Ghost in the Shell, following in the footsteps of Akira, is one of the most critically acclaimed animated movies of the 1990s. Director Mamoru Oshii's bleak cyber-punk anime makes for a good, but flawed DVD. Picture quality is outstanding. The 1.85:1 widescreen transfer does the movie's bold vision justice, and color contrast is excellent. The sound, however, is problematic. The English dialogue track is very good, the voice acting is acceptable, and the sound effects are commanding. Turning on the subtitles while listening to the Japanese audio track, however, reveals flaws. The voice acting on the Japanese track is particularly awkward; the actors simply read their lines without emotion. Also, sound effects are buried on the Japanese track, no matter how loud the volume.The DVD's special features are not as exciting as the case's artwork would have viewers believe. The 30-minute "making of" featurette is dull and offers little insight or substantive information; it's similar in nature to the promos found on cable television, but infinitely less professional and interesting. The theatrical trailer is also a waste of time. "A Guide to Ghost in the Shell" brings up nine areas of background information, such as character bios, crew bios, a plot summary, and some design information. Ghost in the Shell is Grade-A anime and maybe a Grade-B DVD.
"The Making of Ghost in the Shell" (30 mins.)
Complete movie production report
Languages: English, Japanese, Japanese with English subtitles and closed captioned
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, Japanese Dolby Pro Logic Surround Sound
Wide-screen version presented in a matted format with original 1.85:1 aspect ratio
This was my first time seeing this. Although it was fun to watch, I prefer the Scarlet Johansson one. As far as the 4K picture quality, I wasn’t impressed. Colors pop here and there, but overall the image of the animation is flat and soft, with some decent grain. The SteelBook is the only thing saving me from regretting this purchase.
The previous release of Ghost in the Shell contained 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. The 5.1 track is the clear winner. It's frequently dynamic and exciting, with full-featured sound effects and strong spacing. Helicopters zip around the stage, for example, and gunfire is met with considerable heft. Dialogue is clear and focused. Musical delivery excels, with a wide, healthy stage and strong clarity. It's worlds more potent and rich than the competing Japanese PCM 2.0 track. Every instance where the 5.1 track is big and exciting, the Japanese track is puny and narrow. Take, for example, a dialogue scene at about the 12-minute mark. In English, there's is an audible, hearty vehicle engine rumble underneath the dialogue. In the Japanese track, it's barely audible. A computerized voice heard around the 15:50 mark is full and offers a wide reverberating presence in English, whereas in Japanese it's flat and narrow. At the 19:40 mark, English track listeners will enjoy a big, immersive city landscape din that's comparatively flat and a sonic non-factor in Japanese. Examples such as these run rampant throughout the film. Those wishing to listen in Japanese will find a much more narrow, less precise, less robust presentation. English listeners are treated to a healthy, dynamic presentation.
My first copy of this seminal film was on a dinged up VHS that I literally played to death. I had never see anything like it (only finding Akira after first viewing GITS) - the subtle dusting of CGI that vaulted Project I.G.’s fluid animation to something hyper-real, the gorgeous backgrounds, colorful cast, a “lived-in” near future that seemed like it could be on our very real horizon, the contemplative score and the film’s willingness to linger and let us imagine, dream and truly wonder just what being human means.
Fast forward 25 years and GITS’s impact on pop-culture is indelible, inspiring animated and live-action films, video games all things cool. Though it didn’t invent it, when I think “cyberpunk,” I think Ghost in the Shell. 25 years have also seen various transfers of the film, from VHS to DVD to Blu-Ray and now UHD - through all that innovation, GITS both evolves and retains its elegance.
With the UHD transfer, GITS has never looked better, it’s swelling soundtrack, fully uncompressed, is one of its standouts. Colors pop, some of the more kinetic scenes seem almost 3D, jumping off the screen. The steel book packaging, if you are lucky enough to find one without the swelling aftermarket price tag is gorgeous - one of the Best Buy has offered.
TL;DR - Even if you already own a copy of this amazing film, or if you are like me and feel compelled to pick up every iteration of GITS, this is a must buy. And if this is your first “jack-in” to this groundbreaking opus, then I envy you. Enjoy.
So much has been said about this movie already, so I will only share some of my observations about what I got from playing it on my home system. As I don't have a 4K TV yet, I couldn't watch that disc, but the standard Blu-ray sufficed. For my first session I perused the Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, and it has somewhat more definition of clarity than the original stereo track, although some of the dialogue could have been more aggressively mixed to keep it from being buried. The English subtitles were largely a direct port of the script used with older editions of the movie (with the exception of a line from Batou getting changed for no real reason, at one point). The picture overall was beautiful, except for some of the brighter computer screen images which looked a little oversaturated at times, particularly with complex graphics. The only possible disappointment was the use of The Passengers' song "One Minute Warning" in the end credits, which was used for the original American release of the movie back in 1996; because the original Japanese version of the movie is featured on the disc, they could have stuck with the original score by Kenji Kawai, but ended up not doing so. Apart from that, however, the movie holds up as well as it always has, as a true classic, and I would not hesitate to recommend getting it (again) despite any perceivable discrepancies.
First, this is one of the most gorgeous Steelbooks. Slide off the provided plastic slipcover and underneath is a matte metallic paint colorful image of the ghost that wraps around the back. It's a true display piece.
Now, for the picture quality. Sometimes 2D animation doesn't benefit much from HDR and the highlights seem to alter the original intent of the material. Not so here. It is just enough of a bump to make the highlights give the image a more three-dimensional appearance. I compared this to the recent 25th anniversary Blu-ray and this is quite an improvement. The Blu-ray seems muddy in comparison. Believe me, if you want to see this film in its best presentation, and you should because the art is incredible, this is the disc to own. Speaking of the art, there are special features on the 4K disc, including a look at the backgrounds used in the film.
Obviously, I highly recommend this release.
Credit to Best Buy for the quick delivery. I opted for standard shipping. I ordered early in the morning and the item arrived the next day! I was overjoyed.