Ghost in the Shell (1995 film)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Mamoru Oshii's 1995 animated film adaption of Shirow Masamune's classic manga about a cyborg policewoman in Post Cyber Punk Japan. The film condensed the original manga's plot, focusing entirely on the "Puppet Master" story and making everything much more serious in tone. The film's striking visuals, kickass action sequences, and controversially large amount of philosophical ponderings and Techno Babble pretty much defined western conceptions of Anime -- for better or for worse -- for the better part of a decade.

A sequel, GiTS 2: Innocence, was released in 2004, revolving around Major Kusanagi's team working to solve a rash of murders involving berserk robots while dealing with her absence. This film featured heavy use of integrated CGI and cel animation, and explored the Uncanny Valley even further than the first film.

In 2009, a remastered version of the film, Ghost in the Shell 2.0, was released. Among other changes to the film, this version mixed in modern-day CGI with the original animation (in the vein of Innocence), all under the supervision of Oshii. This version of the film was released on DVD and Blu-Ray, with a high-def transfer of the original version of the film offered as a bonus for the Blu-Ray version.

The first film is cited by the Wachowskis as a direct influence on the Matrix films, so much so that it's practically The Matrix's spiritual predecessor.

Other than being based on the same manga, it's unrelated to the TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.

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Tropes used in Ghost in the Shell (1995 film) include:

Tropes specific to GITS and GITS 2.0

  • Action Prologue
  • Analog Punk: Since having a cellphone on hand wasn't common in 1995 when the film was made, it explains why such tech was absent.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • At the climax of the movie, Kusanagi is under attack from a huge Spider Tank. She tries to wrench open the tank's access hatch, and instead rips her own arms off at mid-bicep.
    • Batou also loses half his arm when shot by a sniper rifle.
  • And the Adventure Continues...: The ending implies this when the Major/Puppetmaster leave Batou's home to face an unknown future.

And where does the newborn go from here? The Net is vast and infinite.


Motoko: "My ghost is whispering to me."


Puppet Master: And can you offer me proof of your existence? How can you, when neither modern science nor philosophy can explain what life is?

