Note: This article contains MAJOR spoilers for Ghost In The Shell.
Since the live-action adaptation of the anime classic #GhostInTheShell is based on a plethora of source material that ranges from animated movies to TV shows, a number of homages and Easter Eggs that reference the previous incarnations was to be expected.
The movie doesn't disappoint in this area and offers quite a lot of fanservice for lovers of the franchise. From costumes to certain scenes, Ghost In The Shell has it all.
Here's a quick run-down of the best and most memorable Easter Eggs in Ghost In The Shell.
1. Ghost In The Shell (1995)
The new Ghost In The Shell takes most of its inspiration from the #MamuroOshii movie that started it all. If all of the Easter Eggs (like the cyborg fingers used for typing at high speed) were to be listed down here, this article would have to be split into more than two parts, so focus will be given to specific scenes instead.
From the opening sequence of the Major descending from a building's rooftop, to the showdown between Major and a criminal in a shallow body of water, right down to the action-packed finale where she fights a spider-tank, Ghost In The Shell faithfully recreates the anime's most iconic action sequences right down to the smallest details. The music used in the very opening of the anime movie is even heard over the adaptation's ending credits.
The amount of effort put in bringing the anime to life extends to even the more mundane, dialogue-driven segments, such as the heartfelt moments #Major (Scarlett Johansonn) and #Batou (Pilou Asbæk) share on a boat. One noteworthy scene in particular features the Major interrogating a captured garbage truck driver, whose entire memory was wiped out and replaced with a fake one by Kuze (Michael Pitt).
The scene is more tense and emotionally wracking than the original one due in part to the suspect's reactions, yet despite the changes (such as futuristic technology replacing photographs), the scene was a faithful remake of the one in the original anime.
The second Ghost In The Shell movie, #Innocence, took a more artistic and philosophical approach to its source material. Though the live-action adaptation doesn't lift scenes wholesale from the sequel, it still acknowledges its importance to the collective Ghost In The Shell story.
Ghost In The Shell features two distinct details from Innocence, namely the robotic Geishas and Batou's basset hound, Gabriel. The Geishas take their appearance from the murderous gynoids (i.e. sex-bots) in Innocence, but lack the sexual aspect - unless of course, that part was saved for the unrated director's cut. At the very least, they're still hacked into and become potential killers.
Another stand-out homage to the auter-driven sequel was Batou's fight in a Yakuza bar where he mowed down a small army of goons. Though the reasons for his visit to the bar in both Innocence and the adaptation may differ, the ensuing firefights were pretty much the same.
3. Stand Alone Complex
Though the main villain #Kuze is visually based on the Puppet Master from the original anime movie, his entire character and being stem from the spin-off TV series, #StandAloneComplex. Specifically, the second season titled 2nd Gig, where Hideo Kuze and the terrorist faction the Individual Eleven are the primary antagonist.
Just like his animated counterpart, the live-action Kuze has deep ties to the Major's past. The details do differ, but Kuze is still an old childhood friend of Section 9's best operative. This time around, both Kuze and Major were once rebellious teenage runaways before the operatives of Hanaka Robotics abducted them for illegal human experiments instead of being the sole survivors of a fatal airplane crash.
The two were then experimented on, though the movie adds a more shady militaristic motivation for the operations instead of a wholly philanthropic one as in the anime. As the movie progresses, they both begin to remember bits and pieces of their lost youth and find out that their fates are entwined.
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4. Arise - Alternative Architecture
Given how recent Ghost In The Shell: Arise is, it seemed that the live-action adaptation wouldn't acknowledge it. And yet Ghost In The Shell didn't forget to give a few shout-outs to #Arise, a mini-series that offers a glimpse at the origins of the Major and Section 9.
In the new movie's take on the aforementioned bar scene from Innocence, the Major enters the establishment while wearing the red tracksuit that has become her signature outfit in Arise. Another noteworthy visual reference to Arise is the computer that the members of Section 9 gather around while discussing evidence.
The most plot-relevant shout-out from Arise, though, would have to be the inclusion of false and implanted memories. One of the major arcs in Arise involved hackers manipulating the Major into doing their bidding without her knowledge by planting false memories in her cyber-brain.
This is brought up in two crucial moments in the remake, the first being the garbage man, and the second being Major's own life and backstory being revealed to have been manufactured by the Hanka corporation.
5. Major Motoko Kusanagi
It's impossible to bring up the new Ghost In The Shell without mentioning the controversy surrounding its casting, specifically Scarlett Johansonn playing a Japanese character and allegations of whitewashing. But unlike how #Marvel handled the Ancient One's sudden change by callously dismissing the issue, Ghost In The Shell found a way to bridge the Japanese and American incarnations of the character in a coherent plot-point.
At first, the Major goes by the name of Mia Killian, and this apparent new identity caused outrage among fans. But as it turns out, "Mia" is actually a part of the brainwashing that Hanka Robotics inflicted on a Japanese teenager they abducted: a girl named Motoko Kusanagi. This revelation adds more weight on the Major's identity crisis, which she resolves by taking up her real name by the end of the movie.
It has yet to be seen if this revelation will satisfy critics or not, but it's hard to deny that Ghost In The Shell tackled this potential problem in a creative way that managed to be both a plot-twist and a homage to the source material.
Bonus Surprise: Cowboy Bebop
The original Ghost In The Shell was released in the 90's, a decade some old-school anime fans consider to be the medium's golden age. Another title to make its mark on Western soil was #CowboyBebop, the space-bound tale of four luckless bounty hunters trying to scrape a living in the new frontier.
And surprisingly, the new Ghost In The Shell gave a shout-out to this series.
During the final fight, Kuze is left in the clutches of the spider-tank as Major runs for cover. Thinking that his time was finally up, Kuze defiantly stares down the mechanized monster by aiming a "finger-gun" at its cameras - a pose similar to Spike Spiegel's final moment in Cowboy Bebop. It's a really brief moment, but it's one that those who know their anime will appreciate.