In the midst of setting final exam questions for a Mass Media Effects course I’m assisting, I chanced upon some online murmurs of a third movie from Masamune Shirow, namely Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. Solid State Society. Ever since the 2nd TV series ended, I haven’t seen or heard much about it. This is a surprise to me, but a delightful one since today marks the day when the third movie gets released on DVD in Japan… and as always, it’s already leaked onto the Internet (e.g. bittorrent), complete with English fansub.
I’ve been a major fan of this sci-fi thriller ever since I laid eyes on the original Ghost in the Shell movie back in 1995. I love how the entire theme takes current trends in our culture and society, then extrapolates it into the future. Issues of identity/nationality in virtuality, cybercrimes vs. real-life crimes, even the meaning of life are all explored.
Having watched both subsequent seasons of its television series entitled “Stand Alone Complex” (S.A.C. 1st & 2nd Gig), I was treated to a second graphically-rich movie entitled Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Innocence begins with a quotation from Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam’s Tomorrow’s Eve (1886): “If our Gods and our hopes are nothing but scientific phenomena, then let us admit it must be said that our love is scientific as well.” As you can guess, the movie is filled with references to fantasy, philosophy and Zen and addresses aesthetic and moral questions.
I’ve seen anime of all sorts, but nothing has been closer to me than this series. Masamune Shirow’s original manga and anime has inspired most of the cyberpunk thrillers we’ve seen in movies, from The Matrix all the way back to Johnny Mnemonic. Reviewer Lawrence Person wrote a great piece comparing this series with other sci-fi movies we’ve seen in our time so you can find more references on his post.
If you want to get started on the series, look up Wikipedia for a rundown on the three movies so far, as well as the TV episode guide on Yellow Menace. There’s the original GITS manga you could read too, but even I haven’t made it that far yet.