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The Dazzling Design of Ghost in the Shell

Freakish cyborgs look right at home in Scarlett Johansson's Ghost in the Shell sci-fi epic thanks in part to three years of ingenious design work from New Zealand-based Weta Workshop. Inspired by Masamune Shirow's visionary Manga series and 1995 anime film, co-art director Ben Hawker , who previously channeled Middle Earth critters for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, worked with director Rupert Sanders ( Snow White and the Huntsman ) to fashion a wild array of futuristic semi-android city dwellers. He says, "Our specialty is character-based stuff, so if it lives and breathes and moves and wears something in Ghost in the Shell , that's where we really get involved."

Hawker and digital artist Adam Middleton, who are both featured in " The Art of Ghost in the Shel l" book, Skyped from Wellington to discuss the design process behind exploding-head Geisha Girls, the criminal mastermind made from spare parts and, of course, the "Thermoptic" body suit worn by Johansson in her starring role as cybernetic anti-terrorist Major Motoko Kusanagi.

Psycho Geisha Robots

ghost in the shell neck ports

Geisha Girl masks were created for each actress. 

Face-altering prostitutes and Yakuzi 'bot gangsters roam streets of the future but the city's creepiest characters take shape as demure-looking Geisha Girls who've been programmed to kill by a cartel of evil hackers. "We tried everything from grease paint to very thick prosthetics but eventually we campaigned to Rupert that the best way to do the Geisha Girls was to make everything a mask," says Hawker. "We took Rile Fukushima, the lead Geisha, as our model and made all the other masks look exactly like her. Then we scaled the masks to fit each of the different actresses and wound up getting this flawless look."

Sanders envisioned the characters as pieces of "painted machinery" crafted by style-conscious artisans. "We wanted the dolls to look as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside," Hawker explains. "The innards came out of Rupert and our creative director Richard Taylor looking at antique type writers with their beautifully polished brass fittings. We also referenced luxury watches and fantastically elaborate Japanese music boxes."

ghost in the shell neck ports

The Geisha Girl's intricate interior was inspired by antique typewriters.

To reveal the intricate gears whirring below the glossy surface of the Geisha Girl faces, off-camera puppeteers flipped open their masks via Servo motors concealed in hairdo buns and connected with cable cords hidden beneath the actresses' kimonos. Hawker says, "We also had standalone dummy heads, which were old fashioned animatronics mounted on C-stands where the whole thing would flip open and you'd see all those working innards. For the hybrid Geisha, where the actress wore these deep masks so when these petal-like pieces flipped open, there'd be a green screen sock on the face of the actress, which allowed you to still see some of the inner workings. And then there were the prop Geisha Dolls which were built to be destroyed. You can reach a level of obscene detail with CG effect but it's no fun to blow up. When you're shooting at our prop Geisha Dolls, you really want to see those pieces fly."

Evil Hybrid Kuze

ghost in the shell neck ports

Ghost in the Shell villain Kuze, portrayed by Michael Pitt, has a brilliant mind trapped inside a broken 'bot body. Hawker says, "He's missing bits and pieces, like a cyborg on the assembly line that got thrown away," says Hawker, who notes that David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust persona served as an androgynous role model for Kuze early in development. "Because Kuze's falling apart, he tries to express some form of creativity just in the way he adorns himself," Middleton adds. "The pagoda style blue painting on porcelain — that's Kuze trying to amplify himself even though he's basically a derelict mistake."

Like the character himself, Kuze embodies a combination of analog and computer-generated wizardry. "Kuze was a big prosthetic job," Hawker says.  "Michael wears prosthetics on his chest and face and shoulders. Kuze found a small female arm from somebody and stuck that on, and then he's got a big male arm on the other side. Michael wore green stockings on his arms which were pretty much replaced with CG. We probably spent more time on Kuze than any other character because there were hundreds of options. It was like putting together a jigsaw."

To make matterse even more complex, the Kuze character is patched together from a multitude of ethnic types. "We experimented a lot with facial features where we might try an Asian eye with an African arm," Middleton says. "It was really difficult to get all that stuff working in harmony in a concise character that doesn't just look like some hodge podge that's been thrown together."

