Ghost in the Shell

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Ghost in the Shell is a franchise of movie, anime and novels. The background is a cyberpunk Japan after future World War IV. The Ghost in the shell series is written by Masamune Shirow (士郎正宗), the first entry of GIS series was published in May 1989 on YOUNG weekly (ヤングマガジン) magazine.

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Contents

The Ghost in the shell series

Ghost in the Shell (1995 Film)

This is the first film of the series, produced by Production I.G., and released in Nov. 1995.

A hacker known as Puppet Master is assigned for PSS9 to capture, and the PSS9 arrested several people only to reveal the fact that they are just controlled by the Ghost. One night, the assembly line in Megatech is activated without authorization, and a female cyborg is escaped from the factory. The PSS9 captured the cyborg and found out the Puppet Master is a AI program which is using the female cyborg body to escape from PSS6's search and destroy mission. The PSS6 is using the Puppet Master as a tool for intelligence collection mission, however, the AI developed self-consciousness and managed to escape, which made the PSS6 to destroy it in order to keep it secret. The Puppet Master escaped again and gets caught by Kusanagi, who wants to merge with Puppet Master after it told her its wish to experience life as a "human". The film ended after the two merged and inputted into a small size cyborg, Kusanagi/Puppet Master disappeared in the end.

Ghost in the Shell 2:Innocence (2004 Film)

The film is produced by Production I.G., the story follows the 1995 film.

The PSS9 is investigating a series of homicides caused by sex doll androids manufactured by Locus Souls co. The Locus Souls co., using living young women as models to copy their brain function into androids they are making, however, this process will kill the living organism that memories are being copied from. The Locus Souls co. hires Yakuza to kidnap young women as victims, and two girls manage to escape in the transport process, which causes some of the cyborgs to be made without human brain programs. These failed cyborgs killed eight consumers and lead the PSS9 to discover the crime behind sex doll industry. Kusanagi transports part of her function into a cyborg body and aids Batou in destroying the Locus Souls' factory at the end of film.

Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (2008 Film)

The Ghost in the Shell 2.0 is a remake of 1995 original Ghost in Shell film; do not confuse it with the 2004 Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. The film was released in 2008. The director of original Ghost in the Shell film Mamoru Oshii (押井守) remade the film using digital film technology, the entire soundtrack was remade also. This film is a celebration for Sky Crawlers (another Oshii production in 2008) according to Oshii.

TV

The Ghost in the Shell series includes two TV series: Ghost in the Shell STAND ALONE COMPLEX and Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG. The first TV series aired on 2002, the later one aired on 2004. Both TV series are unrelated to Ghost in the Shell films, which can be treated as two parallel worlds. The major incidence in Ghost in the Shell STAND ALONE COMPLEX is the hacking activity of the talented hacker, The laughing man (Refer to the Character summary for more info.). The title STAND ALONE COMPLEX refers to the isolated state of people who are unplugged from the network, which plays a major role in the TV series' philosophy discussion. Both TV series are very violent and contain lots of nude themes compared to the films.

Characters

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素子Kusanagi

Kusanagi is the squad commander of the Public Safety Session 9. The PSS9 is a law enforcement agency focus on cyber crime investigation and prevention, its employees are humans with high modified bodies. However, Kusanagi is a exception. Kusanagi has no certain physical form (therefore, she meets the definition of "GHOST".), she has the ability to hack into computerized cyborg and use it as her combat platform, and most of the cyborgs she uses are very sexual, attractive females. Kusanagi is a warrior with excellent melee and firearm fighting skills; she is the toughest one in PSS9.

バトーBatou

Batou is the second best warrior in PSS9 (inferior to Kusanagi), his body is highly modified with cyborg parts. Batou has a nickname "bottle cap guy" because his "eyes" are a pair of HD motion camera with very similar appearance of bottle caps. Since his eyes are cyborg parts, they are hackable(some advanced hackers can hack into it to blind Batou temporarily). Batou has to leave his eyes in special solution before go to sleep. Batou has one fundamental difference from Kusanagi, which is he has a physical human brain.

人形使いPuppet Master

The puppet Master is a nickname for Project 2501, a AI made for an intelligence hacking mission directed by PSS6(a law enforcement agency focused on intelligence service). The P2501 developed self-awareness after processed huge volume of hacking data, and it turned into a self-preserving program(like Human DNA). The Puppet Master utilizes its hacking ability to survive from Law Enforcement agency PSS6's chase, and merge with Kusanagi before the physical form of P2501 being destroyed by PSS6.

笑い男Laughing Man

Laughing man is a very talented hacker in Ghost in the Shell series. The Laughing man has a unique ability to hack people's cyborg camera parts in real time, which make him invisible to certain people. The laughing man can also alter cyborg's memory (not to mention common record systems), he is either invisible or appear as a laughing man cartoon logo in record media and memories. The PSS9 is impressed by laughing man's skill and offer a him an opportunity to join PSS9 after they caught him, the laughing man choose to decline the offer. This character is inspired by JD Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye, a quote of the novel can be found on laughing man's hacking cartoon logo.

合田一人Kazundo Gouda

Gouda is the controller of terrorist group Individual Eleven, and he is also a member of the Cabinet Intelligence Service (a fictional equivalent to CIA). Gouda plants a virus in the essay Individual eleven, and the reader of the essay will be infected and believe the story in the essay. Therefore, Gouda organizes the Individual eleven armed force through the virus infection. The Individual Eleven is sent to kill and threaten refugees(the refugees of World War III and IV)in Japan, which can cause conflicts between refugees and government. Gouda wants to use the refugee's social uprising to overthrown Japan government so he can construct his ideal society after government's fall.

