Ghost In The Shell Arise: Borders 1 & 2 (Blu-ray Review)

Ghost in the Shell Arise I totally missed out on the 25th Anniversary of Ghost in the Shell but it was reviewed here by our very own Aaron Neuwirth. The Blu-ray Gods smiled upon me and blessed me with this Ghost in the Shell Arise series – episodes 1 & 2. This is a two-disc collector’s set. Each episode is stored in its very own case, along with the DVD version, booklet, in a nifty collector’s box. FUNimation doesn’t play around when it comes to packaging and Arise is testament to it especially for being a 2-episode set spread out in two cases. I’ve got zero complaints, so read on and find out if Ghost in the Shell Arise is worth your time and money.  

Ghost in the shell arise


As I said in the opening paragraph of this review – I missed out on the Blu-ray release of the original Ghost In The Shell anniversary edition and had not kept track on the series but was excited when I received this deluxe set of the new series. First off, from what I gather, Arise seems to be a reboot – prequel to the main film and show. Motoko Kusanagi is much younger and hasn’t really “filled out” if you get my meaning. Whether that will come in the near future thanks to cybernetic augmentations or upgrades remains to be seen. It was a bit a confusing at first, because I thought they had redesigned her for the skinny-jeans crowd since she’s very thin. In any event, she’s our protagonist and has been experiencing bouts of confusion and phantom pains in one of her hands.

In the first episode she is hired to find out who is responsible for bombings that have been targeting various people throughout the megapolis she inhabits. Motoko, in this incarnation, is still a master hacker, so she uses her abilities to try and track down the mastermind of the bombing blasts. She’ll have to navigate an environment filled with political and corporate drama. She is still product and must obey the rules set up for her if she is to continue to receive proper maintenance. Pretty cool, huh. Episode 1: Ghost Pain is a pretty neat start to the new series and familiarizes the viewer just a tad bad on some historical elements from Motoko’s future self and some of those characters that are not on her side just yet – most notably Batou, who is convinced that she is behind the attacks. It makes for some amusing tension and whatnot.

Episode 2: Ghost Whispers is the episode where the famed Public Security Section 9 is formed featuring some very familiar faces and characters letting bygones be bygones. In this episode we have an organization that hacks every car in the city causing death and destruction, so we have the newly formed team out on the streets trying to take whoever is responsible down. In between the drama of all of this cyber-terrorism happening in the city there’s Motoko, who is trying to figure out how she came to be, what’s wrong with her AI brain, cybernetics, and what her ultimate purpose is.

Ghost In The Shell Arise lays a really cool science-fiction noir foundation early on and this tone makes its way through as we end the second episode. I’ve read a few reviews on the series and some of them have not been all that favorable – some are even calling it a “dull” series but I don’t really get that criticism. Yes, there are story elements that don’t involve shootings, martial arts, or explosions. Exposition, dialogue, and really cool animation from Production IG should more than make up for the lack of perceived action. I’ll let you in on a little secret…ready? There’s plenty of action. Yep, I went ahead and went against the grain!

Ghost Pain and Ghost Whispers are released in a very cool deluxe boxed set, with each episode presented in its very own Blu-ray (and the DVD versions are included here, too) a along with a collectible booklet for each detailing what went into the making of Arise and featuring some essays from folks that are much more versed in the world of anime than I could ever be. It’s a great package. Arise is ultimately planned for four episodes and those should be released soon. I can’t wait!



ghost in the shell arise


Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: The video on this Blu-ray is up to snuff and only retains a little bit of that pervasive haze that seems to litter around most anime releases. It’s not bombarded by haze but it’s not totally absent either. It’s as if contrast was boosted a bit, which is a big no-no here.

Depth: Depth of field is awesome especially when we have big scenery shots of the vast world that these characters inhabit. It’s Blade Runner redux in that respect.

Black Levels: Black levels are nice and rich in their complete absence of light – it adds to the feeling of dread since Arise is a pseudo-noir.

