Ghost In The Shell, Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 cyperpunk masterpiece, is high on the list of anime that even people who don’t watch anime have seen, and with good reason. It’s a beautiful, challenging film, impeccably drawn and directed, light on dialogue but big on big ideas. In his latest video, The Nerdwriter Evan Puschak examines the way Ghost In The Shell’s presentation of a far-flung Neo-Hong Kong supports the film’s theme of technology and humanity blending to the point of humanity’s irrelevancy (The A.V. Club’s own David Erhlich contends Shell “is about the moment in time when humans become an impediment to progress, rather than its shepherds.”)
In particular, Puschak singles out a mid-film sequence of subdued world-building, and how the director uses “aspect-to-aspect” transitions to temporarily detour from the plot and exhale a timeless sense of space and place–one in which humans are presented as merely the electricity in the body of the metropolis. It’s a thoughtful look at how a small series of shots can amplify the larger thematic aims of a film, and a reminder of why Ghost In The Shell has become such a classic.