Ghost In The Shell
Ghost in the Shell. © Manga Entertainment.
Not since Akira has an animated feature from Japan (Japanimation) delivered such eye widening visuals and thought challenging content. Inspired by the manga created by Masamune Shirow (Appleseed, Dominion), it is reportedly the most expensive anime created at approximately $US10 million. Ghost features credits for things like "Weapon Design," as well as an international lineup of executive producers led by UK's Manga Entertainment. It is a shame that, at this writing, Ghost has no major distributor in the US.
Daring You to Follow Along
In New York, the principles of Anime Crash, a growing chain of retail stores devoted to all things anime and manga, and participants in helping to bring Ghost wider exposure in the States, said Miramax was set to handle Ghost distribution domestically but passed at the last hour. And this is where the chink in the shell of Ghost is found. The narrative and multiple plots are extremely challenging. The story opens near the end and the end closes at the beginning. The film almost dares you to follow along.
And if you luckily possess the ability of advanced comprehension, you will be derailed by a character's unexpectedly long monologue so rich in observation and obtuse thinking, you will find your mind spinning for 10 minutes attempting to figure it out. This is what could have been the factor behind Miramax deciding to pass on Ghost (It should be kept in mind that Miramax is a Disney company and I cannot remember the last time Disney promoted an animated feature other than its own. Recall the recent rerelease of The Lion King? Ask yourself what other animated feature was opening that month. Historically, there were two Alice In Wonderland animated films, but you only know about one of them.)
The challenging narrative is something I respect and ultimately frown on. Ghost deserves a wide release. It is far more entertaining than most of what comes out of Hollywood. Yet the author and director chose to alienate Western audiences in most part by accepting to stand behind the film as a visual tour de force. I certainly wouldn't want to compromise artistic vision, but if the concept is to broaden the understanding of Japanese culture, an effective area to impress a market is in filmmaking. The plot does kick in midway through the film, but if you do not get the story the first time, maybe you'll have to see it again and maybe again. If spending your afternoons at the movie theater is not possible, then you may have to accept the film as eye candy. And what candy it is.