Major Kusinagi’s climactic fight against the Alakuneda ‘R3000’ Spider Tank in the original Ghost in the Shell is easily one of the best fight scenes in modern anime. The Major must face off the spider tank so she can connect with the Puppet Master’s ghost. The scene ultimately leads to a bizarre climax in which the Major explodes her body trying to open a spider tank. It’s a brutal battle that nearly gets her killed, but Batou steps in at the last possible minute to save her.
The original ‘Ghost in the Shell’ from 1995 was a watershed film in animation history. The “cartoon” masterpiece set the standard for what adult animation can be. It influenced many subsequent Hollywood films, most notably The Matrix trilogy.
Created by Japanese manga creator Masamune Shirow, the manga was first published in Kondansha Publishing’s Young Magazine anthology as “Kokaku Kidotai” (“Mobile Armoured Riot Police”), and ran from April 1989 to November 1990. Shirow later wrote a sequel – Ghost In The Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface.
The manga spawned three feature-length anime movies, Ghost In The Shell (1995), Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence (2004), and Ghost In The Shell: The New Movie (2015).
The title “Ghost In The Shell” pays homage to Arthur Koestler’s 1967 book about philosophical psychology, The Ghost In The Machine. Here, a “ghost” is an individual’s consciousness or soul and in the case of our protagonist “Major”, it’s just her brain encased inside a cybernetic body.
The original Ghost in the Shell was a truly landmark film in terms of animation. This movie is masterfully crafted – each frame is memorable and visually stunning. Of course, you don’t need to be an anime “otaku” or even a visual kind of movie-enjoyer to appreciate this movie.
Aside from the gross body horror and the philosophy, there’s a couple of cool action scenes and some mysterious political intrigue.
The movie is a bit of a pastiche of genres, but most importantly, it’s one of them neo-noir/cyberpunk/post-cyberpunk types, a la Blade Runner or The Terminator.