How watching Japanese anime Ghost in the Shell changed the life of a Hong Kong eyewear brand co-founder
- Ghost in the Shell, directed by Mamoru Oshii, is a highly acclaimed anime from 1995 on the subject of humanity and tech augmentation
- Sons + Daughters eyewear brand co-founder Calvin Yu was inspired by the visual aesthetics and style, and the designs of his glasses reflect this
One of the most influential and widely acclaimed animated movies of all time, Ghost in the Shell (1995), directed by Mamoru Oshii, tells a story set in the near future of a public security agent who has augmented her brain technologically, and her hunt for a mysterious neurological hacker.
Based on a manga of the same name, it is admired both for its ravishing animation and its thought-provoking examination of the nature of humanity and identity.
Calvin Yu, the Canada-born, Hong Kong-based co-founder of children’s eyewear brand Sons + Daughters, tells Richard Lord how it changed his life.
I saw it soon after it was released, and not in a cinema. At that time there was no internet, so you had to find out about things in other ways. I used to be a graffiti writer, and I guess I stumbled upon it, probably through graffiti-writing friends who were into it.
This movie has had a huge impact on me. As a creative person, it’s constantly ingrained in my memory. I use it as a reference for how I see the world. It’s inspired me throughout my life, it still does, and I think it’s something that will forever be an inspiration.
It translates into so many ideas I have for my own business; the aesthetic and style have certainly influenced me in my daily creative work. The glasses we make are very futuristic.
I’m probably most inspired by the visual side of things – with this film, I was impressed first by the attention to detail they put into animating it. I didn’t understand so much of the story when I first saw it. Now, I see so many layers, and how it relates to the modern world and the current state of the world, and how it predicts the future: the politics, AI, the monitoring of people.
What Sons + Daughters does, creating eyewear, that’s a basic extension – a way of being accentuated physically. It plays into the movie’s theme of cybernetics. We’re creating extensions of ourselves.
I’m a big sci-fi fan but not really a huge anime or manga fan. I’m constantly drawn to the sci-fi predecessors of this film, like Blade Runner, 2001, even Metropolis. I’ve also recently realised how much influence Ghost in the Shell has had on so much sci-fi since then.
After I first saw it, I didn’t watch it again for more than 10 years. I came to Hong Kong in 2001. I didn’t realise before I watched it again recently that all the landscapes and urban architecture are inspired by Hong Kong. It makes me a little bit proud to see it represented that way.
When I was young, it probably shaped my view of Hong Kong. My family emigrated from here in the 1960s and I only had an idea of Hong Kong through movies. I still see it when I’m taking a tram at night – that vision of the future.