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Ghost In The Shell (DVD)

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      05.02.2011 06:44
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      great film for anime, sci-fi and cyberpunk fans.

      Ghost In The Shell is up there with the anime Akira and a few others when it comes to quality, and is a well made film that still doesn't look dated 16 years after it was made. The style of the film is a mixture of cyberpunk and sci-fi, and the story follows Motoko Kusinagi, a human/cyborg hybrid who works for an anti-crime department in the year 2029, as she tries to track down a hacker known as the Puppetmaster.

      The Puppetmaster specialises in hacking peoples minds, something that is made possible by so many people in the film having cybernetic enhancements, and is one of the most skilled criminals that Motoko and her colleagues have ever tried to capture.

      Motoko often speaks with her cyborg partner Batou about what makes Humans who they are, as they try to find the Puppetmaster, and whether or not they can share that sense of individuality whilst being so different. She also wonders if the Puppetmaster can answer some of these questions if they find him, and this gives the film a deeper story than most others of it's type.

      Another thing that makes the film so good is it's atmosphere, which is unique. It's a great mixture of music, art and writing, and it makes it the type of film that can be watched again and again. It's also widely regarded as one of the best anime films ever made, and it's themes have inspired many films after it.

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      27.09.2008 00:54

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      Give it a couple trys.

      This is one of those movies that I want to see more than three times. The narrative is well built, although difficult to understand at first.



      The Japanese manga style is renovated, with a Bladerunner-esque dark environment, instead of the cheesy Pokémon style. It's worth to note that Ghost in the Shell was made before The Matrix, so most of the philosophical aspect of GITS was pretty new to the mainstream.

      The main question in Ghost in the Shell is the separation man/machine, and the proper definition of Life. Since the movie is set in the near future, the humans have started to implant cybernetics into their bodies and brains. Both main characters are vestiges of humanity, authentic robots.
      The following questions are posed:

      - How do we define Life? Is it having a conscience? Can a machine be self-conscious? Maybe organic cell counts have something to do with it.

      - What are the rights of a Living Being? Can we give them to a machine?

      - In the future, when we have a direct connection from our brains to the internet, how will we defend ourselves against hackers? Will a hacker be able to change/create/erase our memories, in effect plunging us into an alternate reality?

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      17.09.2008 22:14
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      Top film

      Directed by Mamoru oshii and taken from the manga by masmune shirow, Tell's the story of a world rife with computer terroism and moniterd a law enforcment agency which can download them selves into super fighters be it a huminoid form or some kind of mecha.

      The two main charaters are the colonel and batuo, it feature more around the colonel as batuo has a much bigger role in the second feature film.

      For it's time and still today, this is a masterpiece, the artwork is outstanding and the story and diolog is very strong.
      When i first got into anime, i would always have to watch a film several times to really get the jist of the story, as was with this, but after a couple of sittings this film became so good.

      This was the anime that really got me hooked to this art form, as before this film i would only be intersted in the art work.

      Brilliantly drawn, the story is deep in parts and has some awesome action.
      top doller!

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      16.01.2006 11:20
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      A masterpiece that continues to impress even today

      Looking at popular Japanese animated films, it is surprising to note that relatively few have truly managed to become part of wider cultural consciousness around the world. Of course, the films from Studio Ghibli form almost a whole chapter on their own, many of them which have managed to become more than just popular anime films, but have actually become parts of the general mainstream to the extent that it's almost hard to view them as pure "anime" anymore the way people often refer "anime" as being like. Most likely the film that stands in the brightest first spot in being both an important piece of Japanese entertainment, as well as still holding onto its gritty independent feel, is Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira, one of the most revolutionary animated films to have ever come out of the Land of the Rising Sun. After that, however, the pickings become noticeably slimmer, with most films remaining either too obscure, or then lacking that one aspect that would give them wider cross-over appeal for non-anime fans as well. One of those few post-Akira bright spots, however, which has subsequently succeeded in this very difficult task, came in 1995 when director Mamoru Oshii decided to tackle what was to become a classic exploration on communication and the philosophy of existence, all wrapped up within an overall futuristic cop mystery flick, when he took up to adapting Masamune Shirow's manga Ghost in the Shell.

