Ghost in the Shell Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Written by Kazunori Itô, based on the Manga by Masamune Shirow
1995, 82 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on March 14th, 2017
Atsuko Tanaka as Motoko Kusanagi (voice)
Akio Ôtsuka as Batou (voice)
Kôichi Yamadera as Togusa (voice)
Yutaka Nakano as Ishikawa (voice)
Tamio Ôki as Aramaki (voice)
Tesshô Genda as Director Nakamura (voice)
Namaki Masakazu as Dr. Willis (voice)
In the early 21st century, the ability to access unprecedented levels of information is one of the key tools used by special divisions in law enforcement. This new level of global connectivity is being abused by someone known only as “The Puppetmaster” and the Internal Bureau of Investigations is hot on his trail. Major Motoko Kusanagi and her fellow officers at Section 9 are tasked with identifying and neutralizing this cyber threat before he can complete his nefarious mission. What makes this different from most other police thrillers is that neither the cops nor the crooks are entirely human, as cybernetic enhancements are the norm of the day. Kusanagi retains her human brain, but her body is almost completely synthetic and her adversary is more or less a computer virus.
Ghost in the Shell is an absolutely gorgeous film that introduces a lot of high-concept ideas but pauses just long enough to provide commentary rather than simply dropping information bombs and leaving audiences to keep up. Based on the Japanese manga (1995), this picture tells a direct story in what was a new and engaging manner. This is a philosophical tale that questions the concept of “being human” and the meaning of life itself. The organic brain cells that remain after surgery exist as a ghost of sorts that provides memories and the inquisitive nature of the human spirit, while the biological body has been augmented by a mechanical shell that is nearly indestructible. The endless sea of data is the location for this high-tech game of cat-and-mouse.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the picture looks mostly flawless with a hint of grain that may be deliberately added to enhance the depth of field. There is a bit of softness around some images, but again this may be a stylistic choice so I can’t knock it.
A DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio does a fine job with the Japanese language track and dialogue remains clear and free from distortion. While I kick dubbed language tracks to the curb, I can make an exception for animated films where lip sync doesn’t matter as much. The English audio is given a more expansive DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that enhances the music and effects tracks while remaining well balanced with dialogue. There is not a lot of speaker separation in terms of audio cues which makes the occasional effort stick out a bit, but audiences will be happy to have the option.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
I would assume this release is timed to coincide with the 2017 live-action Hollywood incarnation, but am surprised to find there are absolutely zero extras on this disc. None of the previously available material for the various special editions and anniversary re-issues have been ported over. I guess you can count the motion menus as special, but longtime fans will want to hold onto their earlier versions.
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