The Major and Her Suit

Scarlett Johanssen stars as the formerly-human, now-cybernetic "Major," salvaged from a near-fatal car crash and charged with taking down a gang of terrorist hackers. The design of "Major''s form-fitting body suit informed the entire film's aesthetic, according to Hawker. "Rupert said if we start with the Major and get her right, then we can extrapolate in every direction."

Production designer Jan Roelfs envisioned the future from the standpoint of '80s and '90s fashion and technology, speckling the antic urban environment with big shoulders, cable-connected devices and bright neon lights. "We also designed round ports for the back of the Major's neck, which is a real Ghost in the Shell trademark," Hawker says. "We wanted to show she's the latest generation, the first perfect cyborg where the brain's the only human thing that's left."

As for the external skin that cloaks Major's internal mechanisms, filmmakers skipped CG and motion capture options. Instead they devised super-pliable body armor for Johansson and her stunt double to wear on set. Middleton says, "Once the decision was made to build this suit as a practical thing the actress could actually wear, it became a huge R and D process. The Thermoptic Suit needed to look as if it were poured right onto her body, so there were a lot of things to take into consideration: Where would we put the panel lines, the zippers, the connections and fastenings?" After much experimentation, Middleton says, "We developed a special silicone material that poured onto mesh to give the body suit great shoulder pads and fantastic separation lines that echoed all of the Major's separation lines."

Weta Workshop worked with costume designer Flo Foxworthy to craft eight identical suits. "We 3-D milled the core of the suit from this carefully shaped epoxy mold. The pigmentation on the surface looks like regular skin only a little more perfect and sort of distorted in this very odd, otherworldly way," Hawker says. "Flo took the qualities of that silicone into account so that when Scarlett Johansen put on the suit, it squished and pulled and tightened in all the right ways."

Featured image: Geisha Girl masks were created for each actress. ​


ghost in the shell neck ports

Hugh Hart has covered movies, television and design for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wired and Fast Company. Formerly a Chicago musician, he now lives in Los Angeles with his dog-rescuing wife Marla and their Afghan Hound.


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Review: In ‘Ghost in the Shell,’ a Cyborg With Soul

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By Manohla Dargis

  • March 30, 2017

Like the greatest screen goddesses, Scarlett Johansson rises above it all. In the thrill-free science-fiction thriller “Ghost in the Shell,” her character comes at you in pieces, emerging first during the opening credits in the form of a metallic skeleton. It’s a good look — it evokes the original Terminator — but soon the skeleton is being dipped like a chip in whitish goo. This technological soup gives the metallic frame a humanoid cladding, making it more reassuringly and pleasantly familiar, from bosomy top to round bottom. It looks like a giant dream Barbie, hairless pubis and all.

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Enjoy these credits because they offer some of the more arresting, inventive images in this visually cluttered yet often disappointingly drab movie. A live-action version of a famed Japanese manga by Shirow Masamune, “Ghost in the Shell” is one of those future-shock stories that edges around the dystopian without going full-bore apocalyptic. To that end it is set in a possible future world that looks distant enough to seem exotic and familiar enough to seem plausible. The original manga takes place in what’s described as a “strange corporate conglomerate-state called ‘Japan,’” while this movie unwinds nowhere in particular, just a universal megalopolis filled with soaring gray towers.

Anyone who has seen Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” or that film’s innumerable 2.0 follow-ups (“Strange Days,” “The Fifth Element”) will recognize this “Ghost” cityscape, with its jumbled forms, neo-noir shadows, patina of art-directed decay and its conspicuous Asian-Hollywood fusion touches. Some of this tickles the eye, like the semi-translucent, pony-size koi fish that float through the air, seemingly just because they look cool. The koi don’t seem to be selling anything other than the movie’s production values and visual concept; elsewhere, enormous spectral human figures loom over buildings like embodied billboards, nicely evoking rampaging movie monsters of the past.

