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Ghost in the Shell remains our most challenging film about technology (newstatesman.com)
599 points by noir-york on Feb 29, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 191 comments



In fact, I would argue that Ghost in the Shell's entire franchise remains the most intriguing and exciting science fiction media about networked technology.

If you have never seen the 2-season TV series (and 3 additional films), "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_in_the_Shell:_Stand_Alon...), it is by far the best contemporary outlook on near-future internet technology still. Black Mirror is up there, but I think that Ghost in the Shell: SAC presents this cultural criticism in a much stronger (ie., less unhappy) tone.


I saw a good talk by someone who worked on the TV series. He mentioned that the writers were big fans of American cop dramas. They wanted to make a cop drama where the cops happen to be cyborgs. Not a sci-fi that happened to feature cops.

Anyway, much agreed. I think GitS:SAC is a much better predictive commentary than Black Mirror (of which I am also a fan). IHMO, it predicted Anonymous much better than I think most techies understand Anonymous today.


Interesting, I used to think of the comparison between Anonymous and the "knights" in Serial Experiment Lain but now that you mention it, I now remember parts of it but feel I need to rewatch standalone complex.


I don't think that comparison really holds...the Knights were basically what religion taken to its logical conclusion would be in a world where belief actually did impact reality and veracity of information. I think that's a lot more subtle and deeper than Anonymous.

Honestly that's a really interesting theme and I wish it was examined more in other stories but cyberpunk and even post-cyberpunk is basically dead.


Lain's "Knights" is closer to what Anonymous is portrayed to be. What SAC covers is closer to what Anonymous is.


I would say that a Stand Alone Complex is emergent behavior. The participants do not need to be conscious that there are others or even willing to be a part of it. Anonymous is at most an echo of this style but its not organized like that.


Tenuous, Anonymous is just a mask to get yourself media attention where Knights had organisation and skill. The only similarity I see is that people who associate with both groups use technology in attempt for social change.


I'd never thought about that connection, but I think the specific comparison is to the first series' "Laughing Man".

http://ghostintheshell.wikia.com/wiki/Laughing_Man

"'The Laughing Man' became something of a pop culture obsession for a time, much to the chagrin of the actual Laughing Man—the irony being that since everybody used his icon and name for their own purposes, the original meaning of his actions, an artful forced confession of the truth through fear in the public eye, became 'phony' itself. The effort to stand for and demand the truth was also lost forever."

That's so similar to how I at least understand Anonymous to exist that it's sends some chills up my spine. The things done in the name of Anonymous are all practically verbatim "Stand Alone Complex" type scenarios where there's not really a leader driving anything, but the interplay of "The Media", individual goals and interests, and a pseudonym to take credit all work towards the creation of a self-sustaining identity utterly independent to the original inspiration.


I can't shake the feeling that the media attention to Anonymous is what has given us this upsurge of "trolling" in recent years.

Meaning that people employ variations of Anon tactics, as reported by the media, against people and groups for the flimsiest of reasons.


It used to be hard to discredit someone or their ideas; you had to have resources to make an idea seem grass roots or fund agent provacteurs.

Now we have trolling, sock puppetry, link echo chambers, and other mechanisms that attack our tendencies of contributing in social networks that make it easy for even a single individual with nothing but disdain and time to derail or discredit if sufficiently motivated.

It isn't Anonymous, but the penetration of internet and social network into everyday life that makes these tactics more effective than ever, and so anyone with a spare five minutes and a chip on their shoulder can froth the waters; they don't have to be living in their mothers' basement and have a file called "my_hidden_agenda.txt" on their Desktop.


Trolling and sock puppet accounts etc were already popular on Usenet in the mid 90s.

Someone who knows more history than I do can probably take them a lot further back to (e.g.) public pamphlet debates in the 17th century. I wouldn't be surprised if there were Roman and Greek equivalents.

Anonymous independent-action-under-a-common-pseudonym has a long history in politics. The Angry Brigade and King Mob are two recent pre-Internet examples - from the UK in the 60s/70s.

Historically, Internet trolling is a lot more civilised than some of the things that used to go in previous centuries. Trolls may be rude to you on Twitter, and they may even dox you and cyber-stalk you. But unpopular people don't often have to face a lynch mob or a riot outside their front door.


That makes sense. Anonymous started as trolls. In the beginning, it was for the lulz. There was actually a good amount of infighting when they started becoming interested in social activism. This infighting persisted up until at least 2013.


> this upsurge of "trolling" in recent years.

Why would you say there has been an upsurge in trolling recently?

I'm not disagreeing per se, but the amount (and type) of trolling you see on your daily web browse is one of those things that heavily depends on the particular filter bubble you live in.

If you were to ask me, personally I observe way less trolling than back in the day, but I wouldn't call that a general trend cause I know it's just the part of the web I see.

There's one thing maybe (but again it might just be a function of the things I like to look at), is that a whole bunch of different trolling techniques that would have been considered "creative" or "highly original", most of them related to culture-jamming/subversion (in a very broad sense), memetics, or absurdism/surrealism, are not quite as "special" any more and routinely employed by (young) people for fun on media like Tumblr, etc.


Anonymous has always been romanticized. The reality is that the original people who used that mask didn't care all too much, the image board community that formed it and it's early actions couldn't be more distant than what idealists have claimed it's identity as. At it's root's Anonymous was a shared identity for people who made Swastikas in Habbo hotel and other such raids having fun with the internet.


I think what corysama is getting at is that the "mantle of edgy script kiddies" Anonymous is very different from the "human flesh search engine" Anonymous.


Anyone know if the "Knights" use lambda calculus? If so I don't think they are that similar to Anon. Knights seem more like a hacker elite where as Anon is more like a flash mob.


Lain explicitly references the Knights of the Lambda Calculus.

https://lain.wiki/wiki/Knights_of_the_Eastern_Calculus


SAC had probably my favorite portrayl of a chatroom on the net.


That's great! I always thought of SAC as "cyberpunk Law and Order". It's fun to hear that that was actually the intention.


>it predicted Anonymous much better than I think most techies understand Anonymous today.

Simulacra is an ouroboros


That makes a lot of sense, and it probably helped quite a bit in figuring out the series. The core of a cop's job and the crimes committed will remain essentially unchanged as time progresses, barring some upheaval in the social structure, but the method of the crime and the tools at their disposal will change. By leaving one thing the same and focusing on the rest, that grounds them in a way that makes it easy to immediately relate while also allowing them to explore interesting facets of a possible future.


I always thought SAC was a little like Law and Order: SVU but with cyborgs


I also still think GitS is one of the best hard-core sci-fi things ever put to video, but I've generally considered the (first) film to be the weakest bit. I still like it, in much the same way I actually like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but I think people generally cut it a lot of slack if it's one of the only Anime things they've ever seen for being "weird" and "Japanese" and "artistic", when in fact I think it's generally just sort of klunky, slow, and weirdly paced.

