- Accidental Innuendo:Batou: If it looks like you've gone in too deep, I'm pulling the plug and taking you home!
- Adaptation Displacement: The first film is far better known than the manga it's based on, particularly in the West where it really took off. Today's generation of anime fans, however, seem to be more familiar with Stand Alone Complex than either the films or the manga.
- Animation Age Ghetto: Innocence somehow carries a TV-PG rating despite its violence — which includes peoples' heads getting smacked off — and focusing on the sexual trafficking of minors.
- Audience-Coloring Adaptation: Acclaimed as it might be, the notion of Ghost in the Shell being a paradise of dark, introspective cyberpunk philosophy was almost entirely caused by the 1995 anime film. The original manga was a fast-paced cop action story, filled with colorful characters, comedic relief and cartoonish art, which only treated philosophical questions on the side and in its later part. The problem with this is that the 1995 film was the franchise's breakout in United States and many other countries, which not only colored their expectations about what Ghost in the Shell was about, but also became in many cases the only piece of the franchise people was familiar with. As a proof, practically all the reviewers of the 2017 film derided it because it focused on action and visual style over intellectual topics, despite this actually only made it more similar to the manga than both of the more famous anime movies.
- Awesome Music: Kenji Kawai's breathtaking score for both films. The climax of Innocence is practically a ballet.
- Complete Monster (Innocence): Kim is a self-deifying programmer aiding the Yakuza in their kidnapping scheme. Helping to have countless young girls remade into helpless cyborgs to be used for sex, Kim boasts of the superiority of "dolls" to human beings. When Section 9 agent Batou catches on to his superiors' schemes, Kim hacks Batou's cyberbrain in an attempt to have him go on a shooting spree in a crowded convenience store.
- Contested Sequel: The film Innocence. Some fans consider it an Even Better Sequel or a worthy successor, others a pretentious bore.
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: The first movie can be interpreted as the Major leaving behind her attachments to her human existence and becoming a being of pure thought. The second movie's plot is more straightforward, but still contains lots of mind screwing.
- Fandom Rivalry: With the 2017 film, which had its fans even if they were few.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In America, it's a bona fide classic, one of the earlier examples of serious, artistic animation. In Japan it was nothing unheard of and was, well, slow-paced and artistic, rarely a recipe for a box office hit.
- Ho Yay: The Puppet Master is referred to as "he," but is eventually seen in a female body and with (in the 2.0 remake) a female voice. And with all that talk with Kusanagi about "merging"...
- Magnificent Bastard:
- Major Motoko Kusanagi is the pragmatic and insightful field leader of Section 9. Brutally dispatching a smug foreign diplomat seeking to smuggle away a Japanese programmer, Kusanagi takes to the Puppet Master case with her usual efficiency, making sure to utilize her subordinates' capabilities to the fullest. As she closes in on the Puppet Master its body is taken to Section 9's headquarters as per its own designs and when Section 6 seeks to smuggle it away, Kusanagi ensures their seeming retrieval of the Puppet Master only to have them tailed and their forces hunted down and killed so she may confront the Puppet Master. Talking with the digital life form, Kusanagi responds to its philosophical pleas by agreeing to live on in a merged body with it. Seemingly killed by Section 6, Kusanagi ends the film revived in a new body, leaving the nature of her merger with the Puppet Master ambiguous as she heads off to carry on with her life and later returning to aid Section 9 just as efficiently as ever.
- Chief Daisuke Aramaki leads Section 9 with ruthless devotion to his nation's security. A composed and strategically-minded leader, Aramaki even allows for lethal force on unarmed targets to achieve objectives and calmly deals with the problems given by the obstructive Section 6 while pursuing the Puppet Master. Years later, Aramaki oversees a case involving high-profile men being killed by suicidal sex robots. Sending his men out to swiftly follow leads, Aramaki lets the powerful cyborg Section 9 agent Batou instigate a fight with a gang of Yakuza to slaughter them, seemingly reprimanding Batou only to then demand he continue his work covertly, eventually dismantling the sex trafficking operation behind the scenes, stopping at nothing to bring down justice.
- 1995 Film: Project 2501, better known as the "Puppet Master", is an articulate and intelligent digital lifeform that wishes to be part of the natural cycle of life, and harbors an interest in Major Motoko Kusanagi due to their similar philosophies. Born from Section 6's efforts to create an AI for shady purposes, the Puppet Master operated in their service by manipulating the minds of cybernetically-enhanced humans to perform meticulously crafted terrorist operations, hiding his sapience from his masters all the way. When the Puppet Master's free will is discovered, he is forced to evade Section 6 by fabricating a body for himself, but not before setting up the circumstances to ensure Section 9 recovers him and brings him closer to the Major. When she finally dives into his body to question him, the Puppet Master convinces the Major to merge with him by appealing to her desire to be more than just a machine, their resulting combined consciousness granting him the offspring he so longed for.
- Innocence (2004): James Walkson is a LOCUS SOLUS employee who discovers the company implant girls' souls into sex robots for clients. Disgusted at the nigh-untouchable company, Walkson has some of the girls commit Murder-Suicides on their high-end clients to draw police attention. Killing himself to stage his death as a revenge killing after murdering the Yakuza head assisting LOCUS SOLUS, Walkson's efforts see the diabolical company exposed and the surviving girls saved.
- Most Wonderful Sound: The ringing bells of the Japanese wedding music that's used as the main theme of the first film. Bennett the Sage used them as a hint to how Manga Entertainment were able to recover after the release of Mad Bull 34.
- Narm: The overabundance of philosophical quotes in Innocence could be seen as one. It's as if one of the writers brought home a book of famous quotes and was determined to have the characters recite every last one.
- Paranoia Fuel: The possibility of having your brain hacked. In the second film, we get to see what the result of such hacking looks like from the victim's point of view. It's rather unnerving.
- This is also a psychological symptom of full-body prosthesis, due to the disconnection between a person's identity as their ghost and their artificial body. The Major in the first film in particular is quite paranoid about her origins, commenting that she sometimes worries that her ghost is that of a dead person put into a cyborg body, or that she isn't human at all, and has no way to really tell in any event, other than thinking that she is. With the aforementioned brain hacking, even that isn't a sure thing.
- Signature Scene:
- The Major jumping through a skyscraper window and camouflaging as she falls to the ground in her first story. There is no direct equivalent in the original manga, but after the 1995 movie used it, it became a mainstay of the franchise's visual style. Stand Alone Complex made variations of it and even the Scarlett Johansson movie used it.
- Another is the climactic scene where the Major fights the spider tank. This scene has been referenced in almost every adaptation in one form or another since then, usually with Motoko fighting some large mech and trying to tear a hatch off, getting one or both arms taken off, then having a robotic manipulator of some sort attempt to crush her head. Sometimes individually, sometimes all at once, but all make reference to the scene in some manner. The scene appears in the original manga, but in a different context and without the weight given to it in the adaptations. It lasts for about a page, and is treated as just one more day on the job.
- Superlative Dubbing: The original film's English dub (courtesy of Manga Entertainment) was one of the very first anime dubs to aim directly at an adult audience, contain excellent acting across the board, and have a script that was extremely faithful to the original Japanese with minimal use of extraneous profanity, a practice that was all too common back in the early-to-mid 90s, often used to supposedly make the product seem "edgier". The dub still holds up extraordinarily well today despite the many advances in dubbing courtesy of such shows like Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. It is so good that, in fact, when the remake Ghost in the Shell 2.0 was localized for English release, rather than create a new dub from scratch, the original 1995 English dub was reused wholesale with no changes. Now that is impressive.
YMMV / Ghost in the Shell (1995)