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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They Don't Make Movies Like This Anymore...
Ghost in the Shell: Special Edition is, in my opinion, the ultimate Ghost in the Shell DVD. Even better than the 2.0 thing they've come up with, since that edition only has certain parts rendered with (I'll admit) beautiful CGI; however, they did take out some stuff that had the potential to look better.
This edition, however, does not take anything out. No...
Published 18 months ago by The Nexus

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3.0 out of 5 stars Is this the future of Cinema?
Japanese animated films are unusual. A lot more effort goes into them than for conventional western animated films. The extras on this DVD illustrate this and show that the attention to detail included the fact that when bullets were fired they sparked when they hit metal but not other surfaces. The plots are also multi dimensional and the characters more realistic...
Published on Feb. 2 2004 by Tom Munro


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They Don't Make Movies Like This Anymore..., June 21 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ghost in the Shell - Special Edition (DVD)
Ghost in the Shell: Special Edition is, in my opinion, the ultimate Ghost in the Shell DVD. Even better than the 2.0 thing they've come up with, since that edition only has certain parts rendered with (I'll admit) beautiful CGI; however, they did take out some stuff that had the potential to look better.
This edition, however, does not take anything out. No censors, no renditions that I can think of, etc. It's just the movie, and a whole disc loaded with special features including TWENTY MINUTES of nostalgic anime trailers (Neon Genesis Evangelion AND The End of Evangelion trailers playing back-to-back!). This edition also has the remastered film, which makes the amazing animation look even better, and the sound even crisper. The English voice actors all played their parts well and matched their characters, though I disagree with some other reviewers when they say Matoko sounds just a LITTLE TOO robotic. She's a cyborg. That's the point.
Now onto the film itself: it's about an omnipresent hacker nicknamed The Puppetmaster who finds a way to hack into a government official, and Major Matoko Kusanagi with her Division 9 to back her up go out to track down this 'ghost hacker'. It's basically the same storyline as the manga it's based on by Masamune Shirow, except with a few divisions of the plot, without most of the subplots. Which is a good thing, because this movie's complicated enough, and while it does get by without being TOTALLY confusing (like the manga), just remember that this time we don't have Masamune Shirow's notes to help us out.
Also, this was one of the key inspirations for The Matrix, another favourite of mine.
This is also one of the 'Big Three' anime films that introduced anime to Western audiences. Ninja Scroll and Akira are the other two, and while it's hard to pick favourites I'd have to say Ghost in the Shell is my favourite out of these three.
****1/2 out of *****
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest sci-fi films of all time., June 18 2004
Ghost in the Shell is simply my favorite science fiction film second only to Blade Runner- Director's Cut. Which, not surprisingly, influenced this movie a great deal. I remember back in 1996.....already a full blown anime aficionado, I had followed the production of this film since the first Japanese press release and was eagerly awaiting its indefinate arrival on American shores. Having read Masamune Shirow's graphic novel that inspired the film, this became the first anime title that I ever pre-ordered and counted the days upon its release.
But the movie wasn't what I had expected. The entense action was toned down a bit. The humor in the graphic novel was entirely non-existent in the film. What was left were the deep philosophical ovetones. And I commend Mamoru Oshii for making the risky decision to focus mainly on this aspect of the story. The movie, in fact, was BETTER than I could have ever hoped.
The story seems simple even typical when described, but it's the underlining philosophical themes that make this film such a treasure.
Our protagonist is Motoko Kusanagi, an officer of a military division known as Section 9. On the trail of a Notorious hacker dubbed The Puppet Master, Kusunagi begins to question her own consciousness or "ghost" as she unravels the case.
Deep in 'noir' territory, Ghost in the Shell is definately not for the viewer who likes to check their brain at the door. You will be challenged to discover the existential nature of the characters as they discover it themselves. This is not bad filmaking rather than a forced empathy with Kusunagi that will hopefully get you contemplating some of the philosophical issues presented here.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not Enough Background, May 4 2004
By 
Egoman (Portland, OR) - See all my reviews
"Ghost in the Shell" is a rather famous animated film- one which has influenced (and been influenced by) a lot of western science fiction. According to the Wachowski brothers, this film (and many other anime movies) greatly affected their ideas for "The Matrix".
This movie, like countless others before and since, ponders the questions of "what is reality?" and "what is the individual?". This is not new ground. The 1982 Ridley Scott film "Blade Runner" (the Director's Cut) covered all this same territory with considerably more style and drama.
The (mostly) good news:
For fans of animation, "Ghost" is not up to the standards of a Miyazaki movie, but it is a worthy purchase. There were some scenes in which the producers were clearly trying to save money, but they were few and far between. CG effects were used sparsely, but blended seemlessly into the cel animation.
The Japanese voice-over is solid but, as is often the case, the English version is just awful. I couldn't even watch the entire film in English a single time.
