Mamoru Oshii's first Ghost in the Shell cyberspace film will return to five Japanese theaters in an enhanced Ghost in the Shell 2.0 edition on July 12. The new edition will include new computer graphics and digital effects for some scenes and a reunion of most of the cast members for a new 6.1 surround sound recording. Academy-Award-winning sound mixer/editor Randy Thom (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, The Incredibles, The Right Stuff) has overseen the new soundtrack with Kenji Kawai's original music and a final mix that has been produced at Thom and Lucas Digital's Skywalker Sound studio in California.
In the new edition, the enigmatic Puppet Master character will be played by Yoshiko Sakakibara (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence's Harraway, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex's Prime Minister Yoko Kayabuki). Iemasa Kayumi (Giant Robo's Chief Chuujou Shizuo, RahXephon's Ernst Von Bähbem) played the role in the original edition.
The film will screen in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, and Sapporo. Not coincidentally, Oshii's latest film, The Sky Crawlers, will open one month after Ghost in the Shell 2.0 on August 2.
They introduced a topnotch 3D CGI tech to the legendary anime, so there's no question about its quality. But viewers may feel uncomfortable with the discontinuity between the new full 3D CG and the original 2D scenes.
It's basically the same as the original one, but the change of Puppet Master's sex brought about slight changes in the voice actings and the atmosphere. Batou didn't show so much jealousy over the relationship between Motoko and the Puppet Master, and the fusion of the two gave a pure impression rather than a sexual association.
There are two full
3D CGI scenes, something similar to the OP animation of the S.A.C1. The quality of the two scenes were awesome in the descriptions of the optical camouflage, air bubbles, reflections in the water etc. etc. But nothing buffered between the neighboring 3D and 2D scenes. You see 3D CG Motoko in a scene and the next moment Motoko is now in 2D animation. I understanding these discontinuities that Director Oshii wanted to show us his partial idea about how ideal GiS looks like.
SkyWalker sound studio did a terrific job in the sound effects. They were particular about the differences in gun shot sounds. Each gun sounded distinctively different. The sound of Motoko's cyborg body torn up was so real that it gave me goosebumps.
No need to mention the greatness of Motoko, Batou, and Togusa. I focus on Sakakibara Yoshiko as Puppet Master. I think this casting has a good and bad point. Compared to the original actor Kayumi Iemasa, Sakakibara's acting didn't give me much mysteriousness of the character. (Kayumi's low tone acting was perfect for giving an enigmatic impression.) Good thing was it got easier to grasp the idea of the Puppet Master's line "We are mirror images to each other." because Sakakibara's voice resembled Tanaka Atsuko's one in this movie.
Before I watched this, I tried to memorize the contents of the original one as much as possible. It was so much fun to find changes in the lines and drawings. If you are fun of GiS 1.0, I strongly recommend to watch this remake. You will have a deeper understanding of this legendary title.
I'll only go into revisional details assuming you haven't ever watched GITS and checking out which version to watch.
The major difference in 2.0 is the un-matrix-isation of it. GITS was a green movie, in revision it is shifted to a red hue. This makes it way more colorful than intented and a bit disrespectful to Oshii. The introduction sequence is mostly redesigned with 3D additions, it's quite good and gives the impression this will be a complete revision of the original (which is not the case). The credits Matrix copied over is completely taken out.
Lack of transition between newly introduced 3D with the old
2D is extremely uneven and confusing to the audience. There are some panoramic sequences of the city very similar to GITS: Innocence, they manage to fit in, but character 3D ruins it.
I didn't notice any difference plotwise, so if any is present it should be minor. My dvd copy of the original has lots of artifacts, especially in the dark scenes. They did a good job digitally cleaning the film on 2.0.
Overall this renewal feels clumsy and makes GITS more generic than it is. Only a blu-ray renewal should have been more than enough. If this'll be your first time with GITS I strongly advise watching the original first. If you are checking it for a rewatch there is no harm with trying 2.0.
