Blu-Ray Review: Ghost in the Shell 25th Anniversary Edition (1995)

Posted by Retrokaiser On Sunday, December 7, 2014 0 comments

"Ghost in the Shell: 25th Anniversary Edition" is the new high definition re-release of the classic science fiction animated film, "Ghost in the Shell".  "Ghost in the Shell" is about an android named Motoko Kusanagi whom is also known as "Major" due to her rank.  Motoko is part of a secret police force known as "Section Nine" whose sole purpose is to take on the tougher missions and cases that the other police teams can't handle...  Actually they do tackle some cases the other teams can handle but they can do it in a much better way.  After completing  a mission we see that Section Nine are soon back at work on a very tough case.  This tough case is about them trying to capture a master hacker known as "Puppet Master" who hacks people with cybernetic parts into doing some of his dirty work such as: Stock manipulation and terrorism.  Some news has also struck that Puppet Master is currently in the city where Section Nine are based thus their chances of catching him or her is much better than normal.  Can Motoko and Section Nine catch Puppet Master or will they be hacked themselves before they can find his or her trail?  (Click "Read More" to read the full review).

Why is this release is marked as the "25th Anniversary Edition" when this film is actually on it's "19th Anniversary"?  The answer to that is very simple as it's actually referring to the "25th Anniversary" of when this series started as a whole from all the way back when the comic/manga first started back in 1989.  With that said the title of this release is very, very confusing so maybe this should've just been called "Anniversary Edition" even "20th Anniversary Edition" would've been more acceptable as it's close enough to the year 2015 anyway.  But now that we've got that out of the way, onto the review (even though this paragraph is part of the review).

The story in this film is written well and you'll find yourself having your eyes glued to the screen from start to finish.  The drama in this film is very deep and interesting with well done uses of philosophy and by well done I mean that they made it interesting and simple enough to understand.  I'm typically not a fan of the use of philosophy in media as it is typically used in a very, very, veerryy pretentious way and for this film to get me to enjoy that element is a huge thing.  Philosophy isn't the main reason why the drama is good though as the main reason is the characters themselves (to which I'll get to a bit later).  I like the setting of this film as while it's a sci-fi at heart you'll find that the city setting is much closer to a real life modern day city.  The technology used is pure sci-fi and I liked how it was blended together as it gave me a feeling that this technology could end up being the real thing in the future (a man can dream of using cloaking devices to sneak into cinemas for free).

The action in this film is really well done with a mixture of martial arts and gun fights that all make for some very exciting stuff that'll keep you on the edge of your seat.  I quite like how the drama and action scenes are evenly used to where you are getting 50% action and 50% drama as you don't get any scenes that are dull nor boring.  Another thing is that the action or drama scenes wouldn't have worked if it weren't for the characters as they are really well done.  All of the characters were very interesting and had unique personalities plus I did like the mysterious nature of the main characters as it'll get you thinking about on what they were like before Section Nine...  I wouldn't like to see a film about that though as it'd just ruin my immersion.  The most interesting characters are the criminals they track down as they had a lot of charm and very interesting personalities... Well nearly all of them as there was one that didn't have a personality at all.

This isn't the first time this film has been released on blu-ray as it came out early-on in blu-ray disc releases in Japan only and was one of the first anime released on blu-ray and was also back from when HD-DVD (HA!) was around.  That release was decent but it did have it's problems like not being in proper widescreen.  The second release was "Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (2008)" and that was more of a remaster if George Lucas got his hands on it, while it looked good (not great mind you) it did have some unnecessary use of 3D animation.  So if the first release was "too soft" and the second release was "too hard" that could only make this release "just right", right?  This release looks absolutely spectacular as the picture quality looks so crisp and clean, in proper widescreen, uses all of it's original footage, that makes this version the best by far that is available to the home market.

Art-work in this film looks spectacular with a dark and mysterious look and has very detailed city backgrounds that will impress you.  The designs of the character are really good and are pure classic to where they'll become some of your favorite designs of all time (useless knowledge: I myself want to get a huge tattoo of "Major Kusanagi" on my back).  I also loved the designs of the technology ranging from the everyday vehicles like cars and all the way to the crazy futuristic looking tanks.  Some of the android characters also have a dark disturbing element like how wires pop out of them instead of blood and how their eyes have a blank stare.  The dark and disturbing look is also very brilliant as while the androids have a blank expression you can also tell that there is a lot going on in their minds at the same time and it was amazing that they were able to pull that off.  There are some minor uses of 3D computer generated animation and it hasn't aged well at all, I can't dislike the way they used it though as the 3D models were used very appropriately.  Animation in this film has aged a little bit but still looks anything but bad and actually still looks very great.

The English dub in this film is really good with superb voice acting that works well with the characters.  This edition also uses the original English dub (and original Japanese dub for that matter) unlike the previous release of this film, "Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (2008)", had an all new dub and all I can say is that this is the superior English dub (not saying the newer dub was bad) and I'll go as far to say that this is one of the best English dubs you'll ever hear.  The way they used sound in this film was pretty cool as they used depth in a proper way to where if someone is talking from the back of a truck to the driver of that said truck it actually sounds like someone is talking from the back of the truck.  I both liked and disliked that as I like how it added detail but it also felt a little pretentious.  The soundtrack to this film is very good and has a sound that isn't typically found in science fiction films but it worked really well with every single scene.

I was a bit disappointed that the disc is pretty bare bones and has no special features on it, that's surprising due to this release celebrating such an monumental anniversary.  That's not to say that this release doesn't come with anything special as this release does come with a book that contains an interview with "Mamoru Oshii" (the director), a history on the universe of "Ghost in the Shell", and a small article about how this film made an impact on the anime scene.  The interview was a little slow as there was a lot of uninteresting filler that doesn't add anything to your knowledge.  The rest of the articles were much better as they drew you in with interesting trivia but there is also some trivia that is pretty common knowledge to anime fans but that doesn't take anything away from the read one bit.  You do need to hurry though as this booklet will only be in the first pressing of this release so you better get this as this booklet is the only special features that this edition of the film has.

Overall if you haven't seen this film yet, this is a good place to start as while this is a very bare bones edition it's also the best looking version of this film so far.  I'll even recommend this release to those who have owned the previous releases of this film for the same reason.  This film is very good and still hold up very well in this modern day and age.  Dump all your old releases at a cheap second hand store (except maybe the "Special Edition" of the old DVD edition) as this is the version of the film you'll want and need.  Classic.

Title: Ghost in the Shell 25th Anniversary Edition
Animation/Production Studio: Production IG
Genre: Animation/Anime, Action, Sci-Fi, Crime
Running Time: 82 minutes
Distributor: Madman Entertainment
Rating: M15+ (Moderate animated violence, moderate coarse language, nudity)
Price: $34.95
Recommended: Yes


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