A new addition to the Ghost in the Shell franchise hits the UK from Manga Entertainment – Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie. It’s the first feature-length movie in the franchise in almost a decade and celebrates the 20th anniversary of Ghost in the Shell first hitting theatres back in 1995.
Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie is the first feature-length movie in the franchise since Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society, which Manga Entertainment released way back in 2007. The New Movie follows on from the Ghost in the Shell: Arise OVA series that was recently released over two parts here in the UK. More specifically though, it’s the two original episodes from the TV version titled Alternative Architecture that leads directly into the movie. In Japan, the two episodes were also combined into a fifth Arise OVA after the TV series conclusion. Unfortunately, neither of these versions has been licensed in the UK as of this time.
“Set in a futuristic Japan after the end of a brutal world war, science has advanced by leaps and bounds giving humanity the choice to prolong life and reduce suffering with the use of sophisticated cybernetics. With all of humanity linked into one system of minds and personalities known as ghosts, the biggest threat to civilization is the cyber terrorists capable of hijacking people’s bodies and memories.
When a ghost-infecting virus known as Fire-Starter begins spreading through the system resulting in the assassination of the Japanese Prime Minister, Major Motoko Kusanagi and her elite team of special operatives are called in to track down its source. As they delve deeper and deeper into their investigation, they uncover traces of government corruption and a shadowy broker that bears an all-too-familiar face.
When your target can be anywhere and look like anyone, the only choice you have is to trust your ghost, and hope you aren’t infected too.” – Manga Entertainment
I’ll admit that the opening of the movie had me rather confused. I’ve previously seen the Arise Borders one through four but without those original two episodes from Alternative Architecture, it took a while to get my bearings. Hopefully, we’ll see a UK release of the Alternative Architecture television series or the fifth OVA which should give us a more informed viewing experience. Funimation Now, it transpires, did have these episodes available (Episode 9, Episode 10). As it stands though, the movie does work as a standalone piece once you get over the initial confusion. If you’re familiar with any of the Ghost in the Shell franchise then you’ll quickly get a feel for the characters again.
There’s a good deal of great action scenes throughout the opening of the movie – what else would you expect – but the story does take a while to really kick into gear. It’s not until the 30-minute mark that we start to see any real motivation from the characters. When the story picks up, it reaches a high level of intrigue and mystery that had me hooked by every word spoken. The story does become very Major Kusanagi centred, but her story is that interesting it’s not a detriment to the movie. Her relationship to head of the Army 501 Organization, Kurutsu, is a common thread throughout the Arise story and that really comes to a head here.
The movie ends off with a little nod to its twenty-year-old predecessor with that iconic scene of Major Motoko Kusanagi freefalling through the cityscape that opened the original movie. The Arise story as a whole work as a prelude to the original story with everything leading into that first movie. Not a bad way to celebrate the 20th anniversary either as I’m all geared up to dive straight back into one of the first anime movies I ever watched.
In terms of the visuals, I don’t feel there’s much to say other than it comes from the fantastic Production IG studio that continually produces amazing visuals. The action scenes within the movie have to be praised, you’d expect a very high level of quality given its roots, but it’s still a brilliant ride. If you’ve been following Arise then you’ll already be accustomed to the new character designs which, I think, are great. It’s a hard thing to go about changing the designs of characters that are so iconic but Arise and The New Movie do the characters justice by updating them to today’s standards.
If there’s one downside to the movie then it’s probably in the soundtrack which features a musical score by Cornelius and is essentially what we’ve already heard in Arise. It’s far from a bad soundtrack, it’s just the weakest element within the movie as we’ve mostly heard it before. The voice cast of both language options from Arise is largely the same here so you’ll know what to expect if you have seen Arise previously.
As with the Ghost in the Shell Arise releases, The New Movie comes with a good selection of extras including interviews with the writer, director and actors. These can be both within a couple of the specials that are listed such as “Inside the World of Ghost in the Shell Part 2”, “Arise Explained in 25 Minutes (Extended Director’s Cut)” and “25 Years Reviewed in 25 Minutes (Extended Director’s Cut)”. There’s also a selection of trailers for the movies available.