Ghost in the Shell: Merging identities

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Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror

– 1 Corinthians 13

Introduction

In the climactic scene of Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 cyberpunk classic Ghost in the Shell, there occurs a narratively and thematically pivotal confrontation between the film’s two central opposing characters. On one side, we have protagonist Motoko Kusanagi – a female cyborg police commander working for Public Security Section 9 – and on the other we have antagonist the Puppet Master – a criminal super hacker and sentient artificial life form. The Puppet Master, having wanted to meet Motoko for a long time, explains to her that he seeks to obtain the one thing that, as he sees it, separates him from organic life: reproduction. In order to do so, he wants the two of them to “merge” and create a new life form, one that is comprised of information from both parties but is at the same time its own entity. As this act of merging both representationally and literally erases the line between organic and artificial life, it marks the culmination of the film’s and by extension the franchise’s philosophical topics regarding life and human evolution in the age of artificial intelligence and trans-humanism. But what it also constitutes is an answer to the issues of identity that particularly the film explores; issues that are comprised of various dualist conflicts within a high-tech-modernized, trans-humanist urban environment. That is what this study is going to focus on.

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The Tale of Princess Kaguya: Challenging the norms of visual representation

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Isao Takahata’s 2013 feature film The Tale of Princess Kaguya has been extensively praised by critics and audiences alike for its visual beauty. Whether it’s seen as a celebration of hand-drawn animation, a smorgasbord of colorful imagery, or a soothing exercise in simplicity, the consensus is that this film presents an incredible feast for the eyes. What hasn’t so much been touched upon though is the arguably main reason behind this wide acknowledgement of the film’s visual aspect, namely the unique approach to the animated medium that it displays. There is no doubt that Princess Kaguya doesn’t look like your typical anime, or your typical animated work in general for that matter – but what elements does this deviation actually consist of, and what can they say about the work as a whole?Read More »

Retrospective 2015

The annual celebratory extravaganza known as Christmas has just reached its conclusion and New Year’s is only a few days away, as I’m in the midst of an ironically stressful school break. In order to prevent my blog from complete inactivity during this hectic holiday season, I’ve decided to lazily put together some of my highlights in various mediums from the past year. But since I’m not one to actively follow seasonal stuff to any greater extent, this is not going to necessarily focus on things that have come out this year, but instead things that I personally have consumed.Read More »

The expressionistic goth horror of Suspiria

As the end of October steadily is closing in, so is the unholiest of holidays, with pumpkins, costumes and stacks of candy lurking around every corner. I personally have never really been the most engaged person in the celebration of halloween; beside some occasionally fun and impressive costume outfits and the excuse of stuffing myself with more candy than normally, I’ve never really had any reason for getting excited about it. It’s always just kind of happened, and then I’ve moved on with my life. For this year though, I figured I’d for a change partake in this fine yearly tradition of spookiness, and what better way to do that than by looking at my personal favorite horror film?Read More »

Time in media

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how time plays out in the different forms of media in which it’s prominent, and how it’s changed throughout history. Why do we have the standard time lengths that we have in our modern culture? Why is the average length for a pop song 3-5 minutes, or for a movie 1 1/2 to 2 hours? How has our technological, social and cultural evolution shaped these time lengths over the years, and how will they be shaped in the future? These are all very interesting questions, but to answer them in a somewhat organized way, let’s focus on one medium at a time.Read More »

Iblard Jikan’s spellbinding combination of impressionism and surrealist fantasy

Iblard Jikan isn’t so much a “movie” as it is a montage of paintings. Released in 2007 by Studio Ghibli as part of their “Ghibli ga Ippai Collection”, this short film showcases paintings by artist Naohisa Inoue set in the fictional world of Iblard. For thirty minutes we get to follow a typical day in the lives of the citizens in Inoue’s fantastical world, from morning to evening. With their vibrant yet warm colors and creative settings, the images shown are nothing short of beautiful and a joy to experience.Read More »

The visual aesthetic of Man of Steel’s action scenes

I’m not that big a fan of superhero movies, or superheroes in general, but when I saw the latest live-action installment in the Superman franchise, there was one particular thing that struck me: the fight scenes. In fact, out of all the movies I’ve seen within this ongoing new wave of superhero flicks, Man of Steel is the only one that’s truly impressed me with its action scenes. Sure, all the superhero movies have their fair share of explosions, heavy punches and sceneries getting destroyed, but not quite on the same level or in the same vein as Man of Steel.Read More »