      Detailing the operations of Section 9, the covert organization set up to deal with technology-based crime, Ghost in the Shell follows the exploits of Major Motoko Kusanagi, a fully cybernetic woman with only her brain and part of her spinal cord being still organic, as she tries to track down the cyber-criminal known as the "Puppet Master," the entity who provided for the main mystery of the manga's over-arching story. As the world has become more and more computerized, crime has developed into a form of more sophisticated hacking into the interactive network in which the cyborg enforcers of Section 9 can access any network on Earth in order to hunt criminals down. Taking place in the near 21st Century, Shirow's manga posed questions as to how our world is constantly getting more technology-based, and how this effects our perception of what is real and what is not, with its underlying question being the evergreen preponderance of "What makes us human?" The story itself starts off as the brain of the translator of the foreign minister is hacked by the Puppet Master. Section 9's head-of-operations Major Kusanagi is then called in to hunt down the perpetrator with the help of her team of Batou (similarly a cyborg) and Togusa (still almost completely a human). It turns out that the Puppet Master has been able to hack into the minds of many other unwitting victims and using them as hosts to carry out his purposes, the reasons of which isn't immediately clear. But as the investigations advance, connections to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs - or Section 6 - Project 2501 start emerging with details that the Puppet Master is actually an artificially intelligent computer program developed by the ministry, and which has escaped from them with the purpose of wanting to evolve as it considers itself a sentient life form instead of just a computer program due to its ability to identify itself as its own existence.

      All this provides much of the philosophical discussion on the definitions of life and at what point can something artificial be called an actual life form. To this end Motoko Kusanagi, as the central character, acts as a perfect protagonist for such a discussion as she is herself basically a machine. But the thing that differentiates her from a simple machine with a few organic parts, is her "ghost," basically an individual's mind or essence of being - the new definition of a soul. As long as an individual retains their ghost, they also retain their humanity and individuality. Shirow took this idea from Arthur Koestler's essay "The Ghost in the Machine," where it is argued that the origin of the human mind is a physical condition of the brain. Shirow expands on this philosophy to include a broader sense that a ghost is not only a physical trait, but a more complex phenomenon that works in a larger system, such as a removed organ, like an arm or liver, will lose its autonomic nerve, and therefore its ghost, unless stimulated by a mechanical replacement. Major Kusanagi's body itself thus is basically replaced with nothing else but these mechanical parts to maintain her ghost by reproducing the stimulus of actual organic parts. This also leads into her eventually to act as a conduit for the Puppet Master, whose desire to evolve into a truly sentient organism is only hindered by the fact that he can't die or reproduce. Thus he also expresses a desire to Kusanagi when he gets in contact with her to merge with her ghost in order to give birth to a new single entity, in this way creating new life that is individual of both the originators' ghosts or DNA. It is something contemplated with quite some length during the museum sequence where it is said that creating life this way is basically the next evolutionary step, granting artificial intelligence the same capabilities as with organic life forms, and thus bridging the gap between the two.

      This plays together with Kusanagi's own preponderances on the matter of life on several occasions during the film in regards to what she is, what is a soul, and what being a human really means. Kusanagi, being more or less a machine, is shown to question her own existence as being something that she can't really be sure of on what side of the line would she comfortably land on, and it is this that comes to the forefront when she ends up confronted by the Puppet Master's own arguments on the matter. In one scene, he declares that he is an autonomous entity capable of personal choices and memory, and should therefore be allowed to seek political asylum from the people trying to capture him. When it is contested that he is just a self-preserving computer program, he simply reiterates that by that definition the DNA that humans carry is nothing but a self-preserving program in itself, and as science has been unable to explain what life is, how can they say he is not a real life form. This leads to the re-evaluation of what can be seen as humanity despite its manifestation is not organic, but a complex program with its own memories that make up a person's individuality. But despite the high flying rhetoric and philosophical ideas that director Oshii spades through with much apparent delight, as an actual story Ghost in the Shell has its faults. With eight issues of the original manga to use, Oshii pretty much takes ideas from many different places and strings them together for a somewhat uneven plot. There are many scenes that seem to be more like independent instances taking place outside the main story or simply edited there for a collage type jigsaw puzzle. Of course it is a basic necessity to find some form of summarisation when it comes to condensing a larger story into a single film, but at the same time it is easy to lose the thread of thought if not paying attention, and this is something of a major weakness in Oshii's usual work. He seems intent in providing so much meaningful and heavily philosophical ideas and questions that the actual story sometimes gets buried or blurred out of sight, something that is also very apparent in the dialogue of Kusanagi and the Puppet Master in the museum sequence.

