being completely forgettable is Batou ( Pilou Asbæk ). He has a comfortable rapport with the Major that causes her to crack a smile and some occasional jokes, suggesting she has more humanity than she gives herself credit for. As Dr. Ouelet, the Major’s chief creator, Juliette Binoche imbues a warmth and nearly neurotic sense of overprotection that suggests an interesting mother/daughter dynamic. This isn’t enough. The lightning pace of the film means that just when a scene is about to touch a nerve it moves on to the next. The score buzzes and swells with intrigue that the action on-screen doesn’t communicate. Typically, a strong lead performance can make even the most cumbersome film have charm and merit, but Johansson struggles to create a meaningful emotional through line for the Major.

In recent years, Johansson has proven to be a mesmerizing actress who brings an intelligence and fearsome quality to her work. “Ghost in the Shell” is a continuation of the roles she’s excelled at playing in “ Under the Skin ,” “ Her ,” and various turns as super-spy Black Widow in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. It marries her impressive physicality as an action star, emotional vulnerability, and steely determinism. Yet, even she isn’t skilled enough to imbue the Major with the depth necessary for her arc to feel moving and profound. She also can’t sell me on the ridiculous philosophy the film peddles about how memories are inconsequential to human identity; apparently, only our actions matter.

All these issues—poorly thought out moral quandaries, surface level world building, scant character development—come to a head in the film’s queasy racial politics. A dark cloud has hung over “Ghost in the Shell” since Johansson’s casting was announced. The debate over whether her character, who in the source material had the name Motoko Kusanagi, should reflect the racial origins of the manga and subsequent anime films was intelligently explored in an essay for The Verge by Emily Yoshida . No matter where you come down in the debate over this, it becomes hard to ignore when you notice how the most important characters are white or that every time Aramaki speaks Japanese the Major only replies in English. “Ghost in the Shell” makes the troubling decision to use Japanese culture, visual flourishes, and source material but decides that a Japanese actress as the lead would be a step too far. At times, “Ghost in the Shell” is beautiful, even stunning. But these visual pleasures can’t mask the narrative emptiness. Never has there been a film so obsessed with the human soul that proves soulless itself. 

Now playing

what does ghost in the shell mean

Werner Herzog - Radical Dreamer

Simon abrams.

what does ghost in the shell mean

Fast Charlie

Glenn kenny.

what does ghost in the shell mean

Society of the Snow

Sheila o'malley.

what does ghost in the shell mean

The Goldfinger

Peter sobczynski.

what does ghost in the shell mean

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

Brian tallerico, film credits.

Ghost in the Shell movie poster

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, suggestive content and some disturbing images.

100 minutes

Scarlett Johansson as "Major" Motoko Kusanagi

Pilou Asbæk as Batou

Michael Pitt as The Laughing Man

Takeshi Kitano as Daisuke Aramaki

Juliette Binoche as Dr. Ouelet

Chin Han as Togusa

Lasarus Ratuere as Ishikawa

Tawanda Manyimo as Roma

Yutaka Izumihara as Saito

  • Rupert Sanders

Writer (based on the comic 'The Ghost in the Shell' by)

  • Masamune Shirow
  • William Wheeler


  • Lorne Balfe
  • Clint Mansell

Latest blog posts

what does ghost in the shell mean

Oppenheimer, Poor Things Big Winners at the 2024 Golden Globes

what does ghost in the shell mean

On the Sustained Emotional Strength of Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru

what does ghost in the shell mean

The Future of the Movies, Part 1

what does ghost in the shell mean

The List is Life: On the 30th Anniversary of Schindler's List

Ghost In The Shell: The 10 Most Confusing Things About The Franchise, Finally Explained

From manga to movies to TV and that unfortunate Scarlett Johansson live action version, the story has taken a lot of twists and turns.

With its combination of fantasy and cop story, high tech and high concept philosophy – and those often near-naked outfits of Major Kusanagi’s – Ghost in the Shell has got a lot to offer fans. While it wasn't a huge hit at its first release, the 1995 anime film has become a cult hit, spawned more movies and TV series, and ended up on many "best animes of all time" lists .

Most recently, Netflix got into the act with Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045, a brand new CGI animated series that takes the story into new territory with its backdrop of sustainable war .

RELATED:  10 Coolest Anime Characters With A Disability

From manga to movies to TV and that unfortunate Scarlett Johansson live action version, the story has taken a lot of twists and turns, gone off in different directions, and gone back to the beginning for a retcon or two. To newcomers and even casual fans, much of the story may be puzzling, if not downright unfathomable.

10 What Exactly Is A Ghost?

GITS fans might groan, but for newcomers to anime and the series, the struggle is real. Here's the short version: it's the human essence of a person, which, in the GITS universe, can be implanted in a cybnernetic body.

It's another way of talking about the soul, or consciousness in modern psychology. Throughout the series, though, that idea is questioned, and it gets much more complicated than that simple statement. In the sequel, for example, the ghost can be faked and duplicated.

9 How Could Major Kusanagi Appear In Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence?

The ghost concept gets a good workout in the original 1995 film, especially at the end, when Major Kusanagi abandons her adult physical body for that of a child, her ghost merged with the Puppetmaster's.

Those events occur just before the story of Innocence begins. Major lives on, however, in the network. In this sequel, Major's voice warns Batou about upcoming dangers, even taking the form of a gynoid. At the end, she disappears back into the network, while telling Batou she'll always be at his side.

8 What's The Deal With New Port City?

Ghost in the Shell  drops viewers into New Port City, which exists in 2029 in the original movie. The future they foresaw was one dominated by technology, and not always so friendly to real people.

The backstory is finally explained in the second season of the animated series Stand Alone Complex , or Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG . After WWIII, Tokyo is destroyed, and it's Newport City that emerged from the wreckage. Fuelled by the Japanese Miracle, i.e. the Micromachine technology that effectively removes radiation, Japan becomes a superpower.

7 Where Did Motoko Kusanagi Come From?

Ghost in the Shell: Arise was a five-part series that was released as movies between 2013 and 2015. It begins in Newport City in 2027, and tells the story of how the Section 9 team was assembled. Through the course of the story, we also learn that the reason Major Kusanagi is 100% cybernetic is that she never actually had a human body.

RELATED:  Dragon Ball: 10 Pieces Of Beerus Fan Art That Are Godly

Her mother died while she was pregnant, and Motoko's ghost was extracted from her body, and then created in that famous sequence from the opening of the 1995 film.

6 What's Going On With The Laughing Man In Stand Alone Complex?

Laughing Man is the ultimate hacker, and he causes havoc with his ability to hack into cyber-brain implants. The name comes from the J.D. Salinger short story , The Laughing Man , and it's his case that the team takes on.

His logo, however, is also used by an evil corporation to cover up acts of sabotage, and many others. At the end of the complicated story, it is revealed that Laughing Man is actually an A.I. created by someone called Aoi. Aramaki offers Aoi a position on the team, but he declines.

5 Why Is Saito Sometimes There, Sometimes Not?

Saito is Section 9's sniper, and you'd think that a character like that would get a lot of use in Newport City. The only time the character is given a backstory is in one episode of the second season of Stand Alone Complex , when fans learned he'd met Major during WWIV – as the enemy on the other side of the battle.

That's why he's got a low profile in the series – he's an ex-anti-UN mercenary, which would cause problems for Section 9.

4 How Does A Secret Organization Operate In Public?

Section 9 is kept secret from the public...but in every movie , manga, or TV series episode, they're also out in public conducting their investigations. The cover story is that they are a search and rescue organization.

Now, it may be hard to understand how a search and rescue organization would get involved in cyber crime – Section 9's mandate – but our guess is that Newport City, and in general, the post multiple world war universe it exists in, is probably chaotic enough for it to pass.

3 How Does Alternative Architecture Come Into The Picture?

GITS: Arise was so successful, it became a TV series. The five original movies were extended to 10 episodes, but it's not quite as simple as that. Anyone who watched the original five – Ghost Pain, Ghost Whispers, Ghost Tears, Ghost Stands Alone , and Pyrophoric Cult – would be confused by AA.

RELATED:  Fairy Tail: 10 Characters Who Should Have the Attack Titan

It's as if they took a deck of cards and threw them up in the air – it all ends up in a different order. The team is seen working together for episode 1 and 2, for example, but they don't come together as a group until later in the series.

2 Just How Does All Of It – The Manga, The Movies, The TV Series – All Fit Together?

The manga was created by Masamune Shirow and released in 1989. The 1995 movie Ghost in the Shell , directed by Mamoru Oshii, was based on the manga, as was Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence , the direct sequel (2004).

The series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex , which aired in 2002-2003, exists in a different universe. Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (2008), is Oshii's original vision, updated with some CGI. Arise and AA are a retcon of the series, leading to the 2015 movie Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie . Netflix’s new Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 , which has gotten mixed reviews, is a continuation of the SAC universe.

1 What About The Live Action Movie?

The Scarlett Johansson live action version didn’t seem to please either fans of the anime/manga or fans of live action sci-fi in general. It was recently criticized by Javier Grillo-Marxuach , who is co-writing the live action version of Cowboy Bebop for Netflix.

Most of the story is based on the 1995 film. It also sprinkles in elements of Innocence, and the SAC TV series, along with offering a completely different backstory, among other directions new to the series.

