Ghost in the Shell: Arise

longtime readers – Hmmm…. – may have seen the previous posts on Ghost in the Shell – both the movies and the 2 TV Series. recently a ‘prequel’ 4-episode miniseries was done that arguably fits ahead of all of them in time, although it’s closest in plot, characters and mentality to the two TV series – Ghost in the Shell:Arise.

So these episodes are a bit of a mix – they attempt to tell more of Motoko’s backstory (I can’t remember if they did much in the series with this, certainly not the movies, with this, barring one notable episode) – and they show the forming of the team (Motoko, Batou, Borma, Paz, Saito and Togusa with Aramaki as the Chief) that continues in the two series. And they attempt to include the other characters a bit more than seen previously (in the series it’s all about Motoko, Batou and Aramaki with Togusa in close second, the rest of the team have fairly 2-dimensional roles) although with four episodes there isn’t much time for that.

Here they also develop Motoko’s origins in Army Intelligence prior to joining Section 9, which is interesting but definitely not explained enough. And her former captain (Kurutsu) is seen throughout this series, in part as a foil, in part as a potential adversary? It’s not really clear.

Like all the Ghost series and movies, the animation is top-notch, and the visuals are always interesting and offbeat. And in addition to the backstory development mentioned above, there are at least two major plot lines through the four series in parallel, and those are sometimes hard to follow but interesting also.

The Section 9 ‘think tanks’ (Tachikomas in the two TV series) are seen here as earlier versions called ‘Logicomas’ – while the characters sometimes slam their capabilities as outdated or inferior, they seem as useful as the later versions – and not quite as silly in voice characterization as the later Tachikomas are).

And another interesting side topic is the infrequent commentary on ‘cyberization’ of humans – the human dream of merging man with machine – as well as the flip side of it being forced on people in part due to corporate greed. I found it kind of ironic that the people (with one exception) doing most of the commentary on this in the show are full cyborgs (all the members of Section 9 excepting Togusa and Aramaki).

I would say that besides the first movie, the first TV series (namely the Laughing Man story cycle within) would be my favorite – but this mini-series is very well done and definitely next in line – there’s likely sufficient timeline available for yet another between this series and the events in Stand Alone Complex, certainly. Like Initial D, Samurai Champloo and Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell rarely disappoints and ranks right up there with the best anime – can’t wait for the next one!


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