The most important leviathan, of course, is Ms. Johansson, whose mysterioso cyborg, Major, effortlessly slides right into this scene, with her preternaturally still face – often as blank as a mask – and the ports in the back of her neck that she uses to jack into cables and other characters. These artificial orifices are pleasingly mysterious and highly suggestive, at once creating a sense of human vulnerability and raising the possibility of the posthuman. Major occasionally stuffs goo in her ports and also uses them to plug into others. About the only part of her that’s human is her soul, or “ghost” in the story’s poetic parlance. The rest of Major is a bendable, mendable shell, which makes her well suited for hard-core tactical work with a police outfit known as Section 9.

Movie Review: ‘Ghost in the Shell’

The times critic manohla dargis reviews “ghost in the shell.".

“Ghost in the Shell” is the live action retelling of the beloved Japanese manga about a cyborg in a dystopian future. In her review Manohla Dargis writes: The film is visually cluttered and often disappointedly drab. The director Rupert Sanders likes a dark palette and is good with actors, but there’s little here that feels personal and he mostly functions as a blockbuster traffic cop, managing all the busily moving, conspicuously pricey parts. That’s too bad, especially because the original “Ghost in the Shell” is such a delightful philosophical plaything, with pleasures that simultaneously delight the eye and enchant the mind. This version, by contrast, ditches the original’s big questions, but keeps all the firing guns and car chases, the action clichés and intentionally genre stereotypes.

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As the title suggests, “Ghost in the Shell” is haunted, including by the original manga, its sequels and several excellent animated movies: the first, also titled “Ghost in the Shell,” and the entrancingly lovely “ Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence ,” both directed by Mamoru Oshii. The new “Ghost in the Shell” was directed by Rupert Sanders, who has made commercials and one other feature, “ Snow White and the Huntsman .” He likes a dark palette and is good with actors, but there’s little here that feels personal, and he mostly functions as a blockbuster traffic cop, managing all the busily moving, conspicuously pricey parts.

That’s too bad, especially because the original “Ghost in the Shell” is such a delightful philosophical plaything, with pleasures that simultaneously bewitch the eye and enchant the mind. This version, by contrast, ditches the original’s big, human, all-too-human questions, but keeps all the firing guns and car chases, the action clichés and intentional genre stereotypes. Stripped of its deeper-dish musings, the story turns into a perfectly watchable, somewhat bland action movie, tricked out with sharp details, some fine actors and one slumming legend, the director-actor Takeshi Kitano , who plays Aramaki, Major’s boss. He only speaks in Japanese; Major and almost everyone else speak in English.

The characters understand one another, presumably because they’re beyond mere language and, in any event, they sometimes communicate telepathically. At first, the fact that they can speak to one another comes across as an inventive flourish, but like so much in “Ghost in the Shell” — the toddling geishas, the Asian extras — it helps to reduce an entire culture to a decorative detail. The movie has been widely criticized for casting Ms. Johansson in a role that was, of course, originally Japanese, a decision that isn’t offset by an absurd narrative twist that seems to have been created to forestall criticism but will only provoke further ire. This isn’t just appropriation; it’s obliteration.

Ghost in the Shell Rated PG-13 for genre violence. Running time: 2 hours.

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Ghost in the Shell Has the Look of the Original, But Not Its Brain

ghost in the shell neck ports

For all the liberties the new Ghost in the Shell takes with its source material, it’s more invested in that title, specifically the “ghost” soul of its cyborg protagonist, than any of its predecessors in the long-running anime and manga franchise . That’s not to say that it does anything dramatically interesting about that soul, or asks many challenging questions about what it’s like for a person to persist, divorced from their original body. But it is obsessed with idea that Major “Mira” (Scarlett Johansson) must unlock her true individuality to defeat the system, an extraordinarily American narrative shoddily grafted onto the original story like a black-market crab-claw arm. The body rejects it almost immediately.

