That Moment In ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (1995): The Puppet Master’s Plan
A closer look at a crucial moment in this classic animated sci-fi thriller.
Hello. My name is The Vern and I write for The Vern’s Video Vortex as well as help host the podcasts The Film Pasture and As You Watch. Today I am going to be talking about one of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies. “Ghost in The Shell” was released in 1995 and at the time, it was the only full length adult anime movie besides “Akira” that got wide recognition. It was even reviewed by Siskel and Ebert on their show At The Movies.
Based on the Manga by Masamune Shirow. This CyberPunk feature directed by Mamoru Oshii was influenced by movies such as “Metropolis” and “Blade Runner“, but it also has influenced other movies including “The Matrix” and “Avatar“. The plot centers around a female cyborg named Motoko Kusanagi and the rest of Section 9 (A Public Security Firm) in their quest to capture a mind hacker called The Puppet Master. To explain, in the future cybernetics have become a lot more accessible and people can have upgrades done to their bodies. The only way someone can be recognized as being their own persona is by their ghost (aka soul). People can even enter the network via connection ports in their head and get information from these ghosts (sort of like how Facebook and Google gets information from you now). So this Puppet Master has found a way to enter into someone else’s mind and give them false memories. We learn later on that this Master of Puppets is not an actual person (or an album by Metallica) but instead it was created by a different Security Section who wanted to use the program to hack ghosts’ profiles illegally. Which leads me to the scene I’m here to discuss.
That Moment In: Ghost in the Shell
In the scene, Motoko has hacked into the Puppet Master and the two are communicating with each other. The Puppet Master explains that he has become aware of his existence and believes himself to be a living entity. He found a body to break free of his confined status earlier and now wants to merge with Motoko to produce an offspring. When asked why he doesn’t just make a copy of himself, the Puppet Master responds by saying that a copy is just that, an identical mirror image of that person. It can’t grow and become its own person. Children never take on the same personality traits from their parents and that is what makes each person unique. The Puppet Master wants to extend life by reproducing and the making of children will make him become more human like. Because humans grow through their offspring. Motoko has been dealing with these issues about her cyborg body and her ghost throughout the whole feature. She’s starting to become more aware of her stature in life and is asking if she is “herself “or merely just a product. At least that’s my take on it. I need to watch this a few more times to really pick up on it more because I feel like I really haven’t touched on much. Anyways, the whole movie is just brilliant and if you are a fan of the recent “Ex-Machina“, I would highly suggest checking it out.
That Other Moment:
Remember that one moment in “The Shawshank Redemption” when Tim Robbins played that record by that one famous opera singer (ed. note: Her name is Edith Mathis) to the inmates. They couldn’t understand what she was singing, but they were all deeply moved by what they heard. Well the same thing could be said for my reaction to the theme from the the television series, “Stand Alone Complex”. The song is called “Inner Universe” by Orgia and Yoko Kanno and it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. Every time I hear those high notes from the singer on the chorus, I get tears in my eyes. I can’t explain it. I can’t understand what she is even saying and yet I find it to be very moving. That to me is a very powerful form of art. When you can have an emotional reaction to something without fully understanding it.
Here’s the song and you can find out for yourself.
I should also mention that the opening credits to the film when Motoko is being made (i.e., born) are very iconic as well. Want to learn more about Ghost in the Shell? Anime Everyday made a really good analysis on the movie that is worth a watch. Click here.