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I'm looking to trace back an old anime that has artistic quality akin to Ghost in the Shell. The premise is the human race is in a post-apocalyptic scenario in which the enemy are these spectral-like monsters which can flow through walls and basically kill humans just by phasing through them.

I remember two scenes from the film

  1. a group of soldiers on a cargo plane get surprised by these monsters (which look like huge, long, dragon-like but with any wings really) - the soldiers get phased through by the monsters and die.

  2. a special unit returns from a mission - they had to fight some of these spectral beasts and one of the soldiers got infected by some of the spectral entity or whatever - he was placed in a special machine where a scientist basically has to perform a rapid surgery using his system to target the foreign entity wreaking havoc on the soldier and killing it by means of some kind of photon beams.

Anyway, that's all I remember. No magic. Can't remember where the monsters come from, or how humanity was planning to eradicate them. Definitely post-apocalyptic (in the scene where the soldiers are flying over. you can see the remains of skyscrapers amidst what has become a sand-swept desert.)

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  • "old anime that has artistic quality akin to Ghost in the Shell" — Ghost in the Shell is 2D, but you're asking about a 3D CGI movie, aren't you?
    – enkryptor
    Mar 20 '20 at 12:38
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There is a strong possibility that this could be Final Fantasy; The Spirits Within.

It was released in 2001 so more or less fits your time frame, explicitly features a post apocalyptic setting and glowing spectral monsters that can kill via physical contact.

The opening ten minutes describes a scenario almost exactly as you suggest with a special ops team fighting these beasts, a cargo plane type aircraft and one of the team members becoming infected.

Scene where the special ops team fights the beasts

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    Yup, this is definitely the film described - there’s a scene later on where their drop ship (looks like a cargo ship on the inside) is attacked and several soldiers have their souls ripped out in the manner described.
    – Moo
    Mar 19 '20 at 6:22
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    The interesting thing with this is that it was the first all-CGI film which was promoted as being photo-realistic (well before Avatar). It was very obvious at the time though how far away it was from truly being realistic. It falls firmly into Uncanny Valley due to unrealistic skin textures, unrealistic body shapes/dynamics, and some very dodgy physics at times. So it's interesting that with 20 years history, the OP can easily class this as "anime", compared to how it was promoted at the time.
    – Graham
    Mar 19 '20 at 15:24
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    @Graham well, TBH the first time I saw pictures of this movie before it came out I really believed they were photos instead of rendered characters, so yeah, for its time it was photo-realistic
    – Josh Part
    Mar 19 '20 at 18:12
  • @JoshPart Yes, they were very careful about the promo pictures they released! I think individual frames being kind of realistic is not the same as the entire film being photo-realistic though.
    – Graham
    Mar 19 '20 at 19:03
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    @Mast Which is one of the main reason the movie bombed. It's a 1h45 sci-fi movie in a post-apo Earth, could harldy be more away from a 50h+ fantasy RPG franchise.
    – Berthim
    Mar 20 '20 at 9:32

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