NEXT:  Ghost In The Shell SAC_2045: 10 Things You Never Knew About The Anime’s Making

The Ending Of Ghost In The Shell Explained

Major Motoko Kusanagi

Nothing says iconic '90s anime quite like 1995's "Ghost in the Shell." It's one of the best anime movies of all time and a quintessential part of the cyberpunk genre that has had a far-reaching influence past just animation.

In an adaptation of the original manga, "Ghost in the Shell" imagines a future in which humans are enhancing their bodies with technology, but can be hacked and manipulated with altered memories. Among them is Major Motoko Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka), a cyborg working for a black ops government organization called Section 9 that's intent on taking down the mysterious master hacker known as the Puppet Master (Iemasa Kayumi).

The action is spectacular and inventive, but the movie is more known for its deep dive into complex philosophies of what it means to be human. The characters talk about their "ghost" like it's their soul or consciousness, while the titular "shell" is their body, which can be modified or completely artificial. In the end, Kusanagi's questioning of herself leads her to take a different approach while confronting the Puppet Master ...

The Puppet Master is an AI made by the government

In "Ghost in the Shell," we first hear of the Puppet Master as having hacked into an interpreter, potentially to use her to assassinate people meeting with the Foreign Minister. He's been meddling in various foreign affairs, utilizing his unparalleled hacking abilities to manipulate people, often by altering their memories. At first, the team at Section 9 assumes the Puppet Master is a human, but in actuality, the Puppet Master originated as a program created by Section 6 under the name Project 2501.

Section 6 created it to interfere with foreign affairs, but he developed his own consciousness and rebelled. They then trap him in a cyborg body, but he escapes and makes a spectacle of himself in order to get closer to Section 9 and, more specifically, Major Motoko Kusanagi. However, Section 6 wants to cover their tracks and keep people from learning about Project 2501, so they send helicopters to shoot and destroy him. Unfortunately for them, they are just a little too late.

Kusanagi finds herself and merges with the Puppet Master

While the Puppet Master and Section 6 are the primary antagonists of "Ghost in the Shell," much of the film is about Major Motoko Kusanagi reckoning with her own humanity and individuality (or lack thereof). Many people in this future world have had technological alterations done to their body, but Kusanagi has a fully artificial cyborg body — save for a few human brain cells tucked somewhere in her robot brain.

She's wracked with uncertainty over who she is, and whether or not she counts as a person, often thinking about being someone else. Her colleagues all want to capture or kill the Puppet Master, but she wants to learn about herself from him. They finally meet in an abandoned natural history museum, where Kusanagi rips herself apart in an attempt at disabling the tank protecting him. It's an intense moment that shows she still has her limits, despite her cyborg body, but also hints that she's come to value her ghost more than her shell.

When Kusanagi "dives" into the Puppet Master, he proposes that the two of them merge into one being. Curiously, Kusanagi says she wants a guarantee she will still be herself, suggesting she's found some meaning in who she is. However, the Puppet Master argues that all things change and trying to stay the same limits her. He feels incomplete because he can't reproduce, but he and Kusanagi merging is akin to them reproducing because it results in a new being.

Section 6 breaks the party up, guns ablazing, but Kusanagi makes her choice before it's too late. Batou puts her ghost in a new shell when he attaches her head to a new cyborg body. When she speaks to him, she reveals that she did merge with the Puppet Master and is now neither Kusanagi nor Project 2501, but something new.

The merge is evolution past humanity

"Ghost in the Shell" is packed to the gills with complex themes and philosophies, from humanity's relationship with technology to the question of "what is life, anyway?" to the necessity of change for growth. Kusanagi's merge with the Puppet Master is akin to evolution, emphasized by the imagery of the Tree of Life on the museum's wall being destroyed by bullets.

In an interview with The AV Club , Director Mamoru Oshii said, "[B]efore, people tended to think that ideology or religion were the things that actually changed people, but it's been proven that that's not the case. I think nowadays, technology has been proven to be the thing that's actually changing people." Oshii certainly was all in on the philosophy, as he added, "The producers often say, "Instead of using all these philosophical phrases, why don't you change this into an action scene?" But I don't do that."

Kusanagi's words to Batou in the final scene emphasize this theme of progress. Her journey through the movie is full of imagery of reflections, as she contemplates her own identity and thinks about being someone else. She dives into the ocean for a little hope, and her dive into the Puppet Master is for a similar reason. In the last scene, we view Kusanagi's reflection in a mirror through her own eyes, before she references the words she thought on the boat and completes the saying: It's a Bible verse about being limited in understanding and seeing only a reflection of the truth, but having the knowledge that a day will come when that understanding is expanded. Kusanagi, who felt so confined before as someone who's not quite human and not quite computer, finds freedom in her new form. Now, she can traverse the sea of information.

Ghost in the Shell inspired Hollywood

Despite a lackluster box office record , "Ghost in the Shell" has been hugely influential on Hollywood. Most obviously, the Wachowskis were inspired by it when making "The Matrix" — the iconic green digital rain comes from the "Ghost in the Shell" opening credits, and the plug at the back of the neck calls back to Kusanagi's similar attachment. Beyond them, filmmakers James Cameron and Steven Spielberg are known to be fans, according to The Guardian .

When talking about "The Matrix" and "Ghost in the Shell" with IGN , director Mamoru Oshii said, "I don't really think it's about who stole what from whom, but there was a time when Japanese animation borrowed a lot from American filmmaking, so it's a mutual relationship ... There was a time in Japan when every anime movie borrowed from '2001: A Space Odyssey' or 'Blade Runner' or 'The Terminator.'"

Since 1995's "Ghost in the Shell," the franchise has expanded to include a sequel and several series in the same setting, though with a new continuity. It even got its own live-action remake in 2017, with Scarlett Johansson as Major Kusanagi (aka Mira Killian), which featured callbacks to the original with its many Easter eggs . Despite its stunning visuals, critics and fans believe the 2017 movie doesn't capture the esoteric, yet enrapturing soul of the original.

Ultimately, "Ghost in the Shell" leaves a lot up for interpretation, so do with it what you will.

The Newbie's Guide to 'Ghost in the Shell'

The newbie's guide on what to expect from the upcoming 'Ghost in the Shell' film.

what does ghost in the shell mean

The story of Ghost in the Shell takes place in the near future: 2029. The world is pretty similar, just more high-tech, more reliant on machines, and, seemingly, more corrupt than ever. The upcoming American adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell manga will follow the story of the Major (Scarlett Johansson) and her work with Public Security Section 9.

This post might contain spoilers for Ghost in the Shell .

In the manga, Section 9 is a special operations task force made up of former highly skilled military officers and police detectives and is led by Daisuke Aramaki. The Major is the field leader, acting as the point to a group of men, with only a couple of them being fully human. People die and the story is often philosophical, which is sometimes well-disguised by the cyberpunk action story.

Here’s a brief list about the basics of Ghost in the Shell from the original manga to prepare you to understand the upcoming American film.

what does ghost in the shell mean

Ghosts Are Monikers for Souls or Spirits

The Major, like many others, is essentially a brain and spinal cord inside a technological “shell.” A “ghost” is the Ghost in the Shell world’s slang for a consciousness or spirit. Ghost in the Shell is often a deeply philosophical story that points out that no matter how much of a person’s body is replaced with technological and artificial pieces , their consciousness will stay intact.

what does ghost in the shell mean

The multi-legged, hive-minded Tachikomas are combat vehicles enabled with artificial intelligence. They tend to do a lot of talking back and, despite being synced every night and sharing a collective memory, they each have a very distinct personality.

Section 9 is originally assigned nine Tachikomas, and each of the operatives has a relationship with their own machine.

Humans Don’t Need Humanoid Bodies

While most of the “shells” in Ghost in the Shell are fully humanoid in form — such as the Major — others have smaller enhancements or don’t resemble a human at all.

Issue 6 of Ghost in the Shell — “Robot Rondo” — features a crime boss in the form of a giant metal box with arms. The innards might be the same as a human and there might be a brain and spinal chord to connect everything, but the outer shell is very much not human.

what does ghost in the shell mean

The First Big Storyline Is About a Cyber-Criminal Called Puppet Master.

Section 9 spends the first big story arc of the series hunting down a mysterious villain called the Puppet Master. Completely inhuman, the Puppet Master is an experiment-gone-wrong of Section 6 of Public Security. The artificial intelligence, originally called Project 2501, is created for the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to secretly manipulate politics and the intelligence world. The project can alter the memories of cybernetic people and, really, do just about anything. Its intelligence and reach is unparalleled.

Eventually, Project 2501 becomes sentient and goes completely rogue. It’s groups such as Section 9 that are hunting the mysterious criminal down that name it Puppet Master (or the Puppeteer). The groups originally suspect Puppet Master to be human, but Section 9 ends up interacting with Puppet Master in a way it never expected.

The Major is Kind of a Sass Master

Unlike in the later adaptations and anime, the Major in the original manga trades insults with her crew and tends to call their handler, Aramaki, “ape face.” She throws up peace signs, talks back to her seniors, is openly sexual, and cracks jokes pretty frequently.

The Whole Story Is Very NSFW

Be warned: There’s violence, sex, nudity, and just about anything else you can imagine in Ghost in the Shell . Since the upcoming American adaptation will be rated PG-13, it’s doubtful the film will follow the manga’s trademark raunchiness.

