Ghost in the Shell Movie Poster Image

Ghost in the Shell



An intellectual, violent ancestor of The Matrix.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1996
  • Running Time: 82 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Positive role models

The Major may inspire some philosophical discussion on the nature of humanity, but she's not really a role model.


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 Ghost in the Shell is an anime movie with 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, GHOST IN THE SHELL 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, this landmark Japanese animation film may seem dated, but it's 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 in the Shell 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 Ghost in the Shell's clear influence on the Matrix franchise.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 29, 1996
DVD/Streaming 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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Kid, 12 years old January 17, 2013


1. How does this look like a family movie? It shows a naked woman with a GUN! 2. Just because it's animated doesn't mean it's for kids! 3. YOU THINK YOUR 9 YEAR OLD SON WOULD JUMP OFF A BUILDING? EVEN A BABY WOULDN'T DO THAT! 4. Just because it shows a naked woman doesn't mean it should be banned! 5. I don't think her son asked where babies come from. I think she made that up. This is the dumbest thing I've ever seen on this website. It's sad that this is on the top of the list. I've never seen this movie, but it looks cool. I say pause for 16 because C.S.M gives it that.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written byXexyzl April 9, 2008

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.
Adult Written bythesleeplessone December 10, 2011

An awesome movie that sparks deep thought in you

It is a very deep movie. Obviously not intended at children, this movie definitely makes you wondering what IS the spirit, what is the one thing that defines humanity and what is the one thing that separates us from machines. As for Barbara Chandler's review, do you really have to call somebody else's masterpiece "satanic filth“? Have you ever watched it without your kids before? Did you ever know that this movie spouts more philosophical questions than you could ever dream of? And in what way is this a mere kid flick? Just because its animated doesn't mean that its a child's flick, get that into your head. This movie is philosophy incarnate and you're dissing it just because the main character, a robot flashed her boobs/ass at your child. The cover obviously has partial nudity in it and you should have known this was coming, and yet why the @!$% did you buy it? You're insulting my all-time favourite movie just because it looks like porn.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing