» Review

Ghost in the Shell 2.0

By - on the

Even three lustrums ago Production I.G was a forced to be reckoned with. It takes a long period of time to become recognised and at this point Production I.G were nearly a decade old. It was during the fateful year of 1995 that Production I.G released a new film, directed by Mamoru Oshii, based on the hit manga by Masamune Shirow – Ghost in the Shell.

Over the years Ghost in the Shell has managed to achieve the legendary status that is normally only granted to films from Studio Ghibli. The popularity of Ghost in the Shell in the past fifteen years is such that a sequel was released nearly a decade later, Ghost in the Shell Innocence, although not a direct and before that the anime series – Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. To further prove the popularity of this show, Ghost in the Shell 2.0 was released in 2008. GitS 2.0 is a re-release of the original GitS film, but it has been entirely reproduced, from the digital scenes right through to the voice acting and soundtrack.

It’s some years into the future, in a world that looks essentially the same as our own today. The major countries in the world still exist, political turmoil still exists and the corporate and public backstabbing that occurs through all companies and governments have intensified due to the revelation of new technologies. In these government agencies, there are an increasing number of people who used to be human and are now part cyborg with only parts of their humanity remaining – mainly their consciousness, which is referred to as the Ghost.

Two of Japan’s top agencies although to the public appear to be working together, are actually bitter enemies and only keep the façade up to ensure that the status quo is maintained and all out warfare doesn’t occur. However, they are equally as suspicious as secretive as each other and this is seen from the very first scene in the movie. Our heroine, or even anti-heroine as many would argue, is on a stakeout mission where she has to kill one of the contacts of Section 6, which she manages to do with ruthless efficiency.

It doesn’t take long for some of Section 6’s plans to go a bit astray and Section 9, the section where our heroine works, finds out and sends out the team to find out why Section 6 have access to robotic technology that they have no need for. Whilst they investigate Section 6, some truly incredible information falls into their possession around Ghosts and Ghosts evolving from nothing – something that was once thought of as impossible as part human part android people.

Unfortunately Ghost in the Shell 2.0 does not wrap everything up nicely, there’s a huge cliffhanger and this leaves a lot open to interpretation. Naturally this leaves the viewer desperate for more – a sign of a truly great film.

The characters are all clear and distinct, with plenty of questions raised on the morality of creating people and interfering in the human body and there’s loads of character development from the two main “androids”, something which a lot of anime manages to miss. The film itself is very grungy and has echoes of cyberpunk from the very start. However, this does not mean the film has been done on the cheap, or looks cheap, the backgrounds and characters are well drawn and the colours – although dark – are distinct and accurately reflect the mood of the film.

The voice acting of the English cast is brilliant, with all of the characters completely distinct and recognisable even when not looking at the screen, which is a very rare occurrence. The acting of the English voice cast is also top-notch with affection, sadness and melancholy being expressed with truth. The Japanese voice cast are also amazing, as is the actual soundtrack to the entire film.

Ghost in the Shell 2.0 is going to be contentious for many fans, those who saw the original or the Special Edition a few years ago will notice some significant differences in the films that they are watching. 2.0 has a lot more CGI, with some scenes entirely redone and unfortunately some of the CGI scenes jar painfully with the original drawn scenes that it sits next to, it’s more than just a juxtaposition, it’s a little off-putting. However, the rest of the upgrades are perfectly done, the majority of the scenes have been improved with more distinction in the characters and with more effective colours. Between the original and the remastered version the colour palettes have changed significantly as well, there’s a lot more orange and lighter hues than the original blue and greens, this update is done very well and doesn’t jar or look out of place with modern anime – although the original colours give the film a different feel.

Final Score

9

The original film is going to be many people’s favourite; however, for sheer quality of transfer and the gentle revisions made in most places simply lift the quality of this film’s visual up a few levels. With a great storyline that grabs the viewer and a cast that’s the best in recent times, it’s a must have for all anime fans.