Ghost in the Shell 2.0

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Ghost in the Shell 2.0 Movie Poster Image
Classic noir sci-fi anime has violence, profanity, nudity.
  • NR
  • 1996
  • 83 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Dark cyber sci-fi anime explores themes of technology versus humanity and where the lines blur. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

As sci-fi "noir," the characters have dark sides, even the "good guys." 

Violence

Frequent graphic violence. Police are killed by machine gun fire. A man's head, hit with a bullet, explodes. Blood. Severed bodies, both robotic, human. Blood. Car chases, accidents. 

Sex

Nudity: female breasts, rear ends. 

Language

Frequent profanity: "f--k," "a--hole," "ass," "bastard," "d--khead," "s--t," "crap," "hell," "dammit," "for Christ's sake." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Beer drinking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ghost in the Shell 2.0 is a 1995 anime that has graphic violence, frequent profanity (including "f--k"), and some nudity (females breasts and rear end). A man's head explodes from an assassin's bullet. Police die in machine-gun fire. There are car chases and accidents. It's a dark story, but it's also of such high quality (the "2.0" refers to added 3-D CGI and other visual technologies unavailable when the film was initially released in the mid-'90s) that it transcends its genres, and it's only gotten better with time. It explores themes of the intersections of technology and humanity, memory, and real versus simulated experience; older teen anime fans will have lots to ponder and discuss.

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What's the story?

In GHOST IN THE SHELL 2.0, Motoko Musanagi (Atsuko Tanaka), an officer in late 2020s Hong Kong, is sent to track down an elusive and mysterious hacker who goes by the name the Puppet Master. Musanagi and her partners believe they've found him: a garbage man who engaged in a life hack on his estranged ex-wife's mind to find and see his daughter. But when he's arrested, they realize that this garbage man has been hacked and that his memories have been implanted by the Puppet Master. As they continue to try to find the Puppet Master, they come across a cybernetic woman hit and killed by a truck. The information taken from the cybernetic woman leads Musanagi and her partners to uncover a mysterious project, which could be initiated by another branch of law enforcement to try to lure the Puppet Master -- or could even be a creation of the Puppet Master. Musanagi enters the body of the cybernetic woman to try to find the "ghost" of the Puppet Master, but this only leads to further complications as the Puppet Master becomes sentient, and there are secrets involved that the government does not want revealed. Technology and humanity, memory, and real-vs.-simulated experience all clash and intersect, as Musanagi and her team uncover the truth. 

Is it any good?

Complex, detailed, haunting, and provocative, this movie transcends all genres to emerge as something that stands entirely on its own. The unrelenting action is counterbalanced by seamless explorations of the intersections of technology and humanity, memory, and simulated-vs.real experience. The "2.0" aspect of this features technology such as 3-D CGI that was unavailable when the film was originally made in the mid-1990s, as well as some added scenes and changes in the color schemes of some of the scenes. 

However, even without the violence, profanity, and nudity, the complexities of the themes and story line would make Ghost in the Shell 2.0 difficult to follow for younger viewers or for viewers of any age looking for more lighthearted fare. But for fans of anime and sci-fi, this movie emerges as one of the all-time greats, one that has gotten even better with age. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about when filmmakers re-release a movie and apply technologies unavailable during the time when the film was initially made, like they did with Ghost in the Shell 2.0 Do you think this is a good idea? Why, or why not? What are some other examples of movies where filmmakers have done this? 

  • What are some of the themes explored in this movie? 

  • Is the violence, profanity, and nudity organic to the overall story, or did it seem forced? 

Movie details

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