October 6, 2005

Ghost In The Shell (1995)
Manga Entertainment

82 mins. · R
Letterboxed · 1.85:1

Format
UMD

Audio
English - 2.0

Subtitles
None

Extras
None

Starring
Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Otsuka

Review by
John Carpenter


Rating



(1995)

How do you eat an elephant? Given all of the information and philosophy tossed around in "Ghost In The Shell", it is odd that question is the one in my mind. My experience in the world of Anime is somewhat limited. I am aware of the bigwigs in the genre, but I can't say I have seen them all. "Ghost In The Shell" is one of those titles that seems to always be whispering in your ear, asking to be watched. With its arrival to the UMD format and 82 minutes of free time, I was able to give this classic a look.

"Ghost In The Shell" is a really good movie. Anime seems to be a touchy field for some viewers as they just dismiss the movies as cartoons. Whereas the standard cartoon will generally set out to entertain with laughs, Anime movies are known for challenging thoughts by stretching your imagination and tackling challenging subjects. The complex story blurs the line between humans and machines, life and existence, pre-meditated and free thought. The delivery of these subjects is blended into strong characters and an engaging plot, allowing some downtime for viewers to take in the numerous philosophical points of interest.

How come it is so hard for audiences to accept a serious animated movie? With "A Scanner Darkly" set to hit theaters in the not so distant future, you have to wander how well it will do given the history of animated movies not looking for a laugh or geared towards children. Adventures like "Fire & Ice" or dramas like "Waking Life" seem to go unnoticed to the general public. "Ghost In The Shell" gave us the action and thrills of "The Matrix" before Keanu even thought of donning his black trench coat. Yet most movie fans don't even know who Motoko Kusanagi is. Given the reception of the Anime sequence in "Kill Bill: Volume 1", I think audiences will begin to see the format as an expression of creativity and art rather than simply a cartoon. This revelation will open the doors for movies like "Ghost In The Shell" and allow them to be regarded as their live action counterparts.

Presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen presentation, "Ghost In The Shell" looks excellent. Released in 1995, the movie has found new life on the PSP. Colors are sharp and have a very strong visual appeal. What never ceases to amaze me is the level of detail on the UMD; "Ghost In The Shell" is no exception. All of those hours of drawing, inking, and shading are not lost on the 4.3" screen. Some of the animation almost distracted me from the movie. I kept thinking how great some of the images and backgrounds would look as wallpaper on my computer. It is a testament to a great movie and superb presentation that will allow the mind to drift a bit and still keep up with all that is going on.

I listened to the majority of the movie with i.Sound speakers. It was apparent early on that the added depth would be necessary for "Ghost In The Shell". The beautiful explosions are complimented by the deep bass provided with the portable speakers, enhancing the experience in a way that the PSP faceplate speakers cannot. Earphones certainly immerse you into the movie in an unparalleled way. For PSP owners out there who have some higher end earphones, I think these would be the best option. "Ghost In The Shell" begs for your attention, and earphones provide a private listening experience that is ideal.

So the clear answer to how you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. "Ghost In The Shell" gives a deep, layered story in small doses, allowing us to digest each bite before moving on to the next one. In what could have been a confusing mess, "Ghost In The Shell" stimulates thought well after the credits roll, rising above great animation and strong action sequences. The UMD provides an excellent audio and visual presentation, and its 82 minute runtime is ideal for a movie on the go. If you are a fan of "The Matrix", "Ghost In The Shell" is a must see. Highly recommended.

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