We’re now just a few weeks away from seeing the live-action realisation of mind-blowing Manga movie, Ghost in the Shell, and whilst diehard fans will be chomping at the bit to see Major Kusanagi kicking butt on the big screen, there might still be some of you who are still a little “Who in the What”?
Never fear, we’ve got you covered with this beginner’s guide! Plug in and prepare yourselves, as we upload all the Ghost in the Shell facts you need to know.
Ghost in the Shell is a genuine Japanese phenomenon, a media franchise spanning manga, television series, films, and video games. The manga, originally published in 1989 has already been adapted for a cinema audience, most notably in the ground-breaking animated classic of 1995. Touted as the main inspiration behind the Wachowski’s sci-fi masterpiece The Matrix (1999), the influence and power of Ghost in the Shell is far-reaching and long-standing. The 2017 live-action adaptation marks the first time the franchise has veered away from its animated roots, and whilst the casting choices were subject to some controversy, the trailers and marketing material for the film so far seem to have nailed the futuristic aesthetic that fans will know and love.
The Main Characters
Played in the upcoming movie by Scarlett Johansson, Ghost in the Shell’s main heroine is the incomparable Major Kusanagi; a badass augmented-cybernetic human, and field commander of the Public Security task-force in the fictional Section 9 (a futuristic, dystopian, “neo Tokyo”-esque location). In other words, she is part computer, part human and 100% awesome! Possessing one of the most advanced “ghosts” (the term coined for the cyborg bodies), the Major is complex, smart, strong-willed and with near superhuman physical strength.
Playing Batou, Major’s partner of sorts, is Danish actor Pilou Asbæ. He’s the second in command to the Major and whilst he looks pretty imposing, he has a warm heart and a great sense of humour. Don’t be fooled however, this battle-hardened ex-military man is still a force to be reckoned with, and he and the Major make for an unstoppable duo.
The main villain of the film is the mysterious Kuze, played by Michael Pitt. Now this is where things deviate from the manga slightly. The villain in the animated movie is known as the Puppet Master, and in the anime series Stand Alone Complex the bad guy is cryptically known as The Laughing Man. Kuze is reputedly neither of these characters, but with a plot that involves things such as brain-hacking and themes revolving around identity, it is perhaps fitting that the villain is a little bit of a head-scratcher at the moment!
The plot of Ghost in the Shell is notoriously a little bit complex. It is brooding, melancholic and surprisingly philosophical. Whereas it looks like the new film will be favouring the futuristic action/thriller side of the story, it does appear that the main narrative will be staying fairly close to the original. In the simplest possible terms, the Major is a cyborg law enforcer who is tasked with bringing down a nefarious computer hacker. The “hacking” in Ghost in the Shell terms is slightly more sinister than finding your way into someone else’s Twitter account, and instead involves “brain hacking”, or taking over the brains of unsuspecting victims! The action may be exciting, but there is a little more to this film than meets the eye, so keep your brains (cyborg or otherwise!) firmly switched on.
What to expect?
Even now, the animation of the 1995 Ghost in the Shell movie is pretty ground-breaking. Using a then pioneering combination of high-tech computer animation with traditional hand-drawn techniques, it had an aesthetic which truly stood out. The effects of the new live-action movie already look equally ground-breaking; look out for the awesome near-invisible water-based fight in particular.
All casting controversy aside, Scarlett Johansson appears to have nailed the brooding yet badass nature of the Major, and Batou’s look is spot-on from the original anime. The only real mystery is surrounding the villain, but let’s hope it is a welcome new addition to this unstoppable franchise!
With plenty to satisfy fans, and with an futuristic action edge which will appeal to beginners, Ghost in the Shell appears to be ticking all the boxes, and we can’t wait to see it all come to life!