Ghost in the Shell -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 82
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell

By Chris Beveridge     March 21, 1998
Release Date: March 21, 1998

Ghost in the Shell
© Manga Entertainment

What They Say
The year is 2029. The world has become intensively information oriented and humans are well-connected to the network. Crime has developed to a sophisticated stage by hacking into the interactive network. To prevent this, Section 9 is formed. These are cyborgs with incredible strengths and abilities that can access any network on Earth...
Mamoru Oshii's futuristic animated masterpiece, Ghost In The Shell, is the perfect film to experience on Digital Video Disk. Seamlessly merging traditional cel animation with the latest computer graphic imagery, this stunning sci-fi spectacle has broken the boundaries of mainstream animation with its detailed artistic direction and uniquely intelligent story line. Ghost In The Shell took the world by storm in 1996, introducing a new wave of Japanese animation through its mesmerizing cinematic expression. A movie that questions our own human existence in the fast-paced world of the information age, this remarkable, award-winning, cyber-tech thriller has gone on to become one of the leading Japanese animation films of all time.

The Review!
To me, Ghost In The Shell is the Akira of the 90's. Either you love it or you hate it. Fans of Masamune Shirow, the manga creator of GitS, for the most part will love it. His trademarks are in it in both style and the plot. Which means that it looks great, but may not be all that easy to follow.

Unlike Akira however, GitS is more of a cerebral movie. Not to say there's no action sequences, but there are more open discussions about what makes a person human. The story centers around Motoko Kusanagi, a major in Section 9. This arm of the Police deals more in the messy end of operations. The basic plot is to capture a creature of unknown age/race/sex called the Puppet Master who has been blamed for a wide variety of cyberspace attacks and terrorism.

From there, it goes in a variety of angles to get to the core question: Where does the soul come from? While I don't think it answered the question all that well, it is a question which means a million different things to a million different people. To those who normally don't purchase anime titles, or Japanese films, it's interesting to get a feel for what is mostly a very different society from what we here in the U.S. are used to.

In general, I'd call the story side of the movie a mixed bag: It's a good story, but has a few falters along the way.

As for the DVD itself, lets break that down.

Sound: Having had no discs before where I could switch between a 5.1 and 2.0 during the movie itself, I found it to be truly a treat. The opening credits when the title flashes on alone is worth flipping between to showcase the 5.1 sound to those who don't have it. Heck, even my mother was floored by it, and she doesn't usually notice those things. The soundtrack after the opening isn't as varied as some movies, but during the combat sequences and other effects, the 5.1 track is very well done. It's like the Fifth Element, you just can't not rave about it. The Japanese 2.0 soundtrack, while not in the same class as the 5.1 track, is excellent as well.

Video: I've heard some talk on the newsgroups that during one sequence in particular that there was a lot of artifacting on a police officers helmet where it says "Police". Later dissemination found that this is visible on the LD released previously, as well as the VHS tape. So, ignore that comment and don't let it sway you to not picking this disc up. The video is spectacular.

The menus are kind of bland... that comes from being spoiled by Pioneer and their animated menus and sounds and whiz-bang stuff. The character information, world background and other text screens are well presented, though as some had hoped, no storyboards are to be found. Other than that, it's a decent system.

Packaging comes in the form of a keepcase with the standard cover seen on the other media releases of GitS.

All in all, it's definitely a disc to have in most home theater enthusiasts library for a showcase. Anime fans who passed on the Laserdisc should pick this up definitely, as well as those upgrading from VHS. As you can tell by the list on the main page, there aren't many anime titles out at the moment. So take a chance, pick a few up. You may find yourself enjoying them more than you would think!

English Dolby Digital 5.1,Japanese Dolby SurroundJapanese and English subtitles,Original Theatrical Trailer,30 minute "Making Of" documentary

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.


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