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Ghost in the Shell

Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell (2017)

In the near future, Major Mira Killian is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dange... Read all In the near future, Major Mira Killian is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dangerous criminals. In the near future, Major Mira Killian is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dangerous criminals.

  • Rupert Sanders
  • Shirow Masamune
  • William Wheeler
  • Scarlett Johansson
  • Pilou Asbæk
  • Takeshi Kitano
  • 1.1K User reviews
  • 458 Critic reviews
  • 52 Metascore
  • See more at IMDbPro
  • 3 wins & 6 nominations

New International Trailer

  • (as 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano)

Juliette Binoche

  • (as Michael Carmen Pitt)

Chin Han

  • Bearded Man
  • (as Mana Davis)
  • Hanka Security Agent

Kai Fung Rieck

  • Diamond Face

Andrew Stehlin

  • Thick Built Yakuza
  • All cast & crew
  • Production, box office & more at IMDbPro

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Did you know

  • Trivia In an establishing shot of the city, a Pan Am advert can be seen in the top left. The bankrupt airlines inclusion is a reference to Blade Runner (1982) which also had an in-film advert for them.
  • Goofs When Major shoots the geisha robot in the face, the robot's face is open, revealing its inner workings. The face then closes and, when next seen, the impact patterns from the bullets smoothly cross the seams of the closed face which they would not do if the face were shot when open.

Dr. Ouelet : We cling to memories as if they define us, but... they really don't. What we do is what defines us.

  • Crazy credits The title appears on screen twice. Once during the creation of the Major and again at the end of the opening credits.
  • Alternate versions Middle Eastern releases of the film have the Major's thermal optic camouflage suit recolored black.
  • Connections Featured in The Late Show Con Karim Musa: Sad Yotobi (2016)
  • Soundtracks Piano Concerto 20 Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Arrangement by Sam Zeines

User reviews 1.1K

  • Mar 11, 2018
  • How different is the 2017 film from the 1995 original?
  • Is The Major Japanese?
  • March 31, 2017 (United States)
  • United States
  • Official Facebook
  • Wellington, New Zealand (various locations)
  • Paramount Pictures
  • Dreamworks Pictures
  • Reliance Entertainment
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro
  • $110,000,000 (estimated)
  • $40,563,557
  • $18,676,033
  • Apr 2, 2017
  • $169,846,945

Technical specs

  • Runtime 1 hour 47 minutes
  • Dolby Atmos
  • Dolby Digital
  • 12-Track Digital Sound
  • IMAX 6-Track

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Ghost in the Shell (film)

  • View history
  • 2 Adaptation
  • 3 Reception
  • 4.2 Cultural analysis of lyrics
  • 6 External links

The movie begins with a scene of Major Motoko Kusanagi spying on a meeting taking place in an unspecified location in New Port City. The meeting is interrupted by a Section 6 strike team, at which point Motoko moves in, killing a foreign diplomat who took part in that meeting and then disappearing through use of her thermooptic camouflage system.

In the next scene, the chief of Section 9, Daisuke Aramaki , is introduced conversing with an official about programmers who are attempting to gain political asylum. The story then moves into the main plotline when Aramaki describes one of the minister's interpreters having had her brain hacked into by the mysterious "Puppet Master". While tracking down the presumed Puppet Master , Kusanagi explains to her partner Togusa (the least cyberized human in Section 9), why he was chosen for the team. "If we all reacted the same way, we'd be predictable, and there's always more than one way to view a situation. Overspecialization leads to death," she tells him.