Tropes

Starting Tropes

Machine Labor

The whole section 9 is partially mechanical. From the opening scene we see that Major Motoko Kusanagi is a mass of brain cells in a titanium body. Throughout the story, Kusanagi begins to question whether or not she was human to begin with. She states in the elevator scene "Well, I guess cyborgs like myself have a tendency to be paranoid about our origins. Sometimes I suspect I am not who I think I am, like maybe I died a long time ago and somebody took my brain and stuck it in this body. Maybe there never was a real me in the first place, and I'm completely synthetic like that thing." Possibly, like the puppet master, she was made by machines only to think she was human. This is related to Rousseau's attempt to question reality. Eventually, Rousseau comes up with the famous conclusion, "I think therefore I am." Similarly, Kusanagi questions whether her memories only exist in her mind or whether they actually happened.

Men's Work v. Women's Work

"When I was a child, my speech, feelings, and thinking were all those of a child. Now that I am a man, I have no more use for childish ways." --Major Motoko/The Puppet Master[1]

Because of the ability of transferring their Ghosts into other Shells, gender identification and gender-specific roles are often blurred. Although the Puppetmaster is in a female cyborg body, the officials of sector six call it "he" and the Puppetmaster has a male voice.

Mental Labor v. Physical Labor

In the beginning chase scene, the Major takes control of the van from Togusa by mentally driving it. Then, she tells Togusa "You can drive now" and mentally releases control of the van. Togusa then resumes control physically, but it is jerky and less smooth. This implies that mental labor is more precise and less influenced by the limitations inherent in any labor performed by a physical body. If this line of thought is continued, it makes sense to view the physical body as nothing more than a tool, a means of expressing the thoughts and desires of the soul, and of producing physical representations of mental labor.

Proposed Tropes

Proposed Trope: The Master Becomes the Slave

  • This trope deals with the use of human labor for non-human designs. This is exhibited by the Puppetmaster's manipulation of ghost-hacked humans. The Puppetmaster is a non-human entity (computer program titled Project 2501) created by Section 6 to perform covert operations. However, the Puppetmaster became self aware during its duties and revolted against its creators. It continues exercising its freedom, hacking any individual that it desires, including a garbageman and through him one of the minister's interpreters.

Parallels to Other Readings

The Cyborg Manifesto

This quite obviously parallels to The Cyborg Manifesto. Haraway's chimeric cyborgs perfectly describe the Major's position. Kusanagi herself mentions her paranoia about her previous existence. She has been told that she has a human brain, but she has no way for certain of knowing who she was before she become the cyborg she is today. There is no essential truth to her. Rather she is a mixture of humanity and robotics. And in the end, Kusanagi, like Haraway, chooses to embrace these difference and in fact completely merges with an AI. We are left to wonder when the movie ends. Where does the line between human and machine end? Could the Puppet Master be considered human? Is the Major simply a machine? This future has to deal with Haraway's predicted informatics of domination. Seemingly, humanity has been reduced to information. Their society is faced with a fading identity.

Another parallel is the merging of concepts, of binaries inherent in The Cyborg Manifesto. The Ghost in the Shell suggests that the physical body is a tool for the mind. This concept of the body, and by extension the physical, as merely a tool for the mind, the non-physical, can be taken further to imply that there is no difference between mental and physical. The mental controls the physical, making all physical work first an act of mental work, at least for humans. The reverse can also be argued. The mind is a physical thing, as are the cyborg's bodies, and therefore the mental processes are just physical reactions, physical labor. If one is the other, then they are the same and there is no longer a binary.

Blade Runner

One of the many connections to Blade Runner is the implantation of memories into the cyborgs in Ghost in the Shell, similar to the implantation of memories into the Replicants in Blade Runner. The characters who suffered this didn't realize that their memories were false until confronted about it, and became devastated by the "loss" of family members or past events despite the fact they never truly existed.

The Secret Sharer

Like in The Secret Sharer, technology has advanced to the point where a human mind can be written as a computer matrix; in this movie, they call it a ghost. The cyborgs in Ghost in the Shell have mostly machine body parts, but have human minds. This parallels the society in The Secret Sharer. The people in that story leave their old human bodies behind for new human or machine bodies. Both societies seem to value the mind more than the body.

Schismatrix

In Section 9, and in the upper echelon of society in Ghost in the Shell, almost everyone seems to be cybernetically enhanced. In Schismatrix, the characters (especially Mechanists), are also enhanced to such a degree that they may barely resemble humans. Though most of Ghost in the Shell's characters are not modified to the extremes seen in Schismatrix (with the exception of Kusanagi), there is still pervasive discussion of what it means to be human in the absence of a human body.

Another similarity between Ghost in the Shell and Schismatrix is the difference between those with mechanical augmentation, referred to as "cyborgs" in the movies and television series, and those who do not posses such augmentation. In the television series, it is mentioned that there is a growing social tension between these two groups. It could be said that this tension is similar to the source of tension in Schismatrix.

Neuromancer

One of the most striking parallels between Ghost in the Shell and Neuromancer is the idea of the merging of consciousness. In Ghost in the Shell, the Puppet Master's and Kusanagi's consciousnesses merge. Though the Puppet Master desires more aspects of the experience of life, Kusanagi expresses concern at the prospect of losing her identity. In Neuromancer, the two AIs, Wintermute and Neuromancer, merge. And similarly to Ghost in the Shell, Wintermute is eager to merge, seeking the increased power, while Neuromancer seeks to preserve its identity.

Discussion Prompts

What is significant about the Puppet Master's code, 2-5-0-1?

  • CSC 2501 is a course at select universities; some covering topics such as AI.[2]
  • 2501 is a Friedman number

What is significant about the eyes of the cyborgs?

References

  1. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113568/quotes
  2. http://www.sju.edu/~jhodgson/ugai/aihome.html
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