      Still, for what Oshii has managed to do, is to create a film that fairly well distils the essence of Shirow's manga, while making it much more serious and evenly paced. This is also helped by its beautiful animation, which in 1995 was one of the most celebrated aspects of the film in the way that it mixed traditional cell animation with DGA (Digitally Generated Animation) so that the two mediums didn't clash together in an outrightly obvious way. And it is a marked sign of this success that the film still doesn't really seem dated all too much unlike many other similar attempts before and after this film's creation - although these aspects also went through a major overhaul for 2009's revamped "2.0" release. In addition to the visual side, acting in a likewise noticeable way is also the music of Kenji Kawai with its harsh female voices over a bed of restrained percussive beats, using as its basis an old Japanese wedding song - a subtle message for the eventual union between Kusanagi and the Puppet Master - creating quite a haunting and strangely evocative feeling for the film, while at the same time offering a certain element of added exotic and otherworldliness into the film's very technological world. The film's success in the West, particularly in the United States, signified a renewed interest in Japanese animation, and its influences can be seen filtering their way to other mainstream fare shortly following the film's release as well, the most notable example for this perhaps being The Matrix in 1999, thus further cementing the film's stature outside of Japan. Overall, Ghost in the Shell is one of those anime that is just required viewing for anyone interested in the art form. The film has its problems and may require multiple viewings to fully absorb, but there is no denying that this is an infinitely intelligent piece of cinema even in the realms of other works in the sci-fi genre exploring much the same issues. Whether the film actually answers the questions it raises is up to the viewer to decide, but this is more than made up by the visuals, character designs, and generally intelligent discourse that it is well worth the effort to think out and makes for a consistently interesting experience.

      © berlioz, 2011

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        25.07.2002 21:03
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        I never really liked anime when I was younger, because most of what I knew as 'anime' were bad quality commercial cartoons made essentially for young children. And as I was very interested in art and design, the graphical quality, and the 2-frames-per-second featured by those cartoons really made me feel epileptic. Then a friend of mine introduced me to a more mature side of anime, with the famous "Akira". I was amazed: never before had I seen a cartoon featuring such a deep and fascinating story. I wanted more: and then I got "Ghost In The Shell". First of all, this is not for kids: it's more violent and complicated than most hollywood movies. Based in a close future, the plot is about a special police section using intelligent cyborgs to track down criminals. In a version of Hong Kong set in 2029, a dangerous hacker dubbed the 'Puppet Master' manages to hack directly inside the human brain, and remotely controls some citizens to perform illegal activities. The drawing is amazing. The crew behind this movie worked 4 years to provide a fantastic design and smooth animations. And the screenplay is, well, genius (here, I said it). The main character of this story is a woman-looking cyborg, part of the elite police force called Section Nine-a fascinating character. Much more than your average buttkicking babe with big guns, she asks herself the question of her identity. Metaphoric scenes make you ask the same questions, as she takes an oniric boat ride in the city (an incredible scene). The plot is complicated, clever, and never boring, because well-disposed action scenes keep you entertained until the end. And the end takes it to a even higher level. To cut short, I love this movie. I've been watching it a few times, and I could watch it many more without ever been bored. It's much more than just a cartoon, it's better than 99% of the hollywood sci-fi movie production, it&
        #39;s deep and attractive, violent and oniric. Don't let the cartoon aspect scare you and watch this, you can't be disappointed.

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          15.07.2002 08:39

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          • "*DUB ONLY* Voice acting a bit iffy"

          Everything from the animation to the charcters screams style and originality. Go out and see it NOW! - Advantages: Excellent animation, Deep and interesting plot, Great directing by Mamoru Oshii - Disadvantages: Being animated may scare some viewers away from what is an excellent plot, The plot may be a bit too deep for some..., *DUB ONLY* Voice acting a bit iffy

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          23.06.2002 17:17

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          Ok you can call this a slight clone to Akira. This plot is set in a futuristic age where cyborgs dominate most of the world living together with humans. It is upto bunch og ploice/cyborg's to attempt to capture a hacker that hacks into people's mind... The graphics are quite good on the Dvd version which has been remastered. But again like Akira the plot is too difficult to follow in just one watch. You have to see it again several times to fully understand it. I would recommend you to also rent this fist and see it as much times as you can before you consider buying it.