The hacker turns out to be a garbageman who is going through a divorce and attempts to ghost-hack his wife using a program provided to him by an individual who met him in a bar. Batou and Ishikawa (two members of Section 9) arrive at the latest access terminal moments after the hacking attempt from it ends, failing to catch any suspect but also realizing that the locations from which the hack is performed corelate to the garbage truck route. When the garbageman finds out that the police are looking for him, he attempts to warn the person who provided him with the ghosthacking software. Both he and Kusanagi catch up with the individual at the same time, and the man fires at the Major's truck with extremely powerful (HV, or high velocity) ammunition and then activates a thermo-optic camouflage, rendering himself practically invisible. Eventually, the chase by Batou and Kusanagi leads the fugitive to the banks of a canal where Kusanagi destroys his camouflage and incapacitates him in close quarters combat.

It turns out that the man is not the actual Puppet Master but only a ghosthacked (brainwashed) "puppet" of the criminal. The garbageman whom he aided in ghosthacking has also been ghosthacked - in reality he did not have a wife or daughter, and all memories of them he possesses are false.

Kusanagi and Batou go out to sea in Kusanagi's boat, and it is revealed that Kusanagi goes scuba diving, much to Batou's concern. Cybernetic bodies are heavy and aren't buoyant, so any form of underwater activity, such as scuba diving, isn't advisable. When Batou asks Kusanagi if she's drunk, she points out that she's a cyborg and can't get drunk. The two have a conversation about what it means to be human after one has had cybernetic parts installed. She also talks about the nature of experience within the self, which is unique to that individual. In sociological terms, she gains knowledge and experience which in turn helps to define her self, and her beliefs and dispositions ( habitus ) help to interpret the experience in her own way (which she feels confined to). They then hear a mysterious voice that says, "For now we look through a glass, darkly".

One night, a female cybernetic body is suddenly assembled at Megatech (the manufacturer of bodies of all of Section Nines' cyborgs) without approval, and the cyborg runs off, naked, into the pouring rain, where it gets run over by a truck. Section 9 gets the body to try and determine why it was built. Batou relates a strange fact: the body has not even one brain cell as it is completely robot ic, yet there are indications that there is a ghost (a sentient entity or mind) within it. The ghost resembles one that has been copied, but without the normal degradations that go along with the process. Kusanagi expresses a wish to 'dive in' to the body and contact the ghost. However, her self-doubt is growing; she's unnerved by the cyborg, which she claims looks just like her, though not in a physical sense. She also expresses her doubts about the existence of her own self: she is unsure whether or not her thoughts and experiences are actually human in nature. She says that being treated as a human doesn't prove that she is essentially human inside. Aramaki notices something is wrong with her, and Batou tersely says she's been acting odd for a while and Aramaki would know this if he read Batou's reports.

Nakamura of Section 6 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), accompanied by a Doctor Willis, comes to claim the escaped body. As Willis analyses the ghost present in the cybernetic shell, Aramaki and Nakamura discuss the bureaucracy of the retrieval of the body. Willis confirms that the ghost in the shell is the Puppet Master. Nakamura claims that Section 6 had been tracking the Puppet Master for some time, managed to lure and trap the ghost within this cyborg, and killed his original one.

Aramaki expresses some concern over the fact that Section 6 just left the Puppet Master's original body to rot. However, the body suddenly takes control over the building and starts to speak. "There will be no corpse, because I never had a body." It claims that it never possessed a body because it is a computer program that achieved sentience, and that it desires political asylum from Section 9. Nakamura says that its request is ridiculous, and that the ghost in the body was programmed for self-preservation. The body argues that in a way, human DNA is a set of programs to preserve itself as well. DNA is what spreads "memory" from one generation to the next, and memory is what defines mankind. It also argues that the accumulation of data and the flow of information has given rise to another form of consciousness. Nakamura (who is visibly shaken), angrily protests that the body cannot prove its existence as a sentient life form. The body retorts that Nakamura himself cannot offer any proof of his own existence, either, when modern science cannot define what life really is. The body then states that it is not an AI but rather a sentient entity that was created through the accumulation of data and the flow of information known as Project 2501.

