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Avalon: illusions of the higher order


You might say that Avalon is about addiction to MMO games which forces people to get lost in virtual reality because they are dissatisfied with their lives, and there is no principal difference between the perception of reality and illusion. But author's name (Mamoru Oshii) tells us that the movie should be a little bit deeper, and it indeed is. The guide to its depths is the legend of Avalon, a mysterious island where king Arthur had found his final resting place. It leads us through the chain of illusions which goes beyond the virtual reality and touches themes of some fatal flaws of certain social orders along with the place of art in them. But let's look at the virtual reality first.

Ghost in the Shell: only diversity wins in the game of evolution


The new GitS OVA (Arise) and the adventures of Edward Snowden is a good opportunity to dip the probe into holy cow of the cyberpunk genre: the "Ghost in the Shell" franchise. The franchise includes the following most notable works:
  1. [1] Angel's Egg by Mamoru Oshii (1985)
  2. [2] The original manga by Masamune Shirow (1989)
  3. [1] The original movie by Mamoru Oshii (1995)
  4. [3] The Standalone Complex TV by Kenji Kamiyama (2002)
  5. [3] The Standalone Complex TV 2nd GIG by Kenji Kamiyama (2004)
  6. [1] GitS Innocence movie by Mamoru Oshii (2004)
  7. [3] GitS SAC: Solid State Society movie by Kenji Kamiyama (2006)
  8. [1] GitS 2.0 (renewal of the original movie) by Mamoru Oshii (2008)
  9. [3] Arise OVA by Kazuchika Kise (2013)
The number in square braces is the "lineage". Although the lineages incorporate common setting and characters, they are diverse by offering totally different stories, so each lineage is a totally different work disconnected from the others. You may wonder, why I've included the "Angel's Egg" movie into the franchise, but it may be clear from the feathers at the image above. Basically, the both Oshii's GitS movies being taken together is "Ange's Egg" staged in the world of GitS, the other lineages are not connected to Angel's Egg in any way. Since the lineage #3 is made by the authors (including Dai Sato) who tend to use the straightforward filming language, there is almost nothing to discuss because everything is clear. Below I'll try to discuss mostly only Oshii's works, because Oshii prefers a complex figurative manner of expression. A lot of spoilers, of course. If you are not familiar with GitS, it's better to follow the lineage order.

Aku no Hana: to make a right choice


If not so annoying main character, this probably would be not bad show in the terms of screenplay. And it even would be possible to enjoy it despite of, hmm, roto peculiar graphics. But it's a mystery, was the excessive doubtfulness of the main character director's choice, or it's an inherent part of actor's personality. May be all this was needed to add a sense of cold "hyperrealism" into the cozy upcountry atmosphere to make it look boring and annoying? It seems, that this "hyperrealism" shown up in the characters' characters and the ways how they estimate each other is the thing which makes this controversial show interesting.

The Last of Us: to make a right choice


The hardest puzzle in this beautiful and touching story is the words Joel said Ellie at the very end. There are at least two ways to treat them: this may be the truth or this may be a lie. But this may be the truth and a lie at the same time. Let's see, how this can be. [spoilers]

Psycho Pass & Shinsekai Yori: a just social order is possible. Somewhere at Lothlorien. Probably.



It's hard to reason about the social justice, and it's even harder to put it into practice. The general formula is that someone's freedom should be limited to achieve some kind of equality or order. Probably, a story about an absolutely fair society would be boring, and no one would author such stories, even if a way to build a utopian society would be known. Undoubtedly, the authors of the both stories discussed below tried to show us what a society may appear from particular limitations of freedom, and in the both cases the result is hardly fair. Let's try to sort out the details [spoiler warning].

A Short Vision of the Sky Crawlers


Like most of the other works of Mamoru Oshii the Sky Crawlers give you a feeling of dissonance at first, and you're wondering what these guys are doing, why they are doing this, and what the hell they are talking about. But the more times you watch it, the more beautiful it gets, and finally you understand why that girl moves her face so strange or why this guy smiles so bittersweet. "Every day could be your last. Live life like there's no tomorrow.", says the slogan. One of the last moments of the movie raises a question, though, whether or not you should do so. Below is the answer I've got [spoiler warning].

The world as a cellular automaton or a simple definiton of consciousness


The question about what the consciousness is is probably as old as time, and the time itself somehow should be related to this phenomenon. Among the others, the religious tradition of Zen Buddhism contains probably the most profound insights on this account claiming that the consciousness is a some fundamental process of nature, but it does not answer the question itself. On the other hand, Roger Penrose offers the hypothesis that the consciousness may be a result of some non-computational physical processes in the depth of our neurons, because brain is somehow able to solve problems which are proven to be not solvable algorithmically (e.g. the halting problem). But actually, it may be a very simple process which differs from understanding and reasoning, and it closely related to the question about how our universe is constructed and what the time is. Let's see how Zen teaching combined with some scientific views of the universe may give an answer to this question and produce an interesting picture of the world.