Ghost in the Shell 2.0: Redux (2008)
By: J.R. McNamara on May 1, 2010  | 
Madman | Region B | 1.85:1, 1080p | Japanese DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 | 83 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Starring: Akio Ôtsuka, Atsuko Tanaka, Kôichi Yamadera
Screenplay: Kazunori Itô
Country: Japan
External Links
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In the western world, anime is now an important part of out cinematic lives. From the amazing Akira to some of the family films released by Studio Ghibli, a lot of us are hooked into the wonders of Japanimation. Of course, as with any genre, there are unmissables, films that define what the genre is all about. In the case of anime, some of those title would be the aforementioned Akira, Ninja Scroll, the amazing soap opera Macross (or Robotech for the 80s Saturday morning TV kids), Voltron, Spirited Away and of course, the influential Ghost in the Shell.

Here we have a new release of Ghost in the Shell, updated and Blu-rayed so that it looks the best it ever has, but here we also have something different. The original GitS suffered from individuality issues after The Matrix borrowed heavily from its look and feel. The producers have tweaked… actually more than tweaked, they have pulled out the old engine and souped it up with some Hot Rod styled super charger, to give it back what it had earned in its own right: an amazing voice in the world not just of anime, but of sci-fi as an entire genre.

Ghost in the Shell is set in 2029, and the world has become a gigantic electronic hub, where moreso than ever before, information is power, and the most prized possessions in the world are the best hackers. We are introduced to Major Motoko Kusanagi, an artificial human being who works for a police division known as Section 9. Most of the members of this elite security force are cybernetic in some way, but Kusanagi's completely artificial body gives her the edge over the others who still retain mostly human parts.

The Section's current job is to track down a hacker known as the Puppet Master, who is able to reprogram living humans to do his bidding as if they were machines, leaving them as confused husks with no real memories when he has finished with them. Kusanagi has a personal reason for tracking down the Puppet Master: if he can hack a human brain, does this mean he can ascertain what is real and artificial? Would he be able to determine whether or not a completely built human being has a 'ghost' and therefore help her to come to terms her existence? She actively pursues him but doesn't realize one thing: he is just as interested in her as she is in him… but why?

Watch and find out.

While I am not always in support of a film getting updated for new audiences, I have to say I am extraordinarily glad that this film has been altered to give it back its own identity. The Matrix stole so much from it, not just in its cinematic design, but ideas, and even costuming choices.

Obviously, obsessive fanboys are going to hate any souping up of their beloved GitS, and I fully appreciate that. At times the differences are quite jarring, especially when the updated Kusanagi is still present amongst some of the older animation, but I have to say that visually I actually prefer this version, and at the end of the say, the amazing cyberpunk story has not been altered.

It would also be remiss of me not to mention that this anime is based on the spectacular manga by Masamune Shirow, who is also responsible for many other great works such as Appleseed and Dominion that are well worth tracking down.
A gorgeous sharp image, with rich colours and not a compression artefact in sight. Displayed in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
Nothing short of spectacular! Presented in either Japanese or English DTS-ES 5.1.
Extra Features
Ghost in the Shell - yes, the original, unchanged film is also here. This is not a Hot Rod like the main feature, with the original colors it looks a little soft and has a few artifacts. I have to admit that I was going to give this extra just a glance for the quality, but ended up watching the whole film all over again.

The Making of Ghost in the Shell - Production Report: This is a quite interesting explanation about why Ghost in the Shell is so innovative, with its use of DGA (Digital Generated Animation) and it actually describes how some of the work is done. Amusingly the software shown is 15 years old now, as is the hardware, so it does look quite primitive, but the result is amazing. The whole piece feels like it is made to convince cinema owners or home video companies to put the film in their cinemas.

Theatrical Trailer: Obviously, this is the trailer for the film.

Character Profiles: A series of stills with descriptions of the characters in the film. It would be even more useful if the font used was clearer, and not so arty.

Glossary: A useful dictionary of various things used in the film but it suffers from the same font issue as the Character Profiles.

Those of you who get bent out of shape over the classification banners on disc slicks will be pleased to know that Madman offer this in a reversible cover, the inside being sans classification markings.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
The best way to describe how I feel about this film is that it is Akira's slightly lesser younger sister: you'll sleep with it, but you'd be thinking of Akira. It is an impressive film, and an essential addition to any anime or sci-fi fans collection, but buy only after you have already bought Akira. Thankfully this '2.0' presentation has given it a new lease on life, and new Matrix fans won't turn their nose up to it as much.

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