DVD Review: Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Borders 3 and 4
30/11/2015 Leave a comment
Major Kusanagi and team once again to combat cyber terror in Japan but is this final ‘OVA’ outing as good as the first? well lets find out in our DVD Review Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Borders 3 and 4.
Ghost In The Shell returns with it’s brand new incarnation, ARISE. A 4-part OVA series that explores the origins of Major Kusanagi and Section 9. This release includes the final two Borders:
Border 3: Ghost Tears : A terrorist bombing and the mysterious death of a detective trigger a deadly investigation involving prosthetic legs and members of a rebel group leftover from an international conflict. When all signs point to a master of cyber warfare known as Fire-Starter, phantoms from the past come back to haunt Major Motoko Kusanagi as she struggles to keep her personal and professional life separate.
Border 4: Ghost Stands Alone: Motoko Kusanagi is closing in on the dangerous hacker who created the false memory virus. After a mass shooting leads to the capture of a key witness, the team finds themselves in a race against the clock to unravel the secrets she’s keeping. With enemies appearing all around them and the stakes growing higher by the minute, it’s time to find out once and for all: Who is Fire-Starter? And how can they be stopped?
The more things change the more they say the same; that’s my reaction to the two OVA episodes included with this final release of Ghost in the Shell: Arise. Sure enough the characters look different, and they sound different, but in terms of story, pacing and the technological advancements seen it’s everything we have come to know and love about the Ghost in the Shell universe and it’s a shame that it all had to end so quickly.
The first episode, entitled Ghost Tears, is an emotionally fulfilled story that I didn’t expect to see within any type of GITS environment and it leads to some interesting character development between Kusanagi and Batou. The reasoning behind this is that Kusanagi has now got a steady boyfriend and whenever the situation is brought up she hacks Batou’s cyberbrain and makes him punch himself; thus bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase ”why are you hitting yourself?”. There is a deeper revelation to be had here as well; as it opens viewers up to see Kusanagi’s more ‘human’ and ‘female’ side – something which has rarely been seen in the franchise (or in the anime at least) as Kusanagi is often portrayed as a strong independent woman capable of doing anything.
Fortunately this is still Ghost in the Shell and while this ‘relationship’ is made apparent to the viewer it doesn’t over-shadow the main topics of this particular episode; instead it ties directly in to them. In this case terrorists are using cyborg parts to set-off explosions across the city and Chief Aramakai requests that Kusanagi and her team, which now consists of herself, Batou, Ishikawa, Pazu and Borma, to look into it and bring them to justice – which sparks some outrage from Kusanagi over budget issues. Elsewhere Togusa, who is currently working as a regular police offer, takes on a case which involves a fellow officer being killed with a briefcase of cyborg parts on him. It’s an interesting story that sees the ‘yet to be named section 9’ team up with Togusa in order to bring the criminals to justice; but at the same time showcases Kusanagi’s new relationship and uncover an old military plot from the past.
The second episode in this set however is more in line with traditional Ghost in the Shell themes. Entitled Ghost Stands Alone it now sees the , newly formed but ‘still’ yet to be named Section 9, take down a cyber-terrorist that has long since been thought dead; whereby a person known as “Firestarter” can multi-hack cyber brains and cause mass chaos at a moment’s notice. While it follows the traditional – cyber brain storyline – seen in past Ghost in the Shell stories this particular episode also explores some of the situations Kusanagi had to deal with in the military; as Firestarter is someone she reportedly killed several years prior. This information constantly nags at Kusanagi and as a result sees her making rash decisions in an attempt to put the situation to bed but in the process finds herself under fire from her own allies and other military groups.
As you can probably tell a common theme amongst these two episodes is to explore a bit more about Kusanagi’s past life and emotions; but while they are played out on screen it still leaves her as a relatively mysterious character. In my eyes the first episode of this collection offers a way to see Kusanagi’s ‘human’ side, something which we rarely see, and it can possibly explain why she doesn’t date have any relationships outside of work – the second episode meanwhile is good old fashioned cyber brain hacking with a few interesting twists along the way; but disappointingly it leads to a rather half-hearted ending that can only be finished off by the new film.
