Blu-ray Review: Ghost in the Shell Arise Border:2 Ghost Whispers

nE1icIntegrating technology into our brains will make us vulnerable to hackers; or so says Ghost in the Shell.

I’m not sure if it’s true or not.  To mess with someone’s mind in the way depicted in Ghost in the Shell, we would need to artificially produce information in the same format used by the brain; but is that even a universal format?  Does everyone’s brain work the same way and speak the same language?  The mind is certainly capable of tricking itself; but will we ever be able to do the same with a computer?

One of the things I like about this franchise is that it asks these questions.  It’s so easy to throw a giant robot in space and call it science fiction; but to take science that we have now and make plausible speculations about Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 9.33.20 PMwhere it will be in 50 years takes effort.  It gets a little wacky at times (I could do without the Tron scenes of Matoko flying through the net); but for the most part, this is a cohesive, believable world.

In this second episode of the four-part prequel, Matoko meets up with a few more of her soon-to-be teammates; most notable Batou.  This happens as a convicted war criminal hacks the city’s traffic control system and a lowly Logicoma (The red spider-tank things that speak in child voices.  They really shouldn’t fit in to this world, but they do).  This is Ghost in the Shell, of course, so all is not as it seems, and there’s probably a complex conspiracy behind it all.

The action scenes are quite nice.  They’re fast paced and creative, most notably Batou’s first scene on the highway.  But animation wise, none of them had the wow-factor that I saw in the first episode.  In fact, I kind of felt that the fast cuts were being used to compensate for less fluid movement.  But that’s nitpicking; they’re still entertaining, and non-wow level animation doesn’t detract from the story.

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 9.33.36 PMI think the storyline was a little more refined than in the first episode.  The character development and motivations were clear, and everything tied together nicely at the end; though it was still heavy on the technobabble (again, this is Ghost in the Shell, what do you expect).

I really liked Ghost in the Shell Arise Border:1, and I think the second outing is a slight improvement.  Matoko’s character design may have been made more childlike, but neither the character nor the series have been dumbed down to suit it.

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