Ghost in the Shell

An intellectual, violent ancestor of The Matrix.
  • Review Date: August 16, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1995
  • Running Time: 82 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

Graphic, video game-style violence.


Frequent animated nudity.


Strong language in the English translation.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this anime movie has lots of stylized violence along the lines of The Matrix. Many people get shot. Blood spurts and heads are crushed. The lead character has a tendency to fight in the nude. There are other assorted scenes of animated nudity. Characters frequently use profanity. The movie's philosophical and metaphysical ideas blur the line between good and bad.

What's the story?

Set in the year 2029, this landmark Japanese animation film is a detective noir story centered on Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg undercover agent on the trail of the Puppet Master, a powerful hacking virus run amok. Kusanagi has been cybernetically altered to the point of questioning her humanity and the existence of her "ghost," or her soul. The Puppet Master's quest for a human shell and thus, sanctuary as a life form, only adds to Kusanagi's existential dilemma.

Is it any good?


In a post-Matrix world, GHOST IN THE SHELL may seem dated. However, this movie came first, and although fans may be cyberpunked-out by The Matrix, they will discover Ghost is one of the most daring anime films to make it Stateside. It's a classic provocative piece of animation that works alongside Blade Runner in the sub-genre of philosophical science fiction. The special effects and shoot-em-ups do not get in the way of the story's question about what it means to be human.

On the other hand, the movie can be turgid; alternating abruptly between fast and furious action and slow and stilted dialogue. Thoughtful as it may be, the film's plot is at times, too complex for its own good. Nonetheless, this is a unique movie, and in the U.S. lent much-needed credibility to anime, consequently paving the way for more adult-themed animation. Ghost may have its faults, but no one can deny its status as a trailblazer.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the themes of humanity, the idea of the "ghost," or soul, and the movie's clear influence on the Matrix franchise.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1995
DVD release date:January 11, 2005
Cast:Richard Epcar, Steve Davis, William Knight
Director:Mamoru Oshii
Studio:Anchor Bay Entertainment
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:82 minutes
MPAA rating:NR
MPAA explanation:not rated.

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  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 9 and 13 year old Written byBarbara Chandler August 16, 2009
age 17+


I first came across this foul movie when I took my son to the video store to pick a movie to rent for the weekend. He picked this one and I looked at the cover. It looked like an average kid's family flick. When we got home we watched the video and mere minutes in, the female protagonist took her clothes off showing us gratuitous shots of her breasts and buttocks, the parts of the body god wants covered by undergarments at all times. She also jumped off a building, something I'm worried my son will now try to imitate. I turned off the video in shock and my son then asked me "Ma, where do babies come from" his mind horribly disfigured by this satanic filth. I am angry and outraged and I would like this movie to be banned.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 16 years old Written byXexyzl April 9, 2008
age 0+

Anime's Finest

I believe I know enough about GITS now to formally write a review. I first saw GITS when I was about 12 or 13, and since then have bought the DVD and watched it around 15 times or so. Many people complain that the nudity, language, and violence 'hurt' the film's image, but you have to remember that its a downplay from the rather more explicit Manga. Yes, Motoko has breasts, now get over it (plus they're cybernetic, so I don't see what the problem is). Yes, a man's head explodes in a shower of blood. Yes, the police force flings out curse words; would you expect them to say "goshdarnit he got away"? GITS delves deep into the human psyche, and attempts to unravel philosophical mysteries. Even after so many viewings, choice scenes still mystify me with their complexity and trail of reasoning. Despite all of these 'content' complaints hurled at GITS, I recommend seeing it for yourself and getting some part of the experience I felt, of feeling much dumber. Don't forgot to see the sequel, which has even more philosophical questions sans the 'distasteful' content.
Parent Written byaslaug13 January 24, 2015
age 18+

NOT for children or teens. Period.

I have been an anime/manga junky most of my life. I have been to a number of Comic-Cons, and conventions that have been centered around this genre. I am 43 now, and I have been liberal with my own children as far as what they are allowed to play and watch (as long as it is absolutely age appropriate). That being said, since I know what can be contained within anime, I am very wary of what kind they are allowed to watch. This movie, without a doubt is OFF LIMITS. Maybe some parents would allow their children to watch it (be warned, there is A LOT of T&A, cursing, and graphic violence), but this isn't their review, now is it? There are some parents reviews that say this movie is rated as a "13 year-old/green" category, but I suspect that that "parent" is actually the "child" registering their review account AS and adult. IMDb's rating is rated "R". This is movie is not made for anyone under the age of 18 years-old. Period.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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