Rental Review - Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Ghost in the Shell (1995), NR, 83 minutes - I was first exposed to Ghost in the Shell by a couple of college friends.  At the time (sometime around 2000-2001), this feature length anime was already highly regarded and, at least among those in my social circle, was almost always at the top of the list when it came to recommended anime.  Because they spoke of it with such reverence, I had incorrectly assumed that it was older than it actually was.  Now, seventeen seventeen years later (about twenty two since it was first released), and a good ten years since I last watched it, I figured I better give it another viewing before going to see the new live action adaptation that was released a few weeks back.

I do remember that it originally took me two or three viewings before I really followed just what was going on.  This may be because the friends that introduced me to anime were purists and insisted that everything be watched with subtitles (side note: I tend to agree with this thought process but sometimes more thought provoking subject matter such as this can lose its impact as you're concentrating on keeping up with reading the dialogue which can cause you to miss visuals - but that's a discussion for another day).  In any event, Ghost in the Shell and its tale that takes place in a future with such technological advancement that cybernetic augmentation has become common place, so much so that souls/consciousnesses (referred to as 'ghosts') can inhabit artificially produced android shells beyond the lives of their mortal bodies is definitely a story that is worthy of taking the time for multiple viewings.

In the years since my initial exposure to the franchise, I also learned that this film (written by Kazunori Itō and directed by Mamoru Oshii) was originally based on the manga by Masamune Shirow.  Between re-watching this film and knowing that the various anime incarnations (there have been a number of films/tv series) have adapted portions of the original manga, my interest in seeking out those volumes to read has greatly increased.

Admittedly, anime as a format isn't for everyone, but if you're interested in a good, thought provoking, sci-fi story Ghost in the Shell is well worth your time.  I'll leave it up to you whether you decided to watch it dubbed or with subtitles, whatever you are most comfortable with is best.  I'm glad that I took the time to re-visit this version of the story as it has piqued my interest in both the new live action adaptation (despite the issues that most people seem to be having with it) and the original source material.

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