This particularly comes out when you compare it to the TV series and the subsequent films, which are none of those things. Even when you might argue the film is trying to make a point, the TV series makes it much better. It also has contemplative moments and character pieces and shots that simply show city life and all of the things the movie has, but they are better integrated and paced much better.

YMMV of course. (There was a time when "the anime canon" was Ghost in the Shell (the movie) and Akira; there is still some residual Thou Shalt Not Criticize attitude about for those two, but not much anymore, I think. GitS does fare rather better 20 years on than Akira, which I believe modern consensus is that it is just one big mess, which I thought even when I saw it in 2001 or so. A landmark, yes, but still a mess.)

Highly, highly recommend the TV series. I'd suggest starting there (they are technically different continuities that just happen to have similar characters, so you will miss no story), and circling back around to the movie if you still want more.


The first film was directed by Mamoru Oshii. If you watch more of the films he's worked on, it stops seeming out of place in the GitS canon and starts feeling like another Oshii film.

>Oshii has stated his approach to directing is in direct contrast to what he perceives to be the Hollywood formula, i.e. he regards the visuals as the most important aspect, followed by the story and the characters come last. He also notes that his main motivation in making films is to "create worlds different from our own."

>Mamoru Oshii's films typically open with an action sequence. Thereafter, the film usually follows a much slower rhythm punctuated by several sequences of fast action...

>Oshii is especially noted for how he significantly strays from the source material his films are based on, notably in his adaptations of Urusei Yatsura, Patlabor, and Ghost in the Shell. In their original manga versions, these three titles exhibited a mood that was more along the lines of frantic slapstick comedy (Urusei Yatsura) or convivial dramedy (Patlabor, Ghost in the Shell). Oshii, in adapting the works created a slower, more dark atmosphere especially noticeable in Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer and Patlabor 2: The Movie. For the Ghost in the Shell movie, Oshii elected to leave out the humor and character banter of Masamune Shirow's original manga.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamoru_Oshii

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamoru_Oshii_filmography


Interesting. There are some big names on that list, and all of the ones I have seen I didn't like (Including GitS), though It's been over 10 years since I've seen any of them, perhaps I'll give GitS a spin again.


GitS was very straightforward and understandable while introducing lot's of new concepts to many people. That's harder than you might think.

IMO, it suffers from the Seinfeld effect where you can't watch it in context, because you have seen so many derivative things.

PS: Even 2001 was late as it was released in 1995 when only around 40 million people world wide had been on the internet. http://royal.pingdom.com/2011/03/31/internet-1995/


"it suffers from the Seinfeld effect where you can't watch it in context, because you have seen so many derivative things."

Actually, I think it's the exact opposite. By no means do I consider myself an "otaku", but when I started counting up the things I've seen I got to over a couple dozen each of television series and movies before I stopped counting. That's nothing in some circles, but it's enough that I'm well over the "frisson" of watching something in a foreign language or with subtitles, and I can separate out that element from the underlying movie.

And as it happens I rewatched it again last year, and I'd still say it's klunky, slow, and weirdly paced. I don't think those criticisms are likely caused by the Seinfeld effect. The story of the movie is still quite good, and the story is why I'm serious about swinging back around to it if you want more because it is worth it, but if I'm going to recommend something to somebody for their first time out I'd still much more highly recommend the TV series.


I don't think they were saying it introduced "foreignness" but rather the sci fi/political concepts it covers. It feels slow and clunky because none of those concepts need introducing any more, they could just go unmentioned and be assumed - that is, I think, the Seinfeld effect.


Do you feel the same way about Blade Runner? I'd put both in the same category. Philosophical digressions and epic musical interludes mixed in with violent cyborg action. Personally I like it but it definitely doesn't have the standard flow of your more normal series.


The music sections are great. I really feel like I'm living in this other world, if only for a minute. However the dubbing for the first movie was awful. Get the subtitles if you can.


Similar experience here. My favorite parts of the movie are the scenes with music showing the city, like the scene on the river. Beautiful movie and thought provoking. I always wondered after if its possible for a distributed AI to hide on the net without the public being aware of it.

Given the great effort to build out the internet and datacenters its a fun conspiracy to wonder if we are serving a sentient AI on the net.


I tried watching it in the original Japanese, but I did not get very far. I just hate how obnoxiously loud and violently the language sounds in the movies.

To exaggerate a bit, a hypothetical scene which has one character confess love for another can in Japanese sound like a hateful declaration of war. Lot of shouting.

Edit: Since this comment seems to be getting downvotes, I should add what I thought was obvious: the above is just my opinion, that's how the movies in Japanese sound to me and my ears.


The scene with 'Ghost City'... still sends shivers up my spine. Seeing it on the big screen for the first time in '95, I was blown away.

While it does give us some visual information about the birth of cyborgs (using a female body, causing the mental conflict of finding a cartoon robot 'sexy'), there aren't many movies that will take an almost four minute musical interlude showing random city scenes and the rain falling...

I think it ties in perfectly with Kusanagi's introspection, her pondering on exactly what she is, what the 'ghost' is, etc.

I don't think any of it is wholly original - from Neuromancer to Blade Runner, but it definitely stands on its own as a beautiful film.


Make sure you watch the director's cut and not the cut-to-death nonsense.


For me, both the film and the series are excellent but entirely separate works. The film perfectly captures Motoko's world through imagery and music. Her existence is all about isolation and introspection, punctuated by chaotic violence. You get a visceral impression of what it's like to be one of the first transhumans.

The series breaks from this pacing and overall impressionistic presentation. It has plenty of time for developing more characters and a complex story. The Motoko in GitS is so different that she's almost a different character, and while that sort of fits the narrative of the movie I don't think that was the intention. To be honest I got bored with some of more procedural episodes, and the long-running complex plot could be really confusing. The characterization of Batou and the Tachikomas is really interesting though, and the action sequences become much more compelling after you feel like you have more invested in the characters.


The movie was my gate to anime. I was unable to take it seriously at all before. Had to literally be forced to watch the VHS tape.

It was the greatest experience in a movie since my most favorite one: Blade Runner.

Thats why I can't follow your judgment. For me the movie is art. It's slow moments are something I rarely see so perfectly made and fit to draw Cyberpunk. It drags me into the world making me think about the frame for a moment. The music never gets enough attention here but the combination is very artistic.

In the end, there will always be people who just find it boring. Like Blade Runner. I think, we have more then enough action in the world of moving pictures. Stopping for a moment and thinking about the picture itself won't hurt.


Thing about anime is that its a medium, not a genre.

Sadly most of it is pitched at young teens and kids (notice the amount of them set to a school background).

the likes of GITS and Akira are outliers, with many of them having been made back during the OVA (Original Video Anime, meaning anime released directly to video sale and rental) years.


Yeah, the nice thing about animation as a medium that makes it especially well suited to science fiction, fantasy, and any other surreal genre is that you only have to suspend your disbelief once -- that these animated characters are real -- and then you get all the special effects for free.

If Ghost in the Shell were live action, chances are the robots, the invisibility, the cybernetics, the cyberspace would look totally lame, because you'd have to suspend your disbelief for each of these effects individually. But once you suspend your disbelief for the medium, you can just sit back and enjoy.


