Ghost in the Shell asks many questions of its audience: Who are we? What makes us human? What is the nature of the “ghost” that marks each of us as an individual? The protagonist of the film, Major Motoko Kusanagi, actually has an entirely artificial cybernetic body, which gives her, among other things, enhanced strength and the ability to hack directly into “the net” from her own cyberbrain. The result is that the Major’s machine body is now inseparable from her human “ghost”.
Is the Major human, machine, or both? Or even neither? Could the cyberpunk world of Ghost in the Shell ever really become reality? Explore the philosophy of Ghost in the Shell with these GIFs below.
The Major melts invisibly into the city.
Or is it that she melts into the vast and infinite net?
Plugging in, plugging out.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could re-energize our bodies like we recharge batteries?
No match for the Major.
Section 9’s thermo-optical camouflage is put to good use.
The Major is a difficult opponent even when you can see her.
When you can’t, it’s almost impossible to win!
…assassinations in the future are just as bloody as they’ve always been.
I wish I could type this fast!
I’d have to get cybernetic fingers first.
The Major appears human.
But her body is actually that of a machine.
Even the Major’s enhanced cybernetic strength has its limits.
Luckily, her body can always be replaced, unlike the fragile flesh of our human bodies.
No body? No problem.
You can always build yourself a cybernetic shell.
Assembling a cybernetic shell is a dispassionate, mechanical affair.
Naked body or not, there is nothing titillating about it.
Water is the source of all life.
Even bodies that are artificially made must be born, or reborn, in fluids.
A death that is not a death.
Although the physical shell may be destroyed, the “ghost” inside yet lives…
It is strange to think that a human’s “ghost” can be separated from his or her body, and even stranger to think that consciousness can arise from a machine. Yet this is the premise of Ghost in the Shell, which inspires so many profound questions in the minds of its audience. Its world is meticulously and beautifully brought to life through stunning animation sequences, which have become famous since the landmark release of the movie in 1995. Through these sequences , it is plain to see: in the world of Ghost in the Shell, man and machine are already inextricably linked. If a machine can become human—meaning it can develop its own “ghost”—then who’s to say a human cannot become machine? Or that the both of them cannot become something else that never existed before? To transcend the boundaries of a limited consciousness, to become something greater than the “ghost in the shell”—this is the truly radical idea at the heart of Mamoru Oshii’s sci-fi masterpiece.