When I discussed the possibilities of the kind of world shown in The Matrix with my friends, one of the top recommendations I got was Ghost in the Shell. This is a 1995 anime movie based on a manga series of the same name. The movie is set in the futuristic world of 2029 AD, one that is heavily reminiscent of that in the Blade Runner. Humans and cyborgs co-exist, the latter being created by embedding human brains in mechanical bodies. The principal character is a cyborg called The Major, a female cop, who is on the hunt for a hacker named Puppet Master. His trail also leads her to introspect and question her own birth, meaning and existence. When she finally tracks him down, he reveals himself to be a program that has gained sentience and gives her an offer she cannot refuse.
The Japanese are masters of the surreal. The leaps of imagination and vision depicted in Ghost in the Shell are just fantastic. Though I found the story itself pretty boring and robotic (sorry fans!), the premise, the possibilities and the production are definitely top-notch. The hauntingly beautiful choral song that plays during the birth of The Major and her few contemplative moments are pure gold. The lush animation of the dregs of the city are right out a dream! (Seriously, who needs 3D?!) I did not find Ghost in the Shell very accessible or human (sic), but it is definitely worth watching once to lend oneself a flight quite unlike any other.