What does it mean to be Human? Further Ghost in the Shell Analysis

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Ghost in the Shell, 1995

Perhaps it’s the fear of the unknown or simply an unanswerable question, but it’s one that seems to bug philosophers and those chasing existential views of, “what is it to be human”. The Ghost in the Shell anime movie introduces a world post World War III set in Japan where humans are inextricably linked to the machine world, and have become a society, accepting them and referring to them as equal. The futuristic world of the film, incorporates the cyborg in a female depicted character Major Motoko Kusanagi, thus “Throughout its 80-minute runtime, Kusanagi finds herself — or perhaps, itself — facing a somewhat existential identity crisis, one that is inevitable in a world where it is possible to manipulate an organism’s memories, to rewrite their personal history.” (Japan Subculture, 2011)

The film explores mechanical and cyborg enhancements on humans with full artificial intelligent cyborgs who can think for themselves. Are these characters human? The film makes sure that the audience knows the cyborg is female with its emphasised physical make up, but is human to be physical? Heavy reliance on technology today leads one’s thought into the possibility of one day replicating human existence with a form of electrical network, or is it the cluster of experience and memory truly define it.

Her questioning of herself in reality creates existential questions of her origins. Thus, she ponders if she can’t be an individual due to the fact she was manufactured. She or it perhaps, believes that this would have been controlled and made sure the subjects didn’t question themselves otherwise they’d simply be replaced. She says, ” “Maybe all full-replacement cyborgs like me start wondering this. That Perhaps the real me died a long time ago and I’m a replicant made with a cyborg body and a computer brain. Or maybe there never was a real ‘me’ to begin with.” (Ghost in the Shell, 1995)
This saying whenever she started to become too ‘Human’ like and questioned her existence that could have perhaps triggered memory, that the creators of her would almost reset her in a new case or “cyborg” embodiment. She can’t come to terms with the idea she could be human, and is instead overcome by fear of the control of authority that allowed her physicality.

The obvious psychological battle here with Motoko’s identity crisis, it raises another interesting futuristic possibility, in the wake of technological advancements. Ghost in the Shell “shows a future that praises technology and renders humanity and its gender prejudices obsolete”( RIT Confluence Wiki, 2010). This moves away from negative stereotypes that often get portrayed when having female characters in sci-fi films to be of less value. The Ghost in the Shell makes a statement with her obvious self-determinism and powerful persona.

Society is under the microscope for the film The Ghost in the Shell, for the inclusion of technology and its effects on humanity and what it means to enter the existential question, what does it mean. Perhaps this is a question that has carried on throughout my experience of the film that prompted me to be blogging about the particular topic, and through viewing the film, I’m able to reflect on what I personally believe the “requirements” of humanity.


Alexandra Kaplewicz 2011, Physiology and Sociology of Ghost in the Shell, RIT Confluence Wiki, viewed 26th August 2015, <https://wiki.rit.edu/display/05052130220101/Psychology+and+Sociology+of+Ghost+in+the+Shell&gt;

Jake Adelstein 2011, Ghost in the Shell: A Classic Film of Japanese Sci Fi Animation with Universal Themes, Japan Subculture Research Centre, viewed 26th August 2015, <http://www.japansubculture.com/ghost-in-the-shell-%E6%94%BB%E6%AE%BB%E6%A9%9F%E5%8B%95%E9%9A%8A-a-classic-film-of-japanese-sci-fi-animation-with-universal-themes/&gt;


One thought on “What does it mean to be Human? Further Ghost in the Shell Analysis

    samnoakes responded:
    August 27, 2015 at 4:48 am

    Reblogged this on DIGC330 .


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