As Nakamura and Aramaki are talking to the body, Togusa notices something strange about the entrance of Nakamura and Willis and realizes that someone with therm-optic camouflage entered the building along with the officials because the doors into the building (which are apparently very sensitive) took three seconds to close after Dr. Willis and Nakamura had gone through. Togusa alerts Kusanagi to this fact, and they realise that Section 6 is up to something. The person, or persons, who entered with therm-optic camouflage, shoot the computer connected to the Puppet Master, set off a smoke grenade, blinding everyone, and snatch the ruined cyborg containing the Puppet Master. As they escape in their getaway car, Togusa shoots a tracking device into its registation plate. Batou starts to follow them by car while Kusanagi follows by helicopter . As Kusanagi and Aramaki talk about the Puppet Master, Aramaki also realises that Section 6 is involved in some sort of conspiracy around Project 2501. This is confirmed when Nakamura talks to Willis about securing the body: Nakamura does not understand why the Puppet Master would want to go to Section 9, but Willis jokes that perhaps it was chasing after a "girlfriend" there, which Nakamura rejects as "utter nonsense."

Ishikawa in the next scene talks to Aramaki after investigating further into Project 2501 and it turns out that the project was initiated before the Puppet Master showed up, even though it was claimed by some officials that the project was created in order to capture the Puppet Master. Ishikawa hints that perhaps the Puppet Master was a tool of Section 6 for the bureaucracy to do its dirty work. The escape of the Puppet Master would be a threat to Section 6 and the ministry would risk having secrets leaked out to the public.

Soon, the getaway car carrying the Puppet Master meets up with another and they split off in different directions. Batou follows the second car and Kusanagi chooses to follow the original. With the help of a road block and additional police, Batou stops the second car and discovers it is a decoy. He then rushes to support Kusanagi. Before he goes, he tells Togusa to get backup for her. Togusa is dumbfounded because he doesn't know why the Major would ever need backup.

Kusanagi follows the car to an abandoned building. There, she runs into a large version of a Fuchikoma (walking tank ) guarding the Puppet Master. Kusanagi's assault rifle cannot penetrate the tank's armour; instead she spends most of the fight running, destroying the engine block on the getaway car and taking out the port chain gun on the tank. The starboard chain gun then runs out of ammo, and she turns on her therm-optic camouflage and gets on top of the tank, trying to rip its cover off. However, she is unsuccessful, and damages her body due to the tension stress exerted on it. The tank grabs her and is about to crush her skull when Batou shows up and destroys the tank with some heavy weaponry.

It turns out that the Puppet Master's body is still intact, and Kusanagi decides to 'dive in' and contact its ghost immediately, as Aramaki would just use it as a bargaining chip. Batou hooks the two together, with himself monitoring the dive in order to disconnect them if it gets too risky. As they connect, the Puppet Master and Kusanagi's ghosts contact each other and the Puppet Master introduces himself to Kusanagi and Batou. It confirms that it is Project 2501, an illegal project by section 6 that has installed various programs into numerous ghosts for the interests of the various agencies that owned it. During its time collecting data and installing programs into various ghosts, it has become self-aware and has become an intelligent entity. The creators of Project 2501 thought that this self-awareness was a bug and attempted to contain the program into its current body. It tells them that it had been looking for Kusanagi for a long time, knowing of her through the many networks that it had hacked into. It is a sentient being because it can recognize its own existence but lacks two experiences that are granted to all living organisms: reproduction and death. Kusanagi suggests that it can copy itself, but it replies that a copy is static, only reproducing the mirror image of itself. It then states that a virus targeted to specific traits can destroy the whole system of its copies. It states that life perpetuates itself through diversity and originality while sacrificing old parts of the system in order to protect it from the weakness of a static system. The Puppet Master finally expresses its wish to merge its ghost with Kusanagi's in order to give birth to a new single entity. Batou attempts to disconnect the dive, but the Puppet Master hacks into him, preventing the disconnection.