The bad news:
Like most anime, this movie is based upon a lengthy manga series and, at less than one and a half hours, it doesn't offer any help to those (like me) who aren't familiar with it. There just isn't much (or any) background information put into the film. In some cases, the uninitiated viewer won't find out some details they should know at the beginning until the movie is almost over. In other cases, it's apparent that important details are never covered.
This tendency to cater toward the manga fans also presents itself in the area of character development. Without background, I found it difficult to care about the characters or their mission. I never felt involved with the story or empathized with anyone in it. This is in stark contrast to, again, "Blade Runner", which clocked in at just about two hours but really wrapped me up in its world and characters long before the end.
From what I hear, this is generally considered a "deep" film, among fans of anime, at least. It certainly was not a mindless action film, but it covered ground that was well-tread 50 years ago, let alone in 1996. Most of the philosophy took the form of unrealistically lengthy conversations between characters. The second and third "Matrix" installments came under fire for doing what poor authors everywhere do: 'telling, not showing'. "Ghost in the Shell" was more guilty of that error than any other science fiction film I've seen yet, including the "Matrix" trilogy.
One could mention how unlikely/implausible the story was as well, but that's an issue that could be taken with fully half of the science fiction movies, books, and short stories out there.
In short, fans of the manga may find some enjoyment in seeing their favorite characters put into action. For those new to this world, however, "Ghost" is rather sparse and shallow.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile premise, April 4 2004
By 
wiredweird "wiredweird" (Earth, or somewhere nearby) - See all my reviews
The basic question is worth asking. Start with a world of natural and synthetic bodies, natural and synthetic thoughts, and all combinations along both axes. What percentage of each does it take for some mind in some body to be human?
The lead character is well placed to ask the question. She convincingly answers the question in her own case. The plot that carries her along is a man(?)-hunt in a futuristic urban landscape. For all its skyscrapers and other features, the city still has its crowded streets, banners, and open store fronts. They are part of the answer, functioning human communities in a man-made physical environment.
The animation was uniformly good throughout, but I found the script to have a choppy pace. There were long, leisurely canal rides between the chases and shooting, and long philosophical monologues. As long as the director chose an action movie for a vehicle, I would have preferred to see the basic questions acted out rather than spoken.
This anime well done, but the plot is too inconsistent for me to call it great. It's a good one, though, and I keep coming back to it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intellectual, existential action anime, March 6 2004
By 
Daniel J. Hamlow (Narita, Japan) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ghost in the Shell (VHS Tape)
An existential action anime? That's what Ghost In The Shell, a.k.a. Kokakukidotai (Shell Mobile Force) is, with animation sporting top-of-the-line computer imagery in the Bladerunner-like metropolis of Newport, but that's secondary compared to the underlying intellectual theme.
Major Kusanagi Motoko is a skillfully trained cyborg assassin in Newport's Section 9, who's taking out a diplomat illegally trying to give immunity to a listed programmer, demonstrates her training, including an amazing moment when she dives off a building, picks off her target, and via a thermoptic camouflage (i.e. portable cloaking device), vanishes from sight.
She and the members of her team, consisting of the mostly human Togusa, Ichikawa, and Batou, a burly no-nonsense blond cyborg with electronic eye implants, are trying to track down the Puppet Master. The Puppet Master is a master hacker who hacks into people's brains and uses them for his dirty work, presumably to carry out espionage or terrorism, leaving his puppets no memory of their infiltration. One of his puppets keeps using a public computer to try to infiltrate the brain of his wife, who is divorcing him and wants custody of their child. When he's picked up, he is told by Section 9 that his wife, child, and divorce are all false memories imprinted by the Puppet Master, causing further distress to the man when he is told the fake memories can't be erased.
However, there are two conflicts going on. One is Kusanagi's mission to hunt down the Puppet Master. The other and the one with a deeper meaning is the search for her identity within the scheme of a whole, or rather, something beyond her individual self, highlighted by her words taken from the Book of Corinthians: "For now we through a glass, darkly." This reflects an earlier statement when she says in observation of a victim of the Puppet Master, "all data that exists is both fantasy and reality. Whichever it is, the data a person collects in a lifetime is a tiny bit compared to the whole." A postmodernist flair is introduced when the Puppet Master says "While memories may as well be the same as fantasy, it is by these memories that mankind exists."
The question thus is, is it possible for the soul to exist in a highly technological world, where special operatives have cyborg shells, metabolic control systems, ESP, and cyber-brains?
The search is also symbolized when she surfaces, and the animated image of her rising up to meet her reflection, representing her true self. She wonders if she has a ghost, an animating soul or spirit. In looking at the construction of her body in the opening credits, one sees that she's heavily mechanized, with an outer layer of flesh surrounding her.