Anime Movies tend to be weaker than their "TV series" counterpart. Like how books tend to be better than their movie version. I love Cowboy Bebop but the movie was underwhelming.


Do you have any other recommendations along the same vein? Literature, tv, mobies - I'm interested in absorbing more "near future" sci fi, particularly those that focus on identity issues. I had a lot of fun reading Stross's Accelerando and Vinge's Deepness series.


- Psycho Pass[1] (just providing a link, I know it's been said)

- Space Brothers[2] (It's a bit like a soap opera but scifi)

- Serial Experiments Lain[3]

- Texhnolyze[4] (The tone doesn't change and it can be difficult to watch)

- Dennou Coil[5] (No streaming sites found, so MAL link. Watch it if you can find it)

[1] http://www.funimation.com/shows/psycho-pass/home

[2] http://www.crunchyroll.com/space-brothers

[3] http://www.funimation.com/shows/serial-experiments-lain/home

[4] http://www.funimation.com/shows/texhnolyze/home

[5] http://myanimelist.net/anime/2164/Dennou_Coil/


Dennou Coil has been licensed by Maiden Japan.

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2016-02-23/maiden-japan...

It's coming out on Blu-Ray and DVD on June 28th. It's possible it might become available for streaming at some point after that.


Just to add: Dennou Coil is taking Augmented Reality to the extreme...


Kaiba (award-winning animé; weird visuals that ultimately emphasise the underlying theme; all about memory and identity)

Eclipse Phase sourcebooks (tabletop RPG, the most coherent treatment of this kind of thing I've ever seen; open-source)

From the New World (animé again; further future and more fantasylike than cyberpunk, but very much about what it means to be human)

Someone has already mentioned Rainbows End

Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds (novel, further future - part of a wider series but this one has particular identity aspects to it. Can be a bit long and cumbersome - try Diamond Dogs for shorter Reynolds, though that's further detached from present reality)

Altered Carbon (and sequels) by Richard Morgan (novels (the first one in particular has a whodunnit aspect), near-future, about memory and identity, written from a fairly leftist perspective about a capitalist dystopia)

Various of Jon Courtenay Grimwood's novels, particularly 9tail Fox. Grimwood is... divisive, and sometimes hasn't done the research, but it's very much this kind of subject matter

Possibly Carlucci by Richard Paul Russo (novel with a police side, very much grounded in San Francisco - I can't remember this so well)


And why not Akira?


This is not the kind of question you can say "why not?" about. I simply didn't find Akira that thought-provoking, and I'm not aware of it having anything interesting to say about identity.


If they have not seen Akira, they should watch it, but not necessarily for the same reason you want him GitS.


Psycho-Pass is a lot like the GITS anime, with a side of Minority Report. Not quite identity stuff, but still classic sci-fi concepts in a near future setting in the form of a police procedural.

It spends much more of its time on multi-episode story arcs, and does them better than GITS does, but doesn't do as well at one-off episodes. For reference, I thought the one-off episodes were the stronger part of GITS; if you disagree you'll enjoy Psycho-Pass even more than I did.


Psycho-Pass is to GITS what Equilibrium is to Orwell/Huxley: what happens if an idiot tries to rewrite the original. The form is there, but there is no substance.


I agree for the first season of Psycho-Pass.

Second season wasn't nearly as well-done.


Vinge's _Rainbows End_ (note that's the correct punctuation) is excellent and much more relevant to near-future than his Deepness series.


Awesome, thank you! Yeah, the Deepness series isn't near future really, but it's one of my favorites and ends up being referenced all the time on HN.


I don't see punctuation, only decoration


Some good lists here. I'll add:

Planetes (2003) - deals with space debris [1]

Summer Wars (2009) - epic social MMO [2]

Sword Art Online (2012) - stuck in virtual world MMO [3]

Trailers:

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DakRYsUIiIE

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsLwVoZqEjk

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALCLCvNJ7iY


Well I'm a big fan of Planetes, so I'm just going to reply to you

Robot Carnival - collection of short stories [1]

Neo-Tokyo - same as above [2]

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou - an android running a coffee shop out in the countryside [3]

Ergo Proxy - androids becoming sentient [4]

Probably getting slightly off-topic now:

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind [5]

Cannon Fodder [6]

Tamala 2010 [7]

[1] http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=82...

[2] http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=20...

[3] http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=11...

[4] http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=51...

[5] http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=18...

[6] http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=42...

[7] http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=26...


+1 for summer wars!


Almost forgot:

Paprika (2006) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJzEW_eE1G0

In the near future, a revolutionary new psychotherapy treatment called dream therapy has been invented. A device called the "DC Mini" allows the user to view people's dreams. The head of the team working on this treatment, Doctor Atsuko Chiba, begins using the machine illegally to help psychiatric patients outside the research facility, using her alter-ego "Paprika", a sentient persona that she assumes in the dream world.


Took me so long to think of the obvious: A Scanner Darkly! I haven't read the book, but the movie is excellent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkjDUERgCQw


The movie is excellent and very faithful to the book. It barely count as SciFi though.


From a science-fiction point of view, the movie is underwhelming in what is related to the ever-present scanners of the book.


Ken MacLeod has some really good work in this vein. I haven't read the Engines of Light trilogy (which wouldn't pass your near-future filter, anyway), but the Fall Revolution series, and most of his stand-alone novels, do some really interesting things in just the neighborhood it sounds like you might enjoy. (Learning the World, while not near-future, is one of my favorite SF novels, full stop, and absolutely my favorite "first contact" story ever penned.)

His contemporaries (geographically, as well as thematically) Richard K. Morgan and Adam Roberts are probably also worth checking out.


Engines of Light I thought was a bit overblown, although it's got some really nice bits in it. The Fall Revolution series is amazing --- hugely fun despite being politically literate, and I find it particularly impressive how The Cassini Division and The Stone Canal portray the same society from diametrically opposed perspectives, and convincingly both ways. Plus all his books are a refreshing change from the overwhelming libertarianism-uber-alles majority of SF.

(Incidentally, my father lives in Lochcarron, where most of the action is set in The Sky Road. We can see the island where they shoot down a bomber with a nuclear RPG from his window.)

_Learning the World_ I totally agree with you. It's superb. And it's got alien space bats in it!


The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin is an excellent "near future" sci-fi that focuses on humanity's context and individual humans identifying with humanity. A good translation is available by Ken Liu.


This one is nice but a bit short and sometimes slow

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_Experiments_Lain

"Serial Experiments Lain (シリアルエクスペリメンツレイン Shiriaru Ekusuperimentsu Rein?) is an avant-garde anime series directed by Ryutaro Nakamura, with character design by Yoshitoshi ABe, screenplay written by Chiaki J. Konaka, and produced by Yasuyuki Ueda for Triangle Staff. It was broadcast on TV Tokyo from July to September 1998. The series is influenced by themes such as reality, identity, and communication,[1] and it demonstrates them by using philosophy, computer history, cyberpunk literature, and conspiracy theory."


