Whenever you buy a movie on Blu-ray, the most important thing is, of course, the movie itself. The extras are just that: extra. But let’s be honest, we’ve all bought new editions of movie Blu-rays just because it has more extras than are on the version we already own. Which brings me to the Ghost In The Shell 25th Anniversary Edition, which Anchor Bay have released on Blu-ray. While the movie looks better, it has absolutely no extras, not even ones that were on previous Blu-ray editions.
What’s a fan to do?
For unfamiliar with the original film,
Ghost In The Shell is a wildly influence cyberpunk anime about a group of cybernetically-enhanced cops, led by Major Motoko Kusanagi, who fight cyber-terrorists. But in the process of chasing a hacker called The Puppet Master, the Major begins to realize they may not be looking for a person.
Based on a 1989 manga by Masamune Shirow (who also wrote Appleseed), and directed by Mamoru Oshii (who also helmed the sequel, 2004’s Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence), the original movie as presented on the Ghost In The Shell 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray has inspired a number of filmmakers, comic book artists and writers, novelists, and way too many video games to mention. When The Wachowski’s were trying to explain what they wanted to do with The Matrix movies to producer Joel Silver, they reportedly showed him Ghost In The Shell and said, “We want to do that for real.”
It also, in the twenty-five years since it first came out, has spun off the aforementioned sequel, two seasons of a TV anime called Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex: 2nd GIG — which in turn got its own movie, 2006’s Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society — and, most recently, a new TV series called Ghost In The Shell: Arise.
Which brings us back to the Ghost In The Shell 25th Anniversary Edition. Prior to this release, the only version of this movie you could buy on Blu-ray in America (assuming you didn’t get an import from Japan) was the Ghost In The Shell 2.0 edition, which paired the original movie with a new version that has some scenes replaced with new CGI sequences, some rerecorded dialog, and some cool extras.
Now, if you care more about extras than picture quality,
clearly Ghost In The Shell 2.0 beats the Ghost In The Shell 25th Anniversary Edition. While the former has a making-of featurette on the original film, as well as the original American trailer for it, the latter only has a booklet with a new interview with Oshii and some other stories that read like they were originally published in a magazine, though no credit is given.
Why aren’t the featurette and the trailer also included in the Ghost In The Shell 25th Anniversary Edition? No idea. And I have no idea why, given the whole “25th Anniversary Edition” part, why that versions also doesn’t have the 2.0 version of the movie, the original Japanese trailers, and maybe some new stuff as well. Seems like a real oversight for an anniversary edition. It’s not even a legal thing, since both the Ghost In The Shell 2.0 Blu-ray and the Ghost In The Shell 25th Anniversary Edition are made by Anchor Bay.
But then, when it comes to the movie itself, favor shifts in the favor of the Ghost In The Shell 25th Anniversary Edition. Comparing how the original film looks here as opposed to on the Ghost In The Shell 2.0 Blu-ray, it looks crisper, cleaner, and ultimately better on the former than it does the latter. Though it’s not a dramatic difference. In fact, if you look at the parts of the original that are still in the 2.0 version, they look the same as those corresponding scenes do on the 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray.
Along the same lines, while the Ghost In The Shell 25th Anniversary Edition has the original audio as it was so many years ago, the Ghost In The Shell 2.0 Blu-ray features the rerecorded dialog which was done in 6.1 surround sound and features a different actor voicing The Puppet Master.
So, like I said, what’s a fan to do? Buy the Ghost In The Shell 25th Anniversary Edition and have it sit next to your Ghost In The Shell 2.0 Blu-ray while hoping that they get it right in the next edition by including the original movie from the former and the extras and CGI-enhanced edition of the film from the latter? Fuck it and go read the manga instead?
For me, the difference in the picture quality between the Ghost In The Shell 25th Anniversary Edition and the Ghost In The Shell 2.0 Blu-ray isn’t enough to make me keep both, or to keep the former while ditching the latter. But I wouldn’t fault someone for doing either of those things.
In the end,
the Ghost In The Shell 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray should’ve been a lot better than this. It should’ve had the extras that the “25th Anniversary Edition” implies, and then some, as well as the 2.0 version of the film. Maybe next time.