As the second time watching GITS 2.0 after a period of about 3 years, I was pleasantly surprised to find that while I still remember most of the plot, the enjoyment has been in no way diminished.
The familiar feeling of having to keep up with the at-times blazingly fast action, while having to run individual characters' lines a few times through my head in order to process the intrigues that Section 9 was caught up with in the unfamiliar futuristic cyborg-dominated landscape described by Shirow Masamune, assailed me throughout the show, making me glad that I had the leisure of being able to replay scenes
as many times as I want. Despite all this, it should be noted that viewers were given some room to breathe with well designated intervals showing the futuristic landscape with all its quirks, providing an opportunity to absorb the setting in the midst of all the furious action.
Courtesy of some CG scenes interspersed now and again throughout the show, we get to see the familiar bad-ass fully cyborg Major Kusanagi in all of her unclothed glory. While this certainly added to my personal enjoyment and gave the show a shiny new facet, whether or not they had any valuable contribution is probably a matter for some debate.
The music was excellent, adding an unfamiliar, slightly eerie and disjointed feel that complemented the main themes well.
The characters were introduced in a very rushed manner and it leaves me in serious doubt of whether any first-time viewers could remember anyone other than the Major and Batou. Of course, it probably could not have been done any better given the measly 1hr20min run-time of the show. On the positive side, I think that the director did a great job with the Major, being able to summarize her inner conflicts with a few dialogue-heavy scenes that meshed well with the entire flow.
Re-watching merely affirmed my very first thoughts that GITS was an anime like no other, in the way in which it manages to merge captivating politics-ridden plot with intense action in a believable futuristic setting, while at the same time containing some very thought-invoking themes.
(Note: I have explicitly avoided making any comparisons with GITS 1.0 as I wanted to review GITS 2.0 by itself.)
WRITER’S NOTE: This review assumes that you’ve seen Ghost In the Shell (1995), as it simply focuses on the changes between the original film and this version.
Ghost in the Shell 2.0 is to Ghost in the Shell what the Special Editions are to Star Wars, and while GitS 2.0 is nowhere nearly as egregious as the Special Editions, it still feels like a pointless exercise in updating a previous work.
GitS 2.0 was released in 2008 in celebration for the release of The Sky Crawlers in theatres that same year, as a way for it’s director, Memoru Oshii, and studio Production I.G. to cross promote both
projects. The intention of 2.0 was to “remaster” the original film in away, but it doesn’t really feel like a remaster, it feels like a project intended to make money of an established franchise. And what we got was a weird mix of 2D animation from 1995 mixed with 13 years worth of advancement in CGI attached to a film never intended to have it in the first place.
The main difference between Gits 2.0 and The Sky Crawlers, besides the obvious subject matter and presentation, is that The Sky Crawlers was planned from the start to have CGI integrated with the 2D animation, and as a result, the mix between the CGI and the 2D animation for that movie mesh a lot better in that film.
The biggest and most obvious change in 2.0 is that a few scenes have been replaced with fully 3D animated versions of those scenes. These new scenes conflict with the original, not only because the switch between the 3D and 2Dcan be a bit jarring, but the 3D is presented in a different style to the 2D. This wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for the conflicting film making styles between the 2D and the 3D.
The original film is almost entirely simple static shots, while the 3D animation has sweeping camera shots that don’t fit the style of the original at all, simply because the 2D animation wasn’t capable of these shots. The film was working with what it could the time it was released. It just feels weird going from smooth flowing movements with the CGI, to all of a sudden staring at a static couple of characters talking or plot happening.
There are several other shots throughout the film that have had parts of them replaced with CGI, such as aircraft or certain background features like an aquarium. I guess these were used to heighten scenes, but like I said before, the original Ghost in the Shell film was never meant to have CGI, so it just feels out of place.
