Anime and manga are a form of entertainment that originated in Japan. Manga is an adult comic book format, while anime is the adult cartoon form — often derived from manga versions of the same. Go to any comic book or sci-fi convention and you will encounter devotees of both. You will even see people dressed up as their favorite manga and anime heroes (just like you would fans of American films and TV shows).
Ghost in the Shell (1995):
In the future of 2029, almost everyone has some cybernetic component. The common man, it seems, has their brain hard-wired into a system. The internal, still existing human is referred to as the “ghost”. Some are even more cybernetically enhanced. and some, such as our hero of the piece, Major Kusanagi (voiced by Mimi Woods in the American dubbed version) are basically living organisms with robotic bodies. The cybernetic brain allows some to be able to access the equivalent of the internet through their own brains. The future as depicted in Ghost in the Shell has some stuff that predicts what will come to pass, because anyone can access the Internet, even without cybernetic enhancements, through small hand-held computers… cell phones, anyone?)
In this future world, nations are still committing intrigue and deception. And even internally there are subterfuges going on. Kusanagi works with section 6 of an unnamed country. Section 6 is the police force of the nation, and finds itself at odds with section 9 (which is something like our American C.I.A.) Kusanagi works as a secret agent of section 6, trying to prevent the defection of a high-level computer programmer to a foreign country, and assassinates a rogue embassy official from said country.
In the process, she and her partner Batou (voiced by Richard Epcar) discover that the real culprit behind the scenes is a mysterious figure known as “The Puppet Master,” a hacker who can access the cybernetic brains of individuals and reprogram them to do his will. During their investigation they uncover a plot by section 9 in which the Puppet Master has been lured into another body, with the intent to control it.
But an attempt to transport the body to another site goes haywire. It seems the Puppet Master is a bit more powerful than anyone expected. Kusanagi and Batou work together to try to recapture the Puppet Master.
That’s about all I can tell you with out revealing too much about the movie that will intrigue you if you discover it for yourself. This movie is quite a bit more complicated than your average Disney cartoon. You will need to bring your entire brain to the game. It does contain some that sounds rather existential to my mind, and it is a bit more violent than any Disney film. In other words, despite the fact that it is a cartoon, you probably don’t want to watch it with the kids.
Jim Brymer, AKA Quiggy, runs the movie blog The Midnite Drive-In, check it out for more insights on other classic films.