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Let us start with a quote:

“If we all reacted the same way, we’d be predictable, and there’s always more than one way to view a situation. What’s true for the group is also true for the individual.

It’s simple: Overspecialize, and you breed in weakness. It’s slow death.

-Motoko Kusanagi

Taking a lazy afternoon during my holiday break, I took the time to re-watch Ghost in the Shell (Kôkaku kidôtai) because I hadn’t watched it in years.   The last time I saw this film was just prior to entering university and I really didn’t appreciate (or know how to appreciate) this film 1/2 as much as I should have.

This movie goes so far beyond what most films try to achieve in terms of depth, and is probably one of the best animated films I have ever seen.  Without dissecting the entire film, which has been done countless times, I need to only mention the few scenes that struck me the hardest to remind myself on a future time why I enjoy this film so much.

Near the beginning of the film, we see the Major waking up in her condo, taking a few moments to look at her fingers, move them a bit, then slowly get up.  She sits up, looks out the window and with this look of total indifference about life, gets up and walks out of the frame.  This couldn’t have been animated any better, and really set the stage for the deeper themes later explored in the film.  Why would she find it necessary to wiggle her mechanical hand/fingers?  Why would she hesitate to force her robotic body out of bed?  The scene itself lasts less than 10 seconds, but was just so well captured

Moving on to the scene with Togusa and the Major driving in the van, in pursuit of the garbage man, they have a brief conversation.  Togusa questions why the Major would select him for their group, as his seemingly standard background and qualifications were only at par to their high standards.  The quote (at the top of the post) of course was the Major’s response which immediately made me think about it for a minute.  I first thought about a paper I wrote in a Philosophy101 course years ago about Hard Determinism – but realized I was probably over thinking the quote.  Then I thought about my current philosophy on trades and specialization: Never underestimate things that I don’t understand.  This quote fit perfectly.  Overspecialization is a problem that plagues every discipline trying to innovate.   I have always been an advocate of multi-disciplinary teams and not just for software development.  Spending an afternoon with someone in a completely different field can often be more rewarding than an entire week with the top researchers in a familiar field.  At this point, the scene had well moved on, and I realized I had totally lost my concentration (so I rewinded a few minutes.. )

Next we have 2 great scene (which flowed into each other) starting with the Major diving on the boat by the harbor.  During her conversation with Bato – where she is interrupted and hijacked making first contact with the Puppet Master, the Major forcibly recites a verse from the Bible (Corinthians 13:12).  The scene, which would leave most viewers surprised and puzzled, transitions directly into an incredible dialauge-less scene with Kusanagi wandering the city just as puzzled about reality, her existence and her connection with Project 2501.  This whole montage scene is set to the movie’s theme song which we first hear in the intro credits.  During this whole montage section, I couldn’t stop thinking about a recent visualization I saw of the known universe.  The video zooms out to the most outer reaches of space mapped by man kind then zooms back in.  When I first saw that visualization I couldn’t help but laugh, thinking about the small problems I complain about sometimes, or just the mundane everyday events that occur which seem so insignificant when put into perspective.

Going back to GITS, Mamoru Oshii captures this almost perfectly; mundane, boring, everyday life.  A crowd walking through a shopping mall, a boat sailing through a harbor and Major Kusanagi repeatedly seeing herself in the crowds, again questioning her own existence or reason for living.  Earlier when Bato reminds her of how close she is from dying, she seems pretty accepting (or at least indifferent) about death in a manner that oddly reminded me of Dr. Manhatten’s outlook on life from The Watchmen.

The last thought that I had, as the film came to a conclusion, came when the Major takes on the body of a young girl after her original shell is destroyed.  I immediately thought about the 3rd Matrix movie, when the Oracle (originally played by Gloria Foster) is seen replaced by Marie Alice.  The film has some terrible reasoning and an off-screen event which explained the change of actresses.   In reality, Gloria Foster passed away and Alice replaced her.  Had Wachowski’s replaced her with a young girl, it would have honestly seemed much more natural and believable.  By the 3rd Matrix they had already borrowed so many shots / ideas from Ghost in the Shell, why not one more.

Summed up, this is such a fantastic film.  Note to Ian in the future, re-watch this movie.

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