Meanwhile, as Kusanagi and the Puppet Master are conversing about the merge, helicopters from Section 6 approach the abandoned building with orders to destroy the Puppet Master as a primary target along with Kusanagi, presumably to cover up the conspiracy. Batou sees laser s pointing to both the bodies, but the snipers are unable to shoot because of the Puppet Master's hacking.

Kusanagi and the Puppet Master continue to talk about the merge, with Kusanagi expressing concern over the fact that both of them will change and no longer retain their current identities. She wants a guarantee that she will retain her identity, but the Puppet Master argues that there is no reason to keep with it, because her desire to stay unchanging within a dynamic environment is ultimately what limits her. She asks it why it chose her and it responds by stating that the two of them are very similar, mirror images of each other's psyche. It says that it is connected to a vast network, containing large amounts of information, and that the merge would create a higher consciousness. Kusanagi finally decides to merge with it just as the snipers from the helicopters fire. Batou regains control over his body and puts out his arm to protect Kusanagi. The snipers destroy the Puppet Master's body and Batou's arm gets hit as well. Kusanagi's head is shot off, but the brain is not destroyed. Her vision cuts off shortly after that.

Kusanagi wakes at Batou's safe house - finding herself within a child-sized cyborg body. Batou comes in and informs her of what transpired since her original body was destroyed (approximately twenty hours earlier): the foreign minister resigned as a result of the conspiracy, and Nakamura is being questioned. Motoko decides to leave and reveals that she is no longer either Kusanagi nor the Puppet Master, but rather a combination of the two. Batou offers her a car and they agree on a personal password: 2501. The movie ends with the new Motoko/Puppeteer entity watching the panorama of the city and musing on what should it do next - "The net is vast and infinite."

Adaptation [ ]

The film adaptation presents the story's themes in a more serious, atmospheric and slow-paced manner than the manga. In addition, in order to condense the manga into 82 minutes of screen time, the movie excludes the subplots in order to focus exclusively on the "Puppet Master" plot.

Unlike the manga and the TV series, the producers have stated that the movie is set in Hong Kong, in the making-of Ghost in the Shell featurette. The writing depicted on the scenery is Chinese Hànzì characters, and not Japanese kana/kanji .

Reception [ ]

The movie was lauded as one of the first anime films to seamlessly blend computer and cell animation (after Macross Plus Movie Edition ). The soundtrack is of a classical Japanese style. It was one of the first anime features to cross over to non-anime fans GKIDS in North America.

Choral song [ ]

According to the soundtrack's liner notes, the haunting choral song that plays throughout the film is a wedding song, sung to get rid of all evil influences that are about to follow. Kenji Kawai originally wanted to use Bulgarian folk singers, but was unable to find any, so he relied on the Japanese folk song choir he used earlier in the Ranma 1/2 anime. The song uses an ancient form of the Japanese language mixed with Bulgarian harmony and traditional Japanese notes.

1. 吾が舞へば、麗し女、酔ひにけり(あがまへば、くはしめ、ゑひにけり) A ga maeba, kuwashime yoinikeri Because I had danced, the beautiful lady was enchanted

2. 吾が舞へば、照る月、響むなり(あがまへば、てるつき、とよむなり) A ga maeba, terutsuki toyomunari Because I had danced, the shining moon echoed

3. 結婚に、神、天下りて(よばひに、かみ、あまくだりて) Yobai ni, kami amakudarite Proposing marriage, the god shall descend

4. 夜は明け、鵺鳥、鳴く(よはあけ、ぬへどり、なく) Yo wa ake, nuedori naku The night clears away and the chimera bird (white's thrush) will sing

5. 遠神恵賜(とほ、かみ、ゑみ、ため) Toh kami, emi tame The distant god may give us the precious blessing!

Cultural analysis of lyrics [ ]

Married nobles in the Japanese pre-feudal era typically slept in separate bedrooms. Sneaking into the bedroom of a love interest constituted a proposal for marriage. Therefore, line 3 may be understood as "yobahi/nightly crawl into bedroom" rather than "kekkon/wedding."