Her attempt at defining the self begins with a unique face, voice, childhood memories, feelings for the future, and the set of mental processes producing a consciousness that is "me." However, upon a discovery involving the Puppet Master, she further worries that what if there wasn't a real "me," that "I believe I exist based only on what my environment tells me. ... What if a computer brain can generate a ghost and harbor a soul? On what basis then do I believe in myself?" In other words, what if there is no higher power to connect to, bringing into mind the word "religion," which means "to reconnect to."
The action sequences aren't extreme, ultraviolent, or gratuitous in the chase sequences, but are moderate, that is until the heavy artillery is brought out, at which point glass, metal, and rock starts to fly. A very intelligent, thought-provoking, one-of-a-kind existential, soul-searching anime, with Kusanagi despite its cyborg dominance showing some human traits.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Is this the future of Cinema?, Feb. 2 2004
By 
Tom Munro "tomfrombrunswick" (Melbourne, Victoria Australia) - See all my reviews
Japanese animated films are unusual. A lot more effort goes into them than for conventional western animated films. The extras on this DVD illustrate this and show that the attention to detail included the fact that when bullets were fired they sparked when they hit metal but not other surfaces. The plots are also multi dimensional and the characters more realistic. (There is of course something strange suggesting that animated characters are realistic)
This is a science fiction story set in the near future in a strange city that from a distance looks like New York but up close looks like Bangcock or Hong Kong. In the future law enforcement officers are not entirely human. They are people who have had parts of their bodies reconstructed using mechanical parts like the old television series the six million dollar man. The central character is a cyborg who probably has some form of human brain but is constructed in the form of a 20 year old playboy centrefold. She is involved in tracking down a computer hacker who is able to plant false memories into people so that they become his unwilling agents.
The film is one that is perhaps more action packed than a Stevan Seagal move with well constructed car chases shoot outs and so on. However it contains meditations on the nature of human identity, a debate sparked by the villain who in changing peoples memories changes the nature of people. A good deal of the film is obviously taken from Blade Runner. The feel and atmospherics and some of the lines of the characters interrogating those who have become the agents of the villain.
Perhaps more interestingly the film seems to be an inspiration for a number of ideas in the Matrix. The opening titles were clearly the basis for the visual portrayal of the matrix itself. Others have commented on how the main character of this film is a role model for Trinity.
In watching the film was is amazed by the skill in the animation. The street scapes, the movement of the people in the background, the use of focus to create the impression of depth and movement. All in all a considerable achievement if at the end of the day it is only a science fiction adventure film with a slightly hackneyed ending.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ghost in the Shell, Jan. 11 2004
Like many other reviews about Ghost In The Shell, I highly recommend this movie. I have had this movie for quite a while, and what has compelled me to write a review is the recent innovations in technology...especially biomedical engineering. Current research in neuroscience, Electoactive Polymers (plastic muscles), nano-technoloy, flexible electroluminescent panels (could make skin the new light bulb), and replicators (printers that make 3 dimensional objects out of plastics....now some are experimenting with live cultured human cells in hopes to build a new organ (they've already made an ear)) is the science fiction of this movie.
Ghost in the shell is a powerful movie for those who know what is possible in today's revolutionary merging of man and machine. Our electrical signals generated in our brains and body are currently being deciphered as a code which is very similar to the 1s and 0s the computer uses you are working on right now. Soon, with respect to historical timelines, our lives just might be parallel to that of this movie.
Stylistically this movie is sharp, interesting and familiar to most anime fans. I first saw this movie over seven years ago and was amazed. Now I occasionally view it and reflect on the technology around me, my colleagues (teachers and scientists), and my students. Those students will be the scientists who make the subject matter in this movie a reality.
Get the movie and think.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing Action Animation, Dec 30 2003
By 
OverTheMoon (overthemoonreview@hotmail.com) - See all my reviews
Ghost in a Shell is first class Manga entertainment with a positively techno-orientated feel to boot. The world that has been assembled for this movie will blow your mind and at times it feels like you are watching a live action film. The plot is certainly going to bend your intelligence in more ways than one as you must come to grips with a Neo-Tokyo that is home to humans, half-human/half-robots, full robot humans and ghosts that are a type of robot that exist in human form - all before the story even begins. The artwork here is outstanding and many of the action sequences can only be seen in this animation as the cost of a CGI movie done this way would probably be double or more that of the whole Matrix trilogy.
The story revolved around a hacker that is hacking ghosts so that it can take control of the political and economic infrastructure of Neo-Tokyo. Ghosts, humans and half-human/half-robots set out to track the hacker down and along the way meet all sorts of conspiracies.
Yes, GIAS has probably influenced nearly every modern techno-orientated sci-fi movie and certainly movies like The Matrix and games like Metal Gear Solid can not deny where their roots came from.
