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Ghost in the Shell, Part 3

There will always be a ghost in the shell

In the previous review, Major had realized the horrible truth. Ninety-eight people died so she could live in her new body. Horrified by this, she retreats to the ocean just outside the city and floats under the water for some time. When she emerges from the depths, she finds Batou waiting for her on the boat. Major asks if he’s here to kill her, and in his own charming way, Batou says tells her he’s not. After a brief conversation, Major asks Batou to take her back to the city because she needs to know more. Batou agrees and the Major returns to shore only to be arrested by the Hanka cooperation’s men.

After this, Hanka’s CEO, Cutter, discuss the fate of Major. Cutter wants Dr. Ouelet to kill her, and the doctor pretends to go along with the scheme, but at the last moment, lets the Major go and gives her a chip which houses her real memories. It turns out the “glitches” Major had been experiencing were her memories after all. Her ghost was trying to break through the programming. Once Major learns the truth and has her memories restored, she goes and sees her mother, who is still alive.

Appealing to the Transcendental Quality of Humanity

The mother seems to know almost right away that Major is really her daughter, but the only clarity the viewer gets on this point is that the mother comments on Major’s eyes. I felt like there should have been a little more to the scene to justify the mother’s recognition, but I could appreciate that, once again, the movie is appealing to the transcendental quality of humanity, claiming that humans recognize one another in ways that go beyond our physical appearance.

After Major leaves, she reaches out to her Section 9 leader, Aramaki, and tells him everything that’s happened. She says that Dr. Ouelet can prove her claims, but Aramaki tells her that the doctor has been killed, and Cutter is blaming her for the murder. Major then tells him that she wants to be put back on the grid, knowing that Cutter and Kuze can find her. She means to have a final showdown with both men. Aramaki agrees, then tells the other members of Section 9 that they have been burned. The various team members each have to fend off attempts on their lives, but they all survive and decide to help the Major. This was another moment in both movies I appreciated. Unlike so many stories where the hero must face off with everyone in their former life, Section 9 is a very loyal group, and they all choose to help each other rather than follow the company line. This simplifies the story a great deal and allows the protagonist—and the plot for that matter—to get to the point, facing off with the main villain.

Major meets Kuze at the abandoned building they’ve both been seeing in their “glitches.” She explains to him that they were runaways, and Hanka captured them for their experiments. Kuze then remembers Major’s real name, Motoko, and Kuze asks Major to join him in his network. Together, they can bring Hanka down for good. Before she can answer, they are attacked by a Spider Tank. Kuze shields Major from the worst of the blast but is left immobilized. Major must face the tank—driven by Cutter from the safety of his cooperate headquarters—alone. She fires on the machine, but it eventually launches missiles at her, and it looks like she’s killed, but of course, this is not the case, and she sneaks up behind the tank, leaping onto it before attempting to rip a vital piece of machinery off the tank’s body.

Where the Remake Exceeds the Original

Here was one of the main moments where I enjoyed the remake more than the original. In the original, Major tries the same stunt when facing off with the tank but fails. She is then saved by Batou. I found this scene aggravating because the anime acts like the Major has this grand plan when it comes to facing off with the tank, but in the end, her plan fails, which made her look a little incompetent. In the original film, there wasn’t the same sense of urgency, and she could’ve just as easily waited for reinforcements. There was really no point for her to have the face-off to begin with, so when she loses the battle, the whole fight seemed like a bit of a let-down. But in the remake, Major actually manages to rip this piece of machinery off the tank; although, it does a great deal of damage to her body. Still, the Spider Tank is destroyed, and Kuze crawls up to her and makes a final plea for her to join his network. She refuses and Kuze’s eyes go white, presumably, he escaped to his network seconds before snipers from a helicopter overhead, destroy Kuze’s robot with a headshot. But just as the Hanka snipers are about to kill Major, a sniper from Section 9 fires a shot into some vital part of the helicopter, and it crashes.

At the same time, Aramaki meets with Cutter and says that he’s told the Prime Minister everything, and Cutter is to be charged for his misdeeds. Cutter tries to shoot Aramaki, but the head of Section 9 shoots Hanka’s former CEO, and the conflict is resolved. The last shot of the movie is the same as the opening shot from the original anime. Major leaps off a building and waves goodbye to the audience as she disappears.

Both movies are good, but as I said in the first review, I enjoy the remake more. The reason is that the anime is a slower burn plot-wise—which isn’t always bad—but the events seem random up until the third act of the story, then things happen so fast it’s still hard to understand what’s going on. Furthermore, I felt that the original really deviated from the Major’s character in the third act to wrap up the plot. At the end of the anime, the Major actually agrees to merge with the Puppet Master, meaning they are going to join consciousnesses. The Puppet Master’s reasons are explained well enough. This being wishes to be truly sentient, and he needs a human mind in order to do so, but the Major’s motives for agreeing to this request are never fully explored. I thought it was more consistent with the Major’s character to reject the offer because the central idea behind both stories is that there is an innate quality to being human. I will say that the original anime’s description of the cooperate politics at work in the story is more interesting, certainly more interesting than the standard evil cooperation is doing evil deeds which is the route taken by the remake, but then again, simplifying the plot quickened the pacing of the film and made it easier to follow. In the end, the original and the remake have their pros and cons, but I would recommend both of them. They are a breath of fresh air in a world of sci-fi which usually prattles on about the superiority of AI and machines. These movies say the opposite, no matter how advanced humanity may become there will always be a ghost in the shell. 

Gary Varner

Gary Varner is the Assistant to the Managing and Associate Directors at the Center for Science & Culture in Seattle, Washington. He is a Science Fiction and Fantasy enthusiast with a bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts, and he spends his time working with his fellows at Discovery Institute and raising his daughter who he suspects will one day be president of the United States. For more reviews as well as serial novels, go to www.garypaulvarner.com to read more.

Ghost in the Shell, Part 3