Blu-Ray Review: Ghost in the Shell Arise Part 1 (2013)

Posted by Retrokaiser On Tuesday, November 3, 2015 0 comments

Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Part One is the first volume that contains the first two chapters of this exciting new revision of the Ghost in the Shell universe. This special series explores the early days of the Section Nine crew in a time before they were in the Section Nine. In this volume you'll see a younger and more inexperienced Motoko whom is part of a huge group, 501 Organization.  Motoko is trying to solve the case of the death of her superior after he was murdered. Motoko is not alone on the case as Daisuke (a Ghost in the Shell character you are all very familiar with) is also trying to figure out the case and he also wants to join forces with Motoko. Motoko doesn't want to join forces but she is willing to help out on the case just so that she can get the information she needs to know what happened.  Makoto soon finds out that there is a lot more going on in this case than just a simple murder (wouldn't be Ghost in the Shell otherwise) and soon finds herself in a lot of trouble and confusion that'll drive any normal person insane. Scandalous. (Click on "Read More" to read the full review).

The second episode in this special series revolves around something more conspiracy based as we are introduced to a man on trial, this man knows a dark secret that the government is hiding and is willing to share them before it is too late. This act of information sharing is being treated as an act of terrorism (as the government normally would on a case like this), thus Motoko (working as a freelancer) is interested and is looking deeper into this case. Makoto soon learns that there are more people involved and these people are a group of rogue soldiers by the names of Batou, Borma, and Ishikawa (more Ghost in the Shell characters you'll be very familiar with). Motoko is also looking for a crew to help tackle with her on cases and she has managed to get one member, Saito, an elite sniper with a gambling problem.

The stories found in this collection are very complicated and will require you to really focus on what is going on and around in order to follow the story. Complication in the story does not mean that you won't find yourself enjoying these OVAs, the story is really gripping and is full of awesome suspense that will leave you on the edge of your seats. Not only is this an origin tale, it is also set in its own stand alone complex... I mean universe. It was very interesting to see this series go down that route and see the roots of the team that we all know and love. It was nice to see Motoko in a more inexperienced state and they did it in a way to where despite her inexperience's, she is far from being useless and she does learn what she needs to know very quickly. It is very nice to see an origin of a character that's breaking the stereotype of making an origin story based on a character that we all know and love. The rest of the main characters introductions to this series (Batou, Daisuke, etc) are a bit on the stereotypical side AKA they start off as a threat and then become friends.

Like the rest of the iterations of Ghost in the Shell, you can expect a lot of action to be found within the two episodes that you get. The action itself is very entertaining, you get a lot of martial arts and explosive action that will just get your body pumping with adrenaline. The thing I really do dig about the action scenes is that none of them are the same and you'll get a good variety of fighting styles, that makes for a very refreshing experience. While varied, all of the action scenes will also feel very homely to the Ghost in the Shell fan base as they feel straight out of all of the movies and series of the past and it does give me a warm feeling inside.

As much as I liked the story, I found that making a big budget OVA series about the origin of the Section Nine crew (as of this point of the series) was a bit of a waste, this series would've been best suited as a TV mini-series instead. The episodes also dragged on for a bit long, the stories could've easily been done in full detail in forty-minutes episodes rather than full sixty minute ones.  This series is also more suited to the fans of the original Ghost in the Shell and Stand Alone Complex as this won't appeal to people that are looking to get into this series for the first time.

Artwork in this series is pretty good, it has some nicely designed characters and very detailed scenery. Character designs are a mixture of classic ghost in the Shell designs and a new fresh twist and I actually enjoyed it.  I was expecting to be bothered by the new design for Motoko but it surprisingly went really well the character. My only complaint about the art is that it is missing some of the very strong shades and colorings from the prior versions of Ghost in the Shell as the coloring is a bit weaker in comparison. The backgrounds and scenery also feel less futuristic than the prior versions of Ghost in the Shell but that didn't bother me at all, it does give this series a more modern urban atmosphere. Animation in this series is pretty good but nothing that'll make you blow your top with excitement and joy.

English dub is very good and it had some solid acting and voices that worked really well with all of the characters. The English dialogue also matched the mouth movements much more naturally than in most other anime, it gave the impression that this show was originally made with an English dub as opposed to a Japanese one and that impresses the hell out of me. The soundtrack in this series did have songs that suited all of the scenes very well and it did help with the atmosphere.

