Based on a Japanese Manga, Ghost in the Shell opens with a surprise. A naked woman jump off a tall building, assassinating an important man inside an office. The naked woman is Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg who is a major for the Public Security Section 9 in a futuristic world. The movie follows her and teammates, Batou and Ishikawa, effort to hunt down a mysterious hacker named Puppet Master. Directed by Mamoru Oshii, the film doesn’t offer the usual guidelines for a stand-alone based on a comic book movie. In time we do learn about Motoko’s identity, but a lot of questions were left unanswered. Is this a bad thing? Is this the standard theme for anime movies? To answer the first question, no it’s not necessarily a bad technique to leave certain aspect mysterious for the audience to dig later. Second, my knowledge on anime is limited, although my interest broaden after viewing Ghost in the Shell. The ending also played an important part for my liking: it was jarring and unexpected. While watching, I do get reminded of Blade Runner and Terminator in few scenes, but the gender and sexuality nature in the film is highly complex and definitely “mature” that it serves as a nice contrast between the West and East take on the subject.
Recently, the internet exploded when news about Ghost in the Shell Hollywood live-action remake comes to surface. The main issue is not with the remake itself, since many think it will make an interesting debate, the concern is with signing Scarlett Johansson as Motoko. Personally I feel Scar Jo can pulled it off since she is a talented actress. And I am not deluded to expect Hollywood to actually cast someone like Rinko Kikuchi for this role, since Hollywood is in fact a white industry. No, after watching Ghost in the Shell my concern is with how authentic will Hollywood get with its adaptation and Dreamworks with their choice of director. Of course it’s premature to discuss this early, but one thing remains true the work of Masamune Shirow is original and challenging, and will remain as one of those overlook influence that inspired several of Hollywood blockbusters, such as The Matrix, Avatar and AI: Artificial Intelligence.