Ghost In The Shell: Arise 1 (Japan 2013)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 9/4/13

Studio I.G. revisits Masamune Shirow's cyberpunk world and takes a look at Matoko Kusanagi's life before Section 9. Working for the army, her superior officer is murdered and under suspicion for taking bribes. Aramaki, Kusanagi, Batou, Togusa, and Paz are all independently investigating the case, and all evidence ends up pointing to Kusanagi as the culprit. Things get really strange and overly convoluted (as "Ghost In The Shell" plots tend to be), as Kusanagi has to figure out how to solve the case and clear her name before everyone else takes her down.

The animation is sharp and crisp, and Kusanagi's character design mimics the androgynous style of the original movie. She's also aged younger as this is a prequel, and while I can appreciate that from a visual continuity standpoint, it bothers me from a thematic one. She's a full body cyborg, so what does it mean to have an age-appropriate prosthetic body? The action scenes are nice and Kusanagi's fight choreography is superb, which definitely helps alleviate the tedium of the confusing and dialog heavy plot. The film recreates some iconic moments from the original movie to poor effect, but also includes some clever cyber combat moments. It also features several pointless fan service moments, but I can let those slide. A precursor to the Tachikoma, called a Logicoma, is introduced, and it's just as annoying as the other AI tanks in the series. They will undoubtedly continue to use these guys for comedic relief. When all is said and done, Kusanagi becomes a free agent and the stage is set for "Arise 2", which is supposed to come out in a few months. While it's not a great film, I always welcome any chance to see Major Kusanagi in action and to explore her fascinating world.