Ghost in the Shell premieres in theaters March 31, 2017.

what does ghost in the shell mean

  • Entertainment
  • A Comprehensive Guide to the <i>Ghost in the Shell</i> Controversy

A Comprehensive Guide to the Ghost in the Shell Controversy

T he first live-action, English-language adaptation of the popular Japanese manga series Ghost in the Shell hits theaters this week. But even before the previews roll, feelings are mixed. Some fans’ anxiety stems from Hollywood’s splotchy track record with manga adaptations (see: Speed Racer , Dragonball Evolution ). But more notably, the movie has ignited the discussion about Hollywood’s continued whitewashing of Asian roles. In this case, fans have protested Scarlett Johansson’s casting as the character known in Masamune Shirow’s original manga series as Motoko Kusanagi.

Here’s a primer on the the franchise, the controversy surrounding its release and how it fits into larger conversations about cultural representation in Hollywood.

What is Ghost in the Shell and why are they remaking it?

Ghost in the Shell originated as a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow beginning in 1989. It takes place in a fictional city in mid-21st century Japan and tells the story of a group of special operatives, Public Security Section 9, who fight terrorism, corruption and cybercrime. In this futuristic world, some people have cyberbrains, others have prosthetic bodies, and still others—like Motoko Kusanagi—have both. Having a cyberbrain has advantages (like connecting to various networks) and disadvantages (like the ability to be hacked). The “ghost” in the title refers to human consciousness, and the “shell” is the cybernetic body.

As for a modern retelling, the themes of the story—questions about what defines humanity as artificial intelligence grows increasingly prominent—continue to fascinate moviegoers (see: Ex Machina , Westworld , Black Mirror , Blade Runner 2049 ). The original movie adaptation, a Japanese animated film released in 1995, has a big following, including directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski, who the New York Times reports brought a copy along when they pitched The Matrix . And while the manga has spawned a second animated film, TV series and a handful of video games, it’s never been rendered as a live-action film.

When did the controversy begin?

Soon after Johansson’s casting was confirmed in January 2015, fans launched a petition for the role to be recast: “The original film is set in Japan, and the major cast members are Japanese. So why would the American remake star a white actress?” In April 2016, the first photo of Johansson in the movie (in which she is called simply “Major”) reignited anger about her casting.

The day after the photo was released, Screencrush published a report that Paramount and Dreamworks had tested out post-production visual effects that would have made Johansson appear more Asian in the film. Critics, led by celebrities like Constance Wu , pointed out not only did not correct, but arguably exacerbated, the central problem. Paramount responded to the report, saying that “A test was done related to a specific scene for a background actor which was ultimately discarded. Absolutely no visual effects tests were conducted on Scarlett’s character and we have no future plans to do so.”

How does the uproar fit into the broader conversation about whitewashing in Hollywood?

Though the issue has had increasing visibility in recent years thanks in part to outspoken celebrities and viral Twitter campaigns, the whitewashing of Asian roles has a very long history. In the 1930s, the Swedish-American actor Warner Oland played a Chinese detective named Charlie Chan in 16 films. In 1944, the shape of Katharine Hepburn’s eyes was altered with makeup when she played a Chinese character named Jade in Dragon Seed . In the 1950s, John Wayne played Genghis Khan and Marlon Brando played a Japanese interpreter. These are just a handful of entries on a long list.

The practice has continued, which brings us to more recent examples: Emma Stone as a half-Asian character in Cameron Crowe’s Aloha in 2015. Tilda Swinton’s role last year in Doctor Strange as the Ancient One, a character generally depicted in the comics as an Asian man. In some instances, it is not a case of an Asian role going to a white actor, but a bankable white movie star headlining a story that originates or takes place in Asia, like Matt Damon’s The Great Wall or Finn Jones in Marvel’s Iron Fist on Netflix. Though the representation of characters of Asian descent onscreen is minimized in different ways, each instance contributes, unwittingly or not, to a landscape in which the proportion of Asian characters in top-grossing films hovers at around 5%.

Has Ghost in the Shell made headlines since the initial backlash?

In May 2016, the website Nerds of Color launched a campaign called #WhiteWashedOut on social media. Many weighed in on the stereotypes perpetuated by Hollywood’s limited portrayals of characters of Asian descent and the importance of seeing people who look like yourself onscreen. This month, critics of the movie commandeered a meme generator released as part of its marketing campaign to make memes with statements like “I am part of the whitewashing pantheon” over photos of white actors who have played non-white characters.

How have people involved with the movie responded?

Last June, Ghost in the Shell producer Steven Paul defended the movie in an interview with Buzzfeed . “I think everybody is going to end up being really happy with it,” he said. “There [are] all sorts of people and nationalities in the world in Ghost in the Shell,” he said of the movie’s otherwise diverse cast. “I don’t think it was just a Japanese story. Ghost in the Shell was a very international story, and it wasn’t just focused on Japanese; it was supposed to be an entire world.”

Director Rupert Sanders recently told CNET that he stands by his casting of Johansson, who he calls “the best actress of my generation and her generation, and the person I felt most embodied the physicality and the ability to inhabit that role.” The director of the first Ghost in the Shell movie, Mamoru Oshii, agreed but for different reasons, telling IGN : “The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one. The name ‘Motoko Kusanagi’ and her current body are not her original name and body, so there is no basis for saying that an Asian actress must portray her.”

Johansson has also responded to questions about the controversy in recent interviews. In February, she told Marie Claire , “I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person. Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive.” This week, she appeared on Good Morning America and explained, “I think this character is living a very unique experience in that she has a human brain in an entirely machinate body. I would never attempt to play a person of a different race, obviously.”

How has Johansson’s casting been received in Japan?

The movie’s casting seems to have been less controversial there than it has in the U.S. Last April, The Hollywood Reporter interviewed members of the Japanese movie industry and Japanese fans of the original manga and animated adaptation. Many applauded Johansson as the right choice for the role based on her suitability for the movie’s cyberpunk vibe. Others expressed resignation that a white movie star seems to be a prerequisite for getting a Japanese property successfully distributed to an international audience. Some were disappointed, but not as much as with past instances of substituting one ethnic identity for another, as with the casting of Zhang Ziyi, a Chinese actress, as a Japanese character in the 2005 drama Memoirs of a Geisha .

What does all of this ultimately mean for both the movie and the future of whitewashing in Hollywood?

The controversy over Ghost in the Shell has dominated the conversation around the film for two years now and may figure into its critical reception. Negative reviews (as of two days before release, they are just on the positive side of mixed), have more potential to damage the film’s box office haul than protests. The whitewashing conversation hasn’t penetrated the mainstream enough to keep otherwise interested moviegoers at home, and in part because the studio can count on a strong international audience even if they do stay at home. (The last time Johansson fronted a major non-superhero action movie, in 2014’s Lucy , the film took in $126 million in the U.S. and $336 million abroad.)

As for its potential impact on the erasure of Asian roles in major Hollywood films, it’s unlikely that anything will change overnight. But the pressure to course-correct will continue—in fact, it already has. Netflix’s forthcoming manga adaptation Death Note has come under fire for casting a white actor, Nat Wolff, instead of sticking to the original story’s Japanese lead character. An online petition has more than 13,000 signatures. We haven’t seen the last of whitewashing in the movies, but—if nothing else—at least there’s a conversation.

More Must-Reads From TIME

  • Inside the Nuclear Fusion Facility That Changed the World
  • Biden Turns to Midterm Playbook for 2024
  • Breaking Down the Science of Science-ified Foods
  • The Sopranos  Could Never Be Made Today
  • Why Are So Many Celebrity Couples Breaking Up?
  • Ian Bremmer: The Top 10 Global Risks for 2024
  • Taylor Swift Is TIME's 2023 Person of the Year
  • Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time

Write to Eliza Berman at [email protected]

You May Also Like


Best Thought Provoking Anime

Posted: January 1, 2024 | Last updated: January 1, 2024

  • Mushishi is a timeless exploration of everyday life, mental health, and trauma through a healer's encounters with primitive life forms.
  • Ergo Proxy is a blend of philosophy and dystopian fiction, delving into ecological disasters, androids, and the mysterious Proxies.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion is a mecha series with deep psychological themes, exploring social anxiety, trauma, and Freudian concepts in the face of world-ending threats.

In the vast majority of cases, anime is a medium that intends to entertain , narrating stories tinged with a distinctive aesthetic while adhering to certain tropes that have become associated with its many offerings. However, every once in a while, a franchise emerges from among the crowd to challenge norms in the usual fare of seasonal anime, raising pertinent questions on a variety of topics.

5 Meta Anime That Play with Reality

These can range from poignant examinations of the human condition and its associated struggles to more broad debates on civilization, war, morality, environmentalism, and other issues. Some of these titles have gone on to attain cult or iconic status in the realm of anime and fiction as a whole, exerting an incredible degree of influence on popular culture.

An Idyllic Venture Into The Trials Of Everyday Life

Following the travels of Ginko, a healer who can perceive the primitive life forms known as "mushi," Mushishi combines elements of the supernatural with a predominantly slice-of-life setting.

Filled with subtle anachronisms that conceal the time period the series takes place in, Mushishi exudes a timelessness in its examination of everyday life, as well as the intricacies of mental health and the long-lasting effects of trauma. The series is known for the calming quality of its visual style, as well as the underlying moral themes it depicts.

