Original Release Date: June 20, 2015 Directed By: Kazuya Nomura Genre: Action, Science Fiction Based on the Series Created By: Masamune Shirow
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie. Reader discretion is advised.***
With the nightmares of war still fresh on people’s minds, the fear of violence breaking out again lingers in the air. Bitter resentment remains, and with the world more interconnected than ever before, it only takes one skilled hacker to throw everything into chaos.
Fighting to safeguard their country is the elite cybernetic soldier Major Motoko Kusanagi (voiced by Maaya Sakamoto) and her team.
When a bomb kills Japan’s Prime Minister, as well as a close acquaintance of the Major, Motoko and her squad are called in to uncover what happened. During the investigation, though, Motoko runs into an enemy who is just as deadly as her, perhaps even more so.
The battle lines of the next global conflict are being drawn. Therefore, Motoko has no room for mistakes.
My intention with this review was to look at Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (New Movie) as its own separate entity. I had hoped to critique the film under its own merits and not how it fit within the Ghost in the Shell: Arise (Arise) series, which it is connected to. Having now watched New Movie, I realize doing that will be impossible.
If you have not read my Impressions on the five chapters of the Arise series, I highly encourage you to do so (please click HERE) because New Movie cannot exist by itself. This was a sequel to Arise. Actually, no; “sequel” is not the right word to describe this film. New Movie was a sixth chapter to the Arise storyline, but it just happened to have a big screen budget.
This leaves me torn.
New Movie was no worse nor no better than the other entries in Arise. In fact, it was the most straightforward of the bunch, and it really was what I was hoping to get out of the previous five installments. And I enjoyed Arise, so then why am I not as gung-ho about this film?
- This was a weak finale. (I am choosing to phrase it as a finale because as of this post going live I do not know of any plans to continue the Arise narrative)
- I don’t understand why this was a film that was brought to theaters.
I will explain myself later in the review, but for the moment, allow me to go ahead with my original plan. Ignoring the Arise label, as well as disregarding the major plot points in the film that would have otherwise made no sense had the series not been watched, how was New Movie?
This was better than Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Innocence). However, the same positive elements of New Movie were the same positive elements Innocence had. The film had a killer soundtrack, the visuals were utterly outstanding, the action was badass, and the voice cast (the same from the Arise series) once again knocked it out of the park.
On top of that, this re-imagined version of Section 9, finally felt like Section 9. Again, in my Impression posts, one of the points I kept bringing up was how Arise’s take on Ghost in the Shell’s central team was on its way to matching, but never quite matched the same epicness reached by its predecessor anime, Stand Alone Complex. New Movie finally got there.
So, if I was to learn that the Arise storyline was going to continue, I would be on board in a flash. Now that this Section 9 is ready to rock, I would love to see them in full action. Except, that’s not the case, is it?
I did want to like this film, and to an extent, I did. Nevertheless, I can’t help feel a sense of disappointment.
Follow me on this path. If you have seen Arise, think back all the way to its first chapter, Ghost Pain. In that story, we were introduced to Major Motoko Kusanagi’s original team, Unit 501, and its leader Kurutsu (voiced by Mayumi Asano in both Arise and New Movie). Throughout the Arise series, it was established that Motoko and Kurutsu weren’t on the best terms, and they had wildly different ideologies.
For five chapters, this was the relationship presented to us. Additionally, Kurutsu was never a massive player in Arise. It always seemed that the story was saving her for something bigger down the road. Well, that bigger thing was New Movie. Then, New Movie took what had been set up for so long and said, “All that stuff you thought you knew, it is not important because this is how things really are.”
Okay, so, that’s annoying since how things apparently are completely changed everything that happened in Arise. Although it may have felt as though Kurutsu was going to one day be a significant player, it doesn’t change the fact she wasn’t until New Movie.
And keep in mind, this is me assuming you have seen Arise. If you haven’t, then I suspect your concern would be, who is this Kurutsu character?
This is what I was talking about. You can’t even begin to make sense of New Movie if you have never seen Arise. And even if you’ve seen Arise, this film is still a struggle to follow because it upends everything you thought you knew.
New Movie was a weak finale and I don’t know why it was brought to theaters because this wasn’t a conclusion, this was a stoppage. Yes, there were a lot of good elements to this film, but the story itself, which was almost solid, was overburdened by an incredible amount of baggage that should have been resolved by this point.
This wasn’t a trainwreck, except nothing happened either. Also, the last few minutes of this film were irritating since it undid and then haphazardly glued back together the relationship Motoko had with Director Aramaki (voiced by Ikkyuu Juku).
But that is its own can of worms, and it would require me to explain everything about the Arise series and this film in complete detail.
I’m not angry with New Movie, I just know it could have done so much more.
I’m going to stand by my enjoyment of the Arise series. As its own product, it was a ton of fun. However, if you’re expecting a conclusion, well, this film is that conclusion. And this film dropped the ball.
Yes, visually, musically, technically, vocally, this was great. If I want to check out and let my eyes simply enjoy the spectacle, then yeah, this was a job well done.
Except, that’s a bit of a problem seeing how this is Ghost in the Shell. I don’t want to check out, I want to know what the hell is going on. In that respect, I can’t get behind this one.
Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie is one you can skip.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this film? How would you advise Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and be sure to come back December 30th as Ghost in the Shell Month concludes with Anime Eiga Review: Ghost in the Shell (2017).