GHOST IN THE SHELL: ARISE
Ghost in the Shell: Arise is a reboot of the series from the Japanese animation studio Production I.G., who have been behind all the other Ghost in the Shell films, as well as other works like Jin-Roh: The Wolf-Bridge (1998), Blood: The Last Vampire (2000), Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror (2009) and numerous other films and tv series. The reboot series is divided into four chapters called borders, which are self-contained stories but each with a continuing overall arc that tells the story of the formation of Section 9 and the bringing together of the familiar characters from the rest of the series. Each of the films runs to slightly less than an hour and were released theatrically in Japan six months apart just before going to dvd. Some of the English-language screenings have brought the episodes together in two screenings of two parts each.
The last entry we saw in the Ghost in the Shell series was Mamoru Oshiis stunning Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, which pushed the series level to a dazzlingly artistic one. Up against this, Ghost in the Shell: Arise feels like a retrograde step. The animation is a step back in quality to the perfectly acceptable but lesser quality of the original 1995 film. During the first episode, the action scenes are nothing spectacular, although this markedly picks up in Border: 2 Ghost Whisper in a kinetic sequence with vehicles on a freeway being rammed by a van trying to destroy the Logicoma robot and Motoko jumping through the vans sidedoor on her motorcycle while shooting; or the subsequent shootouts with the military robots in a carpark. The fourth episode climaxes in a battle with massively armoured robot that starts to head into the territory that anime is known for. The one disappointment of the film is that for all the mechanical and prop designers listed on the credits, very little is invested in making the future look futuristic the vehicles are all taken from contemporary designs as though nothing had advanced in fourteen years.
There is still the extraordinarily sophisticated level of Cyberpunk ideas that all the Ghost in the Shell incarnations have played with the manga circles around the questions of what is machine and what is human in a cyborgised world. In the first episode, Border: 1 Ghost Pain, we meet Motoko Kusanagi and learn that she is considered government property because of the cost of her parts and has to sign paperwork every time she even goes to use an ATM (presumably because of concerns about hacking). There is the hauntedness of character that we saw in the originals we learn that she has been one hundred percent cyborg replaced ever since she was a foetus, followed by the supremely Philip K. Dick-ian moment where we find that someone has been hacking in and altering her memory and that what she thinks she believes about the world may not be true. Motoko gets a unique arc throughout the four episodes where she travels from being government property to winning her independence. Border: 3 Ghost Tears contains the best writing of her character where we are introduced to her lover Akira Hose who has maintained a relationship with her longer than any others because he is excited about tinkering with her. Later they have discussions about her nature where she talks of her decision to act in a human-like way and how this isolated her from other cyborgs in the academy because she preferred human touches like sleeping in a bed and taking showers and how he tries to persuade her that she has a body rather than inhabits a thing. Later he takes her on a tour of the new cyborg wave of wealthy people who have their minds transferred into machine bodies, including a wedding made up of cyborgs, even a pregnant bride and food that has been designed to be tasted by machines.
All of the episodes have complex plots, which often require a second viewing to keep track of them. The first episode seems overly complicated in its murder plot there seem too many agencies running around after the cyberbrain and you are not sure why all of these are happening. Nevertheless, the ideas at play through the series are exceptional conceptually, Ghost in the Shell: Arise gets to the heart of William Gibson-ian Cyberpunk possibly better than any other science-fiction film, including coming up with a visual representation for the heroines ventures into cyberspace and her creation of what she calls a foyer where all of her team meet virtually to discuss the mission. I rather liked some of the nifty ideas we see throughout like where the team is defeated by the terrorists hacking into their programming and feeding false memories or action scenes with Motoko jumping aboard attackers, plugging in a neural jack and sending an override command to shut them down. By the fourth episode, Motoko and the group that she assembles are dealing with a nightmare world of intelligent viruses, the ever-present threat of hacks into their brains and the implantation of false memories.
A fifth episode Pyrophoric Cult was added when it came to the tv airing of the films. Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (2015) was a further feature-length film spun out from Ghost in the Shell: Arise.
Trailer for Border: 1 only here (subbed):-
Baddly dubbed trailers for Borders: 1 and 2 here:-