Ghost in the Shell: Arise is the highly anticipated OVA (Original Video Animation) prequel to the groundbreaking 1995 anime film (based on the Shirō Masamune manga) that inspired throngs of imitators, and inspired The Matrix. The series brings in a new Japanese voice cast to play the now familiar chracters (Tanaka Atsuko as the voice of Major Kusanagi Motoko, Matsuda Kenichirou as Batou, Shingaki Tarusuke as Togusa, Jyuku Ikyuu as Chief Aramaki Daisuke, Dan Tomoyuki as Ishikawa, Nakakuni Takuro as Saito, Ueda Yōji as Paz, and Nakai Kazuya as Borma. Never fear, although they are not the same voices we have been familiar with for so many years, do a very good job with these familiar characters.
Arise is set in 2027, one year after the devastating non-nuclear World War IV, and series of mysterious murders and bombings entangles Kusanagi Motoko, a woman with a complete cybernetic body except for her brain, in the investigation of the mysterious 501 Organization. Also investing is the public security official Chief Aramaki Daisuke, who hires Major Kusanagi for her legendary combat and cyber warfare skills. Batou, meanwhile, is also involved, but he distrusts Kusangi, believing her an unstable criminal. The investigations will lead to a shocking revelation that someone has unleashed a virus that is infecting users of cybernetics with false memories, and also setting loose AI (Artificial Intelligence) on the streets, acting as humans, to infiltrate society, all in an effort to bring down the Japanese government.
Arise is divided in four-parts, called “Borders”, two of them released together in this collection by FUNimation. So far, the series is off to a great start. Although it is hardly as pioneering as it was nearly two decades ago, it can still wax quite philosophical on the separation, or lack thereof, between reality and dream, between technology and biology, about what the meaning of life is. It stays really true to the original film in all of those regards, and also in its visual style, which does incorporate some of the looks of the SAC series as well, but, thankfully, none of the heavy-handed CGI work that came later.
Ghost in the Shell: ARISE is provided in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement on Blu-ray from FUNimation. The transfer looks generally good with brilliant color reproduction, though some of the artistic choices (some added grain and video noise) can make the image look a little gritty in spots. There’s also just a little bit of overall softness.
The audio, whether you are listening to the original Japanese-language or the English dub, is provided in Dolby TrueHD 5.1, and the mix is incredible. It’s lushly atmospheric, and the techno soundtrack is often discretely panned into the surround channels for a very engaging aural experience. The closing song for Border:1, じぶんがいない (“Jibun ga Inai”) surrounds you in digital blips and vocalizations. But it’s not just the music in this series that draws you in, the various foley effects do so as well, like a rumbling motorcycle engine roaring past us on the right around to the front center and through the left front, or footsteps moving through the room. The biggest issue is the lack of dynamic range. While low end extension is deep and explosive, the sound sounds quite dynamically compressed, with everything seemingly happening within a limited level, and this often seems to be the case with many FUNimation releases.
- 2 DVD of the episodes
Border:1 – Ghost Pain:
- Ghost in the Shell: Arise at Anime Expo 2013 (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:21:17)
- Logicoma Beat (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:22)
- Promotional Video (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:53)
- News Flash Type A (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:00:35)
- News Flash Type B (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:00:37)
- Theatrical Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:32)
- Border: 2 Teaser (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:00:26)
- Textless Opening (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:03)
Border: 2 – Ghost Whispers:
- U.S. Cast and Crew Audio Commentary
- Logicoma Court (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:17)
- News Flash (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:00:31)
- Theatrical Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:02)
- Decode 501File (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:37)
- Border:1 – Ghost Pain Cyberbrain I.G Night Talk Show (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:11:10)
- Border:1 – Ghost Pain Cyberbrain Cast Night Talk Show 05 July 2013 (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:10:54)
- Promotional Video (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:43)
- Commercial (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:00:17)
- Blu-ray & DVD Spots (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:00:48)
- Surface X Ghost in the Shell Arise Another Mission (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:03:02)
- Pacific Racing Team X Ghost in the Shell Arise Promotional Video (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:02:06)
- Textless Opening (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:24)
- Textless Closing (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:03:54)
- U.S. Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:44)
- FUNimation Trailers
The Definitive Word
I feel confident predicting that most longtime anime fans and fans of this classic franchise will be pleased with this prequel. There are some minor issues here and there, but mostly Ghost in the Shell: ARISE is a beautifully animated and intelligent entry into the Ghost in the Shell mythology.
Additional Screen Captures