Well hello there and thanks for reading. This special post will be the first of five in my review of Ghost In The Shell Arise all four ova’s and the movie that concludes the series Ghost In The Shell The New Movie.
These reviews have been a long time coming because I’m a die hard Ghost In The Shell fan of the entire franchise. Whether it be the original manga or the original anime movie. Plus the tv spinoff Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex which was a reimagining of the series and all the special spinoff movies that resulted from that including Second Gig which was the second season for Stand Alone Complex.
The movie is on my all time greats list of best anime movies of all time and is also recognized by film critics, anime fans, and animation critics in the same manner. It should be rightfully so considering Ghost In The Shell is importance in making anime more widespread. Elevating what was possible for the medium at the time it came out and is as much a behemoth as Akira was in influencing a generation especially in regards to animators and directors.
Not to mention it’s influence on the Scifi genre in general especially in regard to film and not just animated but live action science fiction movies.This would further be elevated almost a decade later when production I.G. would create Stand Alone Complex furthering the franchise and reimagining it in a new way after the two movies.
This tv series would end up doing a lot for anime. Pushing the limits of animation and storytelling steering the medium into a new age along with the likes of Cowboy Bebop and Evangelion. It also stands on my list of greatest tv anime of all time. Many tv sci-fi anime you enjoy owe their existence to Ghost In The Shell. Without it you wouldn’t see shows like Psycho Pass, Ergo Proxy, Serial Experiment Lain and I can go on and on.
Another thing to note is what it did for allowing representation of strong female main characters in anime. It set a precedent for its time in this regard. Especially since the Major Motoko Kusanagi is a complex well-developed female lead who passes the Mary Sue test.
A strong woman who can handle herself even with her vulnerabilities and is not in need of saving, or put as a romantic interest for the plot of the story because that’s what creators think females always want to see. A great many strong female leads in anime owe a lot to the major in Ghost In The Shell especially in regard to sci-fi and action anime.
It had been a while since there was something new in the Ghost In The Shell Franchise. More than a decade had passed and in that decade we as a society had grown in our use of technology and the Internet as envisioned in Ghost In The Shell is ever more apparent and prevalent if not quite exactly as it is depicted in the future but a future we could be heading too.
We are in a new age and time and with such what better than to do a new take on Ghost In The Shell. A more modern take in every way with improved animation and a new perspective on themes that made the old anime that came before legendary. Why not also make it an original story showing how section nine was formed and came to be.
Quite frankly a few years back I was excited when I heard of this new take on Ghost In The Shell. To my dismay, the franchise as a whole has kind of gone into obscurity among the younger generation of anime fans.
It’s also become a habit for people now a day to avoid shows with deep themes or that make you think. Even among those that are older teens or more mature in the early twenties. Attention spans are shorter and a lot of things take people’s attention as well as compete for it.I mention all this because this was the challenge facing the new creators of Ghost In The Shell. In a changed society they had to make a show that appealed to a new generation.
This was something I was completely aware of having seen the franchise as a whole kind of fade into obscurity and be talked about less and less. I knew there had to be a change but I still wanted that old Ghost In The Shell feel the essence of what made the franchise great.
It’s funny because Ghost In The Shell was one of those anime I didn’t like at first because when the tv show came out I was super young in elementary school and didn’t understand the themes and politics being presented to me.
Like many young people, I wanted a lot of kick ass action and I didn’t come to fully appreciate Ghost In The Shell till I was an older teen and rewatched it again. I was more mature and had different sensibilities. I could grasp way more than I could when I was in elementary or middle school.
Though this talk of the franchise has gone on long enough. You’re here for a review of the new series. It’s time to find out whether Ghost In The Shell Arise is a worthy successor or falls flat on its face. Well at least for this first ova so let’s begin!
So how does this work? I start with general information like the synopsis with a trailer to give you a visual feel for what I’m talking about. I list where you can stream it or buy it with links to those places including info on the creative team and studio working on the project.
After that, I start the overview which is my general review giving my thoughts and opinions on the show. I try to limit spoilers where possible for those that have not watched the show, but even people that have watched the show already can benefit.
My rating system is one through ten from terrible to excellent and is based off story execution, animation, music and sound, story progression, and character development.
