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Ghost in the Shell (1995) - Blu-ray Review

5 beersGeneration Xers called it cyberpunk.  During the 1990s, it was the "thing" that happened and we saw the early warning signs.  William Gibson locked it down on paper.  Even Billy Idol sang about it. Few science fiction films pouring out from Hollywood ever got the subgenre right (and, trust me, there were a lot).  There was, though, one that heard and developed and understood the message; it becomes available in a new edition this week on blu-ray and, unfortunately, it's also getting remade.

Maybe it’s a loose wire in my thermoptic camouflage. Maybe it’s all the noise in my brain today. Regardless of who or what is to blame for my thinking, it is my belief that the 1995 Japanese anime classic Ghost in the Shell is pure cyberpunk perfection, aging better than Total Recall and – dare I suggest it – Blade Runner itself. I love both films, mind you, but there’s no denying that time is definitely on the side of all the “ghosts” running through the communal data streams found deep within Ghost in the Shell.

Forget The Matrix, man. The Wachowskis rode that neat “bullet time” effect into a trilogy that sadly went nowhere, but they stole all too much of the future – including the idea of plugging in at the back of the neck – from the members of the elite team of Section 9, government agents who serve a nation of corporate data providers, introduced here in the opening moments of Ghost in the Shell. And only this team can end the living computer virus on the loose.

Adapted from the manga series by Masamune Shirow and featuring U2’s “One Minute Warning” (released on their Passengers album), legendary anime director Mamoru Oshii’s film is a goddamn prophecy of hackers turned terrorists and corporations turned God’s word. Just watch as an entire crowd of people stare up at all the billboards around them, worshipping their mottos with each prolonged glance as the brand names splatter out in neon and other flashy colors over the street. It’s a damn spooky sight.

And that’s just the highly articulate setting of the story. Welcome to 2029, but it might as well be right here and right now. And there are eyes on everything thanks to the loose antics of a cyborg terrorist known as The Puppet Master, an online entity that saw its body die and now has the capability to jump into other bodies – either human or cyborg – and “share” them while upending countless numbers of corporations and/or nations.

It is up to a cyborg detective named Bato and Major. Motoko Kusanagi, the curvy cyborg cop at the center of the movie, to flush the danger out, but their sense of purpose – as they are now less than human thanks to one too many repairs – is beginning to grow faint. We see her birth; a haunting construction of machine and flesh that is not that far removed – thanks to the chants in the haunting music – from a religious experience. We also see the world in which she inhabits and, yes, we “get” it, more so now than when the film was originally released.

Ghost in the Shell predicts the world in which we are now embracing; it is a place where people have gleefully become electronic fingerprints and the words we once used are now whispers on the internet. We have become pawns who, in turn, become present only on the web. Bursting with ideas, this film singlehandedly (and correctly) predicted our worldwide reliance on all things digital. We give and give of ourselves willingly to our devices, yet only ask that it works in return. Hence, the Puppet Master’s rise to fame.

But not even Kusanagi can save us from ourselves, making the film’s “mutualism by proxy” ending all the more effective and stirring. This vision of a not too distant dystopian world where corporations fill the world with electronic and optical communication services that have almost erased all concepts of nations and races is truly a disturbing one; I’m not even sure we need the Scarlett Johansson-helmed remake.

Oshii's sci-fi masterpiece has earned every single bit of its cult following. Its successful merging of traditional Japanese animation with computer graphic imagery remains cutting edge and highly expressive. It is seamless in its splendor. The storyline is intelligent and the dialogue is just as heady, making this one an unforgettable experience.

Ghost in the Shell – now issued on blu-ray thanks to Anchor Bay Entertainment – is as essential today as it was to the 20th century.  A future so bright...


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Ghost in the Shell (1995) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Not rated.
83 mins
: Mamoru Oshii
Kazunori Itô
Atsuko Tanaka, Iemasa Kayumi, Akio Ôtsuka
: Animation | Action
Who are you? Who slips into my robot body and whispers to my ghost?
Memorable Movie Quote: "You talk about redefining my identity. I want a guarantee that I can still be myself."
Theatrical Distributor:
No U.S. theatrical release.
Official Site: http://www.manga.com/
Release Date:
No U.S. theatrical release.
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 14, 2017
Synopsis: A cyborg policewoman and her partner hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker called the Puppet Master.


[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

Ghost in the Shell (1995) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Anchor Bay
Available on Blu-ray
- March 14, 2017 (one day release)
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Japanese: LPCM 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD-25); UV digital copy; Digital copy
Region Encoding: Region A

Anchor Bay Entertainment presents Ghost in the Shell with a strong 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with an above average-looking transfer. The animated film – presented here in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio – looks incredible, mixing its new gloss with thick lines and great backgrounds for the on-screen action to roll out upon. Details are heavy and colors are expressive, practically exploding with clarity. There is a stunning depth to the canvas that extends far to the backgrounds and adds new layers of interest to the unnamed city the film takes place in. The DTS-HD Master Audio on display here is sufficient, giving the score by composer Kenji Kawai a sonic-sized lift.



  • None.

Special Features:

This limited edition steelbook release features stunning artwork by Kilian Eng, released as a Mondo poster at San Diego Comic-Con in 2014 in celebration of the Manga's 25th Anniversary. Get it now. A digital copy is included.


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[tab title="Art"]Ghost in the Shell (1995) - Blu-ray Review