I wouldn’t call the CGI awful, but it’s definitely just OK. It’s pretty clear the team behind the CGI added shaders onto it to try and give it a bit of a 2D feel, trying to wash out any detail the 3D models had, but it doesn’t help. A minor nitpick i have is the difference between look of the digital picture. It doesn’t match the grainy filmic look of the original footage. That sounds like a weird complaint, but it just shows the difference between something made in a computer and something made in an analog format by human hands (ironic).
The only change that i thought looked good were the holograms throughout the film being replaced with the CGI. They were the only things in the original meant to look digital to begin with, so the replacement CGI is the least intrusive CGI in the whole thing.
Another minor grievance I have is the framerate difference between the 2D animation and the 3D animation. It’s just another reason on the pile of reasons that mixing the 2D animation and the 3D animation wasn’t that good of an idea.
Everything else that wasn’t completely replaced with the CGI has also been modified to varying degrees. Every shot of the film has been tinted with a warm orange color, with varying intensity. Some shots it’s barely noticeable, and in some shots, it’s overpowering to the point of washing out a few scenes. It completely ruins the cold clinical blue look that the original film was going for, that was supposed to help heighten the sense of some characters losing their identities and becoming more robotic with how modified their bodies were. I assume it the color tinting was to help the older 2D animated scenes match the new CGI, but it just ruins the stylistic choices the original had.
The weirdest thing about this new version is the way it was re-edited. Several scenes have been changed, and there doesn’t seem to be a reason why. All of the edits are simple trims, cutting anything from a couple of frames to about a second of time off at most. But the fact that these edits were made make no sense. They add literally nothing to the whole experience. I don’t know if it was done to make the whole experience feel different or was done just to make a change for changes sake, but it just felt unnecessary.
The other obvious and significant change is the new audio mix. The original soundtrack was re-arranged and re-recorded, and the whole thing was remixed into 6.1Channel Surround, done by Randy Thom over at Skywalker Sound,previously working on Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. For the most part, I don’t really have any problems with this. A lot of the new sound effects are not terrible, but nothing to complain about.
Along with the remixed audio, the Japanese voices were also re-recorded to try and modernize the dialogue. I don’t speak Japanese, but from what I can tell compared to a decent amount of Japanese performances that I’ve heard throughout the years, the performances are fine. The biggest change is that the original voice of The Puppet Master, played by Iemasa Kayumi, the male voice, was replaced by Yoshiko Sakakibara, a now female voice. This isn’t necessarily a bad choice, but it feels like another change in a long list of unnecessary changes.
I could see the argument that since it’s a robot intended to be female, it would have a female voice, but then why does the Major’s voice change back to her previous voice at the end of movie when she’s in a new body? And since the new sentient AI was born in the sea of information, it would either go with whatever voice it happened to be “born”with or pick something that represented itself.
I have no idea if this change was done with some sort of intent, but considering how many weird changes that 2.0 gets seemingly without much thought, I’d be surprised if there was any intent in the change of voice besides changing something for the sake of it, like maybe a perceived error in casting a male voice.
When it comes down to it, this whole 2.0 experiment feels a little pointless. If the entire film was redone as CGI, it would have at least been consistent in it’s quality. It still might have been a pointless shot-for-shot remake, but it would have felt less intrusive. But instead, what we got was a mixed bag in terms of a “remaster”. None of the changes feel like they enough of a change to justify their existence.
Best case scenario,Ghost in the Shell 2.0 is a companion piece to the original and is for fans only. Worst case, it’s entirely skippable, but doesn’t exactly ruin the film. I have a hard time recommending this when it’s incredibly easy to find and watch the original version of GitS over 2.0. The only people who would be interested in this version of the film would be fans of the original version anyway, and those are the people who would complain about this the loudest. And this version is not exactly a good way to introduce more people to a classic movie like this.
Ghost in the Shell may not have the biggest following, but it's still been popular enough to warrant six movies and three series. That's quite a bit of material. And quite a few different opening animation and themes.