The story still takes place in a future in which cybernetic enhancement has become the norm, and most humans have a port on their neck through which they can download and upload information. In this Ghost in the Shell, the Major has been rescued from an attack on a refugee boat, which apparently damaged her body so much that her brain was morally appropriate for experimentation. Government contractor Hanka Industries outfits her with Scarlett Johansson’s face and body — she’s the first of her kind, they tell us — and then immediately put her to work as a super-agent in Section 9, a defense division led by Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano) that’s as well-defined as a bi-monthly book club. Then the Major starts to have flashback “glitches,” and after “diving” into the drive of a hijacked geisha-bot, meets a shadowy figure named Kuze, who tells her not to trust Hanka Industries. Her bosses assign her and the team to track down and kill Kuze, which she dutifully does until the question of her past is no longer avoidable.

If Paramount just wanted to do a female-led cyberpunk Bourne Identity, probably nobody would have minded. But to associate a straightforward “Who am I?” action film with a franchise as philosophically noodly as Ghost in the Shell is disingenuous and pointless — you deny existing fans the actual post-self substance of the thing they like, and you alienate newcomers with a weird title and the obligatory skeleton of an existing franchise, which, when it’s not being explored, comes off as needlessly complicated. Why does a newcomer to Ghost in the Shell care about Section 9, or the idea of cyberbrains, if it’s not integral to the questions the film is asking? Why is this a story about robotics? Why is this Ghost in the Shell?

The answer to the last question is unfortunately obvious: It’s a means of lifting set pieces and conceptual designs without getting accused of copyright infringement. Whereas American comic-book adaptations pepper their films with nods to obscure characters and comic-only plotlines to stoke the emotional memory of their core fan base, Ghost in the Shell winks at things and moments — enhanced keyboard fingers, invisible fight scenes, detachable eyes, an adorable Basset hound — all ripped from their original context and compiled in what amounts to a look book. This is telling: The filmmakers think little of the emotional and intellectual connection fans already have with this property, and have put all their chips on the aesthetic. It’s exhausting to watch them curate what parts of the story’s Japanese origin are worth keeping and which can be discarded.

And what about Johansson herself, the center of the controversy surrounding this adaptation ? She’s great — this is the kind of part she’s been circling around for years now, and you can see how important it is to her to sell the Major as a compelling figure worthy of a long-running American franchise. I’ve always found the idea that the Major must look Asian to be a little dubious in a story about self-erasure and what we culturally consider to be an “upgrade.” But what’s truly astounding (spoiler alert) is that this Ghost in the Shell explicitly states that the Major does indeed carry the brain of a Japanese woman in her Caucasian shell — not only a Japanese woman, but a Japanese revolutionary anarchist named Motoko Kusanagi who spent her pre-cyborg days writing pamphlets about how “technology is destroying the world.” We see her only briefly in a pixilated flashback; her hair is covering her face.

Why Hanka would choose such a liability as the foundation of their cyborg project is a mystery, but it hints at a fascinating alternate story about a Japanese robotics company placing Asian brains in indestructible Caucasian bodies to create a line of military superheroes. It would be about cultural erasure and appropriation, the cherry-picking of trendy Asian sensibilities and perceived efficiencies with western beauty standards and individualist ideals. Someone should make that movie. I think it might be relevant.

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7 Reasons Why “Ghost in the Shell” is an Anime Masterpiece

Ghost in the Shell

Continuing from where “Akira” left off, “Ghost in the Shell” established cyberpunk as one of the main themes of the genre, and pawned a huge franchise that continues to produce masterpieces. In that fashion, the franchise includes three animated TV series, four movies, and four video games, while a live-action remake starring Scarlett Johansson was released in the United States on March 31, 2017.

Lastly, Kodansha and Production I.G announced on April 7, 2017 that Kenji Kamiyama and Shinji Aramaki will be co-directing a new ‘Ghost in the Shell’ anime production. Its format and release date haven’t been announced yet.

Moreover, it was a trademark of the industry in both its themes and technological advancement, involving a number of pioneering animation processes. Currently, it is considered as one of the greatest anime of all time, having inspired a number of films, with “The Matrix” being among them.

Here are seven reasons that justify the above. Please note that the article contains many spoilers.

1. A complex and meaningful script

ghost in the shell neck ports

Based on the homonymous manga by Masamune Shirow, the anime takes place in 2029, when the world is connected through a vast electronic network that has access to all aspects of life.

