Author: John Mathews
Ghost in the shell is a hard film to follow no doubt, I recall watching it years ago and having trouble trying to understand it meaning. Years later with the rise of technology, the film is more relevant today then it was then. I am going to try my best to explain the plot and characters and what this film is meant to be as a plot. The movie begins with a scene of Major Motoko Kusanagi spying on a meeting taking place in an unspecified location in New Port City. The story then moves into the main plotline when Aramaki describes one of the minister's interpreters having had her brain hacked into by the mysterious "Puppet Master". While tracking down the presumed Puppet Master, Kusanagi explains to her partner Togusa , why he was chosen for the team. Eventually, the chase by Batou and Kusanagi leads the fugitive to the banks of a canal where Kusanagi destroys his camouflage and incapacitates him in close quarters combat.
It turns out that the man is not the actual Puppet Master but only a ghosthacked (brainwashed) "puppet" of the criminal. The garbageman whom he aided in ghosthacking has also been ghosthacked - in reality he did not have a wife or daughter, and all memories of them he possesses are false.
Kusanagi and Batou go out to sea in Kusanagi's boat, and it is revealed that Kusanagi goes scuba diving, much to Batou's concern. They then hear a mysterious voice that says, "For now we look through a glass, darkly".
One night, a female cybernetic body is suddenly assembled at Megatech (the manufacturer of bodies of all of Section Nines' cyborgs) without approval, and the cyborg runs off, naked, into the pouring rain, where it gets run over by a truck. Aramaki notices something is wrong with her, and Batou tersely says she's been acting odd for a while and Aramaki would know this if he read Batou's reports. The characters begin to develop slowly at this point and we understand their motives and mot importantly what the whole purpose of the film means.
Nakamura of Section 6 , accompanied by a Doctor Willis, comes to claim the escaped body. Willis confirms that the ghost in the shell is the Puppet Master. Nakamura claims that Section 6 had been tracking the Puppet Master for some time, managed to lure and trap the ghost within this cyborg, and killed his original one.
Aramaki expresses some concern over the fact that Section 6 just left the Puppet Master's original body to rot. The body then states that it is not an AI but rather a sentient entity that was created through the accumulation of data and the flow of information known as Project 2501. The pacing never feels to slow, despite it being a slow burner of a film, as the story is constantly engaging and making you question what will happen next?
As Nakamura and Aramaki are talking to the body, Togusa notices something strange about the entrance of Nakamura and Willis and realizes that someone with therm-optic camouflage entered the building along with the officials because the doors into the building (which are apparently very sensitive) took three seconds to close after Dr. Willis and Nakamura had gone through. The person, or persons, who entered with therm-optic camouflage, shoot the computer connected to the Puppet Master, set off a smoke grenade, blinding everyone, and snatch the ruined cyborg containing the Puppet Master. As Kusanagi and Aramaki talk about the Puppet Master, Aramaki also realises that Section 6 is involved in some sort of conspiracy around Project 2501. This is confirmed when Nakamura talks to Willis about securing the body: Nakamura does not understand why the Puppet Master would want to go to Section 9, but Willis jokes that perhaps it was chasing after a "girlfriend" there, which Nakamura rejects as "utter nonsense."
Animation wise the film is a real stand out considering it is from 1995, it is really a head of its time, and I'm sure would influence a generation of anime series based upon it. Moving on Soon, the getaway car carrying the Puppet Master meets up with another and they split off in different directions, which we'll leave there. There, she runs into a large version of a Fuchikoma (walking tank) guarding the Puppet Master. In addition, in order to condense the manga into 82 minutes of screen time, the movie excludes the subplots in order to focus exclusively on the "Puppet Master" plot. Unlike the manga and the TV series, the producers have stated that the movie is set in Hong Kong. The writing depicted on the scenery is Chinese Hànzì characters, and not Japanese kana/kanji.
The Blu Ray:
This blu ray is a huge step up in terms of video quality, Madman presents it here in a strong 1080p image. The previous release was a sad 1080i video. The colour are rich and there are no signs of print damage, making this a lone a worthy reason to upgrade.
The Audio also gets a step up as it is presented now in 5.1. The previous release included the original cut of the film, presented with PCM 2.0 Japanese and English soundtracks. This release sports an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack and a Japanese LPCM 2.0 presentation. English subtitle options are also included. This one has a clear benefit over the original release in the sound department too.
We also get a nice booklet included as an extra (which is only available during this first print run so we advise you hurry). The booklet is about 16 pages, has very nice art and is also informative.