Ghost In The Shell Arise Border 1: Ghost Pain
Set in the year 2027, a year following the end of the non-nuclear World War IV, a bomb has gone off in Newport City, killing a major arms dealer who may have ties with the mysterious 501 Organization. Public Security official Daisuke Aramaki hires full-body cyber prosthesis user and hacker extraordinaire Motoko Kusanagi to investigate, but on the case with her are “Sleepless Eye” Batou who believes Kusanagi is a criminal, Niihama Prefecture Detective Togusa who is investigating a series of prostitute murders he believes are related to the incident, and Lieutenant Colonel Kurtz of the 501 Organization who also wishes to keep an eye on Kusanagi.
Chief Director: Kazuchika Kise
Atsushi Takeuchi (ep 2)
Kazuchika Kise (ep 3)
Masahiko Murata (ep 1)
Susumu Kudo (ep 4)
Series Composition: Tow Ubukata
Tow Ubukata (eps 1-4)
Atsushi Takeuchi (ep 2)
Hiroshi Haraguchi (ep 3)
Kazuchika Kise (ep 3)
Masahiko Murata (ep 1)
Naoki Arakawa (ep 4)
Shunsuke Tada (ep 2)
Susumu Kudo (ep 4)
Episode Director: Takayuki Hamana
Original creator: Masamune Shirow
Character Design: Kazuchika Kise
Chief Animation Director:
You can stream all four OVA’S on Netflix
Places Where You Can Buy It Psychically
Comes with OVA 1 and OVA 2
Blue-Ray Price: $17.04
DVD Price: $15.37
Blue-Ray and DVD Double Set Price: $29.99
Where You Can Buy It Digitally
1.Google Play Japanese or English Dub
2.Amazon Video Japanese or English Dub
So let me first begin with story execution, story progression, and character development. As a prequel, it was interesting to see what the creative team of production I.G was going to come up with. A few the backstories of section nine had been touched upon in the previous incarnations of Ghost In The Shell but hadn’t been explored deeply. Not to mention details varied on specific things for each anime but that was to be expected because Ghost In The Shell is not a fixed franchise but one that has naturally evolved with different stories and Arise is no different.
The first character we are introduced to is Public Sections Security Chief Aramaki. The head of section nine that oversees their missions and gets funding from the government for it as an independent organization free of the bureaucracy that is the Japanese government and military industrial complex. Well, at least that is what we know from previous iterations. Since this is a prequel section nine doesn’t exist yet, but Aramaki is still head of public security.
It’s also worth it to note the first ova introduces our main leads that we all know and love but they aren’t yet who they will fully become when they are formed as a unit. Chief Aramaki still has the personality we are used to seeing and sounding the same in the English dub as he did in the older versions. He is a lot younger too though still quite a bit old.
Though in usual Ghost In The Shell style fashion something has gone amiss in the military sector of the government and Aramaki has been sent in to investigate. There digging up a dead body of military officer Mamoru that was facing charges of money laundering for the military but was murdered.
Turns out he was cyberized and they want his body to gain information about the laundering that was going on by hacking into his cyber brain which they can do since his memories can be stored digitally as data. At this grave scene, we see the major arrive who is there for the body as well having just arrived back in Japan.With a standoff ensuing and the realization, there’s nobody and they’ve been duped with a trap being set, Which they survive with the Majors help and then the story kicks off.
This first OVA is Ghost In The Shell through and through. Nothing is as it seems as we follow the Major as she tries to piece together Mamoru’s death and figure out why he was killed. All the while facing a fate of losing her body which is full cyborg except her brain because of his death.
Turns out he was a father figure to her and responsible for her full cyborg body. Being raised within the military as a weapon. He was going to have her body paid off from the government with his funds because unless you can buy back your body your government property.
This is interesting to note because in this installment it seems making parts of your body cyborg or full is a new type of technology that costs a lot and isn’t available to the public. This stands, in contrast, to stand alone complex where cyberization is a little more commonplace except for really advanced parts and abilities.
Since Mamoru is seen as a criminal his funds are void and held by the government meaning Major can’t get that pay off for her body and will be a military lapdog for the rest of her life as that is her only option. So there’s a lot invested in trying to solve this case personally.
The Major, unlike Aramaki, isn’t what we fully know her as in the other iterations yet. She is younger and brasher with less experience and this is further evidenced by the new look and design the artists and animators went for.
Even with that said their traces of the skills and personality that will make her a standout for section nine when it’s formed as well as the leader under Aramaki. With quick wit and intelligence as well as a penchant for recklessness she goes about solving the case. Along the way we meet a bunch of new characters who are part of her military unit, but whom obviously can’t be trusted and not exactly on her side. Not to mention the introduction of Togusa who is a normal human police investigator as always.