Artificial intelligence has become a significant part of everyday life and humans have already installed implants in their heads that help them communicate with computers directly, and in that fashion, are in constant connection with the Internet. The persona of the individual (their soul, if you prefer) that is connected on the Internet is called ‘Ghost’.

However, and despite the vast capabilities this technology has brought, crime always finds a way, and currently, hackers are able to infiltrate actual human brains. These are considered the most dangerous criminals of all. The perfect agent of the era is not a human, but an AI capable of traveling freely in the digital ‘boulevards’ in order to find and exploit any information it can find. This AI was designed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the ultimate anti-espionage weapon, and calls itself “Puppet Master”.

Eventually, the AI decides that it is an actual life form with its own rights and asks for political asylum, revolting against the people that created it, instigating cyber attacks, and at the same time threatening to reveal its illegal creation to the Ministry of Interior, as it also searches for a host that will give it actual physical hypostasis.

Major Motoko Kusanagi is a highly evolved cyborg who works for Public Security Section 9, an individual branch of the Ministry of Interior. Along with her team of experts, she is on the hunt for the Puppet Master. Soon, however, they realize that they have brought themselves into a battle between the two Ministries, and Kusanagi has to decide if she will let Puppet Master to become a human being.

2. A philosophical background

ghost in the shell neck ports

Although “Ghost in the Shell” thrives on impressive action scenes, there are a number of meaningful comments hiding underneath the action. The most obvious one is the connection between man and technology, and the way it will shape the future.

The film presents a society where technology has made everything very easy and has allowed humanity to evolve enormously, but at the same time stresses the dangers that could arise from the over-dependence on technology. The most important of these consequences is the loss of identity, and the subsequent dehumanization.

This last aspect is chiefly presented through the character of Motoko, whose ghost is the one dominating her body, to the point that it can act completely individually from it. At the same time, the concept of Motoko gives rise to a number of classic sci-fi questions. Can cyborgs have a soul? Do they exist as individuals, since they abide by the specifications of their manufacturer? What does their existence signify?

According to Descartes, Motoko exists as an individual since she is able to think and make decisions. “Ghost in the Shell”, though, questions this theory through the concept of manufactured cyborgs, since Motoko’s thoughts and memories may not even be her own.

3. Pioneering animation highlighted in the action scenes

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“Ghost in the Shell” used a novel process called “digitally generated animation” (DGA), which is a combination of cel animation, computer graphics (CG), and audio that is entered as digital data.

Editing was performed on an AVID system of Avid Technology, which was chosen because it was more versatile and less limiting than other methods, and worked with the different types of media in a single environment. Along with the impressive special effects that find their apogee in the “thermo-optical camouflage”, the technical team of the anime managed to present a very impressive spectacle.

This trait is particularly evident in the action scenes, starting with the initial one and continuing up to the end of the film. The one where an invisible Motoko is fighting a terrorist in a city canal is a great martial arts scene in cyberpunk style, and a distinct sample of this trait.

4. The first scene

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Major Kusanagi is on the rooftop of a building. She fully undresses, leaving on just a pair of long white socks and her holster with an armed gun. She then jumps toward the bottom upside down and murders her target through the window of the building. As the rest of the bystanders in the room go toward the window, they watch her disappear in front of their eyes.

“Ghost in the Shell” established anime as a genre that did not apply solely to children, and this scene is one of the main reasons, through the nudity and the violence deriving from the grotesque way the victim is killed. As it shocked its audiences, the scene also became one of the most iconic anime sequences ever made. The special effects find one of their apogees in this scene, as the general artistry sets the tone for the rest of the film.

Furthermore, the scene establishes the setting of the whole anime in a number of ways. The first is that the communication is possible through some form of neuro link, as Kusanagi seems to communicate with Batou without moving her lips. As he removes the cables from the back of her neck, four ports are revealed, in a distinct sample of how far technology has progressed in the era in which the story takes place.

The fact that they speak of Section 6 also closing in, in the building, sets her team apart from regular ones, and establishes the base of the conflict between the ministries that rise later in the film. Lastly, her disappearance in the background at the end of the scene highlights the level of technology available to her team.