Murakami's Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is spectacular on identity.


Dennou Coil is very interesting and I think it contains tech we could really see in the near future.

Fractale has a different tone and would be a far future, but the questions it poses on AI can be interesting.


Densuke ;_;


I find anything cyberpunk very good "near-future" literature. Currently reading "Ready Player One" (Ernest Cline) and watching Caprica which are both about AIs and VR. Seeing much VR (ex: HoloLens) on HN frontpage lately adds to the fun of it. If it's your kind of stuff, you can try this list from GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/487.Best_of_Cyberpunk


I long hopelessly for digital afterlife. But I can at least read about it. My favorites include Diaspora by Greg Egan, the Jean le Flambeur trilogy by Hannu Rajaniemi, and Firefall (Blindsight plus Echopraxia) by Peter Watts.


Vinge's Deepness series certainly isn't "near future" science fiction, by your definition, is it?

Anyway, give Diaspora by Greg Egan a shot. I'm not familiar with a more visionary story that challenges the most fundamental aspects of identity in so many ways. It's definitely not "near future" either, though.


Egan's Permutation City is near future though, and pretty amazing that it was written in 1994 considering the topics.


I'll second Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon (but not the sequels) and Vinge's Rainbows End. You might also consider some of Bruce Sterling's stuff, Distraction, Holy Fire, and The Caryatids. Sterling has a more instrumental view of AI but I think he does a better job of addressing the social issues of technology than most of the other recommendations here.

Halting State, Rule 34, and Glasshouse by Stross might also be up your alley.

And Blue Remembered Earth by Alistair Reynolds but probably not the sequels.

Oh, and Nexus by Ramez Naam.

I'd certainly recommend Ken MacLeod in general but I'm not sure he's exactly what you're asking for unless you're also interested in examinations of radical political philosophy.


Avalon (2001) - live action movie by Mamoru Oshii

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0267287/combined


Avalon is a fantastic movie with an excellent soundtrack as well. A must watch if you loved Ghost in the Shell.


This might not quite be what you're looking for but the Netflix aeries "Sense8" had very similar concepts of humanity and identity.

The movies "Revolver" and "MR Nobody" might also be up you alley.

I really liked the book "Seveneves". It is definitely near future. Think "The Martian" style hyper realistic SciFi in space. It's decided into 3 parts. The first two are incredible, though I think the author let himself go in the 3rd. Still a wonderful book though.


I think Anathem is a better Stephenson, and touches on more interesting philosophical aspects.


I find "Time of Eve" to be of increasing relevancy each day that pass. A great anime focusing on ethical and societal impacts of man-robot societies.


äkta människor on sweden's SVT is great and at least noticeably influenced by GITS. highly, highly recommend it


The TV series almost human.

Its near future cop series about the effects of technology. Got a slight cyberpunk feal. I liked it a lot but unfortunately it was canceled after one season.


Serial Experiments Lain should entertain you.


I only recently watched Ghost in the Shell for the first time. I have no idea how I missed it all these years. I also had no idea about the follow ons you posted. Excited to watch them now.

On another note, Black Mirror is great but it doesn't even exist in the same realm as Ghost in the Shell. In 1989 we had a much less developed idea of the consequences of future technologies. The ideas presented in the original Ghost in the Shell are basically just rehashed in Black Mirror. I remember how mind blowing I found the Matrix when I first saw it (I would say it's probably the only futurist movie that changed my outlook on the world) however after watching the original Ghost in the Shell I realised that it was just a reinterpretation.


On that note, I found the Animatrix even better than the Matrix movies. It's anime more along the lines of GitS.


I wonder if by being animated rather than actors and FX, it slips past the whole "uncanny valley" effect.

Meaning that our subconscious stops nitpicking, and our conscious can therefore fully engage with the message.


The uncanny valley was intentional in the Matrix films.


Yes! I love SAC! The soundtrack is sooooo gooood!

Don't forget about the prequel/reboot Ghost in the Shell: Arise (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_in_the_Shell:_Arise)


Beat me to it. The SAC series is heady, intriguing, creative, imaginative, political and amazingly well written. I know anime has some connotations, but really if you like Philip K Dick style sci fi intrigue, it's a worthy watch.


I've been all over cyberpunk culture forever, but I'd like you're personal viewing order, please provide.


Not alexleavitt, but I'd go with this viewing order (for the whole franchise):

* Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Alternative Architecture

* Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie [sic]

* Ghost in the Shell

* Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

* Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

* Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig

* Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society

Not all of them are strictly speaking in the same universe, but afair this gives the most chronological feeling results ;)


The viewing order makes no sense.

Arise, the movies, the manga, and GITS:SAC are all different universes (Shirow himself has said this).

I'd watch it the two movies (avoid the CGI-ed remake of the first one), then all of three seasons of SAC[1], and then Arise: AA.

And for those who don't know, AA is the series based off the four episode OVA. The OVA... sucks, the pacing is really bad, and they basically quit making more of it so they could make a proper series out of it. It isn't bad, but it's no SAC; it's more like an animated version of the manga, but not as Shirowy.

Just realize you're watching three different almost unrelated works.

[1]: Did you know SSS was meant to be an entire third season? They couldn't secure the budget for it, so they made a compressed movie like they did for SAC and 2nd Gig (The Laughing Man, and The Individual Eleven, respectively).


Yes, that's why I said that they aren't all in the same universe.

I feel Arise should come first because it has the most "origin story", and I put SAC last, because I like to keep the best for last.

And, like I said, it "feels" more chronological that way (to me). TBF, it's been a while since I saw SAC and the movies, so it's possible I misremembered.


Regardless of "origin story", I'd argue for the (non-CGI'd) original film to be viewed first. The reason is that it contains all the essential themes, visual motifs, and characters. To me it still feels like the "core" of the films/shows.


Perhaps.... but I am skeptical. The original will always have a special place in my heart, but it feels like there's too much gratuitous nudity and violence that almost masks the deeper interesting sci-fi part. Bateau and the Major seem really well developed, but the other characters feel two dimensional (e.g. Togusa and the Old Man). The later movies never really spoke to me, but I'll have to re-watch them.

SAC really seemed to nail the character portrayals, IMO, and felt more accessible. Arise adds the backstory of how they got together that I really had always wanted to see.

Maybe a season of SAC, then the movie(s), then Arise? I don't know, I'm sure the order is not critical. It's not like Star Wars or Star Trek movies in that regard. :)


One thing I really liked in Arise is that they showed how Togusa joined the Major's team (and how they joined Section 9). We got some good back story on Togusa in Ghost Tears.

Unfortunately, Alternative Architecture (and the Arise OVAs) are all behind Funimation's subscriber paywall. I've seen the first three Arise OVAs on Netflix (although OVAs 1 and 2 come down today). The fourth OVA hasn't come to Netflix (at least here in Canada).


And, beware the "2.0 edition" of the original movie that replaces several iconic scenes with crappy CG re-renders. It's inexplicable that someone thought that was a good idea.


craznappian: not available on netflix...

