Ghost in the Shell falls into Uncanny Valley

Directed by Mamoru Oshii, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is a 2004 computer-animated science fiction. Happening in 2032, a lot of gynoids – doll-like sex robots are abandoned by their owners. They decide to revenge for being polluted. When Public Security Section 9 cybernetic operative Batou and his team finds gynoids’ crimes, they tear up their skin and expose their creepy and colorful interior structure to the sun. This scene perfectly fits Uncanny Valley hypothesis: “increasing humanlikeness of an appearance of a robot we can also increase affinity with it. However, when a robot’s appearance becomes a nearly perfect human representation but is still distinguishable from it, people’s emotional reaction instantly becomes strongly negative.”


Gynoids are perfect creatures of future technology, has an entirely similar appearance with human beings that it is impossible to tell whether they are artificial intelligence. Although it is a science fiction happening in the future, it hints Oshii’s concern about the ontology of defining human beings. Once he said,  characters in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence are all people, including robots. In other words, he means that, distinctions between human beings and artificial creature are blurred. As well as the shock for Batou, the audience gets shocked by that scene either.

Gynoids are also an important motif in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence; many have “spirits” of some sort, but at the same time are not quite human. They are based on the art of Hans Bellmer, a dollmaker famous for his disturbing, erotic ball-jointed female dolls. It could be said that involvement of Uncanny Valley hypothesis is a reflective trick which director hides in the film.


Silvio, Carl. Refiguring the Radical Cyborg in Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell. Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1, 1999 (Mar), pp. 54-72.

Monnet, Livia, ‘Anatomy of Permutational Desire: Perversion in Hans Bellmer and Oshii Mamoru,’ Mechademia 5 (2010), 285-309


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