Ghost In The Shell (Japan 1995)

Rating: ****
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Music: Kenji Kawai

Masamune Shirow's classic cyberpunk tale hits the big screen, but not in the way you would expect. Director Mamoru Oshii's adaptation of the story downplays the action and intrigue, and instead focuses more on philosophy. Major Motoko Kusanagi is a female cyborg working for Japanese intelligence. While working on a case involving an international hacker known as the Puppet Master, Kusanagi starts questioning her own humanity and what it means to be human. Her questions are finally answered, but not until after lots of things get blown up.

An excellently crafted film with amazing animation and direction. As with Mamoru Oshii's other works, the pacing is slow and the dialog is very heavy, but fortunately there are enough action sequences throughout to keep you going. The character design is very good except for (in my opinion) Major Kusanagi - she's fairly androgynous and lacks the charm and appeal of Shirow's original character design.

The English dubbed version is actually quite good, although the subtitled version adds more depth and understanding to the material.