Mamoru Oshii's Ghost In The Shell

1909 words - 8 pages

Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in The Shell
Science fiction has been a staple of film entertainment since George Melies first
explored the genre in his 1902 Le Voyage Dans La Lune. While even as early an
example as this contained many defining features of the genre which are still present
today, over 100 years of exploring the genre has both expanded and more accurately
defined what makes a film fit the science fiction niche. This paper seeks to explore
elements of Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in The Shell and how they conform to science fiction
genre standards. These topics will include plot and thematic elements, as well as film
techniques and iconography. Furthermore, the film will be examined through the
reflectionist approach to determine how the story speaks to society’s mindset during the
time of its production.
In Sam Moskowitz’ Explorers of the Infinite: Shapers of Science Fiction he gives
us a broad definition of the genre as a whole – not just specific to film: “Science fiction
is a branch of fantasy identifiable by the fact that it eases the ‘willing suspension of
disbelief’ on the part of its readers by utilizing an atmosphere of scientific credibility for
its imaginative speculations in physical science, space, time, social science and
philosophy.” (11) Because this definition speaks to the genre as a whole, including both
literature and film, it is a good starting point for identifying plot and thematic elements in
the movie that speak to the genre.
Many notable elements in the film speak to utilization of “an atmosphere of
scientific credibility.” Unlike other works in the fantasy genre, Ghost in the Shell sets
itself into the science fiction niche with this distinction. While typical fantasy includes
fantastical elements such as superhuman feats, these feats are often attributed to magic or
some other supernatural or mystical source. Science fiction is distinctive by building
such feats in constructs that seem feasible. In the Star Wars series (which is undeniably
quintessential science fiction), we see Jedis perform such seemingly magical feats – an
element that appears to superficially cater to standard fantasy. We eventually learn,
however, that these powers are based at the genetic level – effectively lending to an
“atmosphere of scientific credibility.” Qui-Gon Gin explains to Anakin in the novel
adaptation of George Lucas’s Phantom Menace: “Midi-Chlorians are microscopic lifeforms
that reside within the cells of all living things and communicate with the Force.”
(Brooks, 245).
Just as Star Wars sets itself apart from standard fantasy by basing the seemingly
supernatural on story elements more scientifically feasible than magic and mysticism in
order to aid in suspending disbelief, so to does Ghost in the Shell. While Star Wars
utilizes microscopic life-forms to accomplish this, Ghost in the Shell arguably better
succeeds in creating an “atmosphere of scientific credibility” by using something we’re

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