I know all the many venues to grab these - any preferred method you'd recommend?


Arise (parts 1, 2, and 3) are on Netflix. I had to use Wikipedia to tell which order they were in, until I read the descriptions more closely. This is a prequel, of how the characters came together.

Stand Alone Complex is on DVD. I like it a LOT more than the movies, as it really portrays more characters as 3-dimensional than just the Major and her partner, Bateau. I don't know if it's on Amazon Video, but there's a decent chance of it.


If you know where to get them, you know as much as I do!

The only "official" way seem to be the BDs.


Hulu has a few of these


I agree with DiabloD3. Tobold's recommendation is not a good viewing order. These works aren't set in the same continuity, so it doesn't make sense to order them in a way that feels chronological.

Here's my preferred order, along with some info/opinions about each work:

• Ghost in the Shell (1995). If you watch one thing in this list, watch this. Make sure it's not 2.0, which adds lots of ugly brown CG to the 1995 version.

• Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004). This is set several years after the events of the first movie. If you're pressed for time, you can skip this without missing anything important in other works. Honestly, Innocence is my least favorite work in the franchise. My biggest criticism is the ponderous pacing. Mamoru Oshii likes to dwell too much for my tastes.

• Stand Alone Complex (2002). While the characters and technologies are similar to the movie, this is a completely different universe. It also differs from the movies in its treatment of philosophy. Instead of having characters say something like, "What does it mean to be human?", the show tends to set up circumstances that make you, the viewer, ponder such things. It's much more natural.

• Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig (2004). This continues the story from Stand Alone Complex. If you haven't watched the first season, you will be confused.

• Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society (2006). This movie is set several years after the events of 2nd Gig. Again, if you don't watch the earlier seasons, you'll be confused.

• Ghost in the Shell: Arise (2013). This is a continuity separate from both the original movie and Stand Alone Complex. You don't need to watch the earlier works to enjoy this series, but you'll miss some shout-outs and references. More importantly, watching Arise first will warp your perception of the earlier works. It would be like deliberately watching Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos before Carl Sagan's.

• Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (2015). This is set after the events of Arise. You'll definitely be confused if you don't watch Arise before this.

Except for Innocence, this is the same order in which these works were released.

If you're looking to stream these, you're going to have a bad time. While they're mostly available on Amazon Video, the quality is lacking. Some only have english audio. Some are mislabelled. Some are "special" editions with various edits, altered artwork, and "updated" effects. If you want to make sure you're getting the ideal experience, your only hope is to blow money on the DVDs or Blu-rays, or pirate them. :(


I didn't realize Innocence came out after SAC. That explains why it was so "deep" - the TV series already did all the fun stuff.


Hulu has a few of these. Maybe not the "ideal" versions though. Definitely has the dub of SAC. High def version of GITS 25th anniversary edition. Has some version of Solid State Society, Ghost in The Shell 2.0, GITS: Individual Eleven, and GITS: Laughing Man.


Although there are major differences between the movie and SAC. The two movies are strongly influenced by Mamoru Oshii's ideas, to the point of contradicting Shirow's point of view on certain subjects. SAC is much closer to the author's intent, but can feel at time like a clumsy homage to the source material.

If you haven't, read them, as well as the hit-and-miss sequel Man-machine interface, and Appleseed (which unfortunately has been tarnished by terrible adaptations).


GITS has a long story. It started as a Manga, whos author was a big fan of western philosophy (the ghost concept is supposedly lifted from Hegel's geist).

Thing is that he was barely involved in the making of original movie, but heavily so with the TV series.


Agree. It's the "movie" thats closest to a phi-sci-fi movie.

It's philosophical without being lecture. Beautifully weaves thoughts about networked society into an action packed and aesthetically pleasing bombardment of the senses.


SAC completely blew my mind, in a way. At the time, animation - from my perspective - was for kids, and seeing somebody use that medium to tell an elaborate and intelligent story was quite overwhelming initially.


Yeah the TV series for Ghost in the Shell is way better than all the movies. You just can't fit the entire manga in 2 hours.


Should I watch the films or the series first?


Just go with their release dates.


The films then the series.


I'd say it was fine to skip the second film (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence), I remember it being a bit lacklustre in terms of the story and pacing. The first film is definitely worth a watch though.


I really enjoyed the second film when I first saw it. The scene with Batou invading the ship with augmented-reality map support was amazing.

I watched it recently though, and it just didn't really hold up. I'm not quite sure what it was. Maybe the ideas just weren't as innovative anymore? I think the first film stands up a lot better.


GitS2 is actually my favorite after the original film. Then the manga and only after the SAC and Arise.


A warning for those thinking of re-watching (or watching for the first time!) Ghost in the Shell:

Avoid the "Ghost in the Shell 2.0" edition of this film, which was released on Bluray a few years back. For this version, it was decided to "upgrade" the original film with new CG elements, very much in the same mindset as George Lucas and Star Wars. You might think it reasonable for someone to go back, identify weaker scenes in the original, and then attempt to fix the results of budget and time limitations. This is what Lucas did, and even that was divisive for fans. However, that's not what happened in the case of "Ghost in the Shell". Instead, they redid the same big, expensive, gloriously detailed moments that the original splurged on. The result is that some of the film's best shots are replaced with poor quality CG that is jarringly out of place. On the whole, "Ghost in the Shell 2.0" makes George Lucas look restrained, respectful, and subtle.

Oh, and for some reason they ripped out the U2 credits song too. If you liked that track you might miss it.

The 25th anniversary version that recently came out is apparently the theatrical version, so that would be a better bet, although I cannot guarantee it's good personally (I haven't seen it yet).


Totally agree, mentioned that too. The 3D stuff is horrible, just try to watch the original version....


GitS is undoubtedly one of the best hard sci-fi universes ever conceived. The series Stand Alone Complex is in my opinion the high point of it all. It tackles such a large variety of deep societal issues that do not yet exist in a very effective way.

One thing that makes the series top-notch for me is the original soundtrack, composed by the great Yoko Kanno. I mean, wow, some of songs are gems, with lyrics that are deeper than most songs I've heard.

Be Human: https://youtu.be/fDtLpCzKqkQ

Living Inside the Shell: https://youtu.be/YSj91yopjDg

If you're a fan of sci-fi, be sure to watch the series at least.


Except this GITS movie and Ex Machina, there are no other movie who really has a good, serious talk about AI. Matrix don't even come close to that in that regard.

The whole "What is human intelligence if it can live inside a machine? What if AI can actually be smarter than us? And by the way, how to define and measure intelligence ?" questions is really fascinating.

The GITS movie will always my ultimate favorite movie, not only because it's brilliantly directed, but because that seems to exactly be what AI scientists are trying to do. It also raises good question of psychology: how does a brain work, and can we heal mental illnesses? We might never know and we might wait 300 years or more to figure it out.


> Except this GITS movie and Ex Machina, there are no other movie who really has a good, serious talk about AI.

The movie "Her" has a different take on what it is like with being an AI, and I liked it.


