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on 25 October 2016
There are plenty of half-baked (and fully baked) analyses of the deeper meanings behind this film (and its associated series, the Stand Alone Complex 1st and 2nd Gig/Solid State Society etc) that aren't really worth reprising. Suffice to say that the GitS milieu is a future world with national rivalries still going on while society itself is ever more merged by connected cybersystems and modified individuals capable of tapping into the big data that underpins society, all the while questioning what it means to be human to an ever greater degree. In amongst this there are individuals intent on everything from petty crime to grand criminal acts, who are unafraid to subvert and exploit systems and people (to the extent of "hacking" individuals) to pursue their schemes.

A crack team of modified intelligence operatives is directed by a task force (Section 9, that perhaps occupies a similar space to MI6 but without the subtlety) to engage a criminal mastermind known as the Puppet Master, and this process eventually reaches a showdown in a deserted part of town.

Part of the fun of the journey through the plot is all the tech that is used, from thermal masking to the cyber-implants grafted into the team themselves, as well as into the back-office staff who run operations in real-time (fabulous modified hands, etc). This all adds to a sense that tech really is taking over, and a lot of the team's more philosophical interludes focus on this tension between the biological/spiritual and the tech. Nevertheless it is all used to make progress in the investigations into hackings, killings, and betrayals.

A key attraction of anime to me is the sense of observation that goes into the animation. The best anime will incorporate details that seem obvious but which are phenomenally easy to overlook if you were trying to recreate a cartoon scene for yourself (such as rain running along cables and dripping from the low points). The result is often deceptively simple scenes that feel real and which you feel you're inhabiting, and when the story stops itself for a moment and launches into a scene that re-immerses you into the city, or setting up for a key moment such as interception of a vehicle and setting up the snipers and road blocks, there's a tremendous sense of place. It takes a gutsy director to stop the action for a five-minute tour of a city (to some tremendous music by Kenji Kawaii) that is so utterly immersive that it creates a spell of its own, or to show the minutiae of establishing a road block and the teams moving into position. This is where I think GitS scores big - it sets convention aside and tells its story in its own distinctive style. If you get along with that style you'll be thrilled (you must like detail, and prepare to be confused for a while until things become clear), but it isn't for everybody.

It is moderately "grown up" anime, and while it isn't especially cerebral along the lines of later anime productions, it does make some interesting concepts about human/machine integration come to life, as well as telling a rapid-fire story of espionage and intrigue as it goes.

This film was given a mild makeover years later, to appear as Ghost In The Shell 2.0 Redux [DVD] which was a better buy since it contains not only the made-over movie, but this original version too. There have been some complaints about the transfer of the old movie in the Redux set, but my copy looked okay to me, with the (extremely minor) anime glitches showing up in both versions.

Moving on to the second movie, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence [DVD] is not such a great idea plot-wise. The animation is superb, as usual, but the plot is at once pointless and flat while in parts it is actually ludicrously overblown. For me, the best part of the GitS system of films and episodes (the Stand Alone Complex sets) is this very first movie, either in its original form or with the mild makeover.
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on 28 January 2004
If you only wish to buy one anime (Japanese or other)- this should surely be amongst the top contenders (along with Metropolis and Animatrix). There's not much to add to the above, though in support of all that, here are some points of note:
*Excellent storyline (once you're able to pay attention to it - following the effect the visuals have on you!)
*Superb animation / computer graphics (such detail and realism - like on the Sly&Robbie music-video, included on disc)
*Great 'special effects' (no need to appologise for using a term usually reserved for 'live action' films - it's well deserved here)
*Wonderful music score (can also be bought at amazon - atnospheric, and a little Dead Can Dance or This Mortal Coil-ish)
*Atmospheric, well paced (not boring, long-winded, confusing or 'cluttered')
*Not too much violence or nudity (certainly less than in most Western films these days!)
On the slightly down side, for my liking, the film was a tad too short, or at least it seemed to end too abruptly - I guess I just wanted it to continue!
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on 17 February 2018
Good as it was the first time.i saw it when it was released. Watch the live action version then this. It's great to see how close to this version the live action one is.
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on 17 December 2015
A good anime if you like anime, and if you are reading this, I would assume you do, it is kind of a classic I would say, like Akira is. But I watched this in English I think, lazy, I hate anime in English / American, they may be able to translate the words, but they don't capture the art of the picture. Still it is pretty good.
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on 30 January 2018
Just the quality i expect of this Blu-ray release. About the movie i dont have to say much, just a masterpiece. And this time with wonderful picture quality. Of course you can see its age but they remastered it very very well :-)
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on 20 February 2017
Really excellent film - impressive 'manga' animation especially considering the date it was produced (well before the CGI we know today got going) and extremely thought provoking in respect of AI and the nature of the human mind, all set in an action-intensive context. Condition of the product was excellent. Haven't seen the live action version of this film that was recently released, but I doubt it could top this version!
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on 14 June 2011
Beware of this product.. it's not the same voice cast as the shows.

This set is an abridged, re-recorded version of both series, and although it's nice 5.1 sound, it's not any of the cast that did the 26 pt TV version....

Solid State Society is fine, but if you want that it can be bought seperately for cheaper.

This set is a BIG letdown.

The only reason I give it two starts instead of one is that it has a sweet video transfer and the re-recorded sound track is nice... but the absence of such seminal voices as Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Crispin Freeman, as well as the rest of the excellent cast makes this set, for a fan, undesirable... and no, it's not the same cast as the original GitS either.
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on 26 April 2018
I absolutely love Ghost in the shell, nice steel book cover and disc. Comes with a booklet with some information on the movie. Other than that no different to other standard versions.
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on 11 June 2012
I am an avid Ghost in the Shell fan and I do not regret buying this box set. Part of the value of the Stand Alone complex series is that their density means they can be watched many times, but this box set takes the main arcs from the two series - The Laughing Man and The Individual Eleven - and creates entire films out of them. These are pretty long though, well over two hours each.

I found them useful for clarifying these huge storylines and they have been particularly useful for my friends who have watched Ghost in the Shell, and found their enjoyment greatly enhanced after watching this, especially if they did not have the time to watch the series again.

The arcs are stitched together mostly seamlessly - naturally some of the more nuanced elements are cut out, but that is to be expected. The one thing that does bother me is that within the context of the set, the last film (which is another story but it is not a previous part of the series, though it is still just as good) retains the voices of the series cast, while the two condensed-arc films have different voices for some of the characters. This is why I gave the set four stars but its just something to get used to.

Ghost in the Shell is well worth the hype as a series and should be an integral part of any ones' introduction to Japanese Culture. This box set serves as a good revision for it!
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on 17 June 2013
This film is quite amazing. It has action, it has pathos, it has deep philosophical roots which it continually returns to. It has an engaging female lead and worthwhile support. I don't really understand the need for all the female nudity but understand the need for some of it. That said, it's still one of the best films I've ever seen.
If you want to see the origins of the Matrix and a philosophy that, in some ways, extends beyond it; this is the film for you.
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