Blu-ray/DVD, Reviews

“Ghost in the Shell” Still Exciting, Now with Steel Packaging

 

Collectors of Manga graphic novels and lovers of Japanese anime, the Mondo Steelbook blu-ray of Ghost in the Shell has been released for home video in a special steel case with a sheath. Awesome looking and perfect sized to fit easily on your shelf, the film itself features 1080p widescreen with a 1:78:1 aspect ratio. Those of you who know how special the title is will probably have already seen the film. But those who are just getting into it, Ghost in the Shell started a wave of futuristic films with high intense action and memorable characters back in 1995.

About the movie: It’s the year 2029 and the corporate networks have taken over the Earth with their optical and communication lines, but the world’s society has not yet been hyper computerized to erase nations and races. The first scene opens with Major Motoko Kusanagi (voiced by Atsuko Tanaka) of Scetion 9 using her hacking device to listen in on a conversation between government officials and a person seeking asylum. They mention a secret project 2501.

Just then she gets word that section 6 is making a raid on the meeting and Major Kusanagi dives into action. Making up her team are two cyborg men Batou (Akio ?tsuka) and Ishikawa (Yutaka Nakano), and their human team member Togusa. They are a team of elite crime fighters with weapons that more than equal their perpetrators. As the smoke clears, following the raid the government official intervenes allowing diplomatic immunity. So begins a tale of treachery, computer terrorism and cyborg police action.

Batou and Major Kusanagi

The animated movie is packed with thrills, excitement and even a bit of comic relief. If you are not familiar with Director Mamoru Oshii’s work you may want to check out Avalon for its gamer story or The Sky Crawlers, both closely following his animation style with stories for the over 17 crowd. Here, probably his best work, we find his flat screen animation with a lot of cool special effects.

The characters are the attraction in Ghost in the Shell. It’s a sci-fi adventure surrounding the use of computers and their powers. At the time the comic book was developed in the late 1980’s computers were still in their infancy using megabytes instead of the gigabytes we work with today. The writer Masamune Shirow, known for the “Ghost in the Shell” franchise and manga comics shows a likeness of a future run by high tech computers and with cyborgs that were fueled by them. He has great vision and it transfers nicely to the big screen predicting a future not too long from 2017.

Location for the film is somewhere in Asia

While there has been a number of spin-offs and sequels to Ghost in the Shell, there’s still nothing like the original. The art work is truly breakthrough featuring cyborgs in a titanium shell with brain cells that are graphically identical to humans. Pictured as voluptuous, shrewd and muscular, Major Motoko Kusanagi commands the screen with her tough personality and powerful abilities. Her cybernetic powers play a big role in the film, much like some of the “super” non-cybernetic women as Uma Thurman’s performance in Kill Bill or Sofia Boutella as Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service.

Ghost in the Shell has not been rated by the MPAA but the box suggests 17+. The film contains extreme violence, nudity, language and brutality that should only be viewed by mature adults. There is a choice for languages, but the best one I find is the Japanese with English subtitles to get a pure feeling of the author’s intentions. The English language Americanizes it a bit too much and even changes the intent at times.

The only disappointment is the lack of the “Making of” and “Guide to Ghost in the Shell” bonus features that accompany the 1998 DVD version.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A cool film that should be on the top of the list for Japanese animation and Manga collectors.

Specifications and additional video information:
Cast: Atsuko Tanaka, Akio ?tsuka, Iemasa Kayumi, Yutaka Nakano and Tamio Ôki
Director: Mamoru Oshii
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, contains violence, nudity,
Genre: Animation, Sci-fi, Adventure, Crime
Running Time: 1 hr. 22 min.
Video Release Date: March 14, 2017
Original Theatrical Release Date: March 26, 1996
Language: English, Japanese
Reviewed Format: Blu-ray
Audio: Dolby Digital DTS-HD 5.1
Video: Widescreen 1080p, Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
Subtitles: English
Number of Discs: 1 Disc plus Digital HD Ultraviolet
Distributed by: Anchor Bay

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 11 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at jdelia@acedmagazine.com