5. The last battle

ghost in the shell neck ports

The scene where Kusanagi is fighting the tank near the end of the film is one of the most iconic for the style implemented in “Ghost in the Shell”, as it combines impressive action with meaningfulness, since it highlights the difference between ‘Shell’ and ‘Ghost’, in an element that defines the Major’s character.

After avoiding a barrage of bullets from the tank, Kusanagi manages to get on top of it, and attempts to rip the latch off its top, in a truly desperate effort. In her struggle, her impressively muscular body is highlighted, only to explode a bit later into a mass of blood and cybernetic materials. Eventually she fails, and is only saved by Batou’s appearance in the scene, ending up in the ground without one of her arms, and in a truly miserable state.

However, despite the outcome, Kusanagi is not dead, in a fact that highlights the duality of her existence, with her body (the shell) and her mind (the ghost) actually being two different coexisting aspects of her existence. Her body is not ‘human’, but a combination of biology and technology, and thus it can be replaced anytime.

However, the thing that makes her human is her mind, which, as long as it exists, so does she. In that fashion, the scene provides an answer for the existential questions of the film.

6. An impressive combination of realism and artistry

ghost in the shell neck ports

Animation director Toshihiko Nishikubo was responsible for the realism and strove for accurate depictions of movement and effects. The pursuit of realism included the staff conducting firearms research at a facility in Guam. Nishikubo has highlighted the tank scene as an example of the movie’s realism, noting that bullets create sparks when hitting metal, but do not spark when a bullet strikes stone.

Apart from the movement, though, this artistry is also quite evident in the background. The buildings, the streets, the houses, and the various vehicles are drawn in every detail, occasionally presenting images of extreme beauty. For example, in the scene where Motoko is fighting the terrorist, the buildings in the background look magnificent, with a color palette that actually highlights the battle in the foreground through its antithesis.

7. Outstanding Music

ghost in the shell neck ports

Composer Kenji Kawai used a unique combination of Bulgarian folk music with Japanese voices, and in that fashion, managed to perfectly capture the aesthetics of the film, through the haunting but very rhythmic sound of the main theme, titled “Making of a Cyborg”. The entire soundtrack moves in similar tones, apart from “See you Everyday”, a Cantopop song performed by Fang Ka Wing.

Author Bio: Panos Kotzathanasis is a film critic who focuses on the cinema of East Asia. He enjoys films from all genres, although he is a big fan of exploitation. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter .

4 Replies to “7 Reasons Why “Ghost in the Shell” is an Anime Masterpiece”

[…] By Panos Kotzathanasis […]

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You’ll get no argument from me.

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One of my favourite movies of all time, for all the reasons above. However I am not a dualist, I don’t believe there is separate mind and body, so find some of the ideas untenable.

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Ghost in the Shell Wiki

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Contents: Top  · 0–9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  • Harima City
  • Hong Kong - Ghost in the Shell and Innocence take place here.
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Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell

