Episode 79: Akira and Ghost In The Shell

Ghost In The Shell

oh shit...

Ben and I were indecisive as whether to do Ghost In The Shell or Akira…so because we’re masochists, we decided to do both. At long last, we’ve decided to take on the two more pretentious anime movies ever made!

To be fair, our gripe with Akira is mostly directed at how overhyped it is. Yes, we know the animation is absolutely gorgeous, but the story itself is nothing particularly special. Oh, and it’s also way too long. It’s padded out with pseudo-philosophical mumbo-jumbo that nobody can follow, because it makes no damn sense. It’s fun watching gorgeous animation of a city getting torn to bits, but I shouldn’t have to sit through 100 minutes of nonsense about ameoba children in order to get to that part.

And then there’s Ghost In The Shell. Finally, you guys get to hear why I hate this movie and everything it inspires. Get ready for a smackdown on the existential crisis genre of anime, because I lay the hate down on this film. It’s not even animated as well as Akira. It’s slow, boring, and had me fidgeting in my seat, despite being 40 minutes shorter. Ghost In The Shell might be the king of pretentious anime.

This episode is about:
The star child
Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers
“Get your ass to Mars!”
“Kakarot!!! I mean…Kaneda!!!”
Ooshi must be stopped, no matter the cost.
Fuck both of these films; watch Roujin Z
Watch Dominion Tank Police, too.

Oh, here’s something that drives me crazy. I wouldn’t hate Ghost In The Shell half as much if I didn’t know so many people who make the exact following argument.

"It's different when it's my favorite anime!"

If you've ever made this argument, do the world a favor and kindly get over yourself.

As someone who enjoys shit like Dirty Pair, Slayers, or Tenchi, I at least have the candidness to tell you that I like it because of the sexy girls. Anyone who tries to tell you that there’s a deeper meaning to Kusanagi wearing a thong is a condescending prick.

I'm sure these are all just coincidences

I'm sure these are all just coincidences

Kaneda on his bike


Shit we forgot to mention:

Kid Kusanagi

Kid Kusanagi

24 thoughts on “Episode 79: Akira and Ghost In The Shell

  1. I liked Mamoru Oshii when he was the lead director for Urusei Yatsura and Patlabor. He seems to have declined in his work after that. I think that the directing that he did for GitS was first seen in Beautiful Dreamer (which Takahashi hated).

    By the way, I too appreciate sexy girls in anime. I still think that Lum is the best one out there, even though there have been others after that.

  2. I felt you went about attacking the Ghost in the Shell film poorly. Masamune Shirow has been pretentious in all his works, it is just his style. While there may have been beautiful women and guns, lesbians and violence with some incredibly detailed weapon and vehicle designs… under all that was a heavy layer of philosophical/existential/commentary on society that invades all his works. Using just the fact that he once was (and currently still is) a hentai artist to try and debase the shows based off his writing came off as a bit jarring… especially after agreeing with a good deal of the episode prior. What you were shooting at just came with the territory and it was part of the appeal of watching one of his derivative works or reading the original material. It is why the original GITS, Tank Police, and Appleseed books are still in common rotation (in the same stack as Adam Warren’s Dirty Pair and Fred Perry’s Gold Digger) for reading when bored… despite many of them being well into their second decade in age.

    I do agree quite well that the original movie was garbage, slow paced, and at times annoying. It was a hack job at the original source material and GITS: SAC Second Gig actually did the movie plot line better. It picked and choose what it wanted, focusing only on a few ideas from the book and then running ragged on the rest… leaving out most of what anyone actually wanted to see. Much like how Akira did the exact same with it’s source material. Both are actually good examples of how not to use anything the creators actually write.

    And I have never made the ‘enlightened’ argument that was up in the supplementary pictures provided.

    • What you’re criticizing though is a layering of my arguments and Ben’s arguments put together. When Ben said that Kusanagi wasn’t very hot, I was like, “Uh… yeah.” But personally, that was never my focus.

      I did say that the movie didn’t do anything fun with the subject matter, but I was referring to the setting more than anything else. And the characters themselves were little more than sock puppets as the screen writer has a philosophical conversation with himself.

      Even with a lot of the same things happening in Beautiful Dreamer, I still feel that Ghost In The Shell is in a league of its own when it comes to movies that completely stop the story and all manner of characterization to beat you over the head with philosophical nonsense. Beautiful Dreamer did that, too, but at least those characters remained somewhat like they were supposed to be. That is to say, Ooshi hadn’t yet become a complete hack by then.

