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Techno/Human: The Films Of Mamoru Oshii

On the occasion of our In Conversation With... session with Mamoru Oshii, we screen some of the finest films from the anime visionary’s extraordinarily multi-faceted career.

Supporting Partner:

Japan Foundation logo

Community Partner:

Anime North

Launched into the international spotlight with his masterful 1995 manga adaptation Ghost in the Shell, the multi-talented writer, director, mangaka and novelist Mamoru Oshii has become recognized alongside Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies) and Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira) as one of the most vibrant and unique talents in animated film. A rare example of a supremely cerebral director with a gritty, excitingly visceral sensibility, Oshii combines speculative technology and classical philosophy with heavy-duty action. And while it might seem incongruous, or a little pretentious, to find a cyborg cop suddenly quoting Descartes and Aristotle, Oshii certainly isn’t lacking for a sense of humour. Even his most far-flung flights of fancy are anchored by a sly streak of observational comedy and down-to-earth self-mockery—evidenced most often by the repeated appearances of his beloved pet basset hound (or animated facsimiles thereof) throughout his films. 

Although he has yet to attain the profile that Miyazaki now enjoys in the West, it is hard to overstate the impact that Oshii has had on the state of contemporary cinema—and not just animated cinema. As a writer, he has launched some of Japan’s most internationally successful cross-media franchises, such as the Kerberos Saga and Patlabor. As a director, his Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence made history when it became the first (and to date the only) anime feature ever accepted into the prestigious Competition section at Cannes. He has been at the forefront of embracing and promoting state-of-the-art new cinematic technologies, and he helped fundamentally transform the entire business model of Japanese animation when he directed the very first OVA (original video animation) project, whose direct-to-video strategy subsequently became the standard for the industry as a whole. In all these guises, however, Oshii remains what he has always been, a phenomenally gifted storyteller driven by a pair of perennial questions: “What does it mean to be human?” and “How cool is it to blow stuff up?!?”

—Todd Brown

Ghost in the Shell introduced by Mamoru Oshii

Ghost in the Shell introduced by Mamoru Oshii

Mamoru Oshii introduces his visionary 1995 anime masterpiece.

The Sky Crawlers introduced by Mamoru Oshii

The Sky Crawlers introduced by Mamoru Oshii

Anime genius Mamoru Oshii introduces his most recent animated feature.

Patlabor: The Movie

Patlabor: The Movie

A special branch of the Tokyo police uses a fleet of giant automatons to combat robot-related felonies, in the first feature-length outing for the long-running manga and anime franchise.

Patlabor 2: The Movie

Patlabor 2: The Movie

The original Patlabor squad reunites to investigate a terrorist bombing that may be the prelude to a coup, in Oshii's second feature entry in the much-loved giant-robot franchise.

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

Oshii's long-awaited sequel to his 1995 classic made history as the first anime film ever accepted into competition for the Palme d'Or at Cannes.