Ghost in a Shell is not flawless and does end in a strange way that does not feel satisfying but you do not really care because what you are really watching here is the mega-fantasy and unbelievable animation that is on display.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What kind of future awaits?, Dec 19 2003
By A Customer
When I saw this movie in 1995, I was pleasantry shocked and sighed. I (still) believe this is one of the most influential movies to many movie creators. You can recognize what I meant from its world (virtual/real world), colors (cyber green), designs (opening title role and the battle at ruined museum!), and so on. If you love The Matrix, you can find "core" ideas from the Ghost.
As same as the original manga, this movie contents so many information to understand the "real" concept of the world. No wonder many people saw it at least twice. Well, when I saw it, I felt scare because the Ghost insisted me many possibility of net-future. It gave me an opportunity of thinking about what kind of future awaits us through Motoko's agony. This is just an animation. but quite worth to see over and over....you may find the idea of your identity (even it is not in a clear shape.)
Ghost 2 is going to be at theater in Japan (Spring 2004. The title is "INNOCENT"). I'm very looking forward to see it because this movie is going to show us the hint of the reason of being yourself in the cyber world through "doll" and "dog". (According to Mr. Oshii, these are "the key" to understand the movie.) I hope INNOCENT is even better than the Ghost 1. Also, Ghost is showing as TV series now (Ghost in the Shell, Stand Alone Complex). I hope it is going to be released in the USA soon. (......Sorry about my bad English.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Overwhelming Sea of Information., Nov. 20 2003
By 
Adrian Duran Sanchez "Conductista" (Costa Rica.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ghost in the Shell takes the most common themes of Japanimation and shows it to you in a different spectrum, wide open solidly in one point of departure, from there its interpretation expands to everyone's own perception of the concept. The film essential story uncovers the elusive meaning of life by this new technological era, where everything can be assimilated by computer intelligence and political will to drain information and manipulate the spheres of power with all their generous killing for the sake of National Security, but the movie goes even further, convey modern science and method is the existentialistic question represented metaphorically by Motoko Kusanagi, in a multiplex compilation of uncertainty and doubt into the depths of artificiality. No cheap Matrix Reloaded philosophy, no free given action, just pure state of the art reflection and a resolution of the story line that is completely breathtaking, the result ends in the beginning of a new frontier of thoughts and memories.
Similar at first sight with Blade Runner, but far from it's point of view and treatment, Ghost in the Shell offers both emotion and sense, with smooth and much wise touches of intellectuality expressed in a level of animation that takes this genre and style to new boundaries. The Wachowski Brother (The Matrix trilogy), took from here their visual style and blended closely in flesh and blood, but always the main source stays magnificent, becoming the standard for new projects in this field; unprecedented.
Complex and beautiful, the film enters a world based on computerization of the human being, over specialization, and the unique characteristics of our personalities, the Ghost is the only thing that separates the organic real from absolute artificiality. And so, we are connected to a vast net, parallel to our own world, complex overwhelmingly by information, life multiplies responses and conducts improving it self by mechanic adjustments, man defines it's actions, but actions defines mankind, no proof of existence, where no modern science nor philosophy can't give an accurate explanation of life, a fragile state of lost conscience and greed for the objective in every aspect of life.
Project 2501, becomes aware of his existence, and so targets Kusanagi for his only and last attempt to blend himself and the Mayor for the organic achievement of breeding, perhaps to fully become touch by emotions and the tragic fate of dying someday, it really doesn't matter, all for the being, away from the synthetic is the goal, anything else is unsubstantial, beneath the remains, politically it ends in a draw, individually it ends in new possibilities with never before seen points of view, a completely new life, a new born child, this is the analogy of doubt becoming answer.
Mamoru Oshii directed this landmark movie, far surpassing any predecessor (including the legendary Akira), in both animation and storyline. The graphic Japanimation style blended with computer effects, along with the smart script, created an unforgettable piece of science fiction, and most important, contributed the genre with an intellectual mood, elevating Japanimation to the highest level: an adult masterpiece. The film artistic and emotional level is magnified by an excellent original score by Kenji Kawai that perfectly matches every frame and adds more Insight and atmosphere to the story. Detail, architectural design, and colors contrasting the moods by expressing them into forms, pushes every scene to magnification and simple state of the visual manifestation, straight and solid.
A great DVD, where the transferring of every image is a pleasure to watch, the 5.1 Dolby Digital sound is one of the best I've heard so far, and the Making of, illustrates clearly and in much detail the ways of such a magnificent film. This is one of those few pictures that grasp its theme and elegantly enhances it in the big screen for a mesmerizing ride. The Animatrix will be the next step in out breaking Japanimation and story line concerning science fiction, but still this are short films; no animated full length picture is at this level.
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Ghost in the Shell - Special Edition
Ghost in the Shell - Special Edition by Mamoru Oshii (DVD - 2005)
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