Scheduled to post on the right time, but the wrong day. Fixed now.
Yesterday I took a look at the live-action remake of Ghost In The Shell, the anime based on a manga. I wanted to judge the movie on its own merits. Now it’s time to look at the original movie, the 1995 animated version. The original manga has a sequel and a prequel set between the first and second manga. We’re looking at the movie as I have read none of the manga and treating it as the source material.
This is one of the early anime to hit the US at the height of the 90s anime boom and might be one of the videos responsible for it, showing that animation wasn’t just for kids and more adult stories could be told through animation. It’s still considered a must-see anime that holds up enough to inspire numerous other movie makers even in the US. I’ve only recently had the chance to see it as Tubi and VuDu both have it available free with ads to watch. I went with the Tubi version because for some reason the free shows don’t run on VuDu on my computer, just the ads. Yet I think I can watch the stuff in my library without any problem. Meanwhile Tubi’s full screen option goes wonky on the latest Vista-friendly version of Chrome but works fine on Firefox, so take that into account as well. Also, this one is not for the kiddies at all. These are the uncensored versions, with nudity, swearing, and dudes turning into cyber-enhanced meat chunks, so that into account as well.
RELEASE DATE: 1995
RUNTIME: 1 hours, 23 minutes
DIRECTOR: Mamoru Oshii
(“comic”, “manga”–STILL THE SAME THING, PEOPLE!)
GROSS INCOME: JPY54,753,615.22 from an estimated budget of JPY600,000,000
(gross income may be the current value based on exchange rates, IMDB only lists the yen for budget and the gross in dollars)
The Plot: Still in the future of cyberbrains, prosthetic bodies, and “ghosts”, the soul and memories of a person. This time Section 9 is after the Puppetmaster (the Puppeteer in the manga), who can hack into an augmented person’s ghost and change their memories to serve his needs. He’s wanted for numerous crimes. However, there’s more to this villain that our heroes know, and it may be related to the mysterious Project 2501 of the ministry of foreign affairs, aka Section 6.
Why Did I Want To See It?: Considering the movie has had influence on Western creators as well as it’s historic place in international anime fandom I kind of had to see it at some point. Plus as mentioned yesterday I very much enjoyed Stand Alone Complex and wanted to see where it began.
What Did I Think?: Considering the ending I’m not sure how SAC actually fits into the timeline, or where this movie fits with the other series that followed, but I haven’t seen any of the other movies and shows, nor played the games. And let’s get the live-action movie comparison out of the way now. I think the writers of the movie saw the trailer above and decided to make a movie around it. That’s fine for a creative challenge for a multi-million dollar movie based on a franchise with a lot of fans to promote it that seems like a very dumb idea. The movie does explain what a ghost is while with this movie you have to guess from inference. You can blame this on the needs of the story. Hollywood’s version starts a year before the main events and we see the first cyborg so we get an explanation of Mira/Mokoto’s ghost. By now in the anime prosthetic bodies are pretty normal so everyone should know what a ghost is. The opening text could have explained it but it went in a different direction and without a narrator you have to guess for yourself. Lucky for me I did my research when SAC gained my attention. I do wonder where that second voice came from when Makoto and Batou get all navel gazey?
As far as which is better, while I don’t think the Hollywood version is terrible (I enjoyed watching it for the most part), this is clearly better. Those clips in their proper context makes for a better experience. Admittedly the fight in the lake or whatever is more impressive done in live action, but only on a technical level. Seeing the actual movie shows how the newer one did that just because it was in the original movie, even though the story is very different. The Puppetmaster makes for a good threat, but it also works in political intrigue better, and I can’t really elaborate without spoilers. The action is good, and while it does take time to get philosophical about how much of Mokoto is still human. I do find the ending a bit unsatisfactory but that’s based more on my tastes and perspectives rather that being bad storywise. Again, I can’t go into it for spoiler reasons but I have no problems with the ending as an unbiased critique, just personal preference.
I also had to get used to different voices for the characters. Richard Epcar is Batou again, and to me he is Batou. IMDB claims he’s in the redub I’ll be reviewing tomorrow to complete this Ghost In The Shell-a-thon and I hope they’re right. The only other voice I’m used to is William Fredrick Knight as Aramaki. The rest are new to my ears but are the original performers. Mimi Woods does a good job as the Major but I’m just so used to Mary Elizabeth McGlynn’s voice coming out of her that it was a distraction early on, but I got over it and Woods won me over, at least for the movie. This movie also does more with Togusa, now voiced by Christopher Joyce, which also didn’t return for Stand Alone Complex, and I have to wonder if people who saw the movie first had the same issue with the series? By more I mean he actually does something beside have a shootout at a restaurant. While they mention his family and the fact that he and Aramaki are the only ones with nothing more than minor brain augmentation (so they can still use that mental link thing) he’s still naturally human, and I still wish they did more with that given the theme.
The animation is very good, and none of those weird hologram fish and giants around the city. Seriously, the recent movie should have stopped at having street markings look like the football field on modern televised games. The city has sunlight in the day and a regular night sky. The story does stop a bit when Mokoto and Batou are on the boat talking but it does serve to show that Makoto is questioning her own humanity as most of her body is machine now. Again, I’m not thrilled with the ending but thematically a case can be made for it. And what was with that slow-mo cargo plane?
Also, still no Tachicomas. I didn’t realize they were a Stand Alone Complex creation and it just makes me like the show even more.
Was it worth the wait?: I get worried sometimes about the hype ruining my experience, like it did with Pacific Rim. I think this movie does at least live up to enough hype that it’s worth watching. Again, it is superior to the live action Hollywood movie, but if you really want to see both I’d say watch the new version first because this movie will ruin a lot of the enjoyment as you see the trailer out of context and with actors instead of drawing. However we have one more video to look at. Tomorrow we look at the redub, created because the purists took a few issues with this version. Join me for the conclusion of this examination.