Just like with the previous release of Ghost in the Shell: Arise we are treated to a wide-selection of bonus content; some more entertaining than others. Each bonus content is separated into the disc they are form; so bonus content for instance promotional trailers for Border 3 will be on the first disc where as trailers for Border 4 will be on the second disc.
The first DVD disc, which is Border 3: Ghost Tears, has a thirty minute long exclusive featurette known as “Inside the World of Ghost in the Shell: Arise” and it sees the English voice cast explaining the content of the show; such as the theory of cyber brains, the ‘ghosts’ inside the machine, and who exactly the section 9 team members are. For an English produced bonus feature its actuality quite detailed and, for those who are new to the franchise, it provides an explanation into what everything else.
Other bonus content on this first disc include two mini episodes, Logicoma Heart and Episode [JP], and a selection of promotional materials, such as Japanese TV Adverts and so forth, for this particular episode. Another interesting aspect found in the bonus materials of this disc is the inclusion of ‘Making of Arise’ as it is a three minute montage video that shows the stages of production; starting with a meeting discussing the plot of the episode.
The second DVD disc, which is Border 3: Ghost Stands Alone, is pretty bare compared to the first DVD Disc. Sure enough it features a selection of bonus content but nothing impressive, such as the English featurette, like on the first disc; however it does include another ‘Logicoma’ episode and a 15 second teaser for the new Ghost in the Shell: Arise movie.
All-in-all its a strong line-up of bonus content but i can’t help get the impression that FUNimation messed-up slightly; as the English Featurette, entitled Inside the World of Ghost in the Shell: Arise, is listed as Part 1 and there is no Part 2 on the second disc nor is it on the first release of the franchise. I can only assume that two parts were intended but everything was covered in this single feature – that or they are saving part two for a future Ghost in the Shell: Arise release.
Media: DVD 9 x2
Running Time: 58:07 (Disc 1), 58:39 (Disc 2)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 448Kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps
When all is said and done Ghost in the Shell: Arise Borders 3 and 4 is another strong release; be it the anime content, the bonus features or how the series has been presented – everything is of top quality. My only gripe however is the English Dub; sure enough its ‘good’ but it could have been a lot better and while the characters may be younger than they are in the other series (and films) i can’t help but feel that the original English (and Japanese) voice actors would’ve brought out the best that this OVA series had to offer; and I’m sure I am not the only one that thinks this.
Episode wise this release contains Border 3: Ghost Tears, which sees Kusanagi and the team join forces with Togusa to stop a terrorist group bombing locations across the city, and Episode 4: Ghost Stands Alone , which sees the newly formed team track down the notorious cyber-hacker known as Firestarter. Both episodes offer a new GITS story and while they may offer similarities or references to past Ghost in the Shell films, such as Kusanagi jumping off a building in stealth camo or breaking her arms while opening a tank, they both add a fresh experience with the arrival of relationships and origin exploration – which in hinsight is what Ghost in the Shell: Arise is supposed to be.
This DVD release by Manga Entertainment UK, which is using discs authored by Madman Entertainment, is just how you would expect it to be as well. The menus are, to be blunt, a bit basic with a single static image for all of the menus – but its better than Warner Bros release of JoJo Bizarre Adventure – however it’s the amount of bonus content, and the constant picture quality, which brings the best out of this release. Sure enough this is just ‘DVD’ but throughout both the main feature and bonus content the quality remains the same; crisp and clear – which is something not all anime DVD’s manage to achieve.
In short this DVD release of Ghost int he Shell: Arise – Borders 3 and 4 is pretty much perfect; with the only complaint being the English Dub voice-over work, but thats just something i will have to get used to. If you are a fan of Ghost in the Shell then Arise – Borders 3 and 4 is definitely worth owning; but take my advice while this DVD is pretty much perfect the experience will be much better in high definition as the difference in quality is noticeable between the DVD and Blu-ray counterparts of this release.
Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Borders 3 and 4 is now available on DVD and Blu-ray within the UK.