  • Hearing Voices: When both Motoko and Batou hear the voice of the Puppet Master reciting the passage from The Bible, "But for now we see through a glass darkly". He uneasily asks her if she's the one who said it.
  • Heroic RROD: See An Arm and a Leg above.
  • Hot Amazon: Major Kusanagi. Heck, she's even called an Amazon at one point.
  • IKEA Weaponry: Motoko assembles a more powerful rifle from a suitcase to take on the Spider Tank -- for all the good it does.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Not that much, but there are a few examples, such as shooting out a car's tires or being able to hit a moving vehicle in the license plate. Possibly justified by these being cyborgs with augmented reflexes.
  • Infrared X-Ray Camera: Both types show up in the film.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Major Kusanagi seems to get naked quite a lot while she's on the job. As a Robot Girl, she doesn't have any inhibitions about it either.
  • Instant AI, Just Add Water: The Puppet Master is a government experiment in strong AI that became sentient on its own.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Section 6 (foreign relations) vs. Section 9 (counter-terrorism).
  • Invisibility Flicker: The Major's cloaking device briefly displays her when attacking, a concept that was borrowed by Perfect Dark.
  • Legal Jailbait: At the end of the first film Batou puts the Major combined with Project 2501 into the body of a child. She asks if he goes for that sort of thing. He reminds her that the illegal body trade which he had to depend on for a quick body didn't allow him the luxury to choose.
  • Les Yay: The Puppetmaster is referred to as "he," but is eventually seen in a female body and with a female voice. And with all that talk with Kusanagi about "merging"...
    • Older fans of the movie tend to find the change of the Puppetmaster's voice actor as one of the most unnecessary things in the 2.0 version, as the original which featured a female body talking in a male voice was considered a masterful deliberate use of the Uncanny Valley.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: The foreign diplomat shot by Kusanagi in the opening scene practically explodes. His spine can be seen for a brief moment.
  • Mega Corp: Several. The one that made Section 9's cyborg bodies is even called Megatech.
  • Mental Fusion: Kusanagi and Project 2501.
  • Mind Rape: "Ghost-hacking", or essentially hacking into a person's brain in order to force them to commit crimes.
  • More Dakka: All over the place. There are the submachine guns that Section 9 carries, the Spider Tank's miniguns, and a criminal who uses armor-piercing bullets in a MAC-10.
  • Mobile Suit Human: Cyborgs are more or less brains in robot bodies (and not even all of their brains may be original, as they speculate).
  • Mr. Exposition: Batou usually fills this role.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: "Just a feeling. A whisper from my ghost."
  • Neural Implanting
  • Never Gets Drunk: During the diving scene, when Motoko starts getting philosophical about herself, Batou asks her if she's drunk. She responds that as a cyborg, it's impossible for her to be drunk (although both of them enjoy drinking anyway).
  • No Waterproofing in the Future: Kusanagi enjoys swimming (a form of Fridge Brilliance since she was created underwater in a tank) and is fine when submerged, but Batou warns her that diving too deep might be dangerous for her body.
    • The cloaking devices also don't work when in contact with water, even stepping in a puddle.
  • One Woman Army: Kusanagi is easily the most badass member of Section 9, taking on (and almost defeating) a giant robotic tank all on her own.
  • Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future: Kind of. Although there are very advanced-looking 3D monitors, the GPS system that Section 9 uses to track criminals is like a bare-bones Google Maps.
  • Parking Garage: Togusa is in one when he notices that a cloaked person or persons has snuck in behind the minister. It's a team sent to capture the Puppet Master.
  • Platonic Life Partners: Motoko and Batou are close friends as well as coworkers, and in her case, perhaps her only real friend.
  • Plot Hole: This is pretty much inevitable when trying to condense a very large (and dense) manga into a two-hour film.
  • Powered Armor: Section 9's enhanced bodies are more or less this, allowing them to perform all sorts of feats beyond normal human endurance.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Chief Aramaki of Section 9.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: As Togusa finds out. Apparently an entire clip from a 9mm can't pierce a car's frame, but a single slug from a revolver can. Justified in that the trace slug was meant for the far softer license plate.
  • Ridiculously-Human Robots: Cyborg bodies can do literally anything human bodies can (including drinking alcohol and having sex) but are much stronger.
  • Robotic Assembly Lines: The title sequence shows Kusanagi's body being assembled in a factory.
  • Roof Hopping: Section 9 does quite a bit of it, augmented by their cyborg bodies.
  • Rule of Cool / Stripperiffic: Kusanagi goes into battle three times using her thermoptic camouflage bodysuit, which is tight enough to leave very little to the imagination. At the climax, it's revealed that she's not wearing anything underneath it.
  • Say My Name: Batou, when Kusanagi is shot by the police helicopter.
  • Schizo-Tech: Sentient AI and full-body replacements exist alongside satellite phones.
  • Sherlock Scan: Batou does this in a crowded marketplace and instantly picks out the criminal, thanks to his cybernetic eyes.
  • Stalker with a Crush: The Puppet Master towards Motoko. It's joked he (it?) may be in love with her.
  • Three-Point Landing: The Major does a series of jumps to scale a building, and lands like this on the final jump with enough force to crumple the roof she lands on.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Kusanagi is motivated by a need to come to terms with her own humanity as a cyborg who must hunt down an artificial lifeform.
  • Tracking Device: Togusa implants one in a car with a Trick Bullet (see Revolvers Are Just Better).
  • Visible Invisibility: The cloaking devices leave a faint trace of the wearer (see Invisibility Flicker as well).
  • Wetware Body: See Mind Rape.
  • Wetware CPU: The Section 9 cyborgs have data input jacks in the back of their necks which connect to their brains.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A central theme of the film.
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: Batou questions at one point how reliable the technicians who maintain their cyber-brains really are, which Aramaki denies.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: The Major in the beginning of the movie wears thigh-high stockings under her cloak.

