Ghost in the Shell as a Cross-cultural Franchise: From Radical Posthumanism to Human Exceptionalism

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Rupert Sanders’ American live-action adaptation of the Japanese franchise Kōkaku Kidōtai (The Ghost in the Shell) was highly anticipated by fans around the world. Beyond the pleasure of viewing another version of their favourite story, it was also celebrated as reflecting a wave of contemporary Japanese anime-inspired American live-action movies. Unsurprisingly, even before premiering, it received critical reviews due to some production decisions, mostly related to casting. These missed, in my opinion, the more significant discrepancies between the original franchise and the adaptation. I contend that whereas the Japanese franchise offers a philosophical existential exploration that is developed all the way to new frontiers of posthumanism, Sanders’ movie resorts to a eulogy of the physical human body and human existence as we know them, thereby duplicating the American Robocop formula. I interpret these discrepancies as revealing a return to an anthropo-centrism prevalent in American science fiction, and argue that they have implications beyond the case at hand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-543
Number of pages17
JournalAsian Studies Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Asian Studies Association of Australia.


  • Oshii Mamoru
  • Rupert Sanders
  • Shirō Masamune
  • The Ghost in the Shell (Kōkaku Kidōtai)
  • anime in the United States
  • anthropocentrism
  • existentialism
  • posthumanism
  • transhumanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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