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          26.10.2001 01:08
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          • "or even with anime in general."

          In Japan, animation is regarded as a serious medium in which films fully intended for adults can be crafted. ‘Ghost in the Shell’ is an example of such a film, and is an example which is surely good enough to convince even the most jaded Western audience that there is more to the animated form than Disney and other sentimental children’s cartoons. Plus, given the fact that digital effects are so prominent in this film, can there be any more suitable medium for viewing it than DVD? THE FILM Ghost in the Shell is one of those films whose impact can be severely reduced by the audience knowing beforehand what is going to happen, and so it is probably best to be deliberately vague about the plot. Section 9 is a covert government agency in a near-future Japan. Its recent operations include the assassination of a foreign diplomat to prevent defection to a foreign power by a top Japanese programmer and the protection of an aide to a top Japanese diplomat who has been Ghost-hacked, probably in an attempt to make her kill someone at an upcoming diplomatic function, as well as many others. All of these incidents can, it seems, be traced back to one individual: a super-hacker known as The Puppet Master. Unfortunately, no-one knows who he is or what his real motives are, and as further mysterious occurrences dog the section and operative Major Kusanagi becomes obsessed with what she seems to be constantly on the brink of discovering, Section 9 must face the very real possibilities that other government departments, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, know far more about The Puppet Master than they are letting on, and that the truth behind the web of linked cases is something far bigger than anyone could have anticipated. Probably the most admired aspect of Ghost in the Shell is its highly impressive visual style, which is dark and forbidding and yet at the same time understated and refined, the film successfully incorporatin
          g computer generated animation into its more traditional cell-based animation to create a look and feel which is truly futuristic and novel. Thankfully, this style is matched by the substance of the film — Ghost in the Shell is very big on ideas, with characters allowed lengthy monologues on issues such as human identity from which Western film producers and studios would quite simply flee in terror. The film also has a plot which is relatively complex and which some viewers, especially those not used to viewing anime, may find takes more than one sitting to fully absorb, although admittedly this is not helped by the films presentation, which often chooses to follow a lengthy, sometimes semi-hypnotic sequence devoid of dialogue and accompanied by music (which sends the viewer into a relaxed, unconcentrated state) with an expository scene full of facts and figures delivered at high speed; the director obviously had no intention of suffering the fools in the audience gladly with this project, and if Ghost in the Shell has a flaw it would have to be its slight inaccessibility. Essentially, Ghost in the Shell is an excellent science fiction thriller which just happens to be animated. It is, as I have said, a film of considerable style and substance. It will probably not be appreciated by those of an utterly mainstream or technophobic bent, but for those who like their films densely constructed with political intrigue, technological speculation and relevant philosophical debate this film should go down a treat, and it would be a shame if the Western predilection towards viewing anything animated as childish prevented this film from finding its full audience in this hemisphere. THE DISC  Distributor: Manga Entertainment UK / Palm Pictures [MANG 5529]. Manga is by far the most well-known of anime distributors in the West, so much so that anime itself has become known as Manga to the uninitiated (an error which certain peopl
          e seem to absolutely LOVE to point out to others in an attempt to make themselves appear sage-like and knowledgeable). Their first three DVD releases — this title was the first, followed by ‘Perfect Blue’ and ‘Ninja Scroll’ in succession — were of a rather high standard, containing decent prints and the opportunity to choose between dubbed and subtitled versions of the film. Unfortunately, however, I am led to believe that their more recent releases have started to become slightly less polished. NB: The Manga UK website is located at www.manga.com/mangauk and NOT www.manga.co.uk as advertised on the sleeve (going to this second address simply confronts the browser with a server error, and no redirect information is given).  Rating: 15. Given that this film features full frontal nudity and the violent splashing of body parts across the landscape as the result of machine-gun fire, it is obvious that the BBFC considers animation to be an inoffensive art form. Were much of the content of this film to be replicated in live-action, this film would surely have been awarded an 18 certificate.  Region: 2 (PAL encoding). Region 2 is intended for Europe (including the UK) and Japan, whilst PAL is a system used by the UK and Australia, among others. Essentially, this disc will play on any region 2, multi-region or region-free player which is compatible with PAL playback — if you bought your player in the UK there should be no worries whatsoever.  Type and case: DVD5 with black amaray case. The DVD5 is a standard DVD which contains a single data layer on a single side of the 12cm disc.  Running time: 82 minutes approx. This is the standard international version of the film, uncut.  Picture format: 4:3. Ghost in the Shell was originally created in 1.85:1 but, strangely enough, the 4:3 print included here does NOT appear to be
