Have Your Say: Does GHOST IN THE SHELL Still Have A Future?

Editor, Europe; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)
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Have Your Say: Does GHOST IN THE SHELL Still Have A Future?
There sure is no shortage of Ghost in the Shell news lately.

After many a false start, a live-action version by Dreamworks seems to be pretty much underway, starring Scarlett Johansson in the lead role. Meanwhile, on the animated front, a new film will be released theatrically this summer, presumably tying in with the last OVA-series which was called Arise.

So there is still lots of love for the brand, it seems, and there has been for decades (ahem...). As the owners of the Ghost in the Shell franchises remind us over and over again, last year saw the 25th anniversary of Shirow Masamune's manga, and this year is the 20th Anniversary of Oshii Mamoru's utterly brilliant anime movie adaptation.

But that very age also brings its own concerns. When the manga was released, the whole "cyberpunk" movement in science fiction was still pretty new, with William Gibson's famous novels only a few years old. Back then these ideas were fresh, shocking even, especially for readers and viewers who, themselves, weren't attached to any kind of Internet yet. Instant access to information? Getting personal data hacked? Unheard of, or at the very least, still science fiction!

Indeed, great and visionary though Oshii's film is, already many of the technologies shown look outdated. Kusanagi needs neck plugs? What, she doesn't have Wi-Fi? And mobile phones are as big as a brick?

In both Masamune's writings and Oshii's films, the stories and characters, no matter how cool, were never the most important things. Philosophies and ideas were. And within the Ghost in the Shell framework, after twenty years of endless rehashing, we may have seen enough of those ideas by now.

Therefore, my question is: classic though its classics are, is there still a future for Ghost in the Shell? Is there life left in this awesome, yet possibly outdated franchise?

Please discuss! Chime in through the comments below, and HAVE YOUR SAY!

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Around the Internet

Toussaint EganMarch 24, 2015 11:00 AM

I love this film and I love this franchise. While I have to admit that the technology presented in them is dated by today's standard, a lot of the topics addressed in this series are pertinent if no longer prescient.

I believe that the Ghost in the Shell franchise does have a future, and if handled properly that future might turn out to be stranger than any of its fans give it credit for. Stand Alone Complex pretty much delivered a master thesis on the nature of online anonymity and crowd-sourced vigilantism in the 21st century...before we even had a real-life referent to compare that show's ideas to. Bear in mind that story-line was heavily inspired by the Glico Morinaga kidnapping case of the 1980's, but it's still an uncanny case of art imitating life only to be inadvertently imitated by life itself again.

Ghost in the Shell obviously presents an alternate future world were the combined influence of two proxy wars and a nuclear conflict result in the United States being balkanized into three or four warring factions and Japan being elevated to a technological mecca. Maybe we could see a story-line were Section 9 has to work in tandem with other counter-terrorism units across the globe to disband a shadow network of militant hackers aided in part by the offspring of Motoko/The Puppetmaster? I'm just spit-balling here, I need to brush up on my Gits canon before I can nail a new concept down. Maybe even consider wiping the geo-political slate of the story's background and establishing some new cross-narratives between operatives in Japan, U.K., Spain and the US?

What Ghost in the Shell needs is a break, to upgrade and broaden the scope of its story-lines in how technology intersects with our every day lives. If people like Kenji Kamiyama and Kazuchika Kise, directors and writers whose surnames aren't Oshii or Shirow, can still step to the plate and deliver television series' and ova's that are both andrenaline-stimulating political suspense thrillers and philosophically poignant commentaries on contemporary societyafter more than 20 years, I'm certain that we haven't seen all that this franchise still has to offer.

pulptrashMarch 24, 2015 11:47 AM

Yes, it is dated. As is Star Wars and Star Trek, and the majority of Sci-fi in popular culture. The ideas in them are what defines them, if a straight adaptation of 'War of the Worlds' was made it would be seen as extremely dated. The basic premise needs to remain but the technology generally needs to be reinterpreted for each generation, as was done with 'War of the Worlds' in the 50s, 80s, 00s.

thrashtildeathMarch 24, 2015 3:16 PM

With regard to the idea of a free flow of information via the web, GitS's predictions have caught up with it, yes. But to my mind, the heart and soul o the franchise philosophically has always been prosthetic bodies, the ultimate extension of mutable identity that we've begun to see today with the advent of online anonymity. GitS proposes a future where anyone can potentially be anyone, identity and consciousness no longer defined or confined by designations such as ethnicity, gender or physical capability. That line of inquiry is still absolutely relevant - whether or not technology will create an egalitarian utopia where one's body no longer figures into one's worth as an individual, or a dystopia where the availability of powerful, beautiful prosthetic bodies only serves to deepen socioeconomic division and facilitate the exploitation of the dispossessed.
Tl;dr - hell yes, the franchise has a future.

Unflinching_EyeMarch 24, 2015 10:39 PM

That's pretty much how I feel about a Neuromancer adaptation (Vincenzo Natali was last attached, but things have gone very quiet). I'd like to see it, but it feels a bit redundant.

danstaMarch 25, 2015 1:52 AM

The technology is dated? What? Do you all have erasable cyberbrains and it's just me that's been kept in the dark? Tachikoma AI tanks with a human-like personality?

Even the WIFI argument is complete nonsense. Data transfer via WIFI is incredibly slow and primitive - not to mention easily intercepted and hacked - as compared to fibre optic cables.

The amount of data processed by a human brain are still uncomputable by today's most powerful supercomputers - it is quite obvious they would need cables.

They are not transferring their selfies or dinner snaps instantly across personal devices, but projecting their entire 'soul' or ghost through cyberspace.

Ghost in the Shell was always about information and technological warfare. That topic is more relevant now than it ever has been, and certainly far more relatable to the average person than it was in the early '90s.

aleksandarWH7 .March 25, 2015 7:04 AM

Of course its not dated, that's just ridiculous.

Good Sci-fi fiction works in that way that you can always update it, also, GITS is full of philosophical ideas and questions that will never be resolved-redeemed-solved and will continue to be relevant as long as there is humanity. Anyone with a clue will be able to make something out of that premise but considering contemporary film-makers it ain't gonna happen.

Ignore simple technical/technological thing- did we caught up or not - they are irrelevant. What's really important is - identity, free will, soul or possible existence of one, personality, identity, ethics, gender, transhumanism, ubermensch - this is why I consider GITS great and not - are we gonna have cell phones in our teeth's 15 years in the future.

bricriu .March 25, 2015 1:41 PM

As long as the philosophical underpinnings don't overwhelm the plot as they did in Innocence I think we'll be fine.

RolandoApril 3, 2015 11:38 AM

I don't see anything in Ghost in the shell that is outdated, we all know that they also have wireless communication, and everyone knows that the more secure communication is wire, so it is logical that Motoko is going to tap into anyone's brain must be wired, and in many cases in the series she finds someone else already hacking into a cyberbrain remotely... Is that not considered wireless? ghost in the shell is a master piece and it has been ripoff from Hollywood in so many different ways that I can't count.