How Cyborgs Define Themselves: On Ghost in the Shell

Hui-tong ZHOU, Jing AN


This article explores the influence of the interrelated relationship between machine and mankind on human subjectivity and the function of dystopian setting in the Japanese anime feature Ghost in the Shell (1995). The film set in the year of 2029 in Japan, and at that time human can “augmented” their physical body including their brains by engaging cybernetic parts. The heroine Motoko Kusanagi, as a cyborg with perfect physical function, starts to think about how to define herself when she is involved in a series of events concerning cyborgs. The narrative explores the subjectivity of cyborgs and how the intimate relationship with technology influence human self-awareness. The article seeks to explore the relationship between the physical body and human subjectivity and demonstrate the profound effect of the interrelated connection between machine and human on people’s self-cognition. In the use of textual analysis, the article attempts to uncover the meaning behind the identity crisis of Kusanagi in the dystopian society set in this science fiction film (SF film). In the film, although the technology confuses human on defining themselves, Kusanagi proves fully capable of cognizing herself at the end of the film. And the especial use of dystopia setting magnifies the identity crisis and enhance the desire to fathom self-identity.


Identity crisis, Cyborg, Technology, Ghost in the Shell, SF film, Subjectivity


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