Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Psychological, Action, Mystery
Age-Appropriateness: 17+ (Nudity, Violence, profanity)
Episodes: One 1 hr. 25 min. movie
TheAwersome Rating: 7.8 / 10 (Not quite timeless, but important)
Premise: In the year 2029, Niihama City has become a technologically advanced metropolis. Due to great improvements in cybernetics, its citizens can replace their limbs with robotic parts. The world is now more interconnected than ever before, and the city’s Public Security Section 9 is responsible for combating corruption, terrorism, and other dangerous threats following this shift toward globalization.
The strong-willed Major Motoko Kusanagi of Section 9 spearheads a case involving a mysterious hacker known only as the “Puppet Master,” who leaves a trail of victims stripped of their memories. Pondering about various philosophical questions, such as her own life’s meaning, Motoko soon realizes that the one who will provide these answers is none other than the Puppet Master themself.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: There’s no question that this is the primary source of inspiration for The Matrix, and a lot of cyberpunk in general, as it really coalesces that 90’s anime technology-fueled existential angst. The cinematography and music are expertly crafted to really immerse you in this very familiar setting while simultaneously making you feel overwhelmed and always behind; much as life with ever-advancing technology feels.
Unfortunately, it also brings along those 90’s anime “over the top philosophical” musings that are very easy to get lost in as you don’t really follow what they’re saying. Same thing I didn’t like about Garden of Sinners, which no doubt was trying to channel this vibe. It’s not too bad though.
TLDR: An important, seminal cyberpunk experience that has aged a little, but still an interesting piece.
As for what “differences” there are between this 2008 remaster named Ghost in the Shell 2.0 and the original from 1995 titled Ghost in the Shell, there are a few slightly extended scenes, a lot of CGI is added to make it feel similar to the 2004 sequel Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, and formerly green tints and hues are now orange. Yes, we will be going down the Ghost in the Shell rabbit hole and watching the movies and shows, with the exception of maybe the allegedly terrible Netflix series that recently came out.
Speaking of the music, there is absolutely no question in my mind that Keiichi Okabe and Keigo Hoashi drew heavily from Kenji Kawai (composer for Ghost in the Shell) in writing the soundtrack for NieR: Automata (similar vibes also in the Yuki Yuna series by them). Having very similar existential themes such as “What is humanity?” “Does humanity truly exist anymore?” “What is autonomy?” “Am I truly Alive or just a program? And what is the difference between the two?” as well as the low-key hopelessness one feels in the face of dire world conditions coupled with these questions. You’ll notice a lot of similarities, specifically the use of tribal sounding vocals.
You’ll Likely Enjoy This if you Enjoyed:
- Existential AI/Humanity questions of Sword Art Online
- Philosophical questions on consciousness/sentience in Garden of Sinners
- Getting heavily immersed in a near-future dystopia like Cowboy Bebop
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