// The Animated Films
There are two animated films based off of the Ghost in the Shell manga: Ghost in the Shell (1995) and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004).
Ghost in the Shell is the animated film gave the GitS franchise international acclaim. The film is considered a cult classic and an essential cornerstone of the cyberpunk-noir film genre. The director was Mamoru Oshii, and production was done by Production IG. Oshii focused on a the sophisticated philosophical themes introduced in Shirow's manga (though there was still plenty of action and visual splendor). Many viewers found this atmosphere to be too slow and complicated, while others enjoyed the existentialist dialogue.
The storyline follows the Major as she pursues a ghost hacker named the Puppetmaster / Project 2501. Despite having a completely digital origin, the Puppetmaster claims to have acquired a soul. He continually pushes the characters and the viewers to examine the nature of individuality and connectivity. In 2008, an remastered edition was released under the title Ghost in the Shell 2.0. The animation was redone with current digital fim technology, and the soundtrack was entirely rehauled.
Innocence is the direct sequel to the first animated film, starring Batou the protagonist. It was again directed by Mamoru Oshii and produced by Production IG. The story follows Batou as Section 9 investigates sex androids that have become murderous. The corporation creating these androids had used illegal methods in their production, and their victims created this bug as their revenge. The Major is mostly absent in this film, but makes occasional remote appeareances, especially near the end. Innocence was nominated for an award at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival (but did not win).
// The Graphic Manga
This is the original manga series that started the GitS franchise. Ghost in the Shell was created, written, and illustrated by Shirow Masamune. The first graphic novel chapters were published in 1989. Shirow later released additional volumes under the titles Ghost in the Shell 1.5: Human Error Processor (1999) and Ghost in the Shell 2: Man/Machine Interface (1997).
In his work, mangaka Shirow explores many cyberpunk themes (as well as issues of technology and politics) paired with action sequences and humor. The manga features the most light-hearted and extroverted version of the protagonist, Major Motoko Kusanagi. Unlike her animated cool and collected counterparts, the Major here is brazenly outspoken, prone to teasing others, and goes through boyfriends. The film adaptations of this manga tended to focus on the mangaka's philosophical and political content. Meanwhile, the tv series tried to reach a middle ground between the films' serious nature and the manga's occasional comedy.
// The Live Action Film
In 2008, American film studio Dreamworks Pictures aquired the rights to make a live action movie adaptation of Ghost in the Shell. The director is Steven Spielburg, a self-professed fan of the GitS films. Other known staff members include Avi Arad and Steven Paul. Layeta Kalogridis is the screenwriter. The movie will be a "3D live action" film, a decision probably influenced by James Cameron's Avatar. At the time of this writing, further details such as the cast and release date are unknown.
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