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Ghost In The Shell  

Director: Mamoru Oshii
Intrigue, giant hard sexy mecha, a sophisticated storyline and visuals and cinematography worthy of any art house film give "Ghost in the Shell" a place in my classic Japanime movies list. In 2029, humans and machines have mingled to the point where it is hard to delineate the difference between them. Some, like members of a special division of the police force, have become cyborgs, their minds existing as "ghosts" in their synthetic bodies, or shells.

"Ghost in the Shell" starts out like a simple police investigative thriller: sudden acts of murderous violence break out all over the city, suspected to be the work of a criminal mastermind known only as the 'Puppet Master'. He (or she) is so known because of his insidious ability to download into and control the minds of victims, causing panic among the "true" humans of the city. As Motoko Kusanagi and her partner Banteo (cyborg members of Section 9) investigate, they discover that secrets are being kept by organizations that were meant to help them, such as the mysterious Section 6. Motoko finds herself a target of the Puppet Master, but in the final confrontation will be something that no one, not even Motoko herself suspects.

"Ghost in the Shell" continues the tradition of screwing with the viewer's mind by exploring complex issues: in this case, the idea of intelligence, humanity and the concept of the 'soul'. The film examines the state of mankind's humanity, where its place is in light of the almost uncontrollable advancement of technology. The line between what is real, and what isn't is blurred, the more that science becomes magic, and the more technology seemed to verge on accomplishing what was once believed to be only the jurisdiction of some divine entity. And if that doesn't grab you, then the exquisite animation will.

It's hard to imagine that one could create such levels of detail (and in some cases, gory detail) without the use of computer animation. It seems more real than real itself, from the mundane depiction of the city in the rain, to the hard chrome of the giant mecha at the end. And as always, the ambient music score is excellent.
It's amazing that the film can explore and accomplish so much in such a short time (well, seems short to me anyway). Animation seems peculiarly suited to explore things that live action cannot - for one thing, its hard to imagine an actor can be torn to shreds without a flicker of pain contorting his features and still view the situation with a dispassionate detachment. Awesome and awe-inspiring.

Eden Law

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