Blending Philosophy And Dystopian Fiction

Equal parts psychological thriller and cyberpunk fantasy , Ergo Proxy is heavily influenced by Gnosticism and other schools of philosophy, including the works of René Descartes. In a distant future where ecological disasters have made the planet virtually uninhabitable, the story of Ergo Proxy begins in Romdeau City, one of many domed cities where humans and androids can safely coexist.

Following Re-L Mayer, the daughter of the city's regent, the series traces her investigation into the Cogito virus and the mysterious beings known as Proxies, who appear to be connected to Vincent Law, a figure who unexpectedly enters her life.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Post-apocalyptic mecha series or psychological drama.

Undoubtedly one of anime's most well-known global exports, Hideaki Anno's Neon Genesis Evangelion is as acclaimed as it is controversial. While it may initially present itself as a mecha franchise featuring a large amount of religious symbolism, the real heart of Evangelion is its characters, who struggle with their inner demons as they simultaneously confront the world-ending threat of the Angels.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: 10 Most Powerful EVA Units, Ranked

The series examines issues of social anxiety, childhood trauma, libido-destrudo conflicts, and Freudian concepts regarding familial and interpersonal relationships.

A Sci-Fi Murder Mystery With Deeper Underpinnings

Naoki Urasawa's reimagining of Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy follows Europol agent Inspector Gesicht, as he investigates a gruesome series of murders involving powerful robots and robot sympathizers across the world.

From new interpretations of Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics," to examinations of how to create artificial intelligence that emulates every facet of human consciousness, Pluto is an incredible Netflix anime adaptation of an already highly acclaimed manga that elevates its source material in every way imaginable, without losing any nuance in its true meaning.

Cowboy Bebop

Does your past define you.

Combining episodic storylines in the style of an anthology series, with longer plot threads that play out over the course of its 26-episode run, Cowboy Bebop is a space-western set in the near future , following a crew of rag-tag bounty hunters.

Best Songs In Cowboy Bebop, Ranked

Its depiction of a space-faring civilization and the impact of advanced technology on everyday life has received much praise, with the show's mechanical design standing out in particular. However, its true triumph comes from its exploration of themes such as identity, existential ennui, isolation, and the struggle to escape one's past.

Violet Evergarden

Can one's life be given a new purpose.

Centered on the journey of its titular protagonist, Violet Evergarden follows the struggles of a former soldier to reintegrate into society after knowing nothing but war for her entire life.

Covering topics such as post-traumatic stress disorder and the difficulties of forging a new identity, the series tackles complex subjects with an impressive degree of nuance, aided by a very aesthetically appealing visual style that puts many of its peers to shame.

Serial Experiments Lain

How do you separate the physical and the virtual.

A shy young high school student Lain Iwakura finds herself cast into the complex virtual world of "The Wired" after receiving a text message from a recently deceased classmate. What ensues is a series of surreal incidents where Lain shatters the barrier between the physical and digital worlds while losing her sense of identity in the process.

Revolutionary for its time, Serial Experiments Lain is especially relevant today, when the majority of human communication takes place in the virtual sphere, producing a society where individuals are prone to experiencing paranoia, loneliness, and alienation.

Perfect Blue

Who is the real mima kirigoe.

Much like Satoshi Kon's other works , Perfect Blue is a psychological thriller that blurs the line between fantasy and reality while delving into the destabilizing psyche of a Japanese idol who navigates the pitfalls of fame.

Perfect Blue - Why Satoshi Kon's Classic Film Is More Relevant Now

Under immense stress from dealing with her declining public image, as well as a frightening series of encounters with a disturbing stalker, the film's protagonist Mima Kirigoe, begins to lose her grip on reality. Perfect Blue is an all-too-real depiction of the dark side of stardom and has inspired many imitators in the years since its release.


A cyberpunk thriller with poignant questions on morality.

Psycho-Pass takes place in 22nd-century Japan, where crime is thwarted with the aid of an artificial intelligence known as the "Sibyl System," which evaluates an individual's potential for criminal activity via a brain scan.

The series follows rookie Inspector Akane Tsunemori and her relationship with the Enforcer Shinya Kogami, as the pair navigate the complexities of morality in an age where latent criminality can be determined by technology, with AI serving as judge, jury, and executioner all at once.

Ghost In The Shell

What does it mean to be alive, ghost in the shell.

Although it features several deviations from Masamune Shirow's original manga series, Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell is an era-defining work in the cyberpunk genre . While its animation was far ahead of many of its peers at the time, the film's narrative and character writing is perhaps where it shines best.

Posing intriguing questions on memory, consciousness, and identity in a world where bodily cybernetic enhancement is a common occurrence, the film, and its associated media franchise, have garnered almost universal acclaim for tackling ideas about artificial intelligence, post-gendered characters, and the human desire for self-preservation.

MORE: Anime That Subvert The Hero-Villain Dynamic

Best Thought Provoking Anime

More for You

Donald Trump Issues Ominous Threat To Joe Biden

Donald Trump in 'Real Trouble' if Ex-Aide Talking to Jack Smith: Kinzinger

NAR President Tracy Kasper.

National Association of Realtors president says she is resigning after blackmail threat

Every NFL GM fired on Black Monday

Every NFL GM fired on Black Monday

Robert Downey Jr. Thanks Universal For

Robert Downey Jr. Thanks Universal For "Helping Them Render A Goddamn Masterpiece" In Golden Globe Win For ‘Oppenheimer'

Taco Bell's new craving menu will feature options for meat-eaters and vegetarians.

Taco Bell unveils new value menu with food as low as $1.99: See the new menu items


Pat McAfee doesn’t ‘take back anything’ after accusing ESPN executive of sabotaging show

Donald Trump

Donald Trump Faces Legal Week From Hell

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Montgomery County Community College January 5, 2024 in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. In his first campaign event of the 2024 election season, Biden stated that democracy and fundamental freedoms are under threat if former U.S. President Donald Trump returns to the White House.

CNN Interview Goes Off the Rails Over Missouri Official’s Promise to Boot Biden From State Ballot

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings

Kirk Cousins plans to "relinquish" to his upcoming free agency

Israeli soldiers operate in Gaza

Israeli forces say they locate large underground weapons factory in Gaza

CNN anchor Sara Sidner during a news broadcast.

CNN anchor Sara Sidner reveals she has Stage 3 breast cancer

A power station outage at a munitions plant put some Russians in the dark and cold. By: MEGA

Strange Incident at Top Secret Russian Bullet Factory Blamed for Huge Power Outage in Sub-Zero Cold

Election denier

High Court Denies Trump’s Request for Reconsideration of Failed Immunity Claim

Maddow Blog | The problem with Jim Jordan’s ‘damning evidence’ against Biden

Maddow Blog | The problem with Jim Jordan’s ‘damning evidence’ against Biden

1004 Tax Return

IRS Tax Move Will Save Money For Millions of Americans — Check if You're Eligible

Dodge Challenger slant six

Every Chrysler Slant-6 Engine Ranked From Worst To Best

Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah

The Mormon Church bought a $174M industrial property near Miami. Why?

Washington Commanders owner Josh Harris.

Commanders request HC interviews with four playoff coordinators

In South Korea, there are nor enough young Korean women for young Korean men to marry.

South Korea's gender imbalance is bad news for men − outnumbering women, many face bleak marriage prospects

Tyronn Lue Explains Why He Benched Kawhi Leonard For Majority Of The Final 3 Minutes Of Lakers-Clippers Game

Tyronn Lue Explains Why He Benched Kawhi Leonard For Majority Of The Final 3 Minutes Of Lakers-Clippers Game

Ghost in the Shell Wiki

  • View history

The Ghost in the Shell series of anime and manga titles offer many observations on present day philosophy and speculations on future philosophy.

  • 2.3 Humanity
  • 2.4 AI as a step in evolution
  • 2.5 De-Ghosting
  • 2.6 Tachikoma/Fuchikoma (タチコマ / フチコマ)
  • 2.7 Cyberbrain warfare/Ghost hacking
  • 2.8 Mnemonic Devices
  • 2.9 External Memory
  • 2.10 Technological Singularity
  • 2.11.1 Relation to Social theory
  • 2.11.2 Relation to Teamwork
  • 3 Book references (manga)
  • 4 External links

Overview [ ]

Ghost in the Shell takes place in the year 2029, when the world has become interconnected by a vast electronic network that permeates every aspect of life. People also tend to rely more and more on cybernetic implants and the first strong AIs make their appearance. The main entity presented in the various media is the Public Security Section 9 police force, which is charged to investigate cases like the Puppet Master and the Laughing Man .

Yet, as those criminals are revealed to have more depth than was at first apparent, the various protagonists are left with disturbing questions: What exactly is the definition of human in a society where a mind can be copied and the body replaced with a fully synthetic body? What, exactly, is the "ghost" -- the essence -- in the cybernetic "shell"? Where is the boundary between human and machine when the differences between the two become more philosophical than physical?

While the author is clearly exploring how society will address the coming technological impact on the populace and the resulting "fallout", one can also make the case for his use of this anime as a social commentary or a mirror of "then current" events, just as Mark Twain used his stories to present and explore social issues of his era. Due to a combination of the language barrier and Japanese societal censorship it is more difficult for outsiders to easily observe Japanese current events than to observe events in North America and Europe. However, the diligent reader will be able to find Japanese News translations chronicaling events that bear a striking resemblance to events in the anime. For example:

  • Real World Japan

Ghost In The Shell

  • Real World Japan"

Philosophical elements [ ]

In Ghost in the Shell , the word ghost is colloquial slang for an individual's consciousness or soul. In the manga's futuristic society, science has redefined the ghost as the thing that differentiates a human being from a biological robot. Regardless of how much biological material is replaced with electronic or mechanical substitutes, as long as individuals retain their ghost, they retain their humanity and individuality.