Tropes specific to Innocence

  • Adaptation Expansion: The movie is a very loose adaptation of the chapter "Robot Rondo" from the original manga.
  • Arc Words: "2501." Batou knows he's safe whenever he sees it. See Deus Ex Machina below.
  • Call Back: Numerous references to the first movie:
    • The opening credits sequence visually and musically echoes the "Making of A Cyborg" sequence from the first film, as does the mid-film montage of scenes in the city set to a reiterated version of the opening theme.
    • The password to Batou's car is "2501", just like he said it was at the end of the first movie.
    • During a conversation with Ishikawa, Batou remarks that "I liked you better when you were the quiet type", a humorous Lampshade Hanging on the fact that Ishikawa only had a few lines of dialogue (most of them exposition) in movie #1.
    • The "BAJIDU" brand dog food that appears briefly in the first film shows up again as Batou's brand of choice for Gabriel, even retaining the exact same package design.
    • When Motoko first appears to Batou in Kim's mansion, she assumes the form of the child's body she had at the end of the first movie.
    • After he's brain-hacked, Batou asks Togusa how he knows his wife and child aren't simulated experiences and he isn't just a bachelor living in an empty apartment, a reference to the experience of the Puppet Master victim whom Togusa had interrogated in the first film.
    • When Batou dives underwater to infiltrate the Locus Solus factory, he remarks that he used to know a cyborg who went scuba diving in her spare time.
    • During the climax of the film Motoko destroys the arms of the body she's occupying attempting to open a hatch. Just to cement the homage, the music in this scene briefly adopts the theme used at the climax of the first movie.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The entire movie.
  • Deus Ex Machina: Averted. The Major coming back from Cyberspace to save Batou might appear to be one, but if you pay attention it's obvious that she's been watching him at least since the convenience store; her voice warns him that he's on a kill-zone. Also, the little girl sitting on the floor in Kim's mansion is the artificial body that Batou placed the melded Puppet Master/Major in at the end of the first movie, and her final comments imply that she is everywhere, and always looking after Batou.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Togusa repeating the same scene thanks to a brain hack.
  • Fan of the Past: People in the future's obsession with the past is a recurring motif in the film, as demonstrated by the constant quotation of classic philosophy and literature and the striking festival sequence.. In addition, there appears to be a popular market for 50's-style carshells constructed around modern electric vehicles.
  • Mobile Factory: The ship building Gynoid geishas that are actually cyborg Sex Slaves.
  • Morality Pet: Batou may be a cold, hardened antihero, but the innocent Gabriel brings out his humanity.
  • No Koreans in Japan: Kind-of averted; there are at least two explicitly Korean characters (Lim and Kim) and numerous Chinese characters in Innocence, but it's never stated whether the movies are set in Japan to begin with. New Port City is modeled after Hong Kong (right down to having street signs written in Chinese characters), and even though the main characters all have Japanese names, the city's inhabitants appear to be a pan-Asian cultural melting pot. When Batou and Togusa visit the island of Etorofu (which is stated to have "iffy" territorial status), they witness a Taiwanese festival and encounter the aforementioned Koreans.
  • Pet the Dog: Batou has an entire scene dedicated to this, quite literally. Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: Togusa's response to a creepy cyborg dressed like him ranting about the Uncanny Valley.
  • "Three Laws"-Compliant: The Gynoid least, until a shipping inspector trying to free Locus Solus's imprisoned girls tampers with their "ethics code", leaving them free to kill others and themselves.

Tropes common to both movies


Major: "What'd you use?"
Batou: "Your standard-issue big gun."

