The image-link you have just seen is that of one of the major characters of the animated movie Ghost In the Shell , Major Kusanagi. The movie's treatment of issues of simulation, image, and reality center around the Major's idenitity.

One of the most strikingly mimetic segments of the animated movie that advances her main question, Who am I occurs in the center of the movie. There are at least three ways in which mimesis in Ghost In the Shell can be said to work. This imitation has the specific effect of deconstructing conventions of objective/subjective narration and omniscient/subjective narration. The difference between the two types for the purposes of this essay dwell on what the viewers understand, and how the viewers understand the characters's understanding of their own consciousness.


Firstly, the animated film imitates live-action filmic conventions to convey subjectivity, to assemble a point of view, and to construct plot and narrative.

Two, this cartoon animation medium, with its reliance on sharp color, distinct illusionistic 3-D animated figures, and ridgidly regular image proportions seeks to present a believable simulation of life itself.

Three, embedded as subtext to the science fiction genre of this movie is the classic quest for identity, purpose and nitche: a reflection both of popular literature's dominant themes and of our own lives as human beings.

Repeatedly, in the scene referred to above,the Major is a flaneur on a boat, gliding through the utopia/distopia so simultaneously similar to Venice, Tokyo, and city scape of Blade Runner . The movie, as imitation of live-action film, assembles images to imitate the shot-reverse shot point of view technique. This is to establish a relationship between subject and viewer: we, the viewers can see what Major Kusanagi sees.


In and of itself, making sense of the fact that the movie privileges the viewer into the point of view of Major Kusanagi signals an attempt by the film to make the simulated nature of cartooning visible, as well as have the audience identify with Kusanagi. However, narrative functions of 'subjective' and 'omniscient' modes have already been made strange by the use of voice-overs in the soundtrack. Is the viewer meant to understand that all characters hear these thoughts? Or is the audience addressed when they hear the thoughts, the whispers in the shell (bodies of the cyborgs)?. The characters all diplay an ability to communicate pseudo-telepathically, and the viewer can hear these thoughts as expressed by a voice slightly distorted from each character's normal or talking voice in the movie soundtrack. But while some lines from the soundtrack convey a sense of register switching, of non-diegetic/diegetic crossover, others are confusingly or ambigously coded within the movie's function.

Having stated that, since the lines between diegesis and non-diegesis are confused, it is very strange that dialogue is displaced by the recurring chorus song. This can be seen in two ways- an attempt at clarity from the heteroglossia of cyberconscousness, and a sound device meant to link all scenes with the theme song together.

If the construction of diegetic and non-diegetic worlds are confused and conflated, yet the sounds that work to conflate them are replaced by the repetitive element of chorus song (which helps suspend the narrative together) one can locate an active, critical attempt to call on the function of sound to deconstruct any stable reading of narration that one may be used to in print literature.

In terms of what is framed as image, sometimes the movie frames visual exposition, which has no finite point of view. Sometimes the images are framed in such a way as to convey what another character is seeing. However, since there is no difference in the kind, quality or dynamics in image between the animated depiction of the Major's POV and the animated, omniscient, decorporalized 'faux' camera, the question is questioned: Does the major see the same way we do within the diegesis of the movie? Do all characters see the same way? Vision of the narrative frame or camera eyes, and the vision of the Major are conlflated yet read clearly within the film's theme- Kusanagi sees what everybody can see the way even the viewer can see, yet since she has no advantage of omniscience, she cannot know of that. This not only further works on the spectator to link or merge Kusanagi's POV with the audience's POV, but it also confuses the usefulness of a POV shot. Whose point of view is it?

These confusions are linked in a powerful visual metaphor. From the point of view of Kusanagi (or the mystery eye) the viewer can catch within the flaneur sequence various copies of the Major. The image of the mannequin in a storefront window not only refers to Walther Benjamin's view of Paris in the age of mechanical reproduction, but instantly reminds Kusanagi and the audience of her replicatable status. Her physicality can be replicated, therefore simulated. Who then is the real Kusanagi?