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Ghost In The Shell: 25th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

ghost in the shell whysoblu coverGhost in the Shell has arrived in a 25th Anniversary Blu-ray package, though that label is most definitely deceiving.  While I was happy to receive this film on Blu-ray, as I had never actually seen the acclaimed anime, this disc has its ups and downs.  On a positive note, this Blu-ray features a new video transfer and an upgraded audio track, compared to the last Blu-ray release.  On the downside, there are no special features whatsoever.  As it stands though, the film is what mostly counts and now having seen it, I am happy to agree with so many in regards to the high standing Ghost in the Shell has in the realm of classic anime features.

Film:

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Based on a manga of the same title, Ghost in the Shell was released back in 1995 (the manga originated in 1989, which is where the ‘25th Anniversary’ label comes in), but is set in 2029.  The world is a few steps further than we are now, as everything is interconnected by a vast electronic network, allowing for a variety of ways for governing bodies, among other sources, to keep track of people, let alone control what they think or even what they know.  This film focuses on a female cybernetic government agent, Major Motoko Kusanagi, who is tracking a hacker known as “The Puppet Master.”  This hacker has some secrets of its own, which involves taking over human hosts, but Kusanagi will be working hard to hopefully stop whatever threat it seems to be creating.

I used to say this a lot when it comes to anime, but I tend to be picky about it.  At this point, however, I would consider myself a big anime fan.  I may not be completely well-versed in the genre/animation, but I have certainly seen a great deal of it and have a lot of compassion for it and the filmmakers involved.  A lot of what I like and have come to appreciate about anime tends to stem from what I see in the animation, the story, and the level of weird it approaches.  At this point, I am more or less okay with the bizarre forms of anime stories; it just helps if I see it from the beginning.  Ghost in the Shell is actually pretty straight-forward in its storytelling, it just eventually becomes wrapped up in philosophical ideas, which could understandably throw some viewers off.  That said, while its short runtime is matched with a bevy of ideas, Ghost in the Shell never really lost me, as it played out.

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With that in mind, I love seeing films like this, which show me how much they have inspired other filmmakers.  The Wachowski Starship, in particular, has obviously taken much inspiration from this film, among other anime, as the majority of their career has been focused on putting out live-action anime (double-feature this film with The Matrix and you will know exactly what I am talking about).  Ghost in the Shell is brimming with ideas, but so much style is also clearly on display here.  The story is interesting and somewhat prophetic, but watching the action unfold, let alone seeing how it has been inspired by filmmakers like James Cameron, let alone filmmakers from much further back (I detected some noir-ish influences) adds some very cool layers to a film that could just as easily be written off as nothing but an exercise in style and sex appeal, if the viewer went no further than a trailer.

Really, I was quite in awe of what I saw in this film.  Not only was it quite heavy with analysis of a world that featured this series of interconnected ways to monitor individuals, the use of cybernetics, themes about identity, and other interesting ideas, it was also beautiful to watch.  The score for this film is great; the animation has a wonderful style that continues to please; and I find many reasons to want to watch the film again.  Ghost in the Shell holds up as the film I was hoping it would be, which is always nice to see.

Video:

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Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: While I have not seen the film, before this Blu-ray, I should note that this release bumps up the visual presentation from 1080i to 1080p, which is likely better, but the film still does show its age on Blu-ray.  While the general image is full of crisp details and clearly defined layers (I love the world’s design in this film), it is evident that this release is still not the ultimate representation of Ghost in the Shell on Blu-ray.

Depth:  I mentioned the world’s design and a lot of that praise comes from seeing the many animated locations and being able to really look into them, as they are presented; meaning there is a nice amount of depth present.

Black Levels:  Black levels are nice and deep.

Color Reproduction:  Some softer shots make the colors appear a bit faded in instances, but for the most part, lots of strong color work present, despite a palette that keeps vibrancy somewhat at a minimum.

Flesh Tones: It is animated, but the character details are well done.

Noise/Artifacts:  Various bits of debris are present.  Also, this presentation not only has black bars horizontally on top and bottom, but around the left and right sides of the frame as well.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English Dolby 5.1 DTS-HD, Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Again, based on what I know about the previous release, this lossless soundtrack is a nice upgrade in theory, as it is a fine step up from PCM 2.0 soundtracks.  This does only apply to the English track, however, but as I enjoyed the dubbing quite a bit (sometimes an issue), I had no problem listening this way and hearing the full extent of a very dynamic world.

Low Frequency Extension:  Action scenes offer some nice moments to really play into the LFE channel, which is quite nice.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The world of this film is benefited by some many types of sound in a given scene, which is helped by a strong balance in the surround sound area.  The score, action, sound effects, and other noises all come across quite well, while allowing for little details to be picked up throughout in the audio design.

Dialogue Reproduction:  There is a good amount of dialogue and it came through clearly.

 

Extras:

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Unfortunately, aside from a booklet that contains two interesting essays about the film and the filmmakers, this release has no bonus content.  It is a shame, as the previous release of Ghost in the Shell 2.0 had the version of the film seen here as a bonus feature, along with some featurettes, but this time, it is just the original film and nothing else.

Features Include:

  • Zilch

Summary:

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The lack of any features really drops this score down, but for those interested in having the best-looking and sounding version of the original Ghost in the Shell on Blu-ray, short of importing a copy that could be considered better, this is your best bet.  As I have only recently become a fan, I was quite pleased with the film that I saw, and it helps that the technical presentation was solid.  I would have liked to learn more about this film through actual special features, but for now I guess I have to take what I can get.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

1 Response to “Ghost In The Shell: 25th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Eric Ashley

    This is one of my favorite anime movies. It, in fact, is what got me started on watching films of this nature. Disappointed, though, that the “25th Anniversary Edition” has no extras at all. Even if they couldn’t get the stuff from past DVDs, there is enough of a following for it to warrant some new supplemental material, I would think, as it is one of most popular and recognizable animes around.