The Future Is Here
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Stunning Shots of the Real-Life Hong Kong Locations Featured in Ghost in the Shell

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

When adapting the Ghost in the Shell manga into an anime film, director Mamoru Oshii chose to turn the real-life streets of Hong Kong into a hyper-stylized, dreamlike city of the future. What's astonishing is that Oshii captured the real Hong Kong so well in his submerged metropolis.

David at Randomwire went and found what appear to be some of the real locations featured in Ghost in the Shell, and took comparison photographs. The contrast between the Hong Kong of 2029, as imagined in 1995, and the Hong Kong of 2011 is pretty fascinating — but so is how much you can recognize the film's locations in David's pictures. Here's a "mise en scene" from Ghost in the Shell which especially captures the feel of Hong Kong — although that low-flying plane is definitely an artifact of the ridiculously-close-to-Kowloon Kai Tak Airport, which shut down in 1998:


David's post quotes the film's art director, Takeuchi Atsushi, as saying:

Ghost in the Shell does not have a definite chosen set, but in terms of street scenes and general atmosphere, it is obvious that Hong Kong is the model. Such a choice has, of course, something to do with the theme: on the streets there flows an excess or a flood of information, along with everything this excess brings out. The modern city is swamped with billboards, neon lights and symbols…. As people live in this information deluge, the streets will have to be depicted accordingly as being flooded…. There is a sharp contrast between old streets and new ones on which skyscrapers are built. My feeling is that these two, originally very different, are now in a situation where one is invading the other. Maybe it is the tension or pressure that is brought about by so-called modernization! It's a situation in which two entities are kept in a strange neighboring relationship. Perhaps it is what the future is.


Here are a few of David's more striking comparisons between his photos and the original film:

Tons more at the link. [Randomwire, thanks Madeline!]