      I don’t really care that Shirow was a hentai artist, and I agree that it has nothing to do with what I was saying. But I didn’t bring it up, either. In fact, much like the DC movie spotlights, I don’t really give a crap about the comics. The only time that I recall bringing up Shirow myself was that I rediscovered having owned a box set based on his work.

      The above image IS mine, but again, it shouldn’t be taken as a commentary on how the film was adapted. It has more to do with the way Ghost In The Shell has been placed on such a holy pedestal that it doesn’t even receive the same criticism that a lot of its own fans will lob at other anime.

      • Ah, I had forgotten that fact from the DC spotlights. I appreciate being set straight. I guess I was the one coming at it from the wrong direction instead of just looking at it as it’s own entity instead of being part of a greater mess. It was just when Tank Police and Appleseed were brought up… albeit only in almost passing or as an off hand comment, it set me and a few others who were listening in on the wrong track.

        I guess since I missed the point… and for that, I am sorry. While I may not be on the side of those who are part of the Holy Pedestal for the movie, being a fan of the creator’s works (I like giant robots and too much detail for guns and machines), I got a bit blinded.

        Thanks again for the reply.

        As for Ben’s reply below, well put.

        • Don’t worry about it.

          Maybe it’s been a while since I’ve seen the Dominion Tank Police anime, but from what I remember of it, it was fairly silly. I mean, there were giant balloon dildos in one episode.

          I really didn’t like Appleseed. Not at all.

    • I may not always be right, and I gurantee I will continue making mistakes. That just shows I’m human. Overall, though, other forms of GITS after the original movie knew how to have more fun. That was my overall point.

    • Well, if you ask me, there is no such thing as a well-written pseudo-philosophical movie. Bad philosophy is an attribute of bad writing, in my mind.

      My theory is that if you’re going to write a movie that’s full of philosophical bullshit, embrace the fact that it’s bullshit, and don’t try to make it seem like it’s deeper than it really is. Instead, concentrate on good character writing. The original Star Wars trilogy had some outstanding BS surrounding the way of the Force that was nonetheless digestible, because they never spent a lot of time on it.

      Now, when the prequels came along, they tried to explain how the Force works, which demystified it.

      What particularly annoys me about GITS’s idea of philosophy is that it unwittingly embraces an out-dated concept of what identity is and gets worked up as it explores the problems inherent in itself.

      The human brain is so much weirder than what this movie tries to explore. Their idea of a existential dilemma is having augmentations done that either replace part of the function of the brain or change your memories. But both of these things happen anyway to human brain. As the composition of your brain changes over the lifetime of a human, these things are unavoidable.

      Even weirder yet, you could cut the human brain in half and remove an entire hemisphere, and the remaining hemisphere will continue to function and identify itself as the person who was there before the other was removed, albeit with some mental and physical difficulty, but the point is that the remaining hemisphere still retains a sense of identity. And even freakier is that it doesn’t matter which half is removed.

      What that means is that in the context of Ghost In The Shell, you could cut a brain in half and put each hemisphere in a different shell. Which half has the ghost in it? Neither, because there is no ghost. You can cut a single brain in half, and what was once a single person will become two. It’s as simple as that.

      The plasticity of the human brain renders the entire subject matter of the movie a moot point.

    • What I don’t like is a film like Ghost In The Shell that tries way too hard to have an overly complicated conversation with itself in the the vane attempt to make its subject matter seem intelligent. This isn’t a cock-measuring competition.

      And even if it was, this movie would still fall short. I’ll say it again; the plasticity of the human brain renders the subject matter of this film entirely moot.

  3. OMG! Neil! There WERE Bassett Hounds in GITS! Your memories were wrong! They’ve been tampered! Have a crisis! GET YOUR ASS TO MARS!

  4. Hey space cats, I like that you brought up Futurama’s jokes that brush off the philosophical questions. Man, the Stand Alone Complex is more fun, just like how the new Eva movies are more fun than the series and End of Eva. I still like them all though. Sorry Mr. Neil, Eva-nostalgia’s strong too with anime fans. I can’t wait for Eva 3.
    Oh yeah, you all heard of Mighty Switch Force on 3DS? Like GiTS it has a robotic, crime-fighting, leotard gal in a cyberpunk setting. Unlike GiTS it is a cute, fun 2D platformer with puzzles and hot cartoon blondes.
    I know its off-topic though I think you guys would like it. It has great sprite animation, trailers are on youtube. Free DLC was just released, I’m a little excited…SAC-Major is smokin. Can’t blame Batou.