While this set only contains two episodes, it does contain a whole ton of special features. The special features aren't confined to just one disc either, both discs are packed full of them and I like that as it makes the disc space seem less wasted with just the one episode per disc. The first disc contains: An interview with the directors and fans at Anime Expo 2013, an animated short titled Logicoma Beat, promotional trailers, a teaser for part two, and a text-less version of the opening sequence.

The interview from Anime Expo 2013 was very good as it had some nice views and insight from the people behind this series and they go deep into what the series is about.  The reactions from the fans was also very nice and insightful and made for some nice entertainment. The Logicoma Beat feature is all about the lovable robot-tanks, Logicomas, discuss what their purpose is in life in a cheeky and cute way. I found it to be very adorable and funny but I did find the Japanese dub to be a little rough sounding. The teaser for part two was okay and it was entertaining and mysterious but redundant due to this set coming with that said part. The text-less opening for this part was a fairly typical opening that highlights the characters and with cool sounding music, it was an okay watch overall.

Disc two contains: An episode commentary for episode two that features some of the crew and voice actors from the English dub, an animated short titled Logicoma Court, a whole ton of trailers, promotional videos and commercials; talk show segments that featured the Japanese cast and crew, and lastly you get text-less versions of the opening and closing credit sequences.

The commentary track was okay as it was entertaining but there isn't anything mind blowing that makes it a must listen, it was very nice to hear Chris Sabat's very manly voice. The animated short (Logicoma Court) was just a random little cartoon about the Logicoma going through a random and harsh trail. I found the story to be weird, full of nonsense and it reminded me of the old Tachikoma shorts from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002 - 2003). This feature comes in Japanese dub only and I wasn't all that fond of it as it sounded very dry and out of place.

The collection of trailers, commercials, and promotional videos that are found in this collection are very widely ranged. You do get the typical ad/trailer that does the typical thing of showing off some footage and telling you to watch the films, but you do get other unexpected surprises. The surprises to which I am talking about are ads that feature the characters promoting Microsoft Windows and another promoting the Pacific Racing Team rather than the series itself, I did find that to be a little weird as it was like reliving the old Simpsons ads about KFC and Butterfinger. The standard ads that were promoting the films do range from being un-interesting to pretty cool.  The ads did vary in length as well, there were some that were so short that you'd miss them if you blinked, then there are ads that go for two to five minutes and I found it to be very fun to go through them all.

My views on the talk show segments are the exact same as my views on the commentary track, they are entertaining to watch and very harmless but do not expect anything mind blowing for when it comes to facts. The talk show segments did actually have some better info than the commentary track but that's to be expected as the talk show segments interview people that worked on the project from the ground up (no disrespect to the people on the commentary track). I liked the text-less versions of the opening and closing credits despite the very minimalistic visuals, the music helps make them entertaining as it uses trip-pop styled songs that just blend perfectly with what is going on (that could just be the hipster in me saying that).

This set also comes with a booklet full of bonus materials such as: Interviews with the crew, profiles on the characters, articles detailing about some of the things that go on in the Ghost in the Shell universe, and artwork. The interviews in this book are very interesting reads and they go much deeper into what it was like working on the OVAs than the video interviews tell you. You will get more than just an interview with the directors, you also get interviews from the people that did the art and music and that's very nice to see. My one complaint with the interviews is for when they were stating that the people were laughing as they did so by just putting LOL (Laugh out Loud). Seeing that did get very annoying as it is an interview and not some half-assed text chat between two stoners or blond bimbos and it did come off as unprofessional (I am aware of the irony of saying that). 

The character profiles are very basic and are worth looking at just for the pictures alone, not so much for the info. The two articles covers stuff like: What is a cyborg in the Ghost in the Shell universe, and describing what hacking is. The articles were a bit of a drag to get though and I did get bored half-way into them, that's only because I knew about that kind of stuff they were talking about beforehand. The artwork is pretty good and it is not all just of stuff that appeared in the OVAs, they even include art of unused designs and it was especially mind blowing seeing the original design for Motoko as it was... Hang on a second, I'm not going to spoil that.

Overall, this is the weakest of all of the Ghost in the Shell movies/series so far but that doesn't mean that this was a bad watch. Even though I did have some problems with this, I still recommend giving these episodes at least one watch as it is nice to see that Ghost in the Shell still lives on today. Good but not great.

Title: Ghost in the Shell Arise Part 1
Animation/Production Studio: Production I.G.
Genre: Animation/Anime, Action, Science Fiction
Running Time: 120 minutes (2 Episodes)
Distributor: Madman Entertainment
Rating: M15+ (Animated violence)
Price: $29.95
Recommended: Yes


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