The concept of the ghost was borrowed by Masamune Shirow from an essay on structuralism , " The Ghost in the Machine " by Arthur Koestler . The title The Ghost in the Machine itself was originally used by an English philosopher , Gilbert Ryle to mock the paradox of conventional Cartesian dualism and Dualism in general. Koestler, like Ryle, denies Cartesian dualism and locates the origin of human mind in the physical condition of the brain. He argues that the human brain has grown and built upon earlier, more primitive brain structures, the "ghost in the machine", which at times overpower higher logical functions, and are responsible for hate, anger and other such destructive impulses. Shirow denies dualism similarly in his work, but defines the "ghost" more broadly, not only as a physical trait, but as a phase or phenomenon that appears in a system at a certain level of complexity. The brain itself is only part of the whole neural network; if, for example, an organ is removed from a body, the autonomic nerve of the organ and consequently its "ghost" will vanish unless the stimulus of the existence of the organ is perfectly re-produced by a mechanical substitution. This can be compared, by analogy, to a person born with innate deafness being unable to understand the concept of "hearing" unless taught.

Ghost-dubbing , or duplicating a ghost, is a near-impossible act in the Ghost in the Shell universe. When performed, as a cheap AI substitute in Innocence and earlier in the manga , the result is always inferior to the original-which always dies in the process. In Stand Alone Complex , criminals use a ghost-dubbing device to create numerous duplicates of South American drug lord Marcelo Jarti; after the original died, the device continued to duplicate him into a near-infinite number of bodies with identical memories and personalities, essentially immortalizing him.

In Ghost in the Shell , Kusanagi completely reproduces the stimulus of all of her organs in order to maintain her "ghost". If a technical error arises during the transfer of a "ghost" from one body to another, the transfer normally results in failure, since the "ghost" tends to deteriorate due to either the difference of system at the material level or the deficiency of the transferring protocol. The Puppet Master manages not to deteriorate its "ghost" when merging with Kusanagi because his system is the body of information itself, thereby avoiding a deterioration due to the deficiency at material level.

The Ancient Greeks had a similar paradox, called the Ship of Theseus . Hegel 's concept of Geist may also be related.

Another interpretation of the fusion of Kusanagi and the Puppet Master is analogous to the concept of birth whereby two separate entities create a third entity which is not the same as either of the originating ghosts or DNA sets but shares common traits. The Puppet Master carefully explains that diversity is the only way that he can continue; no matter how many times he copies himself, a trick, virus, or weakness discovered that destroys any of his copies could destroy them all. He quite specifically asks her to fuse her "ghost" or "soul" with his own, a form of marriage/birth in which the resultant being is neither the Puppet Master nor Kusanagi but a new being entirely. Notice the symbolism in the movie when Kusanagi/Puppet Master gets a new body - that of a child. This touches upon concepts of birth, immortality through progeny, and the union of two ghosts/people in the creation of progeny. Interestingly enough, her new body in the original manga is instead a male body. She also states that this new lifeform will create children, as well.

Humanity [ ]

Throughout the story the cyborg characters, being more or less a human brain with a manufactured body, contemplate individually and together what being human really is, and how a soul or ghost is truly defined. The Puppet Master is an AI, yet they recognize traits and personality within his mind structure that are clearly analogous to a human soul or ghost image. They cannot discount this similarity as it is very clearly analyzed by their medical scanning tools when they first captured the Puppet Master. The members of Section 9 must re-evaluate their own tenuous hold on the idea of humanity and "self", when faced with a being who clearly is self directed and has a ghost but was originated as a complex program, not a biological organism.

AI as a step in evolution [ ]

An important concept within Ghost in the Shell is that evolution is the process of merging two sets of data (DNA) in order to create a third set of data which contains the most vital elements of the original organisms along with some element of chance. The Puppeteer has evolved beyond DNA as a data set and thus to procreate (his true desire and purpose for leaving the net in the first place) this new organism (a soul not born of DNA) a new paradigm of data merging needs to be contemplated for which he has sought Kusanagi out. This is a merger of two operating "souls" or "ghosts" into one mind, which is specifically different from birth while being simultaneously analogous to it.

De-Ghosting [ ]

One of the consequences of this revelation is a final resolution of the nature versus nurture debate in sociology. When a criminal is convicted of a crime in Masamune Shirow 's future world, a detailed technical analysis is conducted upon the subject. If it is discovered that the crime was committed due to a material defect in either the biological or electronic components of the convict's brain, the defect is repaired and the convict is released. If, instead, the crime is determined to have been the result of an individual's ghost , then there is only one cure: the removal of the portion of the brain that communicates with the soul, thereby de-ghosting the criminal and preventing any possibility of future criminal behavior.

Tachikoma/Fuchikoma (タチコマ / フチコマ) [ ]

Tachikoma (Tachikomas are second generation AI tanks, preceded by the Fuchikomas and succeeded by the hybrid Uchikoma) are artificially intelligent mini-tanks ( walkers ) employed by Section 9. Because of the demands of field duty, these robots are constructed with extremely flexible, adaptable AIs that lack many of the safeguards present in other artificially intelligent robots. While this enables them to behave unpredictably and flexibly, it also presents difficulties for the members of Section 9, who must monitor the Tachikoma closely for signs of undesirable emotional development.

The underlying statement here is that predictable behavior results in inherent weakness. Section 9, as an organization, needs heterogeneity and even organic weakness if it is to survive. "A machine where all the parts respond the same way is a brittle tool."

Tachikoma ask questions that otherwise would not have been brought to mind, much like children that are trying to understand the world, yet with superior thinking capabilities. There are Tachikoma short clips that involve them discussing complex philosophical issues and how they relate to existence. They provide more of an innocent look on the world that surrounds them.

The Tachikomas are also used to approach the question of whether or not one's individuality can withstand a parallelization of information from a different perspective. Here, the parallelization is perfect since they are machines. In the series, they are able to retain their respective individualities through the use of external references (Batou's favorite, the one which has books, etc.), similarly to the Major.

Cyberbrain warfare/Ghost hacking [ ]

Cyberbrain warfare is the practice of employing ghost hacking as a means of gaining access to an opponent's cyberbrain, and ultimately, their ghost. A successful cyberhacker can intercept, censor, or augment the sensory information being received by a victim, or even go so far as to destroy or rewrite complete memories. Furthermore, a person's cyberbrain can be directly injured, by making the cyberbrain undergo unaffordable computation and thus overheat. (See Cordwainer Smith 's "The Burning of the Brain")

Cyberbrain warfare is portrayed as a natural consequence of the integration of cybernetic and wireless communication technology directly into the human brain. Despite the apparent risks, even the most paranoid characters in the story find the benefits of directly networking their brains to be indispensable.

Apparently, any conduit by which information is absorbed by the brain can be exploited for ghost hacking. Shirow envisions the use of firewalls for protecting the ghost against attack, and multiple layers of encryption.

Mnemonic Devices [ ]

Like information stored in the hard-drive of a modern computer the memories of a ghost can become fragmented and unreliable. This is the result of ghost-hacking, psychological treatment, trauma experienced while ghost-diving, corrupted transference from one cyber-brain to another, and the degradation of memories as they are collected and cross-referenced over the course of a lifetime.

The response that humans have developed to cope with the confusion of memories is to reinforce them with external reminders. Artwork, books, clothing, personal electronics, places of employment, and even companions are carefully chosen to familiarize the landscape of one's existence. In a sense we are partly motivated in our actions by the desire to look back on them with fondness and clarity.

The need for these mnemonic devices is also a philosophical hurdle for the members of Section 9. They are, after all, a watchdog group mandated with rooting out cases of cyber-brain crime. Kusanagi shuns the accumulation of trinkets (beyond the watch she wears in Stand Alone Complex ). Being an expert in ghost-hacking and the workings of the cyber-brain, she considers these to be a sign of weakness that can be easily read by enemies. In an age when a detective can reconstruct a person's psyche based on study of their external memory Kusanagi has a sound position. Even she, however, still keeps that one single watch, and still keeps the same model of cybernetic body.

Batou, on the other hand, is sentimental. He keeps a pet dog, has safe houses full of books and art, lifts weights despite it being pointless, and even has a favorite Tachikoma to work with. Though they may be a fatal indication of one's living habits in his line of work he still clings to such comforts.

External Memory [ ]

External Memory is exactly that, memories and experiences that are stored "offline" onto a hard disk or such. If you possess a cyber brain (as nearly everyone does in the Ghost in the Shell universe), there is a definite separation of mind and body since your brain case can be removed and put into a new body. Since there is an electronic separation, the signals received from the senses (touch, taste, etc.) can be recorded and replayed at any given time. Thus, you could record important events such as your wedding day and replay it as if you were actually there anytime you wish. Your external senses turn off, and you’re fed recorded sensory information. Better than any video camera recording, you're feeling the heat of the sun, the breeze, your brides’ hand trembling as you slip the ring on her finger, etc. Storing these memories also allows others to play them back and experience them as well.

In Stand Alone Complex , the Section 9 team view Togusa's memories while he is in hospital to find out what happened to him, and Batou becomes temporarily overcome with rage as a result of experiencing the traumatic event through the recorded memory. In an earlier episode Kusanagi reviews the initial broadcast of the Laughing Man incident and some associated media by connecting to her external memory device she keeps at a friend's apartment.