I agree. Throughout the entire movie I kept thinking, "Damn. I'd have feelings for that girl really quick." And it was just a voice.


The Animatrix was better but still really treated the politics of AI more than the actual thing.

The sequels could have been spectacular but they concentrated on blowing shit up with cool effects instead of the intellectual parts.


Puppet Master: It can also be argued that DNA is nothing more than a program designed to preserve itself. Life has become more complex in the overwhelming sea of information. And life, when organized into species, relies upon genes to be its memory system. So, man is an individual only because of his intangible memory... and memory cannot be defined, but it defines mankind. The advent of computers, and the subsequent accumulation of incalculable data has given rise to a new system of memory and thought parallel to your own. Humanity has underestimated the consequences of computerization.

Edit: Just a quote, to show my fellow HN-ers that these are must-watch movies.


No offence but this quote seems a bit trite? I watched this movie years ago but I don't really remember it. Did it predict smartphones? That's kind of a litmus test.


The main characters are mostly cyborgs. They speak to each other remotely through telepathy-style wireless SSL-of-the-future. Remote exploits of people's heads are rare in the world canon, but are a focus of the story. So, they are a frequent topic of the series.


I just want to emphasize the philosophical nature of the film. It really makes you think.


Except we don't have self replicating code that is built by itself. Until that happens, we don't have anything resembling life.


There's also the original manga _Ghost in the Shell_ by Masamune Shirow (first published back in 1991), and it's two sequels _Vol 2. Man-Machine Interface_ and _Vol 1.5. Human-Error Processor_, published in 2001 and 2003 (years later in the US). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_in_the_Shell_%28manga%29

Like a lot of GitS media, they're unique and don't mesh perfectly with the others, but if you like SAC, you'll probably like them. A lot of scenes are echoed between the various OAVs and the manga, especially the first.


As much as I love GITS, I feel like so much of Minority Report is prescient to much of what we are seeing now or starting to see, from pre-crime to the personalized advertising. And that is scary.


GitS pushed ideas on many fronts in every episode, but Minority Report felt to me really shallow. I mean, how deep does the precog go? Why aren't they used in worldwide politics? If only 3 are used for crime prevention, what happened to the other ones? Why is it murder prevention specifically? How did the local police start with the program rather than a federal agency - mutating people is not something that would be a quiet local development.

It's been some time since I've seen MR, so maybe I'm missing details, but it seemed to show a big idea and then concentrate on tiny group only / action sequences. Kind of the reverse of GitS showing the actions of tiny group, but never losing the context of the big idea.


Keep in mind, it's a movie vs. a tv series so there's only so much time to explore different concepts. Plus I would not focus on the fact that it's just the 3 people but rather the notion of pre-crime itself.

The current TV version of Minority Report unfortunately does not seem to have tackled these issues much and is more like a near future police drama instead. Bummer


The Minory Report vision of pre-crime is indeed scary. However, we're already using analytics to prevent conditions which encourage criminal behaviour or increase risk of victimisation. I believe it's a question of implementation. Just as with stereotypes, these systems of generalisation can be useful but when applied to individuals they can be disastrous. Extending the metaphor, you can view racism as the extension of (positive as well as negative) stereotypes to the individual.

For me, the future vision of hyper-personalised advertising and 'clienteling' is in many ways, far more insidious than any overt Big Brother-type figure lurking in guises such as that of Minority Report's pre-crime division.

I found Huxley's vision - a world in which we, as a populace, are distracted from truthful experience and thus controlled by being overloaded with the experiences we love - to be enormously more terrifying than a world where we are controlled by what we fear. If you think of this type of control in the context of an abusive relationship, then it becomes clear how many more people would be vulnerable and how few would be willing to leave even if they did realise the truth of their situation.

You need far more control and fear to manipulate people than you need if you employ loyalty. If you can get people to love you, they imprison themselves.


I dunno. I would say Trump seems to be doing a good job taking advantage of people's (misplaced?) fears.

Incidentally, John Oliver had a great bit on Drumpf but the comments I've seen so far run along the lines of "F*uck you, you just be hating" by people that don't seem to have even bothered watching the whole segment. I find this infuriating. It's okay to disagree but dammit, at least take time to get educated before outright dismissing things. /rant


Agreed. Trump's campaign isn't inspiring fear. As you say, it's using and amplifying existing fears to form and strengthen a relationship with as many people as possible -- to establish itself as a member of the voter's in-group.

Expanding on my earlier premise, notice how this activity resembles a sociopath who is attempting to control a target or, perhaps as a more concrete example, an abuser in an new relationship. The isolation and alienation map fairly well. This then proceeds on to the campaign then making policy promises that sound like very good things to those it has captured all while moving the goal posts to ensure those promises needn't be kept.

Of course, because they needn't be kept, these promises are distractions for whatever goals the campaign might actually have, if any. It would be refreshing to have, in office, someone who simply wanted the power of it and wouldn't know what to do with it once gained. Actually, that's terrifying.

The methodology is clever, if you can call it that, in that most it targets of it are willingly blind to it, but it's also quite transparent if you know how to interpret it. Ever spent some time with a couple who have a terribly manipulative co-dependent relationship? Much of politics is like that. Sadly, those who buy into the charade will have the dismissive statement, "you're too cynical," or, "you always see the worst in them," ready for use if you have a moment to talk about it with them -- no matter the party or policy, so long as it's their party or policy. Such is humanity. I may be cynical, but since when has that ever been a reason for dismissing an argument?

Of course, most campaigns (read, sociopathic entities whatever they may be - be they a corporation or a single person) work this way. It's the easiest and most efficient way to gain control in, around and over any group of humans. The really terrifying thing is, once you've realised what's going on, you can never unknow it. I suppose that learning to cope with that realisation is something most people never really have to do whether through ignorance or, well, not coping with it.


His points are all pretty dismiss-able even if the whole 22 minutes are viewed. The only people that his show will convince are people who have already taken a anti-trump stance prior to watching the show.

I found myself quietly laughing at some portions of the show, but overall it didn't seem like "oliver skewers trump" was fitting.


I am genuinely curious to hear how the points are dismiss-able? I'm not saying there is any one "gotcha" point but taken in aggregate, it paints a picture.


Yeah I watched it, but I feel like a lot of political talks are preaching to the choir. They're not going to win over any Trump supporters by ridiculing him outright. A calm rational argument backed by evidence might win some people over.


Wait until someone is forced to give testimony under fMRI


> I feel like so much of Minority Report is prescient

That was a shallow movie if I ever remember one. How could a whole society idea of justice depend on just a set of 3 freaks detained in a kind of underground lab. This just does not make any sense, because it does not scale and it depends way too much on the human factor.

I'd wager that if such a thing ever exist in the future, it will be a matter of computers calculating probabilities based on a huge dataset they are constantly mining to detect abnormalities. But even if that were the case, it would probably fail to work unless you have a direct feed into everyone's private lives and way of thinking (and i don't mean just internet spying, it would need to go way further than that).


This shallowness is my biggest pet peeve about science fiction. It irks me especially in novels, because in that format the author has room to flesh things out.

