Ghost In the Shell: Booking Major Kusanagi

Andrew Osmond’s hi-rez look at Mamoru Oshii’s sci-fi cinema classic

Okay, look: The thing about a book like this is that it’s going to appeal to the sort of geeks who are really, really into the film and who might be moved to argue with whatever opinions the book’s author inevitably puts forth.

Which is fine, because, in this thorough Ghost In the Shell exploration, Andrew Osmond puts forth a well-considered and well-supported array of opinions, and the sort of geek who’s really, really into the film could probably use the mental workout – whether in reacting agreement with or dismissal of what the author suggests.

On the other hand, a mere wannabe geek such as your reviewer here, who’s only kind of really into the film, will also be moved to argue with presumptions or interpretations proffered by the book’s author. And, having done a little Googling before actually cracking the book’s cover, will only have his hackles raised by the knowledge that this Osmond is indeed well-versed in the field of animated movies, Japanese and otherwise, and also at least sufficiently well-read in the fantastic manga and Western science-fiction texts that informed or inspired or influenced or in-somethinged that Ghost In the Shell.

And so, unless you generally tend to consider this reviewer a fool – and especially so when he’s raging on the subjects of film or animation or science fiction – or the fusion of all three – then you’ll be pleased to know that I found nothing wrong with any of the points Osmond was making in his book.

Not so generous of me, actually, as the man clearly has a much greater and deeper knowledge of the subject matter.

And yet, even experts can take the facts and interpret them in ways that rankle, no?

But every time I’d be following along with Osmond’s concise recounting of how this or that aspect of the film was produced, or how it was conceived, or how it was received, and it would seem like he was going in one direction toward a conclusion from his points, and I’d be like, “Hold on a minute there, bub, that’s not quite –” I’d immediately see that, no, he was only setting up the premise to then contrast it with a dissenting conclusion that more matched my own.

So, my point is, this Osmond is not only impressively well-informed, he not only does a fine job of communicating all the information he’s gathered and pieced together, but neither is he a fucking idiot like everybody who doesn’t agree with me is.

(Did I say I was only a wannabe geek? Oh my.)

And all of that is pretty damned vague, yes, as far as what the actual components of the discourse refer to. But it doesn’t really matter. Because if you’re really really into Ghost In the Shell – and specifically the feature-length anime by Mamoru Oshii, not the live-action remake or the original Masamune Shirow manga – although Osmond also invokes those latter two – or if you just liked the movie well enough and are also kind of interested in how and why such a thing exists in the first place … then this little perfectbound and brightly illustrated paperback from Arrow Film Distributors is something you’ll want to have and grok and proudly display among your trove of printed treasures forever.

Next week: Hacking the Gibson for Fun and Profit

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Ghost In the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, Andrew Osmond, Arrow Films, excellent gift book

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