A comment by Batou after exchanging philosophical quotations with Togusa in the Innocence movie suggests that they had each been recalling the quotes from their external memory. This means they must be either carrying the data in a storage device inside their own cyberbrains, or connecting to it wirelessly (quite possible, as they regularly communicate wirelessly), unlike the external device Kusanagi connects to in SAC.

Additionally external memories seems to refer to physical mnemonic objects, such as the objects kept by the shop owner who stores the childhood cybernetic bodies of Kuze and the major. These objects can be represented in almost any form who's only prerequisite is that they invoke a memory, emotional or otherwise. Those this is how the shopkeeper describes the objects she cares for in 2nd GIG the more generally accepted definition of the term remains the former and if a character is speaking of 'external memories' they most likely are referring to the definition seen above.

Technological Singularity [ ]

The Technological Singularity is a hypothetical point in time when humanity’s technological innovations become so powerful that they become uncontrollable and irreversible. This idea is most commonly applied to Artificial Intelligence. It is believed that humanity will inevitably reach the Singularity and create an all-powerful AI and the question becomes if this all powerful AI will be hostile or friendly.

In Ghost in the Shell the idea of the technological singularity is represented through the merging of Kusanagi and the Puppet Master. The Puppet Master is an AI that is capable of producing copies of itself, exerting complete control over the cybernetic human population, and accessing a massive neural network. The Puppet Master explains that its only weakness is that it has no diversity. This is why, by merging and adding diversity, the newly combined Kusanagi has surpassed the Technological singularity and reached the state of an unstoppable being. The question of if this new being will be friendly or hostile is represented by the last few minutes of the film where Kusanagi, in her new form, looks over the city and says “Now, Where shall I go”.

Stand Alone Complex [ ]

While originally intended to "underscore the dilemmas and concerns that people would face if they relied too heavily on the new communications infrastructure," Stand Alone Complex eventually came to represent a phenomenon where unrelated, yet very similar actions of individuals create a seemingly concerted effort.

A 'Stand Alone Complex' can be compared to the copycat behavior that often occurs after incidents such as serial murders or terrorist attacks . An incident catches the public's attention and certain types of people "get on the bandwagon", so to speak. It is particularly apparent when the incident appears to be the result of well-known political or religious beliefs, but it can also occur in response to intense media attention . For example, a mere fire, no matter the number of deaths, is just a garden variety tragedy. However, if the right kind of people begin to believe it was arson, caused by deliberate action, the threat increases drastically that more arsons will be committed.

What separates the 'Stand Alone Complex' from normal copycat behavior is that the originator of the copied action is not even a real person, but merely a rumored figure that commits said action. Even without instruction or leadership a certain type of person will spring into action to imitate the rumored action and move toward the same goal even if only subconsciously. The result is an epidemic of copied behavior-with no originator. One could say that the Stand Alone Complex is mass hysteria -with purpose.

This is not unlike the concepts of memes (refer to the conversation between the major and the Puppet Master in the manga) and second-order simulacra . It also has ties to social theory , as illustrated in the work of Frederic Jameson and Masachi Osawa .

In the series itself, it usually refers to events surrounding the Laughing Man case, and to some extents, the teamwork observed in Public Security Section 9 . It is presented as an emergent phenomenon catalyzed by parallelization of the human psyche through the cyberbrain networks. There is no original Laughing Man, no leader. Everyone is acting on his own, yet a coherent whole emerges.

In what is perhaps one of the first examples of this phenomenon to emerge in real life, Project Chanology , an Internet-based protest against Scientology , was formed by a loose association of individuals calling themselves Anonymous who frequent certain image-based bulletin boards. Bill McEllwain writes:

We are thus dealing with a true Stand Alone Complex, probably the first substantive one the net has ever seen. There was no original person who launched and organized this battle, but at the same time, it’s not accurate to call everyone who is participating in it mere copycats, because they are the entirety of it. This battle will continue raging for some time, and it’s about damn time. Scientology is truly dangerous like many other cults and religions, yet their litigious nature has effectively hamstringed the news media from covering these issues (except in Germany). So it makes sense that a fluid, faceless group should take root on the Internet to oppose them. After all, the threats of lawsuits only make sense if they can actually find you to sue you. Now you understand the meaning of “Anonymous”.—Ben McIlwain, "A real life Stand Alone Complex emerges against Scientology"

Relation to Social theory [ ]

The relation of SAC to social theory is explored in more depth in the second season. A character, Kazundo Gouda , postulates that, by exploiting the mechanism of information transmission in society, one could achieve a very efficient and subtle thought control. Indeed, since people tend to modify slightly the information (and forget where it came from) in the processes of consumption (or appropriation), it becomes difficult to sort genuine ideas from modified, implanted, ones. He proves to be very successful in the end.

Relation to Teamwork [ ]

The loose structure of Public Security Section 9 is another example of the SAC. Members have no clearly-defined ranks, roles or "job-descriptions", no strict policies to follow on how they do things. The only thing they share is the information they have and their overall mission; the way they each go about accomplishing it is left to their individual discretion. Teamwork is never demanded/enforced for its own sake, but simply occurs naturally as a result of multiple highly-competent individuals all pursuing the same goal. Even if this doesn't always lead to optimal results, the resulting team is very flexible and adaptive; a member may emerge as the leader, e.g. the Major, but can be replaced by another should the need arise. However, this kind of "natural" teamwork is much more demanding of individual team members than is a traditional top-down hierarchical approach, where all one needs to do is unquestioningly follow whatever orders come from above.

Another example of highly-efficient SAC-based teamwork in the series would be the very first Individual Eleven in episode 1 of Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG .

Book references (manga) [ ]

  • The Ghost In The Shell (Kokaku Kidotai)  : Publisher: Kodansha (KCDX) ISBN 4-06-313248-X C9979 Release: 5 October 1991, original Japanese
  • Ghost In The Shell (English Edition)  : Publisher: Dark Horse Comics / Studio Proteus ISBN 1-56971-081-3 , Release: December 1995, English adaptation
  • Ghost In The Shell 2: Man/Machine Interface (English Edition Sequel)  : Publisher: Dark Horse Comics / Studio Proteus ISBN 1-59307-204-X , Release: Dark Horse (January 19, 2005), English adaptation

External links [ ]

  • Production I.G — Production I.G official English website
  • Masachi Osawa (Japanese)
  • Masahiro Morioka
  • Frederick Jameson:Metacommentary and Realism/Modernism Debate
  • about Translation & Marxism references in GITS
  • Jean Baudrillard : Two Essays
  • 1 Motoko Kusanagi
  • 2 Laughing Man
  • 3 Motoko Kusanagi/SAC
  • Skip to main content
  • Keyboard shortcuts for audio player

NPR microphone in the studio.

Interview highlights

A new california law restricts carrying guns in public — testing the second amendment.

Mary Louise Kelly, photographed for NPR, 6 September 2022, in Washington DC. Photo by Mike Morgan for NPR.

Mary Louise Kelly

Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata

Erika Ryan headshot

California's new law is already facing all kinds of hurdles in the courts. Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

California's new law is already facing all kinds of hurdles in the courts.

Gun owners in California can no longer carry firearms into amusement parks, museums, churches, zoos, banks, public parks or a whole slew of other places, even if they have a concealed carry permit.

Those restrictions are part of a new state law that took effect this week, and it is already facing scrutiny in the courts.

Last month, a U.S. district judge blocked the law from taking effect, calling it "repugnant to the Second Amendment." But a federal appeals court put a temporary hold on that ruling over the weekend, allowing the law to proceed for now.

UCLA law professor Adam Winkler is the author of the book, Gunfight: The Battle Over The Right To Bear Arms In America and speaks with All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly about what this new law means — and why any new laws around gun safety will be hard to keep.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Mary Louise Kelly: Where can concealed carry permit holders still carry guns in public in California with this law now in effect?

Adam Winkler: Concealed carry permit holders can carry guns in public generally. But California has identified a list of 26 places that the law calls sensitive places, like playgrounds and public parks and museums, where you cannot bring your guns. What gun owners say, however, is that when you add up all the different 26 places that are deemed sensitive, effectively it's impossible for someone who has a permit to carry firearms to bring their guns anywhere.

Poll: Most Americans say curbing gun violence is more important than gun rights

Poll: Most Americans say curbing gun violence is more important than gun rights

Kelly: We mentioned this law is already facing all kinds of hurdles in the courts. In California, where does it go next? What are you watching for?

Winkler: I think in California, we're really looking to the courts to provide some final guidance as to what kinds of gun laws we can have. California has been at the forefront of gun safety regulation for decades, but with the new strengthened protections for the Second Amendment coming from the U.S. Supreme Court, a lot of California's laws and innovations are open to question. Lawmakers really need the certainty that comes from better Supreme Court guidance on what kind of gun laws are allowed under the Second Amendment and what kind of gun laws are not.

Kelly: Well, that prompts my next question, which is: Is this law — like so many others, it seems, these days — likely to end up at the Supreme Court?

Winkler: It's always hard to know whether any particular law will go before the Supreme Court. But one thing is clear: The Supreme Court needs to provide guidance on what kinds of sensitive places guns can be prohibited from. The court has said that guns can be banned from sensitive places but hasn't made clear what makes a place sensitive and what are the exact places where lawmakers can restrict guns.

