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Watch the original versions of Ghost in the Shell’s most iconic moments

Watch the original versions of Ghost in the Shell’s most iconic moments


An anime masterpiece brought to life

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Photo: Paramount Pictures

Rupert Sanders’ Ghost in the Shell isn’t exactly a remake, a reboot, or a full-blown adaptation. The live-action film, which hit theaters last Friday, does borrow liberally from Masamune Shirow’s original manga series and the seminal 1995 Mamoru Oshii anime film that adapted it. But Sanders’ version charts its own path, while peppering in a best-of collection of moments and visuals from across the Ghost in the Shell canon.

It may not be the film some of us wanted; Sanders’ version trades in the original’s philosophical elements for a more traditional action movie narrative, and the casting of Scarlett Johansson as the Major contributes to the way the film seriously mishandles the representation issues looming over it. But we do at least get to see some of anime’s most iconic and stunning scenes brought to life with modern special effects — and a generous Hollywood budget.

Here, we’ve put together a collection of some of the best clips and plot points the live-action film draws inspiration from — or in some cases, lifts directly from the source. And where YouTube clips permit us, we’ve included the 2017 film’s live-action counterparts as well.

(This post contains major spoilers for the live-action Ghost in the Shell and minor spoilers for the original anime film and TV series.)


SOURCE: Ghost in the Shell (1995)


This sequence is one of the most faithful in the entire movie, lifted almost whole cloth from the 1995 original, but with some added visual flourishes, because it’s 2017 and computers do wonderful things. The biggest difference is that the original film’s Major Motoko Kusanagi has a cyber-brain, while Johansson’s Major Mira Killian has a human brain implanted into a cybernetic body. Beyond that, we get the same creation of the robotic endoskeleton, the same shelling, and some nods to the idea that the Major is being “born” into this new robotic form.


SOURCE: Ghost in the Shell (1995) / Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002)


This scene, echoed again in the live-action film’s conclusion, combines elements from both the original movie’s opening and from the Stand Alone Complex TV series’s first episode. In the original, the Major, wearing nothing but her thermoptic suit, infiltrates a meeting with scientists discussing a pivotal research project. She shoots through the window, then makes an appearance at the end, camouflaging herself as she falls back from the skyscraper’s window. In the series, Section 9 is investigating a hostage situation in which android geishas have begun extracting data from the hostages.


SOURCE: Ghost in the Shell (1995)


A scene shown early on in the live-action Ghost in the Shell’s various trailers and clips is Johansson in her thermoptic camouflage suit fighting a hacker in shallow water. Like the shelling sequence used in the beginning, this scene is faithfully lifted completely from Oshii’s 1995 version, down to the camera angles and the directions of the Major’s kicks and punches. Later on, we see the culprit being interrogated by Section 9, which discovers he’s had false memories implanted to trick him into thinking he has a daughter. Again, that scene — like the thermoptic fight — is lifted directly from the 1995 film.


SOURCE: Ghost in the Shell (1995)


One of best scenes of the original anime film is a conversation the Major has with Batou on a boat out at sea, after she’s just come back from a diving expedition to clear her head. Here, we get the most concise and transparent thematic message delivered straight from Masamune’s manga: that the concept of self is composed of many different ingredients that can now all be manufactured and swapped, raising important questions about the nature of identity. The conversation Johansson's Major has in the live-action version is unfortunately far less insightful.


SOURCE: Ghost in the Shell (1995)


Spider tanks are a huge part of GitS lore, so it made perfect sense that one would show up in the live-action adaptation. In the 1995 film, the Major must face off against one of the tanks so she can connect with the Puppet Master’s ghost. It’s a brutal battle that nearly gets her killed, but Batou steps in at the last possible minute to save her.

This year’s version borrows many of the same visual elements, but makes the battle about the Major protecting Kuze. Major runs from the same kind of machine-gun fire, and uses every ounce of strength she has to disable the tank, breaking one of her arms in the process. But the stakes are completely different here. In the original, the Major is fighting to connect with an entirely new form of sentient life. In the update, she’s an avenging superhero cyborg. It’s hard not to read the scene as a feast for the eyes that’s a step or two below what it’s paying homage to.


SOURCE: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG (2004)


In the second season of Ghost in the Shell’s TV series, Hideo Kuze is a political revolutionary who feels his disconnection with society is due to his full cyberization, an operation he underwent as a child just like the Major. He ultimately decides to upload his consciousness to the internet to live forever, and invites the Major to join him. In the live-action version, Kuze knew the Major not as a child, but as a young adult. They were both homeless when Hanka scooped them up as cybernetic experimentation subjects. 


SOURCE: Ghost in the Shell (1995) / Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2nd GIG (2004)


One of the central themes of the 1995 Ghost in the Shell film is the idea of artificial intelligence as a step in human evolution. In the original, the Major is inadvertently tracking a sentient AI called the Puppet Master, which deliberately seeks the cyborg out as a prime candidate to merge its consciousness with. In the end, the Major agrees and as a result becomes part of a new unprecedented life form.

Sanders’ film basically blends that idea into a simpler story arc, with Kuze acting as a mix of his source material character and the Puppet Master. Sure, the pared-down story isn’t as fun to dissect with friends over a few beers, but it’s probably the only way the film could have worked without crushing itself under narrative complexity.

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