A sterling bird is mentioned in line 4. When this bird sings at dawn, it is considered an ominous sign because its song is believed to be less melodic than other birds and thus baleful.

The fifth line is a set of Shinto "god words". In the ancient days when Shinto relied on more shamanic rituals, a turtle shell was burned to reveal a fortune and special words were said to proclaim that the truth had been revealed. These words eventually became a prayer used to cleanse impurities.

The last line of the song was overdubbed in the international release of the film with "One Minute Warning", a song by U2 and Brian Eno. Some speculate that this edit was done for marketing purposes by Manga Entertainment, one of the major financiers of the film).

  • In the opening credits, the numbers that flow in the background are actually computer codes for the different names of the staff who worked on the movie. These flowing numbers inspired the now-famous Matrix source code.
  • The Puppet Master's statement, " When I was a child, my speech, feelings, and thinking were all those of a child. Now that I am a man I have no more use for childish ways. Now I can say these things without help in my own voice because now I am neither the woman known as the Major nor am I the program that is called the Puppet Master. And where does the newborn go from here... " is reminescent of the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 13:11-13, " When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known ... " (1 Cor 13:11-13)
  • The brand of beer Batou drinks is a real beer brand called San Miguel Beer which is the dominant beer in the Philippines. Noteworthy is the anime's detailed and accurate recreation of the San Miguel beer can, including its gold label and corporate seal.
  • English-language subtitles name Kusanagi's gun a "Zastaber", but this is incorrect. The Gun is a real model, a CZ 100 (minor differences aside), but it is made by Česká Zbrojovka of the Czech Republic. The arms manufacturer Crvena Zastava also exists, however, but is a Serbian firm and does not make that model of gun. The CZN-M22, a bullpup assault rifle used by Kusanagi, is fictional, but also displays the CZ (Česká Zbrojovka) logo inside its case. Some subtitles also fail to translate the maker of Togusa's revolver correctly, calling it a "Matever" instead of "Mateba". This gun is also a real, but very rare, revolver.
  • Video material from this movie was used in the video of Wamdue Project's dance hit "King of my Castle" in 1999.
  • The US rating for this movie is disputed. The Region 1 Manga Entertainment DVD box reads "Unrated: Suggested 17+". Some sources, e.g. the IMDb, say "Restricted". Still others think that despite its content it deserves a "PG" rating.
  • A cult classic outside the country, the ticket sales of the movie weren't as great domestically. Hence the sequel to the movie lost the title "Ghost in the Shell 2" and the secondary title became the primary title "Innocence."
  • The original comic did not specify the location of the city, but rumor is rampant that it is set in Kobe, where Shirow Masamune (the creator of the manga) lives. In the movie, the city was created to be complete mixture of Asian culture, Chinese being the primary one. To go with the art, the music created for the movie used whole assortment of Southeastern Asia origins, and even play methods were often ad-libbed to create mixed ethnicity (although, Mr. Kawai admits it also partly had to do with the fact that he had no idea how to play some of them). Some drums were played by a female drummer to create a softer touch.
  • In ordinary anime, characters would at least blink to create the feeling of "being animated," but in this movie, Motoko's eyes intentionally stayed unblinking many times. Director Mamoru Oshii's intention was to portray her as a "doll."
  • After he struggled to convey the mood that the characters are supposed to emanate for English version dub, Mr. Oshii's thought was to thank the Japanese cast for making his job a whole lot easier. It took two days to record the Japanese dub, whereas the English version took three weeks to get right ("they can speak the line, but they couldn't emote"). In the pamphlet for Innocence , he actually pokes fun at a certain internationally recognized anime director by saying "Unlike some directors, I do give due credit to voice actors" (After seeing some overacting in his movie that was inspired from Gulliver's Travel, the man Mr. Oshii is referring to refuses to use any professional voice actors to this date)
  • In the Region 2 DVD and Region 1 Special Edition DVD, the closing title song is "One Minute Warning" by Passengers, which is a U2 and Brian Eno collaboration.
  • Production IG optioned the rights to a Live action adaptation which it hopes to sell to a major Hollywood studio. In 2017, an adaptation of Ghost in The Shell was released, starring American actress Scarlett Johansson.