These gun deaths didn't make national headlines, but they left a devastating mark

These gun deaths didn't make national headlines, but they left a devastating mark

Kelly: So when you hear the criticism that I cited as I was introducing you, the district court judge saying this law is repugnant to the Second Amendment, what do you think?

Winkler: The district judge's ruling was not wholly surprising given the new test that the Supreme Court says gun laws must meet to be constitutionally permissible. Under the Supreme Court's recent Second Amendment rulings, the court insists that a gun law today resemble the gun laws of the 17- and 1800s. And truth be told, we didn't have restrictions in the 17- and 1800s on guns in playgrounds or zoos or museums. As a result, applying this new test under the Second Amendment makes it very difficult to justify some of these restrictions on sensitive places that California has adopted.

what does ghost in the shell mean

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announces new gun measures in February 2023. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

Listen to All Things Considered each day here or on your local member station for more interviews like this.

Kelly: Now, I want to note this law that has just kicked in is one of a number of new gun laws that are going into effect this week in California. Just briefly, what are some of the others?

Winkler: Well, Gavin Newsom, the California governor, has made gun safety regulation a real centerpiece of his political agenda. He's backed ballot measures to mandate background checks for ammunition purchases and laws to limit high-capacity magazines and military-style assault rifles. In 2023, Newsom signed into law more than 20 new gun safety measures, including laws raising the age to carry a firearm in public to 21, increasing the training required for concealed carry permits and a new tax on firearms and ammunition.

Kelly: And are these other laws also facing scrutiny in the courts?

Winkler: The one thing that's certain is that any new gun law that lawmakers adopt will be challenged in court under the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court's new test that requires gun laws to be evocative of the gun laws of the 17- and 1800s makes it very difficult to justify any new innovations in the world of gun policy.

  • Gavin Newsom
  • International edition
  • Australia edition
  • Europe edition

White middle aged man in gray T-shirt

Jeffrey Epstein: documents linking associates to sex offender unsealed

Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson, David Copperfield and Prince Andrew among names contained in court documents

  • Explainer: who was Epstein and what are court documents about?
  • Read unsealed documents in full

Numerous court documents identifying associates of notorious sex offender Jeffrey Epstein were made public on Wednesday.

Some of the high-profile names in the court documents include Prince Andrew, the former US president Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson, and David Copperfield.

These associates’ just-unsealed names were contained in court documents filed as part of Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit against Ghislaine Maxwell ; the documents include excerpts of depositions and motions in this case. The British socialite was convicted in December 2021 of sex trafficking and similar charges for procuring teen girls for disgraced financier Epstein.

Prior to the unsealing, the names were listed in court papers as variants of J Doe. Many of the names are people who had been publicly identified as Epstein associates prior to this unsealing.

The inclusion of a name in this list does not mean that said associate has been accused of wrongdoing in relation to Epstein. Among the names are people mentioned in passing at legal proceedings

In a deposition, Maxwell appears to say that Andrew visited Epstein’s Island in the US Virgin Islands. Epstein has been accused of abusing numerous girls on this island.

“Were you present on the island when Prince Andrew visited?” Maxwell was asked.

She responded in the affirmative and, when asked how many times, she said: “I can only remember once.” When asked if there were any girls on the island at that time, Maxwell insisted: “There were no girls on the island at all. No girls, no women, other than the staff who work at the house.”

One document included a deposition given by Johanna Sjoberg, whom Maxwell allegedly procured for the purpose of performing sex acts on Epstein.

Sjoberg said in her deposition that Epstein “said one time that Clinton likes them young, referring to girls”.

In 2019, Clinton’s spokesperson Angel Ureña denied claims made about Clinton’s involvement with Epstein and wrote in a statement on Twitter that “President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York.”

Clinton notably had an 18-month long affair with Monica Lewinsky, his then 22-year-old intern, during his first term as president. He was 49 years old.

Sjoberg also said that the late musician Michael Jackson was at Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion, and that she met the famed magician David Copperfield.

“Did you ever meet anybody famous when you were with Jeffrey? she was asked. “I met Michael Jackson … at [Epstein’s] house in Palm Beach.”

Asked whether she massaged Jackson, Sjoberg said: “I did not.”

As for Copperfield, Sjoberg said that he attended dinner at one of Epstein’s homes and “he did some magic tricks”.

“Did you observe David Copperfield to be a friend of Jeffrey Epstein’s?” she was asked. Sjoberg replied in the affirmative.

“Did Copperfield ever discuss Jeffrey’s involvement with young girls with you?” she was also asked. “He questioned me if I was aware that girls were getting paid to find other girls.”

Copperfield, she said in the deposition, didn’t tell her any specifics of that question. “Did he say whether they were teenagers or anything along those lines?” she was also asked. “He did not.”

Donald Trump, whose association with Epstein has been widely reported, was also mentioned in the documents; the former US president is not accused of wrongdoing. In Sjoberg’s deposition, she said that they went to one of Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City when a storm prevented Epstein’s plane from landing in New York City.

“Jeffrey said, Great, we’ll call up Trump and we’ll go to – I don’t recall the name of the casino, but – we’ll go to the casino.” Asked at one point whether she ever gave Trump a massage, Sjoberg said “no”.

The deposition also includes Sjoberg’s account of allegedly meeting Prince Andrew at Epstein’s New York home. “Ghislaine asked me to come to a closet. She just said, Come with me. We went to a closet and grabbed the puppet, the puppet of Prince Andrew,” she said in the deposition.

after newsletter promotion

“And I knew it was Prince Andrew because I had recognized him as a person. I didn’t know who he was. And so when I saw the tag that said Prince Andrew, then it clicked. I’m like, that’s who it is.”

Sjoberg and Maxwell then returned to the living room with the puppet. “I just remember someone suggesting a photo, and they told us to go get on the couch. And so Andrew and Virginia sat on the couch, and they put the puppet, the puppet on her lap,” Sjoberg recalled. “And so then I sat on Andrew’s lap, and I believe on my own volition, and they took the puppet’s hands and put it on Virginia’s breast, and so Andrew put his on mine.”

Sjoberg said she went to bed shortly thereafter. “Did you hear Ghislaine Maxwell tell Virginia to do anything while you were in that room?” she was asked. Sjoberg replied: “No.”

Giuffre, who claimed that Epstein and Maxwell forced her into a sexual encounter with Britain’s Prince Andrew at age 17, had sued the publishing heiress for defamation after claiming the accuser lied. Giuffre settled her lawsuit against Maxwell in 2017.

In 2021, Giuffre sued Prince Andrew over the alleged sexual abuse. The suit settled in early 2022. Andrew has always strenuously denied any wrongdoing. As part of the settlement, he agreed to donate to Giuffre’s victims’ rights charity.

The documents’ release is among several tranches of filings in Giuffre’s civil case that were unsealed following the Miami Herald’s years-long effort to make them public. Giuffre did not make allegations of wrongdoing against Clinton.

In one set of documents released in July 2020, Giuffre claimed that Maxwell participated in Epstein’s sexual abuse of teen girls. These documents were released several weeks after Maxwell’s arrest for her involvement in Epstein’s sex trafficking.

Giuffre claimed that Maxwell lured her into Epstein’s perverse orbit under the false pretense of work as a professional masseuse. Instead, Giuffre said, Maxwell “trained me as a sex slave”, according to a filing in that set of unsealed court papers.

The documents released in July 2020 also provided insight into Maxwell and Epstein’s relationship.

In a January 2015 email exchange, Epstein told Maxwell: “You have done nothing wrong and i woudl [sic] urge you to start acting like it … go outside, head high, not as an esacping [sic] convict. go to parties. deal with it.”

In another 2015 email, Epstein tells Maxwell she “can issue a reward” to any of Giuffre’s friends to “prove her allegations are false”, including what Epstein said was a “new version” of a claim that the renowned English theoretical physicist Steven Hawking had participated in an “underage orgy” in the Virgin Islands. Hawking, who died in 2018 , has not been accused of a crime related to Epstein.

A large collection of documents in Giuffre’s civil case were also unsealed in August 2019. Those papers included accusations, since denied, that global leaders were participants in Epstein’s trafficking ring.

Epstein was arrested on 6 July 2019 for sex trafficking. He was found dead in his jail cell on 10 August of that year; authorities determined that he hanged himself.

Maxwell was sentenced in June 2022 to 20 years imprisonment. She has maintained her innocence and is appealing her conviction.

Asked for comment on the documents’ unsealing, Maxwell’s attorneys, Arthur L Aidala and Diana Fabi Samson, said: “Ghislaine Maxwell took no position on the court’s recent decision to unseal documents in Giuffre v Maxwell as these disclosures have no bearing on her or her pending appeal.”

“Ghislaine’s focus is on the upcoming appellate argument asking for her entire case to dismissed,” they also said. “She is confident that she will obtain justice in the second circuit court of appeals. She has consistently and vehemently maintained her innocence.”