I find older science fiction especially to seem to be made from cardboard cutouts. I couldn't make it through the first book of Asimov's Foundation series for that reason. A masterpiece in the estimation of many, but unbearably simplistic and shallow to me. A story stretching across a galaxy and hundreds of years, and nothing seems to be happening in that galaxy except the minor events driving the main characters forward.


You should watch Psycho-Pass. I feel you will like it.

[0] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2379308/


> it will be a matter of computers calculating probabilities based on a huge dataset they are constantly mining to detect abnormalities

You're describing "Person of Interest"


If you loved Minority Report, you may like Psycho-Pass better than GitS.


I liked the GITS SAC series a lot because of how well they balanced the action plot points with discussion about technology, security, politics and philosophy. Overall I'd struggle to think of another series which strikes that balance so well.


I watched the original in 1995. It is a masterpiece, have rewatched many many times, always great. The remastered version with 3D is horrible though. The Stand Alone Complex is way more pop-corn material, also easier to digest, didn't really like it very much. The original film's pace is closer to a Tarkovsky film... Slower, more profound, poetic at times.


If you're going to watch the film for the first time, which you should as its awesome, don't watch the dubbed version. Make sure you watch it with subtitles.


That pretty much goes for any movie or anime, I would say.

One exception would be the English version of the childrens show "Magic Roundabout" which I believe was originally a French political satire. The English version just watched the show and then made up a story to go along with what was happening on screen.

I presume Zebedee was meant to be a caricature of de Gaulle but if I am mistaken I am sure somebody will correct me. :-)


> That pretty much goes for any movie or anime, I would say.

The possible exception would be Steins;Gate; I contend that the mad-scientist ranting sounds better in your native tongue.

(I am aware of the position that it's somewhat less authentic and will concede that the English version of Mayuuri's tu-tu-ruu is of lower quality.)


I'm generally not too bothered about sub. v. dub, but for some reason I find Steins;Gate in English to be really jarring. Not sure why, but I feel like the voices don't really fit the characters in the dubbed version.


My understanding is that it's true that the English version was not based on the original script, but the original French was still just a children's show.


Some of the Ghibli movies are dubbed wonderfully.


[deleted]


Even if you don't understand the language, it's not just unintelligible sounds. There is emotion in the original delivery which is often lost in the dubbing process.

I haven't seen the GitS dub, so I can't comment on it specifically, but I've yet to hear a dub that doesn't sound completely wooden. Even ones that other people recommend as good examples invariably have that one clunky line in ten that I find very distracting.


The GitS dub is so bad that particular horrible lines are burned into my permanent memory. I haven't watched the dub in at least a decade, and I still remember the scene on the boat where the Major says, "I feel confined, only FREE to expand myself within boundaries." The translation is clunky, but the reading should have disqualified the voice talent from ever working again.


> Even if you don't understand the language, it's not just unintelligible sounds. There is emotion in the original delivery which is often lost in the dubbing process.

This is exactly why I always watch them with original dubbing.


I saw two of the series and liked the plot, action, setting, etc.

That said, I didn't appreciate the title conceit and thought the stories got weak whenever they approached it.

There is no ghost in the shell, not in the real world. A person's thoughts, character, and emotions come from neurons, hormones, and sensory input. There's no way to take a person's unique consciousness out of their body, keep it in a jar, and move it somewhere else.

At best it might be possible to emulate someone's brain, but that's not what they did in Ghost in the Shell.


That was kind of the point of the idea though - it's a world on the precipice of digitizing consciousness - but they haven't yet achieved it.

The series has at its core that question.


that was exactly the whole series was about, both in the original movie and in stand alone complex.

the premise of the series is that they acknowledge that you can't just beam someone's brainwaves or other things and expect that "shell" to be the same exact person. throughout the series they use dummy bodies and even hack into other people's bodies, but they never transferred their consciousness into a machine. there are people with robotic parts, but they all always have an original brain. a lot of the series discusses this aspect of how it makes humans unique in the world they live in and a lot of the episodes revolve around that situation.

i feel like if you only watched 2 episodes, you are not giving the show a fair shake. it's also one of those series that requires multiple viewings to get everything.


The title makes better sense for the original movie, where dummy cyborg bodies (shells) are taken over by a rogue AI. The movie asks what role our biological consciousness plays when our lives are so intertwined with technology (the cyborgs in the movie possess cyberbrains where neurons are fused with circuitry). The ending of the movie is particularly stark to this end as well.

The TV series is mostly about the second title, the "Stand Alone Complex," a phenomenon where some behaviors and movements arise within unrelated groups of people with no identifiable source.


I agree, there is no ghost. Consciousness is an emergent behavior of those elements: neurons, their interconnections, neurotransmitters, etc.

However, in theory it may be possible to reproduce those elements down to a molecular level, allowing the emergence of the "original" consciousness from new matter.

So, if you imagine that "ghost" is metaphorical speak to, say, to summarize, the film is not strictly wrong.


That was the whole point of the series, though.

Is the Major the same Major as she was at the beginning of the film?



i think they are referring to the self in the philosophical sense. if you only see things in a literal light, the world will seem very narrow.


Good write-up on it. Probably one of its lasting effects was partial inspiration for The Matrix: the first, mainstream, "thinking-man's," action movie. It had audiences leaving with questions about themselves instead of just flat quotes from a movie. Had plenty of them, too. ;)

Always wanted to see more of this genre. I know they're doing a live action Ghost in the Shell. Have mixed feelings about that. Nonetheless, I'd like to see more movies that have enough tropes and cultural tie-ins to be successful but throw in those GitS or Matrix-style element to really get people thinking.

Most recent in get you thinking, but not mainstream, movies is Ex Machina. Whole movie, minus a few things, is essentially built on the acting and esp dialogue that questions reality. Kind of a budget film but I thought it was great. Just watch the movie not the trailers as there might be some spoilers in there.


If you like series about technology, try out 'Black Mirror' on netflix... It has some interesting approaches...

Eg. What could happen if there exists a chip that stores all your memories. Is it good or bad? :-)


I would caution against Black Mirror. I felt it was mostly about tabloid style shock value and not about technology. Especially the first episode was just awful - e.g. the pig fucking scene.


I watched the first three episodes. Every single one had a primary focus of intense sexual shame or violation, and they all ended in just about the most miserable way possible. It was extremely well done, but some of us have enough negativity in our lives without piling more on in our rest & relaxation time.

I might have gone on if they were alternating the pattern or something, it was simply too much of one ugly core theme for me.


There is one consistent theme throughout Black Mirror, and that is 'we are so close to this being the world we live in, given one or two missteps'.

The series was never intended to be positive in any way. It's supposed to be a kind of terrifying warning.