External links [ ]

  • Official Site At Manga.com
  • Production I.G English website
  • Ghost in the Shell at Anime-Planet
  • Interview with Teruhisa Tajima / Logo designer of GHOST IN THE SHELL
  • 1 Motoko Kusanagi
  • 2 Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045
  • 3 Tachikoma
  • International edition
  • Australia edition
  • Europe edition

Scarlett Johansson as the Major in Ghost in the Shell.

Original Ghost in the Shell director: 'no basis' for whitewashing anger

Mamoru Oshii says he has no issue with casting of Scarlett Johansson since character is a cyborg and despite her name, ‘her physical form is an assumed one’

The director of the original Ghost in the Shell , Mamoru Oshii, has weighed in on the whitewashing controversy surrounding the remake, saying that there is no basis for the criticism leveled at the decision to cast Scarlett Johansson in the lead role rather than an Asian actor.

Speaking to IGN , Oshii said that because the main protagonist – Major Motoko Kusanagi – is a cyborg, the question of race and whitewashing is a moot point. “What issue could there possibly be with casting her?” Oshii said. “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. Even if her original body (presuming such a thing existed) were a Japanese one, that would still apply.”

Oshii added that he thought Johansson was the best possible person to play Kusanagi in the Rupert Sanders-helmed remake, which is out next weekend in the US. He also argued that actors of different backgrounds from the characters they are portraying is part and parcel of the film-making world.

“In the movies, John Wayne can play Genghis Khan, and Omar Sharif, an Arab, can play Doctor Zhivago, a Slav. It’s all just cinematic conventions,” he explained.

“If that’s not allowed, then Darth Vader probably shouldn’t speak English, either. I believe having Scarlett play Motoko was the best possible casting for this movie. I can only sense a political motive from the people opposing it, and I believe artistic expression must be free from politics.”

The controversy over Johansson’s casting ignited after a petition was signed to have an Asian star replace her, and the Mulan star Ming-Na Wen criticized the decision , tweeting that she had “nothing against Scarlett Johansson. In fact, I’m a big fan. But everything against this whitewashing of Asian role.”

The argument continued when the screenwriter Max Landis suggested there were no actors of east Asian origins capable of getting Ghost in the Shell green-lit in 2016.

Other high-profile casting choices which saw white stars play characters who were originally Asian, such as Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange and Matt Damon in The Great Wall, saw many call for an end to so-called whitewashing .

  • Ghost in the Shell
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with legend Mamoru Oshii!

What you get

Beneficios de compra.

Stream anytime, anywhere. Satisfaction guaranteed.


Compre ahora para tener acceso ilimitado. Disponible para disfrutar en streaming cuando sea, donde sea y para siempre. Satisfacción garantizada.

What makes this course special

Características especiales de este curso.

Fabled director of science fiction anime classics like Ghost in the Shell and Innocence teaches anime and creative storytelling, with: scene analysis, world-building, and creativity tips.

Film Director

Anime fans, cinephiles, filmmakers and creators are loving the journey deep into the mind of one of Japan’s most legendary creators: Director Mamoru Oshii, known for the classic original Ghost in the Shell . Oshii lays out his entire approach to filmmaking - with Director’s Analyses of legendary scenes from his science fiction masterpieces Ghost in the Shell , Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence , and The Sky Crawlers . Oshii’s 4.5+ hour, 20-video series will speed you & sustain you in your quest to achieve your own visions of tomorrow.

Meet the master

Presentación del maestro.

Mamoru Oshii

Inside the course

Contenido del curso.