          cropped. In fact, what appears to have happened is that the print has been shrunk inwards horizontally to fit the 4:3 aspect ratio; when the picture is stretched outwards on a 16:9 widescreen television, therefore, it basically looks normal. Unfortunately, this has the side-effect that anyone watching on a standard television or on a computer monitor will see an image in which everything looks too slim and tall. Anamorphic prints were designed to maximise the look of a print on a widescreen TV without jeopardising the enjoyment of those watching on a 4:3 screen — this kind of encoding accomplishes the former, but not the latter. Of course, given that this film is animated it is much easier to ignore the incorrect proportions which are displayed on a 4:3 TV if you have to, but I can imagine quite a few people were confused when they brought home a DVD with a black “Widescreen” sticker on it only to be confronted with a 4:3 picture. As for the picture itself, it appears to be faithfully presented. Colours are convincingly vibrant, with the dark and shadowy atmosphere of the film being amply reproduced through dark blacks. If you can stomach the eccentric aspect ratio conversion then this is actually a very nice print.  Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, English and Japanese languages. Whilst both soundtracks might be technically equivalent (and both are certainly surround), the Japanese soundtrack is far, far, far superior to the English in both the quality of the sound effects and the performances of the voice artists. Many of the characters who possess a quiet, contemplative dignity in the Japanese version come across as spoilt-brat adolescents in the US dub — my advice then, obviously, would be to put up with reading the subtitles and choose the Japanese soundtrack. With regard to the quality of the surround sound, both tracks make use of all surround speakers; the overall effect is impressive, especia
          lly in the Japanese version which has considerably more surround effects and makes considerably more use of the rear audio channels. The sound on both tracks is crackle-free throughout.  Subtitles: English. The removable subtitles are presented in what I perceived as a slightly undignified rounded font which reeks of infant schooling. The text is, however, easy to read, presented in white with a very thin black outline. One point to note is that the text is really meant to accompany the Japanese soundtrack and is presumably a reasonably faithful translation of what is said therein; the English-language soundtrack has obviously been translated rather less faithfully in an attempt to make the speech sound more natural in English and to aid in lip-synch. In any case, switching on the subtitles while watching the English soundtrack shows up a considerable number of inconsistencies.  Extras: Hyperactive [DVD-ROM feature], trailers, The Making of Ghost in the Shell. The ‘Hyperactive’ feature turns out to be an information page directing the user to content which can be accessed through files on the DVD itself. Like the trailers discussed later, much (actually, all) of this material turns out to have no relevance to Ghost in the Shell and consists of promotional material for Palm Pictures, who mostly seem to be a music marketing company. Pointless. The trailers are for an weird assortment of DVD releases. Thankfully, the trailer for Ghost in the Shell is included. Presented in 1.85:1 letterbox widescreen, this is the English-language trailer with a length of approximately 90 seconds and touts the worldwide theatrical release of the film in “Fall 1995”. The other trailers included are for ‘Dancehall Queen’, ‘Stop Making Sense’ and ‘Baaba Maal at the Royal Festival Hall’; a more irrelevant selection I can scarcely imagine! The Making of Ghost in the Sh
          ell has a running time of just under half an hour and is taken from Kodansha Video in the US. Obviously never intended for television broadcast — the entire tone of the documentary is both pedantic and patronising, and features an American narrator who seems to be talking slowly as though to an audience of schoolchildren — this is nonetheless an admirably in-depth look at the film and features interviews with many of those involved in its creation, including director Mamoru Oshii. It does, however, feature an unusual and rather amateurish visual motif in which faces, subtitles and other information appear within separate boxes set against a slightly patterned grey background. CONCLUSION The Ghost in the Shell DVD is, to be fair, a mixed bag. Most of the extras are at best irrelevant to the disc, and the choice of screen presentation will doubtless annoy many customers who do not have access to a widescreen TV. On the other hand, this is a disc which certainly has much to commend it: a choice of dubbed or subtitled versions of the film, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and a half-hour Making Of documentary certainly display that this disc has not been compiled by slackers. As for the print, it certainly does look brilliant on a widescreen TV, but to be honest I would suggest that it looks reasonably okay on a normal TV or computer monitor as well, given that the material on display is artificial (i.e. drawn or constructed on computer) and hence the human mind has no natural expectations of relative dimensions which can be confounded and confused. In general, therefore, this disc is far from perfect, and the quibbles are obvious ones. But it is above average, and certainly to be recommended to the anime fan and to anyone who likes a good sf plot well told.

