Ghost In The Shell has been around for quite some time. It follows a cyborg by the name of Motoko Kusanagi in a futuristic Japan. Ghost In The Shell: The New Movie portrays Motoko right before the start of the original film, which was released back in 1995. As such it is a prequel, but it is also the final chapter in the recent Arise series, which explores Motoko before the events of Ghost In The Shell. The film is great, with an excellent protagonist in Motoko, a great plot with twists and turns and excellent animation. However, it isn’t friendly with newcomers and elements of the story and characters can be quite bland.
Ghost In The Shell: The New Movie marks the end of the Arise arc of the series, which is the prequel to the first series of Ghost In The Shell. The movie begins with Motoko Kusanagi and her small, well stocked squad rescuing hostages from ex-soldier cyborgs who are protesting changes to the Japanese military. During this mission, Motoko discovers a threat that has been her thorn before: the Firestarter virus. To make matters worse, the Prime Minister of Japan is assassinated, being killed in a bombing. Motoko’s task is to find out who killed the Prime Minister and who re-introduced the Firestarter virus into the world.
The story is actually quite good. It has enough to keep the viewer on their feet with the various twists and turns, although some of them do feel cliche. It is well paced as well, which means viewers who pay close attention will be able to follow it very well. Of course, for those who miss a certain detail or two, it may cause the viewer to become confuse later on in the movie. The characters are hit and miss. Motoko is an interesting character. She determined at doing her job within the law of the land. She’s headstrong, intelligent and a great leader. However, members of her squad are quite bland and all have similar voices. In fact, Motoko seems to be the most interesting character of the movie, as such, she is the only character I truly cared about.
The issue I have with Ghost In The Shell The New Movie is it isn’t too friendly to newcomers. The New Movie is the end of the series known as Arise, which is a prequel to the main series. Of course, series need to wrap things up, but with all the references to the series (as well as the references to the original series), any newcomers who just watch this movie will only confuse them and they won’t enjoy the movie. I am in this situation. This is the first Ghost In The Shell film I have watched and I wasn’t able to draw to the references.
The animation is top notch. This is where the movie does excel at and it is an absolute joy to watch it all unfold. The character designs and the various environments are quite detailed. Motoko’s character design matches her headstrong personality. The action scenes are also a joy to watch. The movement is smooth and the action is exciting. The weapon design is quite inspiring. The soundtrack is decent enough. It hits the right notes when there is a high tension situation. In the other parts of the movie, however, it falls quite flat. Both the Japanese and English voice tracks are available and it will come down to the viewer’s preference on whether they enjoy watching a subbed or dubbed version of Japanese media. I do prefer the Japanese subbed version, although it is worth noting the excellent voice acting of Elizabeth Maxwell, Motoko English voice actress. Her voice is exactly what I would think of when it came to Motoko.
All in all, I enjoyed the movie. The plot was well paced and it did provide some twists and turns to keep me on my feet. Motoko was an interesting character to follow and the movie allowed me to care about the fate of the protagonists. It also had top notch animation, a decent soundtrack and Motoko’s voice acting was great in both audio tracks. With that said, the other characters felt like they were one dimensional and it wasn’t welcoming to newcomers who didn’t see Arise or any other Ghost In The Shell movie or TV episode. Still, it is a great movie to enjoy and a nice way to wrap up a series.
Ghost In The Shell: The New Movie was provided by Madman for the purpose of this review. The Blu-ray version was reviewed. The Blu-ray and DVD versions are now available through retailers and Madman’s website.