    • The best thing about Mighty Switch Force is that it’s developed by WayForward, which is secretly the best game developer around these days. A Boy And His Blob was awesome!

      SAC-Major is pretty nice on the eyes. There’s no denying that.

  5. Oh wow, you know about WayForward! I didn’t wanna spaz too much. Yeah Boy & Blob is in my backlog. Someday I’ll crack it like a bottle of wine. My favorite’s are Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Mighty Switch Force!, and Contra 4. The music in those games are incredible, esp. MSF. WayForward gets it-no I don’t work for them, I wish I did. OK one more thing, have you heard of Double Dragon Neon? Check out Linda…g’night!

  6. Masking things with pretension and trying to seem bigger and deeper than one is… Sounds like a case of the emperor’s clothes to me. There had to be something they threw at folks to get them talking rather than just how screwed up things got in the end of either movie. Though I do wonder if you guys will ever look at Stand Alone Complex as its own series rather than tying it into discussion about the movie(which I find to be a whole different animal).

    • We probably will do Stand Alone Complex. It is quite a bit different from the movie, although I think it still has a little bit of Oshii’s DNA on it. (I’ll let the visual metaphor paint itself.)

      That’s an interesting observation about the emperor’s new clothes, although I always looked at it as a bait-and-switch. I went into Ghost In The Shell thinking it was sci-fi thriller, which I guess you could argue that it was, but I still felt like the movie I saw was not the movie I was told I would see. I like character-driven stories. I always felt like the setting of the movie was only relevant in so far that it allowed Oshii the context to tackle the subject that he wanted to talk about and almost nothing else.

      I love Macross, but one could argue that Macross had its own agenda as well. The difference as I see it, though, is that Macross didn’t bring the story to a screeching halt every single time it wanted to make some commentary about human culture. And even in the spots where it did, it kept the characters alive.

      Maybe we can actually tackle this more when we get to Stand Alone Complex, which has a balance of story, character, and social commentary that the movie was sorely lacking.

  7. “She’s incredible math, just incredible math.” -I concur Ben.
    I like that the GitS movie had a happy ending, Kid Kusanagi survived and found that Batou really cared, though he tried to shrug it off. He’s a regular guy after all, Batou rules. Yeesh I’ve got to finish the first SAC season.

  8. Oh, the pretentiousness! It is everywhere!!!! Yup, heavy hitters in the “we`re deep, seriously” movie department, but also badass animation everywhere, gorgeous art design and such.

    Content…not so much…I believe ghost in the shell is above akira on the whole “not so anti climatic” ending but it has many of oshii`s “internal time” pacing that took a very simple premise and overloaded it. Gotta say GITS is a BAD anime adaptation of a manga, but a GOOD animated production. I was gonna say GITS is to its manga what Bay´s Transformers is to the series…but then it came to me…wouldn´t Bay be the perfect choice to adapt the original manga? I mean, seriously, I can´t think of anyone more fitting to portray the original mood, aesthetics and tone of Shirow`s work.

    Speaking of directors…Hey, you`re the guys who put Robert Rodriguez on the spotlight! How many latin american movie directors get world wide releases? Btw, I do like Rodriguez`s one man band approach to filmmaking and making movies he or his kids enjoy. I don`t think it`s THE way to go or that many of his movies are above average, but he´s got an interesting approach to it. And he´s into explotation films, which is always a plus. Like Tarantino, he shoots what he likes.

    Btw, in that Antonio Banderas, the rapist is altered to look like his ex wife. And that movie is EPIC trolling.

    • I think your analogy with Bay is still apt, as long as we acknowledge that, in both cases, the adaptations were produced by the wrong people. Oshii is as wrong for Ghost in The Shell as Bay was wrong for Transformers. (Of course, one could argue that both made a shit ton of money, but I’ve never believed that the quality of a film is defined by how many people threw money at it.)

      I have to say that I would be rather intrigued by a Bay production of Ghost In The Shell. It would be a movie 100% guaranteed not to be “thought-provoking”. Rather, it would be all boobs and explosions. …hopefully more boobs than explosions.

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