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            18.07.2001 02:38
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            Ghost in the Shell is classed as anime, meaning animated movie in what is considered the Japanese style, compared to the style of Disney. The best description of this film I've found is taken from Empire and appears on the sleeve; "The kind of film James Cameron would make if Disney would ever let him." Anime (and manga) is well known for sex and violence but Ghost is not that bad, yes it is violent with plenty of gun battles and so on, and it does have nudity (not much) but the BBFC rated it as 15, so it can?t be too bad. Released in 1995/6 Ghost was revolutionary in that it merged traditional animation with computer imagery. Ghost went on to become one of the most popular animated movies. (Paraphrased from the sleeve.) Without giving away too much of the plot, the story revolves around one main character, Motoko Kusanagi, who is part of a specialist police force. Set in the near future, cybernetic enhancements are common amongst the majority of the population. Some are so modified the dividing line between person and machine is blurred, all that remains is the consciousness or ghost. The development of the Internet has progressed to a point beyond our own reality, it is possible to plug straight into this net and surf. Kusanagi and her partners police this living web, where the crime of hacking straight into a mind is common leaving the victim to live a fantasy and commit crimes for the hacker. One such hacker is known only as the Puppet-Master, as Kusanagi closes in she discovers more than she could have imagined. All though this there are battles, chases and some incredible animation. The plot is carried and controlled superbly by director Mamoru Oshii. The slick effects and fantastic backdrops add realism and atmosphere where required and the score is excellent. The opening title track is hauntingly beautiful and sets the scene for the opening scene. Digitally remastered and released on DVD means the pic
            ture and sound are crisp and clear, the disc supports Dolby Surround and I highly recommend it, all DVD?s should be watched on a large TV with good sound (preferably Dolby) with the volume turned UP. The DVD also includes a complete movie production report and a ?Making Of? documentary as well as synopsis of the main characters and the original theatrical trailer. The documentary is interesting and details the production of the movie, considering that the breakthrough technology described is becoming common place but it is important to remember that Ghost was made 6 years ago. Although there is the dubbed version available in English I would recommend watching in Japanese with subtitles, this way the original voice acting is preserved.

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              16.03.2001 05:56
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              Ghost In The Shell is a full length Anime / Manga film or to use a more derogatory term cartoon. It is set in the year 2029 in Hong Kong. The future has progressed to the point where cyborgs, body part replacements, artificial reality is a part of normal life, people can have artificial brain implants to connect them directly to the computer network, they can communicate with others simply by plugging in. Secret government departments employ cyborg agents who are half human half machine. Some have memories implanted to make them seem like a real person, it gives them their soul, their personality, their ghost. Unfortunately, they are not free to do as they want, if they give up the job they have to hand back or buy everything that is them, their mechanical body, their brain. The story is of a mysterious hacker that has been causing chaos on the net ( and no it isn’t Bill Gates ! ). The two heroes who are themselves cyborgs discover that the hacker in question is in fact a computer program that has escaped from another government section and want to claim asylum. The program itself has become self aware and desires the ability to reproduce and breed. Not just to make duplicates but with all the possible faults and changes that occur in the fallible humans that have enable us to survive for hundreds of thousands of years by changing and adapting. It is at this point that the story up until now has been a cracking good sci-fi action thriller either becomes mystical and deep or totally pretentious and laughable. The animation is excellent and takes a step forward in the art, blending almost film like direction of set pieces with state of the art ( for 1995 when it was made ) CGI effects. As ever with animation, they were able to have the characters complete stunts that would have been impossible in real life and very difficult even with stunt men and 21st century special effects. The soundtrack is brilli
              ant and again is more like a movie soundtrack with more than a little thought having gone into it. The DVD offers only a few extras. The cinema trailers, teasers for other films, a choice of languages in the movie and subtitles. There is also a good making of documentary but unfortunately it is the attention to detail that lets it down. Why, in parts, can you hear the original Japanese documentary voiceover underneath the American one? Sloppy but a minor point overall. Well worth seeing, especially if the like of Blade Runner appealed to you. My advice though, would be to watch it with the Japanese soundtrack with English subtitles. The american actors doing the English language version sound so hammy, I think a village could eat bacon sandwiches for a week.

