Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Border:2 Ghost Whispers is very similar to the first Arise episode in presentation. That is to say, it is basically a stand alone GiTS story revolving around the redesigned cast as the quirk. I don't think this Arise episode is as good as the first one, but it was good enough in my opinion.
Ghost Whispers is even more bombastic, colorful, and stylish than the first Arise episode, and much more so than the somewhat similar Stand Alone Complex. This episode is about 90% action scenes, and they are all well choreographed and look excellent with this well budgeted animation and cgi. It is unfortunate however, that most of the attention went to making the focus of this episode bombastic action. The GiTS franchise is not new to action obviously, but there is always an appropriate depth to the narrative that takes precedence over it. This is not so in Ghost Whispers, which features a rather simplistic tragic war hero plot with a single twist that doesn't redeem it past being made out of recycled 2nd Gig concepts. I may sound a little harsh, but that is because I have high standards not just for the GiTS series but also the Arise branch, because the first Arise was pretty cool.
We saw much more of the other members of the soon to be Section 9 in this episode of Arise, contrasting with the first episode. Batou, Paz, Borma, Ishikawa, and Saito all make appearances, basically the whole gang. Batou is still Batou basically, despite him being featured as a secondary antagonist in this episode we didn't see much about his character. Paz is kicking ass in his leather jacket, not unlike his previous iteration. Borma is still blank faced and no personality. Good old Borma. I actually like Borma alot he is a straight man just by existing it is kind of funny. Saito was crap in this film, for some reason he is a moneygrabbing Mr. Krabs. I do not like this change in direction from a previously collected, mysterious sniper into a much sillier persona. Ishikawa didn't wise crack even once, nor did he blow up a pachinko parlor, but I guess we can't get everything. This film's length didn't do justice to this redesigned cast, but we will probably see more of them in the next film. I do think however, if they didn't have so much action there would have been more time for some character dynamic. The Section 9 team is an iconic, serious, and interesting team in Stand Alone Complex, and the premise of the Arise series would imply it puts a focus on these guys.
Music is once again underwhelming. Although the intro once again is styled like a sitcom opening like last time which was funny.
The verdict I have on this episode is basically, it was a cool action packed ride but it felt like the new Appleseed movie, its all style, very little substance. It's not that Arise itself suffers from this, its just that this particular Arise episode suffers from it, which is disappointing. Great action and animation awaits you, and not much else.
This doesn't make the whole episode way better but, there is a particular scene towards the end of the movie that is a very obvious reference to the first GiTS film. I got goosebumps when I heard it, but we have no idea of its significance just yet. If you are curious about this scene be sure to check out this, above average but not as good as the first Arise episode.