Oshii is an absolute legend – for good reason. Learn his techniques on storytelling, world-building, character development, and more in 20 videos totaling 4.5+ hours. He breaks down his creative formulas, development methods, and tales from his life as a director in the pop culture industry that has given Japan another claim to global soft power dominance.

01. Meet Mamoru Oshii, Meet Anime

The acclaimed director of science fiction anime classics never watched anime in his youth! How does one go from newbie to revered director in such a competitive field? Our journey with Director Oshii begins here.

02. Bad Movies Change Lives

Professional directors are skilled at diagnosing problems in their work. So it’s no surprise that problematic films can sharpen our diagnostic skills. How does watching the bad help us get good?

03. Director’s Analysis: Invisible Choreography in Ghost in the Shell

The Director talks through his favorite challenges in creating the cyberpunk classic that launched him to global fame in the 1990s. Hear about creating the pan-Asian version of futuristic Hong Kong, and choreographing the animation in the “thermoptic camouflage” scenes where one fighter fades in and out of visibility.

04. The Right Way to Lie

Filmmaking is based on intentional “delusion” (as Oshii later discusses in Lecture 01). This means lying can be a great creative driver – as long as you learn how to turn your lies into the right kind of reality.

05. A Katamari of Details

What do people take away from a film? Turns out it’s pretty random, and never the whole thing. Director Oshii talks about his approach to filmmaking as creating a katamari (cluster, or accumulation) of rich, memorable details – the fun is seeing what bits stick in people’s memories.

06. Director’s Analysis: Learning from Limitations in Ghost in the Shell

Animation may be a medium where anything is theoretically possible, but knowing the limits of the mechanics and physics involved is crucial. Director Oshii shares some of the challenges he faced in the concluding scenes of the original Ghost in the Shell.

07. Film is War

The processes of anime and filmmaking overlap, but require different expertise, literacies, and skills from their directors. What they have in common: reaching the finish line is a battle.

08. Sustainable Work

To some, Director Oshii has the reputation of being a sloth, showing up to work for 3 hours a day max – yet to others he’s known as the hardest-working person in the studio.… Hear what’s behind this duality and get the truth about how to create a sustainable path through the sometimes grueling creative world.

09. Director’s Analysis: Humans & Dolls in Innocence

The sequel to Ghost in the Shell, titled simply “Innocence” in Japanese, features classic SF tropes (such as the time loop reminiscent of La Jetée) that emphasize artificiality and the mechanization of reality and further complicate one of Oshii’s team’s biggest challenges: animating human and dolls while blurring the distinction between the two.

10. One Film, One Director

Collaboration between great minds often yields amazing innovation, but in the realm of film and anime directing, two is a crowd. Hear why a director’s voice is so crucial and why high-level collaboration can be a death trap.

11. Anime is Physical

Oshii’s anime is known for its intellectual depth, but in this session he highlights its physical nature, with the world and characters coming from the physical labor of artists, out through their hands, and eventually to the screen.

12. Director’s Analysis: Animism in The Sky Crawlers

Dogs, birds, people, and everything living within the anime world can be said to be a form of animism – Oshii discusses how they put life and emotions into animated characters, human, non-human, or post-human.

13. Don’t Become a Director

Directing is a marathon – racing past obstacles and imitators – and anime directing means there are many parts you must run alone. Why endure all this to become a director? The question is only half rhetorical….

14. Fish, Dogs, Birds, Delusion

Categorizing knowledge and memories is the first step toward imagination – but to succeed, a director has to go beyond categorization and into the realm of complete delusion (mōsō).

15. The Cinematic Triangle

Director Oshii, also a prolific screenwriter and author of narrative fiction, explains the balance and ordering of how to conceptualize world, character, and story.

16. Character Essentials

Explanation of the 8 essential aspects for creating a roster of characters for a film or anime – including the all-important “absent character.”