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                20.08.2000 03:02
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                Combining animation of the traditional variety, which is of a very high standard in itself, with computer generated imagery, Ghost In The Shell successfully pushed forward the boundaries of adult animation when it was released onto the scene in 1995 and took the anime world by storm. Starting with the attempted defection of a programmer, the film quickly introduces us to Section 9, a covert law enforcement agency able to “get our hands dirty”, and Section 6 who are basically a Foreign Affairs department with a secret. Kusanagi, a Section 9 agent, assassinates the programmer, and then Section 9 are given the task of combating a master hacker known as the Puppet Master, who hacks into the cybernetically modified brains of unwitting individuals who then commit his crimes for him. Eventually it becomes clear that there is a connection between the Puppet Master, Section 6 and the political situation involving a new regime in a foreign country and Colonel Mahless, the former dictator who has sought political asylum in Japan. But what is this connection, and why does the Puppet Master seem to have a special interest in Major Kusanagi? With a plot far more complex and mature than any Hollywood blockbuster would have dared contemplate, some top quality animation and a very memorable theme tune, Ghost In The Shell is a piece of absolutely top-flight anime, exactly the sort of thing to use to convince those of your friends who would never “watch cartoons” that anime is actually something of a valid art form, and an enjoyable story in its own right. If you haven’t seen it, watch it now.

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                  22.07.2000 08:44
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                  Ghost in the Shell like Akira managed to appeal to a larger audience despite anime's usually limited following. It achieved this thanks in no small part to the high quality of its production. Animation and musical scoring combine to evoke a sense of the nightmarish cyberpunk future where brains are wired into the net and even the human mind can be hacked. As with Akira the plot of Ghost in the Shell is the result of compressing some of the ideas found in the manga by Masamune Shirow. Just like Akira some things are gained in the transition to anime and some things are lost. Again a degree of coherency to the plot is lost, but to be fair there were a lot of confused ideas in the manga with no real conclusions or aims drawn. The basic concept seems to be a look at how fragile identity really is and how in a cyber world where everyone can connect with everyone else it perhaps becaomes harder to tell where one person ends and another begins. The plot of the movie can be viewed at a simpler levle in which a mysterious hacker poses a threat to security and a government agent try to track him down. As with all good cyberpunk there are cool gadgets all round. From thermooptic camoflage, competely disguising the wearer, to spider like tanks with gattling guns. Everything is well animated. Computer effects are merged with traditional cell animation to great effect. Computer imagery makng up the online, cyber-enhanced view of the world. Cell animation for the characters and locations. All in all a good title, though perhaps a little unclear in places. Subtitles are recommended simply because that's what I prefer, though the dub isn't a notably bad one. A DVD is now available which has both dub and sub on it. Watch out with this though as the initial batch had a problem with encoding so that the video wasn't stored in proper anamorphic mode meaning the output was incorrectly ratioed.

