Humanity? How Trivial...

Paul Meier, '09 The Cyborg Self, Brown University, Fall 2006

As opposed to Blade Runner, where the cyborgs are demonized and feared, the world in The Ghost in the Shell seems so entrenched in its artificial prosthetics that it's strange to question their presence. Near the beginning of the film, Togusa asks why he is part of the team chasing the Puppet Master, to which Kusanagi explains the value of his differences from the rest of the squad. He'd contribute more to a team of cyborg military men being a (mostly) uncyberized policeman. In this case, Kusanagi argues for his diverse thought, both as a civil servant and as someone with little cyborg modification. Togusa fails to see either how diversity of thought can be effective, or more likely, how being non-cyberized can alter his viewpoints.

Throughout the film, Kusanagi examines how being a cyborg (being contained in a Shell) affects her humanity, and what that humanity consists of. The response to this introspection typically results with her peers making comments along the lines of: Who cares? Why worry about it now?

This response likely demonstrates a more accurate view on societies and their indifferent attitudes toward a new technology, after it has been accepted: When you're on the Internet, how often you do stop and think "How does this make me more or less human?" More often, you continue your Google search or finish that e-mail.

Whereas other cyberpunk narratives simulate societies with different social values and increased technology, The Ghost in the Shell communicates the believability of its world by the ease with which the characters trust the technology. As opposed to Blade Runner, where the Replicants, Tyrell, the police, and Deckard debate the role of Replicants, Kusanagi is the sole person who questions her surroundings, and their affect on her being.

1. What does the

following image

say about the film's setting?


2. Given that image, how would someone from the present react to such intrusion? How does that compare to Kusanagi's questions?

3. Since there are little to no social stigmas to cyborgs (as in Blade Runner), why stay non-cyberized? If given the choice, would you keep your natural body or live in a Shell?

4. In Blade Runner, the Replicants are nearly indistinguishable from humans, whereas the cyborgs in Ghost in the Shell

have their wires and mechanical parts

in complete display. What effect does this have on the viewer?

Main Website Overview Literature anime Ghost in the Shell

Last modified 8 November 2006