  • Brain-Computer Interface: The plug-ins that the characters have on the back of their necks, which directly inspired the similar technology in The Matrix.
  • Buddhism: Both movies are full of it, a lot of it revolving around the Major's doubts about her own identity and the nature of "ghosts". The main symbology is mostly Christian, as opposed to the manga's explicit Buddhism; this was a conscious decision by Mamoru Oshii, a former Christian and a priest candidate who enjoys implementing pseudo-Christian symbology to his works.
  • Conspicuous CG:
    • In Innocence, while the CGI and animated elements meld together, the transition between a fully CG landscape and one containing a mix of animation and CG is very apparent. According to Oshii, the CG sequences were supposed to tap into the Uncanny Valley.
    • Ghost in the Shell 2.0 likewise contains somewhat jarring bits of CGI. Far more jarring, since it constantly flips between early 90's style animation and 21st century CGI. They don't fit together very well, especially when occasionally even the characters are turned into CG.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: In both films, usually lead by Motoko and/or Batou.
  • Cowboy Cop: In both films (Innocence in particular) Batou is unafraid to ignore orders and take the law into his own hands. In Innocence this puts him (oftentimes humorously) at odds with cautious straight-man Togusa.
  • Cyberpunk / Post Cyber Punk
  • Cyberpunk Is Techno: Significantly averted; the soundtracks to both films (especially the first) consist of moody, haunting pieces featuring traditional chants and instruments.
  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: Even when it's not actually raining, the skies are always overcast.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Batou. Togusa picks up a little bit of it too by the end of Innocence - as he says, "I learn from the best."
  • Electronic Eyes: Batou has them.
  • The Future Is Noir
  • Girls with Guns
  • Just a Machine: Questioned in both films.
  • Laser Sight: The snipers' targeting lasers are invisible except when viewed through Batou's eyes, presumably because his cybernetic eyes can see special frequencies and/or can intelligently amplify faint straight-line scatter. [1]
  • Man in the Machine: Kusanagi and Batou, being full-body replacement cyborgs (their brains are the only natural part of their bodies).
  • Matrix Raining Code: The inspiration. Used prominently in the title sequence and comspicuously replaced in 2.0.
  • Mind Screw: Both movies, but especially Innocence.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The Major.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Section 9 is named after real-life German counter-terrorism unit GSG 9 (Border Guard, Unit 9).
    • Despite the barrage of literary and philosophical references in Innocence, the only character who actually falls under this trope is the forensics inspector Haraway, named after scholar Donna Haraway.
  • Our Souls Are Different: A person's consciousness, or their "ghost", is unique and impossible to replicate. It's also thought that machines cannot spontaneously generate one... until the Puppet Master proves this wrong.
  • Scenery Porn: At least one scene in each of Mamoru Oshii's films exists for this purpose and this purpose alone. Ghost in the Shell is no different.
    • Scenery Gorn: There are also montages of polluted rivers, rundown buildings and garbage heaps. Could double as Gaia's Lament in this case.
  • Shout-Out: Numerous homages to Blade Runner, the franchise's primary visual and thematic inspiration. In one scene in Innocence', for example, Togusa asks Batou if his dog is "real" or a clone, since "originals are expensive".
  • Shown Their Work: Batou's weapons handling is just what the military teaches - weapon at the shoulder and fire short, controlled bursts. He does hold the trigger down on his SAW in Innocence, but presumably the enhanced strength of his cybernetic body allows him to better control the recoil; he certainly succeeds at clearing the room with it.
  • Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence
  • Straight Man: Togusa, particularly to Motoko and Batou's eccentric methods and sense of humor.
  • Technology Porn: Both films have lots of it.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The setting is around 2030.
  • Unusual User Interface: The jacks used to access the network and the keyboards so complex they require artificial multi-fingered hands to use.
  • Used Future: Cities are crowded, dirty and run-down, and high technology doesn't stop people from polluting or spraying graffiti everywhere.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses
  • Your Head Asplode: The animation crew seemed to have liked these quite a bit; there's a head asploding in some form or fashion at the beginning and end of each movie. To quote IGN:

"Ghost in the Shell opens with what might be the most technically impressive rendition of an exploding head in the history of Japanese animation, and if you know your Japanese cartoons, you know that's a hell of an accolade."


"And where does the newborn go from here? The Net is vast and infinite."

  1. Real snipers do not use laser sights.