  • In the near future, Major Mira Killian is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dangerous criminals.
  • In the near future, humans are augmented with cybernetic improvements to traits such as vision, strength and intelligence. Augmentation developer Hanka Robotics establishes a secret project to develop an artificial body, or "shell", that can integrate a human brain rather than an AI. The sole survivor of a terrorist attack which killed her parents, Mira Killian is chosen as the test subject after her body is damaged beyond repair. Over the objections of her designer Dr. Ouelet, Hanka Robotics CEO Cutter decides to use Killian as a counter-terrorism operative. A year later, Killian has attained the rank of Major in the anti-terrorist division Section 9 commanded by Chief Daisuke Aramaki, working alongside operatives Batou and Togusa. — Paramount Pictures
  • Rescued from a devastating terrorist attack, the orphan, Mira Killian, becomes a one-of-a-kind specimen of what begins to be the norm in a not-so-distant future: a cybernetically augmented human whose mind and soul resides in an immaculate synthetic body. As a result, the technologically advanced hybrid--now a resolute counter-cyberterrorism Major--is Sector 9's tip of the spear; however, when peculiar hallucinations interpreted as minor glitches start to bombard Mira's fragmented mind, suspicions will arise. Could those short and spontaneous outbursts be dormant, yet immortal memories of a suppressed past? — Nick Riganas
  • In the near future, the vast majority of humans are augmented with cybernetics, enhancing various traits like vision, strength, and intelligence. Hanka Robotics, the world's leading developer of augmentative technology, establishes a secret project to develop a mechanical body, or "shell", that can integrate a human brain rather than an AI. Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson), a young woman who is the sole survivor of the cyber-terrorist attack which killed her parents, is chosen as the test subject after her body is apparently damaged beyond repair. Over the objections of her designer, Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche), Hanka CEO Cutter decides to use Killian as a counter-terrorism operative. A year later, Killian has attained the rank of Major in the anti-terrorist bureau Section 9, working alongside operatives Batou (Pilou Asbæk) and Togusa (Chin Han) under Chief Daisuke Aramaki ("Beat" Takeshi Kitano). The team successfully thwarts a terrorist attack on a Hanka business conference, and Killian destroys a rogue mechanical geisha after it murders a hostage. Killian, who has been experiencing hallucinations that Ouelet dismisses as glitches, is becoming increasingly bothered by how little she remembers about her past. After learning that the geisha was hacked by an unknown entity, known only as Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt), Killian breaks protocol and "dives" into its AI for answers. The entity attempts a counter-hack, and Batou is forced to disconnect her. Using the information, she was able to gather, the two trace the hacker to a Yakuza nightclub, where they are lured into a trap. The resulting explosion destroys Batou's eyes, and leaves Killian's body severely damaged. Cutter (Peter Ferdinando) is enraged by Killian's actions and threatens to have Section 9 shut down unless Aramaki keeps her in line. Kuze tracks down Section 9's Hanka consultant, Dr. Dahlin (Anamaria Marinca), and kills her. The team links her murder to the deaths of other senior company researchers and realize that Dr. Ouelet is the next target. Kuze takes control of two sanitation workers and sends them to kill Ouelet. Batou, now with cybernetic eyes, kills one of them while the repaired Killian subdues the other. During interrogation, Kuze briefly speaks through the surviving worker before compelling him to commit suicide. Togusa traces the hack to a secret location, where the team discovers a large number of humans mentally linked together as a makeshift signal network. Killian is captured, and Kuze reveals that he is a failed Hanka test subject from the same project that created Killian, otherwise known as 2571. He urges her to question her own memories before freeing her and escaping. Killian confronts Ouelet, who admits there were 98 test subjects before Killian, but she was the only one to survive the process and that her memories are fake implanted ones. Cutter has decided that Killian is too much of a liability, and orders Ouelet to euthanize her after she returns to Hanka Robotics. Instead, Ouelet gives Killian an address and helps her escape. Cutter kills Ouelet, but blames Killian, saying that she has gone rogue. He subsequently informs Aramaki and the team that Killian must be terminated by any means necessary. Killian follows the address to an apartment occupied by a widowed mother, who reveals that her daughter, Motoko Kusanagi (Scarlett Johansson), ran away from home a year ago and was arrested, before taking her own life while in custody. Unable to process her emotions, Killian leaves and contacts Aramaki, who intentionally allows Cutter to eavesdrop on their conversation. Batou, Togusa, and Aramaki each eliminate Cutter's men trying to ambush them, while Killian follows her memories to the hideaway where Motoko was last seen. There, she and Kuze meet, and recall their past lives as anti-augmentation radicals who were abducted by Hanka for use as test subjects. Cutter deploys a "spider-tank" to kill them, and Kuze nearly dies before Killian is able to tear off the tank's motor, losing her left arm in the process. Mortally wounded, Kuze offers to merge his "ghost" with Killian's before a Hanka sniper kills him. Batou and the team rescue Killian, while Aramaki executes Cutter with Killian's consent. The next day, Killian, now repaired and embracing her true identity as Motoko, reconnects with her mother before returning to work with Section 9.

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