Having hit the ball out of the park with the superb political-thriller-featuring-giant-robots, Patlabor 2, Mamoru Oshii moved onto Masumune’s Shirow’s manga future populated by cyborgs and humans with cybernetic enhancements — Ghost in the Shell. Ghost, with its blurring of man and machine, presented the perfect vehicle for Oshii to explore the question what it means to be human. (The titular ghost is a ‘soul’ cyborg’s soul equivalent).
Like a Christmas present, Oshii wraps this theme in some magnificently staged action scenes. Events I can still recall vividly some nine years after the fact: a megalithic skyscraper infiltration, a chase through a market and a finale where all the thematic and story strands come together in a raging gun battle that literally and figuratively destroys the evolutionary tree. So many elements of Ghost in the Shell, including the haunting sounds of a female choir, stay with you. Ghost in the Shell ranks as one of anime’s masterpieces.