You are reading the inaugural of Full Frontal’s news series of daily animation articles, Sakuga Espresso! Our goal is to bring you, dear reader, a dose of anime appreciation timed just right to your morning coffee, allowing you to sip on both an espresso, and the sakuga. Today’s subject is Mamorou Oshii’s 1995 masterpiece, Ghost in the Shell☕ 

This whole cut is to help us relate to Motoko, to make her seem human. It comes as a contrast to the scene before it, where Motoko’s naked, robotic frame floats listlessly, skin being applied like it was an item in a factory. So here, the animation carries a great storytelling significance. After seeing her at her most inhuman, we now see her at her most human.

Our vehicle to peer into the character of Motoko Kusanagi, is through the mundane; waking up the next day and rubbing the sleep from her eyes. It’s a universally shared human experience. But since it is one we all are so familiar with, there’s a high expectation set for the animation to communicate how she wakes up. Subconsciously we will compare and contrast, taking notes on similarities and differences between the character’s routine and ours.

When Motoko first gets up there’s a very real sense of weight. The technique being used here is framerate modulation or the amount of time between each new drawing. When you first wake up you feel heavy, and slow. That’s very realistically depicted in this cut; Motoko’s lumbering entry from the bottom of the frame does well to emulate the feeling of raising out of bed.

Contrast that to when the light pours into the room from the open blinds: see how quickly and evenly that was animated by comparison? That clues us in that the awkward, almost clumsiness that we saw before was purposefully depicted. That it’s the character who is gauche, not the animation.

The remainder of the shot allows us to focus on the cityscape through the newly opened frame. This opens a dialog with the viewer about the definition of identity through one’s social surroundings, the thesis of the film. To promote this invisible discussion between the viewer and art, Motoko is reduced to a silhouette. However, there is a special care in the animation  to detail her humanity. She stands up, and her arm awkwardly swings at her side as she runs her fingers through her hair. She opens a door to grab her jacket, and we see her shadow on the floor.

But my favorite part is not until the very end of the clip. Against the light, we see Makoto don her jacket, and walk towards us, but just off frame, ending the scene. But as she puts on her jacket, we see a remarkable understanding and control of weight, texture, and how these materials move through space, not just in a 2 dimensional, but a three dimensional space.

Putting on a jacket is also a commonly shared human experience. It’s simple. Because the animation is so simplistic (remember, it’s still just a silhouette) yet detailed, I know (or have a pretty good idea) what that jacket feels like.

The way one sleeve hangs, the way it dangles, betrays it’s weight. The way we can still see the solid object of Motoko’s arm move through the flow of the fabric illustrates the lack of stiffness of the texture. And all of this is happening as she moves towards us, making that world feel real and immersive. Animation, at it’s most human!

This whole cut is to help us relate to Makoto, to make her seem human. It comes as a contrast to the scene before it, where Makoto’s naked, robotic frame floats listlessly, skin being applied like it was an item in a factory. So here, the animation carries a great storytelling significance. After seeing her at her most inhuman, we now see her at her most human.

Our vehicle to peer into the character of Makoto Kusanagi, is through the mundane; waking up the next day and rubbing the sleep from her eyes. It’s a universally shared human experience. But since it is one we all are so familiar with, there’s a high expectation set for the animation to communicate how she wakes up. Subconsciously we will compare and contrast, taking notes on similarities and differences between the character’s routine and ours.

When Makoto first gets up there’s a very real sense of weight. The technique being used here is framerate modulation or the amount of time between each new drawing. When you first wake up you feel heavy, and slow. That’s very realistically depicted in this cut; Makoto’s lumbering entry from the bottom of the frame does well to emulate the feeling of raising out of bed.

Contrast that to when the light pours into the room from the open blinds: see how quickly and evenly that was animated by comparison? That clues us in that the awkward, almost clumsiness that we saw before was purposefully depicted. That it’s the character who is gauche, not the animation.

 

The remainder of the shot allows us to focus on the cityscape through the newly opened frame. This opens a dialog with the viewer about the definition of identity through one’s social surroundings, the thesis of the film. To promote this invisible discussion between the viewer and art, Makoto is reduced to a silhouette. However, there is a special care in the animation  to detail her humanity. She stands up, and her arm awkwardly swings at her side as she runs her fingers through her hair. She opens a door to grab her jacket, and we see her shadow on the floor.

But my favorite part is not until the very end of the clip. Against the light, we see Makoto don her jacket, and walk towards us, but just off frame, ending the scene. But as she puts on her jacket, we see a remarkable understanding and control of weight, texture, and how these materials move through space, not just in a 2 dimensional, but a three dimensional space.

Putting on a jacket is also a commonly shared human experience. It’s simple. Because the animation is so simplistic (remember, it’s still just a silhouette) yet detailed, I know (or have a pretty good idea) what that jacket feels like.

The way one sleeve hangs, the way it dangles, betrays it’s weight. The way we can still see the solid object of Makoto’s arm move through the flow of the fabric illustrates the lack of stiffness of the texture. And all of this is happening as she moves towards us, making that world feel real and immersive. Animation, at it’s most human!