Sunday, July 14, 2013

First Impression: Ghost in the Shell: Arise

GHOST IN THE SHELL: ARISE: Very promising start, but will it live up to the GITS franchise?

Ghost in the Shell is one of the most renowned titles not just in the anime scene, but also in the science fiction genre in general. It has influenced many groundbreaking works, one of the most popular of which is The Matrix. Due to this fact, I couldn’t help but feel excited when I heard that a new series will be released. As of now, only one episode is accessible, so I could write my first impression only.

            Ghost in the Shell: Arise is about Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg assigned to the military’s 501st secret unit. Due to unusually concrete evidence, she is suspected to be responsible to an elaborate murder. From this moment, she is drawn into taking the case herself, which turns out to be more complicated than she expected.

The story immediately begins with a battle sequence that triggers the conflict. It doesn’t waste time on establishing the GITS universe. I must admit that, even though this is a good thing, I find this beginning to be a little troubling. I believe that, if the franchise is going to re-imagine itself, it should have started by establishing the details that are significant to its world. Some terms are just too foreign for me to understand, for they require knowledge of the previous GITS titles. As a result, I can’t fully grasp the meaning of some plot points. However, judging the story as itself, I find it really imaginative. The GITS universe is an interesting one, for it is a prophetic portrayal of humanity’s future.

The story’s formation of mysteries and the unravelling of hints that solve them are executed well. It doesn’t dwell too much on each. There is a perfect balance between the mysteries and their solutions, and this makes the viewer continue watching further without getting bored. Aside from that, there are also many battle sequences that are well animated. These sequences are embedded with background music that suits well with the franchise. They make the story even more entertaining.

            The main character, Motoko Kusanagi, already features some depth, even though this is just the first episode. A background story has also been established, which makes her an even more relatable character. The other characters of the series are not yet fully expanded because of the limited time, and perhaps the viewer will enjoy their characterization further in the series. For now, only their surface-level selves are accessible to the audience.

Overall, the pilot episode of Ghost in the Shell: Arise shows a lot of promise, and, like I said, my only problem is its failure to establish the GITS universe -- considering that this is a reimagining of the franchise, I think it should have started in world building. I will continue watching further releases of this series, and I’m still expecting it to live up to its name of being one of the most influential works of science fiction.


  1. "my only problem is its failure to establish the GITS universe" If/since you are new to the franchise I can understand your thought here. I think they banked a lot on the long time followers of this franchise in this respect.

    As I understand it Arise is the prequel (sort of) to SAC and I think you'd enjoy it.

    I enjoyed reading your take on Arise. As for it living up to its name - I'd recommend seeing all of the others particularly the first. Arise is the most recent addition and I am expecting a lot out of it as well.

    1. Yup, this franchise is all over the place and I couldn't help but be intrigued by it. And I must admit that Arise is entertaining in itself. I guess it's time to watch the movie and SAC.