Ghost in the ShellGhost in the Shell (GHOST IN THE SHELL／攻殻機動隊, Gōsuto In Za Sheru/Kōkaku Kidōtai, lit. Ghost in the Shell/Mobile Armoured Riot Police) is a 1995 anime film directed by Mamoru Oshii; an adaptation of the manga Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow, produced by Production I.G, and written by Kazunori Itō. A sequel, Innocence, was released in 2004.
The movie begins with Major Motoko Kusanagi spying on a meeting taking place in New Port City. The meeting is interrupted by a Section 6 enforcement team, at which point Motoko kills a foreign diplomat in the meeting who is attempting to transport an important programmer out of the country.
In the next scene, Section 9 chief Daisuke Aramaki is introduced conversing with an official about programmers who are attempting to gain political asylum. The story then moves into the main plotline when Aramaki describes one of the minister's interpreters having had her brain hacked into by the mysterious "Puppet Master".
The hacker turns out to be a garbageman who is going through a divorce and attempts to ghost-hack his wife using a program provided to him by an individual who met him in a bar. Batou and Ishikawa arrive at the latest access terminal moments after the hacking attempt from it ends, failing to catch any suspect but also realizing that the locations from which the hack is performed correlate to the garbage truck route. When the garbageman finds out that the police are looking for him, he attempts to warn the person who provided him with the ghosthacking software. Batou and Kusanagi catch up to the man, who attempts to flee using therm-optic camouflage. Eventually, the fugitive is incapacitated by Kusanagi.
It turns out that the man is not the actual Puppet Master but only a ghosthacked "puppet" of the criminal. The garbageman whom he aided in ghosthacking has also been ghosthacked - in reality he did not have a wife or daughter, and all memories of them he possesses are false.
One night, a female cybernetic body is suddenly assembled at Megatech without approval, and the cyborg escapes into the city where it is run over. Section 9 gets the body to try and determine why it was built. Batou relates a strange fact: the body has not even one brain cell as it is completely robotic, yet there are indications that there is a ghost within it. Kusanagi expresses a wish to 'dive in' to the body and contact the ghost.
As they are talking to the body, Togusa realizes that someone with therm-optic camouflage entered the building along with the officials. He alerts Kusanagi, and they realise that Section 6 is up to something. The persons who entered with therm-optic camouflage assault the lab and snatch the ruined cyborg containing the Puppet Master. As they escape in their getaway car, Togusa shoots a tracking device from his revolver into its licence plate. Batou begins to follow them by car while Kusanagi follows by helicopter.
Ishikawa speaks with Aramaki after investigating further into Project 2501 - it turns out that the project was initiated before the Puppet Master showed up, even though it was claimed by some officials that the project was created in order to capture the Puppet Master. He hints that the Puppet Master was a tool of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to do its dirty work. The escape of the Puppet Master would be a threat to Section 6 and the ministry would risk having secrets leaked out to the public.
Soon, the getaway car carrying the Puppet Master meets up with another and they split off in different directions. Batou follows the original car and Kusanagi chooses to follow the second one. With the help of a road block and additional police, Batou stops the car and discovers it is a decoy. He then rushes to support Kusanagi.
Kusanagi follows the car to an abandoned building. There, she runs into a spider tank guarding the Puppet Master. With her assault rifle useless, she spends most of the fight running. When the tank runs out of ammo, she tries to break its hatch open. However, she is unsuccessful and severely damages her cyborg body. The tank attempts to deliver the coup de grâce, but Batou shows up in the nick of time with heavy weaponry and puts the tank out of commission.
It turns out that the Puppet Master's body has survived the firefight, and Kusanagi decides to "dive in" and contact its ghost immediately, as she believes that Aramaki would just use it as a bargaining chip. As they connect, the Puppet Master and Kusanagi's ghosts contact each other and the Puppet Master introduces himself once again. It confirms that it is Project 2501, a Section 6 project that has hacked ghosts to serve various interests.
During its time collecting data and installing programs into various ghosts, it had become self-aware. It tells them that it had been looking for Kusanagi for a long time, knowing of her through the many networks that it had hacked into. It is a sentient being because it can recognize its own existence but lacks two experiences that are granted to all living organisms: reproduction and death. As a solution the Puppet Master finally expresses its wish to merge its ghost with Kusanagi's in order to give birth to a new single entity. Batou attempts to disconnect the dive, but The Puppet Master has also hacked him and prevents the disconnection.
Meanwhile, helicopters from Section 6 approach the abandoned building with orders to destroy the Puppet Master and Kusanagi to cover up the project. Batou sees red dots on both bodies, but the snipers are unable to shoot because their targeting systems have also been hacked by the Puppet Master.
Kusanagi and the Puppet Master continue to talk about the merge, with Kusanagi expressing concern over the fact that both of them will change and no longer retain their current identities. She wants a guarantee that she will retain her identity, but the Puppet Master argues that there is no reason to keep with it, because her desire to stay unchanging within a dynamic environment is ultimately what limits her. Kusanagi finally agrees to merge, and the Puppet Master releases Batou and the snipers' targeting systems from its control. The snipers fire and the Puppet Master's braincase is destroyed, but Batou manages to shield Kusanagi's with his arm. Their primary objective eliminated and Section 9 support on its way, Section 6 beats a hasty retreat.
Kusanagi wakes at Batou's safehouse - in a child-sized cyborg body. Batou enters and informs her of what transpired since her original body was destroyed (approximately twenty hours earlier): the Foreign Minister resigned as a result of the conspiracy, and Nakamura (Section 6 leader) is being questioned. Batou put her mind into a new child-sized body as it was the best he could get on short notice on the black market. Motoko decides to leave, and reveals that she is no longer Kusanagi nor is she the Puppet Master, but rather some combination of the two. The film concludes with the new Motoko/2501 entity gazing at the city and musing on what it should do next — "The net is vast and infinite."