It has been a colossal 25 years since the world was first introduced to the cyberpunk future of Ghost in the Shell. Originally a manga series from Masamune Shirow, the series has spawned an entire franchise worth of related media including this unforgettable 1995 feature length classic simply titled Ghost in the Shell. With allusions to sci-fi masterpieces such as Blade Runner, it was no wonder that Ghost in the Shell became a hit in the West just as much as it was in Japan. What really makes Ghost in the Shell such an unforgettable experience however is what lies underneath, an exploration of the nature of identity and its inherent relation to belonging. With this remastered edition, Ghost in the Shell is brought back to life in gorgeous Blu-Ray format. So does it still hold up after all these years?
Ghost in the Shell has always been touted as one of the most thought-provoking anime stories ever put to the silver screen and after watching through this film for what is likely my 5th of 6th time now, I can say with complete clarity that it absolutely is. It worms its way into your brain, burrows a little whole for itself and keeps on asking you questions long after you have finished watching. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to have a sense of identity? These are questions explored by Ghost in the Shell at length and while the film ultimately comes up short on providing a solid answer that in itself is an answer. Identity is whatever you make it. Who you are is the culmination of every single experience and memory you have ever held and that idea is what embodies Motoko Kusanagi our cybernetic lead.
Motoko is an augmented cybernetic human who works for Section 9 as an investigator in cybernetics related cases. She struggles with somewhat of an identity crisis over the course of the film and her tanglings with the villainous Puppet Master hacker throw that even deeper into question. Just who exactly is she? Can she really qualify as a person? These are all questions that Ghost in the Shell leaves for the viewer to decide. An interesting note about Motoko is her frequent bouts of nudity throughout the film, I find it interesting that Ghost in the Shell handles the idea of nudity with a deft touch. Motoko has no shame of baring her body and therefore Ghost in the Shell never sexualizes her, rather she is more often than not freed by this. She feels comfortable that way and in a sense it is her most basic form and it is something she identifies with. Just an interesting thought really.
While the film does play mostly straight as a mystery thriller, there is times where it dives head first into some heavy political drama that can be rather tedious to wade through with long periods of exposition focusing in on the political plays from the government and their countless pawns in this society. It doesn’t really add a lot to the film and in fact detracts from the more compelling main plot of Section 9’s investigation of the Pupper Master case. I could have done without the political nonsense but I suppose to some it would add a bit more colour to this world should they care enough about the political positioning and movements in the background of this story.
The climactic final confrontation between Motoko Kusanagi and the Tank robot is unforgettable anime at its finest and still looks remarkable all these years later. Overall the film has made an excellent transition to Blu-Ray with this HD remaster. While it looks crisp and new it still bares the signs of old-school 90’s anime with traditional methods used at the time evident throughout. On top of that the audio seems to have been remastered as well and really brings this film to life. Its an awesome soundtrack through and through and easily one of the best in anime cinema ever.
Madman’s release of this 25th Anniversary Edition of Ghost in the Shell is a must have Blu-Ray for anime fans. Not only is the film gorgeously remastered in HD, the release comes with a collector’s art and information book that is jam packed with bonus content for fans of the film to sink their teeth into including an extensive in depth interview with director Mamoru Oshii.
Ghost in the Shell is a sci-fi anime classic. Still to this day many call it the benchmark for anime sci-fi and it really isn’t any wonder why considering how remarkable this film truly is. It is a thoughtful intelligent anime film that implores its audience to really dig deep and think about what it is saying. Not many anime treat their audience with the level of intelligence and respect that Ghost in the Shell does and it has garnered a following all over the world for it. Here we stand 25 years later still talking about the genius of Ghost in the Shell, I think that really says it all now doesn’t it?
Pick up a copy of this incredible 25th Anniversary Edition of Ghost in the Shell over at Madman’s Online Store.