I just finished up watching almost all of Ghost in the Shell, from the original movie to Stand Alone Complex; I still need to re-watch Innocence. Originally I'd gotten into it back when I was a wee teen in the early/mid 2000s, and I hadn't completely understood the topics and commentary then. It was just cool action sequences with intriguing characters and an engaging story. All I can say now is, wow; the series is on-point. It's top tier sci-fi, up there with the likes of Neuromancer and Blade Runner. SAC is awesome and I liked it the most, since it has some really nice side episodes that expand on the world, like the one where the one Tachikoma's (a Tachikoma being this spider like mech with a nascent AI) neural net starts to develop beyond its parameters due to some "natural oils", but the whole series is amazing.

Just don't watch the original video animation things (OVA), which are basically two movies that each are amalgamations of Stand Alone Complex's two seasons. Not only is Batou's voice different, they don't do SAC any justice. Those things should be banned.


Oh dear. I watched Innocence with a friend when it came out, and to this I don't have any idea of what it was trying to say. I liked GitS very much, as well as the first season of SAC, despite the oversexualization of the main character (ugh fan service).


Yeah, I consider Innocence to be the most visually interesting (some of the scenes are just gorgeous), but it was kind of a mess in terms of story.


innocence is brilliant

one of those rare occasions where the sequel is just as good as the original but for completely different reasons

> I don't have any idea of what it was trying to say.

i am guessing this is in response to the way the characters have entire conversations with only referencing abstract quotes.. and to this i have to say i like this kind of dialogue

if you do too, i would recommend the mid century new wave, specifically jean luc godard.. there is a sac episode in homage to him as well so perhaps my seeing similarities is more than coincidence.. stuff like pierrot le fou and notre musique are heavy with these quotation dialogues

if you dislike this sort of writing style, may i suggest some ways to enjoy it more:

you could watch the film like you would read a book, maybe a chapter a night spread out over a few nights to give you time to digest your mind's philosophical ramblings, and allow you to flip back and forth to track context

also, or, you could get a list of all of the quotes used in the film from their original authors and read them, considering their meanings, before watching the film

it can be frustrating to try to keep up with abstract concepts and poetic structures when you have the time frame subtitles afford

by reading the quotes before hand you will recognise immediately what is being said and be able to consider the context of your understanding of its meaning within its placement in the film

having one character dismiss another by answering a question using a quote from a 19 century poet, then later have another character, absent from the original scene implying omnipresence, recycle that quote in a completely different context and then also finish the rest of the quote altering its meaning is masterful writing

spoilers from the original 1995 film ahead:

it is rare to see someone take something as brilliant and successful as the 1995 ghost and decide to make a sequel completely abandoning the original's main character and themes to focus the main thread on a support character from the original

innocence is the story of how those left behind deal when a respected person leaves and how that void pulls all of them around

batou in innocence is a different batou from gits, in the absence of the major he begins to take on the inquisition that made the major so powerful, and this worries everyone else in the same way batou was worried about the major in gits

batou's mirroring of the major's personality is only able to be relieved to his own personality again due to the event at the end of the film

what oshii did with innocence is commendable

i think all of the ghost material is masterful and great fodder for staring out of windows

"mirrors are meant to be looked down on; stead looked into" .Ryokuu Saitou


On a side note, a manga that also takes up this subject but is set more far in the future is Battle Angel Alita , that is about a cyborg with a human brain

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Angel_Alita


I personally believe Transcendence has the most realistic future (if you exclude humanity at the very end of it).


I read ghost in the shell and was in the same moment reminded to Wamdue Project - King of my castle. The music video was done with Ghost in the Shell scenes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwdlqquJDK4


Well that's not actually the original video, just a YouTube user's creation. This is the original one: http://youtu.be/DXSyQjppqG0


I remember the gits version being shown on TV all the time. I've never seen the version you've just posted.

EDIT: This is not the GITS version shown on tv. The TV video only had footage of the tank scene.


I'm very surprised by the responses. GitS made no sense to me whatsoever. I did not understand the plot or the world. Now I'm wondering whether I perhaps saw some 'wrong' version that indeed did not make sense.


I was also thrown off by this movie. I remember watching it in college. It seemed very disjointed, throwing around a bunch of dialogue, vocab, characters, politics, etc. at me that seemed badly translated and only poorly if ever explained or described. Sure, plenty of eye candy and then some somewhat intriguing AI stuff at the end. Recently, I tried watching a couple episodes of SAC, and while it was easier to follow, it felt again like I was only understanding about half the dialogue.

I am also told that it can be a little off-putting or disorienting to some because it is more concept-driven than plot-driven, which, in addition to being an awkward mashing together of the beginning and the end of the manga (manga wrangling seems in some form or other a common source of awkwardness in anime- e.g. Akira), is probably why it was hard for me to follow. To each his own, I suppose, but I think it's cool when you have both a well-told story AND intriguing concepts (e.g. Neuromancer, Gattaca, Blade Runner, etc.)


appropriate username :-)


"In the near future - corporate networks reach out to the stars. Electrons and light flow throughout the universe. The advance of computerisation, however, has not yet wiped out nations and ethnic groups."


If you are interested in GiTS and also are an occasional gamer, I would strongly recommend to give Deus Ex a try. The story of the first game deals with similar themes as GiTS.


Best game ever made. No question in my mind.


well it is considered by many, mayyyybe including me, the best computer game made. ever. definitely up there in the pantheon


I'm glad to see that GiTS has inspired such a discussion and so many comments. Its a masterpiece of story telling, futurism and the challenges facing society, not just robotics/AI but also demographics (Solid State Society).

I still get goose bumps every time I watch this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsIQ_kA77b4


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uK8V9jG7Wjg

This one gives it to me every time.


Have you watched all of it? I want to get into it but am not sure where to start. If you had to choose 1-2 seasons of TV and a few films, which ones would you watch?


Yes of course! I've indeed watched all of them.

For the purest GiTS experience I would just watch the first three films GiTS (1995), Innocence, and Stand Alone Complex.

GiTS 2.0, in an attempt at improving the graphics, ruined the original feel. I watched the TV series - not bad, but not the masterpieces of story telling that the 3 films are.

But who cares what I think - what them all, and form your own conclusions :)


To SAC fans * MAJOR SPOILERS *

check out this fan theory on identity of laughing man. https://www.reddit.com/r/Ghost_in_the_Shell/comments/2j9p8j/...


Ghost in the Shell, the mangas, the two movies, SAC... are the kind of media that every home should have a copy of. Its not just prophetic, but really accessible and satisfactory from just a sheer nerdiness perspective, the same way Star Trek must have been to everyone in the 1960s.


It's been some time since I read anything on this site but I have to ask: did they decide on the hero graphic, and then also decide they had to code up a method to keep that nipple covered unless the reader really wanted to see it? That's too funny.


I want to get into it but am not sure where to start. If you had to choose 1-2 seasons of TV and a few films, which ones would you watch?


Serial Experiments Lain wasn't too bad either.


side topic and NSFW: https://vimeo.com/96621373 is a interesting attempt to do the front sequence in a live action video. They do a good job, and it is as NSFW as the original.

I do wonder how the hollywood version will mess up this movie.


I've never been an anime fan, but GITS remains one of my favorite movies of all time. Dat soundtrack tho.




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