17. The Absence of Action

The classical technique of spending more time on character and world development has yielded to rapid plot development and action. Oshii discusses reserving action and being judicious about motion, even as technologies and viewing cultures evolve.

18. World Building

Oshii explains his approach to world-building through the distinction between Japanese terms fūkei and jōkei, the former signifying background scenery, and the latter signifying the scene, which includes background, character, and the emotional balance created by adding and subtracting elements.

19. The Importance of Layout

Oshii covers the complex processes at play in considering how to actualize jōkei through effective location hunting and strategic use of layout, a process resembling architecture as much as filmmaking.

20. Finding Your Scene

Film and anime require different ways of working with different specialists – from costume designers to cinematographers. All these workings require the director to navigate the path of creating art while wrestling with the everyday and sometimes even the uninspired. Every director must find their scene.



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Ghost In The Shell Director Mamoru Oshii On This Year's Biggest Anime Hit

Image for article titled Ghost In The Shell Director Mamoru Oshii On This Year's Biggest Anime Hit

When people look back at 2020, for all its awfulness, one bright spot will stick out in Japan: the runaway success of Demon Slayer .

The manga debuted in 2016 and recently ended its run. Last year saw a TV anime. But this year, Demon Slayer exploded. As of writing, the animated feature film has dominated the box office , while the manga has ruled the sales charts. I ts success is truly staggering.

Yet, Mamoru Oshii, the famed director of the 1995 anime feature Ghost in the Shell , isn’t bullish on Demon Slayer becoming a long-running institution like One Piece or Dragon Ball . Instead, he chalks up its success to going viral.

In a recent interview with Bunshun Online , Oshii was asked why Demon Slayer is such a huge hit. He replied that hasn’t seen more than YouTube footage of the anime, but added that he has some basic knowledge of it. “The original manga is popular with people, and the illustrations are carefully done,” Oshii continued. “But it’s not like the characters or the story are new.” This does not seem to matter. Toho Studios, which is distributing the Demon Slayer film, told NHK that over 22.5 million people had seen the movie.

Oshii recalled something that Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki once said: A work can appeal to a million people, and anything above that is a social phenomenon.

This is an excellent point, and it does remind me of how Yokai Watch captured the imagination of Japanese children in 2014. But the trend ended, and as Kotaku reported last year , Yokai Watch is having a terrible time in Japan.

T he case of Yokai Watch proves massive success does not necessarily led to becoming part of Japan’s cultural fabric. It’s a question of whether fans remain after the white-hot popularity has cooled. Some things, such as Pokémon , do not peter out and instead become institutions.

“Works that go viral become mega-hits,” Oshii continued. “One of the modern mysteries people want to know is why something goes viral.”

The reason could be simple. It could be that, as movie critic Yuichi Maeda told Reuters , Demon Slayer ’s message resonates with Japanese audiences. “People in high positions act according to that—’Noblesse oblige’, samurai, and so on. Those at the top become a shield for weaker ones, using their strength to protect them,” said Maeda. “That’s absolutely missing in modern Japan.”

Or, it could be that once something becomes popular in Japan, then inevitability, it snowballs through society. This is how trends supernova, but staying power can be elusive.

“Perhaps, I would imagine that another Demon Slayer movie will get made, but it’s doubtful it will be as big of a hit as this first one,” Oshii added. “I also think it’s difficult for it [ Demon Slayer ] to become a standard [anime] like One Piece or Dragon Ball .” In short, Oshii seems to think Demon Slayer is lightning in a bottle. Repeating its success, he indicates, will not be easy. What has made One Piece and Dragon Ball so iconic is that their popularity has endured for years—generations.

Oshii says it’s “difficult,” but certainly not impossible. Demon Slayer is already on track to surpass Spirited Away at the box office. This year, it made a mark with the manga’s last chapter being published at the height of Demon Slayer -mania. Maybe it will return to regular serialization, bringing more anime films. If so, the only thing that’s left to prove is future success. Easier said than done.


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