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                  22.07.2000 05:18
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                  I guess it's fair to call me an Otaku. And I guess its also fair to say I got into the stuff through Masamune Shirows manga Appleseed. Now, Shirow has pretty much always translated badly to screen. The Appleseed anime was dreadful, and Dominion was entertaining, but with Ghost in the Shell I thought the pattern may have been broken... Well, they got Oshii to direct it. After Patlabor 2, I wasn't sure that he would be the best person for the job, but I thought if he stuck to the sytle of the first Patlabor movie he would go far wrong. But unfortunately he didn't. And the result is a good movie, but not as expectional as it could have been. The movie follows Matoko Kusanagi, a special forces agent with a special government agency. When an android seeming goes haywire and breaks out of its construction plant only to be run over, it quickly becomes apparent that something strange is going on, and that Kusanagi won't be able to stop herself being dragged into it. This movie was produced on a high budget in comparison to other anime movies. The animation is very fluid, and it is stuffed full of CGI at a time when it was uncommon it anime productions. It was clear that Oshii was given free reign with this picture, and he uses the budget given to him in the way he knows best, with long, fluid dreamlike sequences. This movie does certainly have it's problems. Most come from it's source - the manga. The manga was long, episodic and fairly fractured at the best of times. This obviously wan't going to translate to film well, so they concentrated on the one story which runs through several of the mangas stories. Whilst this was pulled off quite well, the movie really needed another half an hour, and some of what is there is wasted with long showy scenes. Oshii also removes something what was very important - the humour. The humour in the manga stopped the title from being tedious or overtly dark. By removin
                  g the humour, the movie does become a little tedious. The mangas conclusion, kept here to some extent, is also one of the pictures failings. It is pretty flat, frankly, setting up for the sequal. Couldn't be avoided, sadly. It's not all bad news, though. The action is put together fabulously. There is an excellent fight scene unique to this movie, in which Kusanagi is transparent a-la Preditor. The finale in a warehouse is also fantastic. It is certainly a movie I enjoyed when I first saw it. In fact I watched is a few times in a row. But in hindsight the picture is a mere shadow of what it could have been. Feel free top add a star if you haven't read the manga, and another if you like Oshii.

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                  08.07.2000 14:49
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                  Ghost in the Shell takes place in the year 2029 in a world that has become borderless by the internet, where humans are robotic... augmented beings living in Virtual Reality, watched by a police force that is able to download itself onto the net, and even into minds. There are 2 main agencies involved in Ghost in the Shell: Section 6, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Section 9, The Internal Bureau of Investigations. Section 6 is sneaky and under-handed, as they are using a classified "weapon / agent" to handle their dirty work, while Section 9 is kept in the dark. Keep it in mind that they are supposed to be on the same side. The ultimate secret agent is a being with no physical body who can freely travel through the information highways of the world. It is able to hack into anything, manipulate everyone ( actually every computer :) and it now considers itself sentient and has been forced into a body. This agent was created by the Ministry of foreign affairs under the name "Project 2501". To anyone out of Section 6 this being is called "The Puppet Master" ( No one knew it was connected to Section 6 at all ). This internet being seemed to be the perfect solution to Section 6's espionage requirements. There was a problem however... through it's activities and travels through the net, 2501 became "aware" of its own existance. It determines that it was born in a "sea of information", and that is why it decided to run to Section 9 ( Motoko and Bateau's unit ) to request political asylum... in defiance of its creators. The race is now on to recover Project 2501. Section 6 must capture this runaway program before it's too late, and Section 9 ( now in posession of the "body" ) must figure out what this "thing" is. What neither party has taken into account is that this "puppet master" is very clever and cunning. It has threaten
                  ed to expose their illegal creation ( of itself ) to the International Bureau of Investigation ( who are unaware of its origin and regard "The Puppet Master" as a priority security threat ). The setions are also unaware that "The Puppet Master" has a persuasive ability to offer seductive theories of freedom to their semi-cybernetic "Human" agents... who in turn are forced to question their own validity as human beings. His main contact is with Motoko Kusanagi, the highly trained female cyborg agent sent out to stop the threat of 2501. "He" asks of her the ultimate decision... will she merge with him. While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Internal Bureau of Investigations are directly engaged in highly explosive confrontation, Kusanagi must make this decision and decide if she will fulfill the Puppet Master's final objective to become Human and exist outside of the Net.

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                  The skilful blending of drawn animation and computer-generated imagery excited anime fans when this science fiction mystery was released in 1995: many enthusiasts believe Ghost suggests what the future of anime will be, at least in the short term. The film is set in the not-too-distant future, when an unnamed government uses lifelike cyborgs or "enhanced" humans for undercover work. One of the key cyborgs is The Major, Motoko Kusanagi, who resembles a cross between The Terminator and a Playboy centrefold. She finds herself caught up in a tangled web of espionage and counterespionage as she searches for the mysterious superhacker known as "The Puppet Master." Mamoru Oshii directs with a staccato rhythm, alternating sequences of rapid-fire action (car chases, gun battles, explosions) with static dialogue scenes that allow the characters to sort out the vaguely mystical and rather convoluted plot. Kusanagi's final quote from I Corinthians suggests that electronic evolution may compliment and eventually supplant organic evolution. The minor nudity, profanity, and considerable violence would earn Ghost in the Shell at least a PG rating. --Charles Solomon