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Ghost in the Shell returns with its fourth animated project Ghost in the Shell: Arise. Set in 2027, this new animated series is a prequel to previous animated outings and we get to see the beginnings of Motoko Kusanagi as she makes the moves from the 501 Organisation to the awesome Public Security Section 9 team that she heads up in the previous Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex animated series.

Ghost in the Shell: Arise
This first release features two episodes (or 'Borders', each just under an hour in length:

Border:1 Ghost Pain - While part of the 501 Organisation Motoko Kusanagi is sent into investigate the killing of a major arms dealer but her path crosses with the Sleepless Eye organisation (that includes Batou and Detective Togusa) and Motoko discovers a conspiracy to hide the truth.

And

Border:2 Ghost Whispers - Freed of her responsibilities with the 501 Organization and tasked with setting up a team for Section 9, Motoko Kusanagi must now learn how to take orders from Aramaki. Meanwhile a Logicoma is hacked and the city’s traffic system has been taken over. Batou and Borma join forces and go up against Motoko who has enlisted sniper Saito and undercover cop Paz into the new Public Security Section 9 team. The two groups rival each other in a case involving a man who receives false memories of a refugee transport operation but how is this all connected to the hacking taking place in the city?

Ghost in the Shell: Arise
So yeah, despite the new “prequel” set up Ghost in the Shell is still playing by those ever awesome Ghost in the Shell rules and pushing the science fiction, Human vs Technology themes ever onwards as the franchise always does. Considering Major Motoko Kusanagi one of, if not the best female character in all of sci-fi, initially I was a little worried about this new show because I didn't much like the “younger” Motoko with her punky new haircut and almost teenage physique or the idea we were leaving the established Section 9 behind. The Stand Alone Complex Motoko is pretty much perfection in terms of the character’s many evolutions over the years but honestly it didn’t take long into the first episode for this new redesign to act and feel entirely like The Major and I was very much back in and loving Ghost in the Shell.

Essentially this new show is focusing on Motoko even more than previous animated projects have. Following her early steps into Section 9 makes for some interesting stories it seems and there so far, seems to be a bit more focused on her cyber space conversations and interactions this time around, which falls a little bit more in line with some of the comic books over the years. Beyond that, Motoko is still kicking ass in the coolest ways possible.  

Ghost in the Shell: Arise
The first episode is more conversation based and very much a mystery to unravel as Motoko goes head to head with the people getting in her way. She gets a fair few moments that highlight just how cool and controlled Motoko is and there the obvious set ups to push Motoko towards Section 9 and the other characters she will soon be partnered with. The second episode really ramps up the action with Motoko tearing it up on her (Akira-esq) motorbike, riding along with her (ever adorable) Logicoma robot sidekick and generally flipping, fighting and shooting her way through whatever gets in her way whether it’s machine, man or, Batou??! Motoko vs Batou - now thats some great fighting to watch.

Once again Production I.G. have produced some stellar animation here. The story is grown up and gritty, the technology discussions far reaching and incredibly well presented and of course at the core of it all we have Motoko and she's every bit the great character she was from previous outings. So far Ghost in the Shell: Arise is fantastic and I can't wait for more instalments.

Ghost in the Shell: Arise

Video


The presentation here is sadly a bit soft and underwhelming. The image can also be a little hazy but a lot of the time that is due to the moody animation style rather than a failing on the DVD's part. Colours are good but the softness holds them back and as always Ghost in the Shell opts for a darker mood, so its a lot of royal blues and creams rather than flashy primaries, which holds the DVD back from really showing off.

The digital elements glow a fair bit better and add that electronic haze to the elements around them a fair bit. General the images softness holds back a lot of the pure blacks that I'm sure the HD presentation will deliver on and much of the beatiful hand drawn animation just doesnt pop with sharp edges like you'd want it to on this standard definition format.

Ghost in the Shell: Arise

Audio


The ominous score is well layered, full of lively beats and uses the front and rear speakers very well indeed. Dilaogue sits in the mix well and as always Ghost in the Shell has a very cool sounding stmosphere that makes the world quite uniquely GITS. Bass levels are fantastic either providing a thumping under current to the digital score or a constant rumble selling the weight of a vechicle or two.

This mix very much brings the world of Ghost in the Shell to life. There always a hum of machines or layered traffic to widen the sound field and every element tends to have a digital spin on it especially when conversing in cyber space with Logicomas or such other cool things. Dialogue is always strong and whether digitally enhanced or straight up human it's crisp and strong.

Ghost in the Shell: Arise

Extras



Disc 1
There's a lot of 'bits' on these extras but we start with a fairly lengthy  'Ghost in the Shell Arise at Anime Expo 2013 (20:25) which is a great overview of the franchise to date.

We move onto a 'Textless Opening' (01:01) a 'Logicoma Beat' (02:16) animated shortof sorts, and then a 'Promotional Video' (01:49).

Then there's a lot of ads. 'New Flash Type A' (00:34), 'News Flash Type B' (00:36) and the 'Theatrical Trailer' (01:28) as well as the 'Border:2 Teaser' (00:25).

Ghost in the Shell: Arise

Disc 2
The second disc features 'Cast and crew audio commentary' with animators, script adaptors and two key cast members, Bataou and The Major. It's an upbeat track and packed full of details on the project.
 
'Logicoma Court' (02:12) is another cute short, then there's more ads: 'New Flash' (00:48) and the 'Theatrical Trailer' (01:00) as well as 'Decode SOI File' (02:32).

'Border:1 Ghost Pain Cyberbrain Night Talk Show' (11:10) is a live Q&A with the crew. and the second part (10:54) is a live Q&A with the cast.

Then onto some more ads: 'Promotional Video' (01:40), 'Commercial, for Blu-ray and DVD spots' and a 'Surface X Ghost in the Shell Arise Another Mission' (02:55) which is a cool animated short / advertisement for Surface.

'Pacific Racing Team X Promotional Video' (02:04) is another bit of cross marketing and then we wrap up with a 'Textless Opening' and 'Textless Closing' and the 'US Trailer 6234' (01:47)

Ghost in the Shell: Arise

Overall


Ghost in the Shell: Arise is, so far, fantastic. The 'younger' Motoko does not reduce the impact of the character and these early days of Section 9 prove to be as well put together as the stories of the established team in previous projects. Ghost in the Shell continues to be the master commentator of all things future technology based and human's future interactions with it and the balance these discussions have with with kick ass action and great characters makes the franchise as exciting as ever.

The DVD sets, its a bit underwhelming visually but the audio track, especially on the second Border is very impressive. Extras wise, it's a lot of little adverts but the meatier stuff that's here are good watches. Ghost in the Shell is back! (now make a live action flick already!)

Ghost in the Shell: Arise


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