Just like in the other anime he has a penchant for justice and to do the right thing even under a rule that may obstruct the very thing he cares about because of government meddling. Out of all the main cast him and Batou were definitely most like their characters. They exuded the same feeling as the other iterations though Batou was a little less than friendly and you can see in this ova a glimpse of their history together and where the rivalry developed.
Batou is under another section of the military tasked with capturing the major because they believe she was responsible for the general’s murder. However, that’s all I’m going to divulge as to avoid spoilers because I want you to enjoy the story and try to figure it out among all the mysteries. Though it’s worth it to note the memory virus is of importance and will play a further role in this series of ova as a whole.
I’d also like to say we get a glimpse of the rest of the crew in their various roles before they left the police and military faction to join section nine. Overall the story was complex but not too much that you couldn’t follow and also not too much that the story would collapse in on itself.
The plotting is really good for a fifty-five-minute ova but I had some gripes. As I mentioned before this was going to be a new modern retelling and that is apparently obvious. There’s a lot more action which isn’t a bad thing and the older iterations had their fair share of fantastic action sequences.
The story feels Ghost In The Shell like, but it’s missing one thing that made the movies and tv series great. What it’s missing is a deep theme or themes interwoven in stories that really resonate on a deeper level about being human and humans in relation to technology and its advance.
Lets also not forget the personal feeling of our leads as they are confronted with these themes as they take form in various incidents and cases. Giving an emotion that I feel has a place in that world with how the characters react. Sure Kusanagi is facing a personal crisis, Sure the validity and questioning of her existence are explored, but it isn’t done deeply not like the other iterations.
It’s more a surface thing overshadowed by more action, plot, sleek animation, and the assumption that the audience has really short attention spans and can’t digest more. Or maybe we can blame the length of the ova and the fact that this is a shorter story. Though is that really an excuse look what the movie was able to do.
Though for now, I will reserve my judgement as there are things left unfinished in this ova episode and characters that might come into play later. It’s interesting how everything plays out all I can tell you is that section nine isn’t formed yet this episode.
There is still room to explore deeper themes especially the fact that the Major is a full cyborg since birth. Which is a drastic change of Ghost In The Shell canon and lore. I don’t think they would do something like that without going deeper because that drastically gives the Major a different outlook as a character and has potential.
Regardless Ghost in the shell Arise is still a pretty good anime and I think it does well for a modern update. One a younger audience can get into. It surely will entertain because it definitely didn’t bore me.
It’s a good start and regarding character development, it seems the only one who gets a significant amount is the Major. Though there’s room for the other characters to grow in the next ova installments. Now it’s time I get into animation and music. One word for the animation excellent! I would expect no less from production I.G. and boy they deliver. That’s the way it should be since their animation was stellar for Stand Alone Complex and second gig. Which to date is still one of the most expensive anime productions for an anime tv series.
The animation is crisp and fluid and it better be since it’s an ova. The art is more sleek and modern with a dark vibrant tone that unmistakably distinguishes this world in the Ghost In The Shell franchise from all the others, especially in the color palette. The fights and use of weapons are well executed and choreographed and man they go for a money shot in a final ending fight scene that brought back the action sequences of the movies and Stand Alone Complex Tv series. Overall it is definitely an upgrade and one I quite enjoy.
Now as for the music the composer went more experimental in the use of mixes, instruments, and beats he used for the soundtrack. It is good but man nothing still can beat Yoko Kanno’s score for the stand alone series. None the less it is still good and takes you into those crucial moments that you would expect from a Ghost In The Shell soundtrack.
One last thing to note is that I watched the OVA’S in English dub. The dubbing for Arise was really good and that’s what I was hoping for since Ghost In The Shell is also known for its English dub in the older iterations within the franchise. Funimation did not disappoint even with the new voice actors that replaced some of the old voice cast. Everything felt and still sounded like the characters we came to know and love from the previous versions.
Overall I really enjoyed the first ova for Ghost in the shell Arise. It’s definitely not a Stand Alone Complex or the original movie but it does what it was intended to do. Which is become a new modern retelling and who knows maybe with the other ova’s it can reach greatness.
The first ova of Ghost In The Shell Arise is worth your time money and investment. More reviews for the other part will be coming so be on the lookout. Overall I give Ghost In The Shell Arise Border 1 Ghost Pain an 8.5 out of Ten. Till next time bye!