Color Reproduction: The color palette is a tad muted with exception to the red as you can see in the screen caps – Motoko’s red leather outfit being the main star of this colorful rainbow. It rocks. I love the aesthetic. Banding was not an issue.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: I did not detect any instances of noise, debris, or artifacts.

ghost in the shell arise


Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Dynamic range was great and didn’t sound as hollow as some of the anime material that I have reviewed in the past. That’s great – and Arise makes full use of the sound stage.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer kept a very nice pace with the goings-on as it only ever activated whenever there was actual LFE rumble.

Surround Sound Presentation: There are times when things travel from the rear to the front and vice-versa and the rear channels did well in their capturing of things that go bump in the back.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels were clean and clear, which was great, since Arise is more drama-heavy than an action packed romp. Kudos on that!


ghost in the shell arise


The extras on this set are spread out on two Blu-rays. This is more of a quantity of quality presentation in terms of special features content, because there’s tons of material here but most of it runs for seconds to a few minutes at a time. I think the audio commentary on the second Blu-ray is the best special feature in this set. The rest of the material is presented in high definition, so there’s that.

Disc One

  • Ghost in the Shell: Arise at the Anime Expo 2013 (HD, 21:17) features interviews with some of the creative staff as well as attendees.
  • Logicoma Beat (HD, 2:22) features the little robotic quadrupeds.
  • Promotional Video (HD, 1:53) – A promotional video for Arise. 
  • News Flash Type A (HD, :35) – A newsflash segment.
  • News Flash Type B (HD, :37) – A newsflash segment variant.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:32) – The theatrical trailer for Ghost In The Shell Arise. 
  • Border: 2 Teaser (HD, :26) – A teaser for the second episode.
  • Textless Opening (HD, 1:03) – Here’s the opening theme without subtitles.

Disc Two

  • Cast and Crew Audio Commentary – This is the audio commentary of the U.S. dub and features and entertaining group gathering from folks that are genuinely excited to have worked on the project as opposed to the usual mundane commentary sessions.
  • Logicoma Court (HD, 2:17) – Here’s a short clip featuring the lovable arachnid-type robots.
  • News Flash (HD, :31) – A news flash segment.
  • Decode 501 File (HD, 2:37) – A special background piece on the elusive 501 group.
  • Border: 1 Ghost Pain Cyberbrain I.G. Night Talk Show (HD, 11:10) – Here’s a Q&A session from 2013.
  • Border: 1 Ghost Pain Cyberbrain Cast. Night Talk Show (HD, 10:54) – Here’s part 2 of that Q&A session from 2013.
  • Promotional Video (HD, 1:43) – A promotional video.
  • Commercial (HD, :17) – A commercial for the series.
  • Blu-ray and DVD Spots (HD, :48) – Here are a couple of spots for the Blu-ray and DVD releases.
  • Surface X Ghost in the Shell Another Mission (HD, 3:02) – Here’s a promotional clip from Microsoft promoting their Surface product using Arise in the advertisement.
  • Pacific Racing Team X Ghost in the Shell Arise Promotional Video (HD, 2:06) – A promotional video for the Pacific Racing Team.
  • Textless Opening (HD,  1:04) – The opening theme song without subtitles.
  • Textless Closing (HD,  3:54) – The closing theme song without subtitles.
  • U.S. Trailer (HD, 1:44) – This is the U.S. dub of the American trailer, presented in high definition.


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I really didn’t want the show to end and thankfully there will be more to come sooner rather than later. Ghost In The Shell Arise is a great take on the character(s) and the fact that it builds on a slow burn (reminiscent of Innocence) for a nice sic-fi noir tale is what really made me like it that much more. This robust package contains some above average technical specs and some pretty nifty special features. I recommend this deluxe set and cannot wait until chapter 3 is released!



Order Ghost In The Shell Arise: Border 1 & 2 on Blu-ray

Ghost in the Shell Arise


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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