Having been a huge fan of anime when it was launched on the unsuspecting United Kingdom in the early 90’s by Manga Entertainment I spent my teenage years watching bike chasses through Neo-Tokyo, head exploding fist fights and tentacles going places they really shouldn’t go. The one film I never saw during this heady period of Japanese Sci-Fi, horror, action animation was Ghost in the Shell.
Strangely somehow the fantastic film passed me by. That was until I got involved in the Science Fiction Ratting System a podcast created alongside the superb Sam Draper and creative Chris Reading running weekly and attempting to rank and review every Sci-Fi film in existence from 1 to infinity and beyond.
Ghost in the Shell which I watched way back on the controversial animation episode 6 (listen HERE to find out why!) blew my mind. The film has since then held its place in a list that now spans 54 movies at an impressive number 3 and I don’t see it getting toppled from that top 5 anytime soon.
Unlike anything I had seen animated or otherwise I was so glad I had finally seen it and I loved every minute of it. Since then I have wanted to know everything about it and somehow Arrow read my mind set up a publishing company alongside their fantastic film distribution and released Andrew Osmond’s fantastic Ghost in the Shell book.
An anime expert who previously penned BFI Modern Classics: Spirited Away, Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist and 100 Animated Feature Films, Osmond’s 120 page pocket sized powerhouse of a publication focuses on all aspects of the fantastic 1995 film from its origins as a manga by Masamune Shirow all the way through to the controversially cast 2017 Hollywood live action remake (a review of which can be found on Love Horror HERE).
Going in depth in its analysis of visionary and maverick director, Mamoru Oshii whose stamp is well and truly all over Ghost in the Shell it also looks at the myriad of elements that went into making the movie from the adaptation process to the other animators to the original voice cast to the dubbing artists and the soundtrack composer as well as Manga Entertainment’s involvement as international co-producers.
Alongside the facts and foundation of the film Osmond is unafraid to make his own acute observations on Ghost in the Shell, profoundly dissecting the relationship between man and machine, the philosophical and religious messages within the script and most importantly the figure of Kusanagi, the film’s iconic cyborg heroine, one of the most original and interesting elements of the movie.
He also looks to what might have been Oshii’s inspirations such as classic Japanese robot movies, the cyberpunk stories of William Gibson and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner as well as life after the film for the main characters in spin off’s and TV series, finally taking in Ghost in the Shell’s influence on a whole host of Sci-Fi films afterwards from across the globe.
An absolute must have for all Ghost in the Shell fans such as myself along with anyone interested in anime in general Andrew Osmond’s book is hugely informative and just as intelligent as the film it discusses.