“Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie” Is Good, But Not Quite Great

At long last, we finally have a new, feature-length Ghost in the Shell movie. And it’s literally called The New Movie. An equally bad but more accurate title is Ghost in the Shell ARISE: The Movie. Now, I wasn’t even aware there was a new GiTS movie coming out until Funimation sent out an email about it (this is why I opt-in to marketing emails when anime is concerned.) If you want to see it in the US, you have two more chances to do so: today and the 16th. I don’t know why Funimation isn’t doing its three-day run over the weekend, but they’re not and you’re just going to have to deal with it. Thanks, Funimation.

But, if you can see it with its crazy scheduling, you should if you enjoyed the rest of the ARISE story arc. You absolutely should not see it if you haven’t seen the ARISE arc or you’ll be more lost than I was – and I have watched the ARISE arc, with the notable exception of the 5th installment, which isn’t out in the US yet. With that in mind, the plot of The New Movie is a bit of a mess. To fully enjoy The New Movie, I think you’ll have to see it twice, and you’ll need to marathon the rest of the ARISE story arc right before you see it. I think part of the reason the plot is a bit of a mess is that it’s trying to achieve two things at the same time: tie up the remaining loose ends of the ARISE arc and provide enough new content to keep you interested in where things are going – even if you can’t exactly follow along. However, The New Movie does take place after the events of the ARISE story arc, so do you have a small chance in being able to understand what’s going on if you haven’t seen the ARISE OVAs yet.

The opening of the film is a bit deceiving. The New Movie opens with a beautifully animated set of titles and a fly-around of a facility of some type. We’re looking at scenes from The Major’s childhood, which makes it seem like The New Movie could be an entirely new arc in the Ghost in the Shell series. It’s not, and it was sad to see a good portion of the already not even half-full theater walk out during the opening titles. Even more walked out when they found out the screening was dubbed, not subbed. I wasn’t even aware it would be the dub. For the die-hard sub devotees out there, the dub isn’t bad. It’s not incredible like the Steins;Gate dub, but it’s not Madoka-level horrible either. It gets the job done, and there were plenty of humorous moments in the script that received laughs from the entire theater. So, don’t immediately skip out on the screenings just because it’s dubbed. Funimation, unlike Aniplex, knows how to do a good dub.

If you’re an existing fan of the Ghost in the Shell series, it’s hard to say if you’ll enjoy The New Movie or not. I am, and I did. But, I think you’ll need to keep an open mind when watching it. The ARISE arc is an entirely new story, new cast and crew, and new art style. It also doubles as the most beautiful advertisement you’ll likely ever see for Microsoft’s Surface and Infiniti. Gotta keep the sponsors happy. And honestly, if you’ve watched enough anime, you should know to expect blatant product placement by now. Thankfully it’s not as blatant as Sony’s product placement in the newest James Bond movies (there’s even a dedicated “James Bond Collection” page on the Sony site now.)

I think the ARISE arc is a refreshing addition to the Ghost in the Shell franchise. Its animation is stunning (even if the opening of The New Movie is a lot of showing off), the story is compelling despite being a royal pain to follow, and the music is pretty good and includes a couple new takes on classic themes from the series. And of course, The New Movie includes a new take on a certain jump scene from the series. I won’t spoil where it shows up, but I think it’s well placed. Be sure to stick around for the credits too as there is an extra bonus scene at the end of The New Movie.

Pros:

  • Dub is actually good
  • Beautiful animations
  • Does an excellent job closing up loose ends from the rest of the ARISE story arc
  • Touches on even more of The Major’s back story

Cons:

  • Plot is difficult to follow – even if you have seen the rest of the ARISE story arc
  • Music is a little weaker than other entries in the ARISE arc

Bottom line: 7/10. It’s definitely worth a watch, especially if you’ve already watched and enjoyed the other entries in the ARISE story arc. However, like the rest of the ARISE arc, the plot can be difficult to follow. Don’t expect to pick up on all of the important parts with just one viewing. A worthy addition to the Ghost in the Shell franchise.

To find out if The New Movie is showing near you, click here for the official site.


Featured image credit: Shirow Masamune – Production I.G/KODANSHA – GHOST IN THE SHELL: THE MOVIE COMMITTEE. All Rights Reserved.

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