I’ve just started putting together the abstract for a paper on the Ghost in the Shell franchise, with some emphasis on its metaphors of puppetry, dolls and simulacra (I’m also treating it as an “existential detective”) narrative, and while scrounging for sources online, I came across these wonderful drawings and cels from the films and, I reckon, the TV series, Stand Alone Complex from the personal collection of Geoffrey Clifton at his blog, Animation Utopia. I love to see these rough versions of the finished, painted products that will be laid on top of them. You can see so much dynamic energy in the artist’s strokes of the pencil. That energy will later transfer to the character, and the traces of the animator’s hand will be concealed beneath the perfected chassis of Major Motoko Kusanagi, still the most enigmatic, compelling figure in anime. In a brilliant article about the first film, Christopher Bolton argued that previous studies of the Major treated her as if she were a real cyborg facing existential crises, ignoring the extra layer of synthetic performance that her status as an animated fabrication brings into play:
The virtual or artificial nature of animated “actors,” who are always already technological bodies, complicates any effort by the film or the critic to draw or blur the line between natural and artificial or human and machine.
Nothing brings home her “technological body” like seeing the sketches beneath the facade.
- Christopher Bolton, “From Wooden Cyborgs to Celluloid Souls: Mechanical Bodies in Anime and Japanese Puppet Theater.” Positions 10.3 (Winter 2002): 729-71.