Ghost in the Shell Title Analysis
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Release date: March 29, 1996
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Studio: Production I.G.
Music: Kenji Kawai
The story follows the public security agency Section 9 for mysterious hacker known as Puppet Master. The protagonist Motoko Kusanagi and team track their suspect to find the case has more to it. The story also discusses self-identity in a technologically advanced world .
The title sequence opens with circuits and wires. Green is shown, which is often used in film not only to represent the color of technology, but science fiction as well. The letters stamped and faded in (alluding to a “ghost”) by a terminal cursor with sounds similar to a sped up typewriter. The title is pixelated then is up resolution to a smoother text.
The triangle sits between the words “ghost” (non-physical / mind / consciousness) and “shell” (physical / body). The triangle symbolizes pillars of knowledge (trinity of wisdom). For example: past, present, and future; or; spirit, mind, and body. To the Celtic, it can mean mother, maiden, and crone (old woman); or; birth (renewal), death (closure), life (transcendence) . These themes are touched on throughout the sequence.
Kenji Kawai was the composer for Ghost in the Shell. The opening song is “Making of a Cyborg”. The composition is a mix of Bulgarian and Japanese music . The song's choir are of a wedding song to dispel evil influences . From another perspective, the hollow, powerful background beat used sounds similar to war drums.
The typeface looks to be a Bodoni style font, with Bodoni Std Bold Condensed being the closest match  for the title Ghost in the Shell and a modified Bodoni Bold for the credits . The serif font adds sharpness to the text, as if the future is dangerous and rough. The text and the triangle all share the same color, symbolizing a unity between the ghost and the shell.
Image 1 (starting top-left, going clockwise):
The viewer sees the first shot of the cyborg. The cyborg is shell is white. In Western cultures and Japan, white is most common color for wedding dresses and symbolizes purity and virginity . Additionally, in many Asian cultures white is also the color of mourning . The cyborg body can be seen as a marriage of humanity and machine, it can also be viewed as death of the analog-human era.
Above sits the brain shell, mind over matter in a literal sense. The mind at an elevated state over the cybernetic case. Behind the cyborg shell runs wires, similar how a fetus is connected to the mother. In front, we see a green interface. The viewer also sees muscles that look organic. Red is the color associated to organic material as the titles progress (further proof of this can be seen in the red uniforms of the lab techs). The face plate drops in over the eyes. The eyes being the “windows into the soul”. The mask moves over the face, as if mimicking a theater mask, perhaps alluding to hero mask, or even making a reference to this android masquerading as a person. The cyborg imitates a human in the analog world.
Besides the symbolism, the shot is beautiful--a top 3/4th view of the cyborg. Many of the 8x8 grid composition lines naturally flow through the cyborg. There is a cross intersection on the cyborg brain, over the mask, and one in the wires. Each of these cross intersections offer a nice variety for the viewer.
In this scene there is a beautiful symmetrical shot behind the cyborg. The brain moves down into the shell of the body integrating itself. The cyborg sits in the middle of a circular green interface, rebirthing humanity into a new technological being.
Lots of symmetry on the cyborg. 8x8 grid cross intersections on each of the four plates of the cyborg head. The top and bottom cross sections show the cyborg brain and below the wires. The bottom head plate sit nicely on the diagonal lines. From the back, the head appears similar to an egg, reinforcing the “shell” aspect.
Previous scene before Image 3. Allusions to the womb and the process of birth are recurring themes. The cyborg approaches the liquid surface, literally ascending to human form and consciousness. The transition between water to air, soulless cyborg to a creature with soul. The android is merely a shadow of the human form at this point.
Image 3. The cyborg starts emerging out of the liquid, casting a new shadow. We again see the green color, signifying birth from technology. The cyborg continues its journey upward towards sentience.. The droplets are in straight lines as if a digitalization of the analog world.
Next scene after Image 3. The cyborg is further elevated and now casting a shadow. However the shadow is now behind, and moving away from the cyborg, leaving its analog past. This is the first iteration were the cyborg looks more human.
Image 3 is interesting because the cyborg floats going into the screen, while the liquid and the background silo invites the eye to move up creating a lot of natural movement. The shoulders fits nicely against the diagonal lines. Cross intersections around the shoulders giving the eye a natural pivot around the body.
The transformation is complete. There is a white ring over the cyborg (previous scene before image 4). Human consciousness in a machine, a circular ring suggesting to the viewer that the cycle of birth, life, and death remain cyclical for this character. A common Japanese cultural belief is that a woman’s hair represents her life . The cyborg's hair is short and masculine. It is powerful as it blows around, indicating change to come.
The left diagonal moves across the cyborg’s back. The diagonal going downwards aligns well with the nose and eyes, and the steeper downward diagonal lines up with the chin and shoulder. The eyes, nose, mouth all fit in the center box.
The room is completely dark. We can see out into the city but her life is kept in the dark. There is only a utilitarian bed.
As Kusanagi gets up and opens the door, the viewer sees an interesting parallel. The bed is something that is human. The light of the doorway creates clean lines, as if digital. A juxtaposition of the analog world and the digital. Her shadow enters the digital box before leaving her room entirely.
Kusanagi fits nicely in the center frame as the bed sits right below the center frame. The top of the window sits right below the top cross intersection.
Right before image 6 the viewer sees the first shot of Motoko Kusanagi looking straight at the viewer. She is vulnerable, with her hand stretched to the viewer.
Kusanagi gets up. To her left is the bustling brightness of the city, while to her right is total darkness. The shot is isolating. It indicates how she feels alone and only glimpsing humanity through a glass.
This frame is beautifully framed around the eyes. The eye on the right fits almost perfectly around the center intersection. As this same intersection expands it flows into Kusanagi’s shoulder. Kusanagi’s right chin straddles the diagonal line on the left.
0 CommentsJoin the discussion!