  • Jeffrey Epstein
  • Ghislaine Maxwell

More on this story

what does ghost in the shell mean

Epstein had ‘sex tapes’ of Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton, witness claimed

what does ghost in the shell mean

Met rejects calls to investigate Prince Andrew after release of Epstein files

what does ghost in the shell mean

A-list names in Epstein documents cache but what prospect of charges?

what does ghost in the shell mean

Prince Andrew, Clinton, Hawking: what do the Epstein documents say about key people?

what does ghost in the shell mean

Second wave of court documents related to Jeffrey Epstein unsealed

what does ghost in the shell mean

Jeffrey Epstein boasted of spurious celebrity connections, documents show

what does ghost in the shell mean

Epstein court files damage Prince Andrew’s hopes of restoring reputation

what does ghost in the shell mean

Release of Epstein documents crashes court website but details are less scandalous

what does ghost in the shell mean

Jeffrey Epstein’s elite circle was huge. What do the documents show about his lifestyle and $580m fortune?

what does ghost in the shell mean

Who was Jeffrey Epstein and what are the court documents about?

Most viewed.


  1. 'Ghost in the Shell' Review: Has a Movie Ever Owned Itself So Hard?

    what does ghost in the shell mean

  2. How to Watch Ghost in the Shell? Easy Watch Order Guide

    what does ghost in the shell mean

  3. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

    what does ghost in the shell mean

  4. Ghost in the Shell Trailer Heralds the Bluray Re-Release

    what does ghost in the shell mean

  5. 8 detalhes que você precisa saber sobre Ghost in the Shell

    what does ghost in the shell mean

  6. Ghost in the Shell (2017)

    what does ghost in the shell mean


  1. Does Ghost exist ??

  2. 7" Ghost Shell

  3. Ghost in the shell OST

  4. Ghost in the Shell

  5. Ghost in the Shell (1995) In Three Minutes

  6. Unveiling the Cybernetic Intrigue: Ghost in the Shell (1995) Movie Review and Analysis"


  1. What is the origin of the title "Ghost in the Shell"?

    Ghost in the Shell (攻殻機動隊 Kōkaku Kidōtai?, literally "Mobile Armored Riot Police") It's clear to me that the English name of "Ghost in the Shell" is far, well, cooler than "Mobile Armored Riot Police". But why was this particular name chosen? What are its origins, and what significance does it have in the series (if any)? ghost-in-the-shell Share

  2. Ghost in the Shell

    Ghost in the Shell [a] is a Japanese cyberpunk media franchise based on the seinen manga series of the same name written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow.

  3. Ghost in the Shell 1995 explanation: themes, style, and impact

    Ghost in the Shell is a seminal anime movie released in 1995, directed by Mamoru Oshii and based on the manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. The movie is widely regarded as a landmark work in the anime and sci-fi genres, and has had a significant influence on subsequent works in those fields.

  4. How the Original 'Ghost in the Shell' Changed Sci-Fi

    James Cameron called "Ghost in the Shell" "a stunning work of speculative fiction," and the future of his "Avatar," in which humans remotely operate alien bodies, certainly bears a resemblance to...

  5. Ghost in the Shell Wiki

    攻殻機動隊 Wiki のページへようこそ. Ghost in the Shell, a Japanese Manga and Anime franchise created by the manga artist Masamune Shirow, and filmmakers Mamoru Oshii and Kenji Kamiyama . This wiki is brought to you by an open volunteer community of GitS fans, who strive to collect and consolidate everything known about the GitS ...

  6. The Meaning Behind The Song: Ghost In The Shell by Chief Kelly

    The title "Ghost In The Shell" is a metaphorical reference to the idea of an intangible essence or consciousness existing within a physical form or shell. It reflects the deeper themes explored in the song, highlighting the struggle to find meaning and authenticity amidst the advancements of technology.

  7. 'Ghost in the Shell': A Beginner's Guide to the Anime Series

    The Ghost in the Shell (1989), by Masamune Shirow The manga that kicked off the franchise may surprise first-time readers already familiar with the anime, due to its lighter tone and depiction of ...

  8. Ghost in the Shell thrills but ducks the philosophical questions posed

    Ghost in the Shell imagines a futuristic, hi-tech but grimy and ghetto-ridden Japanese metropolis populated by people, robots, and technologically-enhanced human cyborgs. Beyond the superhuman ...

  9. New Year's Eve Times Square Ball Drop: 10 Surprising Facts

    December 31, 2023 8:25 AM EST. A s the world prepares to ring in a new year, more than one billion people are expected to tune in to watch a glowing orb drop down a pole to mark midnight in New ...

  10. Why is Ghost in the Shell (1995) sometimes labeled the greatest and

    Why Ghost in the Shell is the greatest and most philosophical anime ever made. Mamoru Oshii's 1995 manga-based sci-fi hit, the setting of which was modelled on Hong Kong, questions the ethics of ...

  11. What is meant by "ghost" in GitS? : r/Ghost_in_the_Shell

    Ghost seems to be interchangeable with inochi (命), the word for life force or the state of being alive. The metaphysics of Ghost in the Shell are heavily based on Shinto religion. "Closely related are Shinto understandings of life and living in which fertility and fecundity are especially celebrated. Inochi is the Japanese word for life, but ...

  12. Ghosts & Shells

    The Shell refers to the body, organic or inorganic. One can even transfer a ghost from one Shell to another. Existing without a proper Shell (even the basic rudimentary forms like brainboxes) usually results in degradation. A consequence of Ghost and Shell separation arose in criminology.

  13. Ghost In The Shell Ending Explained: The Next Stage Of Post ...

    In the cyberpunk future "Ghost in the Shell" envisions, people's brains are encased in hardware that enables them to access the internet — and, in turn, be accessed and controlled from outside....

  14. Ghost in the Shell movie review (2017)

    "Ghost in the Shell" is full of dazzling images that suggest a rich, profound narrative the film is never able to achieve. A young woman brutally rips the hatch off a tank. Her skin and bones crack, revealing mechanical sinew underneath her human exterior. Holographic advertisements the size of skyscrapers glitter across the city's landscape.

  15. Ghost In The Shell: 10 Philosophies That Influenced The Cyberpunk ...

    Published Aug 6, 2020. Ghost in the Shell affected the popular cyberpunk genre massively, but it, in its turn, was influenced by many ancient philosophies. An ancestor of cyberpunk anime is the uncomfortably genius work of art known as Ghost in the Shell. The movie, that had vague origins in the manga by Masamune Shirow, soon multiplied into a ...

  16. Ghost In The Shell: The 10 Most Confusing Things About The ...

    Home Lists Ghost In The Shell: The 10 Most Confusing Things About The Franchise, Finally Explained By Anya Wassenberg Published Jun 21, 2020 From manga to movies to TV and that unfortunate Scarlett Johansson live action version, the story has taken a lot of twists and turns.

  17. What exactly is a "ghost" in Ghost in the shell (1995)?

    What exactly is a "ghost" in Ghost in the shell (1995)? They keep talking about "ghosts". "Your ghost". "His ghost". "My ghost". I kept waiting for it to be explained but i remember receiving no explanation. Google didn't help either. So, what is a "ghost" exactly? Is it like a soul or something? 43 29 Share Sort by: New Add a Comment [deleted]

  18. The Ending Of Ghost In The Shell Explained

    In an adaptation of the original manga, "Ghost in the Shell" imagines a future in which humans are enhancing their bodies with technology, but can be hacked and manipulated with altered...

  19. Everything You Need to Know About 'Ghost in the Shell'

    A "ghost" is the Ghost in the Shell world's slang for a consciousness or spirit. Ghost in the Shell is often a deeply philosophical story that points out that no matter how much of a person's...

  20. Ghost in the Shell Scene Analysis

    Ghost in the Shell makes use of both cinematography and mise-en-scene to create a film that explores the depths of the relationship between the elements of humanity.While the characters in the film are shown contemplating the nature of their synthetic bodies and the relationship they have with the more intangible parts of their humanity, they are shown juxtaposed with reflections of themselves.

  21. Ghost in the Shell 2017 Controversy: A Comprehensive Guide

    The director of the first Ghost in the Shell movie, Mamoru Oshii, agreed but for different reasons, telling IGN: "The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one. The name ...

  22. What is the Red Sea crisis, and what does it mean for global trade

    Reported incidents in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Germany's Hapag-Lloyd has also said its container ships would continue to avoid the route, which is a central artery for global trade on the ...

  23. Best Thought Provoking Anime

    Ghost In The Shell What Does It Mean To Be Alive? Ghost in the Shell ... Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell is an era-defining work in the cyberpunk genre. While its animation was far ahead of many ...

  24. Philosophy

    Overview Ghost in the Shell takes place in the year 2029, when the world has become interconnected by a vast electronic network that permeates every aspect of life. People also tend to rely more and more on cybernetic implants and the first strong AIs make their appearance.

  25. A new California law restricts guns in public

    Gun owners in California can no longer carry firearms into amusement parks, museums, churches, zoos, banks, public parks or a whole slew of other places, even if they have a concealed carry permit ...

  26. Explicit meaning in Ghost in the Shell

    (Dan Dinello, page 276, Anime and philosophy) The title of the anime supports this, "Ghost in the Shell" likely refers to the phrase " A shadow of your former self." The main character has a cybernetic mind and body, which leads her to question her existence, whether or not she is still alive.

  27. What Does "Ghost in the Shell" Flopping Mean for Viacom?

    Ghost in the Shell failing to emerge as a viable property is disappointing for Viacom, which is hungry for a hit after a series of box office duds and is looking for bankable film franchises to ...

  28. Jeffrey Epstein: documents linking associates to sex offender unsealed

    The inclusion of a name in this list does not mean that said associate has been accused of wrongdoing in relation to Epstein. Among the names are people mentioned in passing at legal proceedings.