Ghost in the Shell – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ghost in the Shell

NOTE: This release is the original theatrical version of the film and not the Ghost in the Shell 2.0 version that came out in 2008.

Before Blade Runner 2049 became the sequel to Blade Runner, there was Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell. Much like Blade RunnerGhost in the Shell explores the themes of the consciousness and identity of cyborgs and robots in a technologically fueled, futuristic environment. Yet balancing these themes while still being entertaining can be a delicate process. You either end up creating a film for a niche crowd or making something for the general audiences. For cinephiles, creating something for the masses can be a terrible, awful, no good thing. However, in the case with Ghost in the Shell, you can be both and still be beloved by both fanbases. 

Mamoru Oshii put together a film with stunning visuals and action sequences. The animation is top-notch, and its mixture of CGI was revolutionary at the time. You cannot talk about the film without also talking about the haunting and sorrowful score by Kenji Kawai. The score sets a hypnotic tone to the film, which leaves viewers in a trance. But behind this veil of entertainment is an anime film with a complex plot and philosophies. In between the action, Oshii sprinkles in deep character conversations where Ghost in the Shell slows down and talks about the film’s philosophical themes. Oshii is deft at knowing when to slow it down and knowing when to pull it back to the action and overall storyline. As a result, it becomes a thought-provoking film that’s accessible to a broader audience.

Overall, Ghost in the Shell is a masterful and thought-provoking piece of cinema by Mamoru Oshii. Although the film takes a look at the theme of cyborgs being more than ones and zeros, the film also painted an interconnected future where our very existence depends on our connection to the world. Ghost in the Shell was ahead of its time, and it inadvertently (or purposely) predicted the future as we know of today. Not to mention its cultural impact on the films we know and love to this very day. Without Ghost in the Shell, then there wouldn’t be a Matrix movie. Therefore, Ghost in the Shell should sit alongside AkiraPaprika, and Grave of the Fireflies on the Mount Rushmore of anime classics. 

Rating: 5/5 atoms

Movie Rating: /5 atoms

Ghost in the Shell

Video

Ghost in the Shell hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with an HDR transfer and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The 4K HDR version of Ghost in the Shell is almost entirely what you would expect from a 4K Ultra HD release. However, it’s not entirely perfect. Generally, the image looks crisp and is nicely defined — something you can definitely see in the line animation. You’ll be able to see all of the details and nuances not just in the characters, but in the backgrounds as well.

The problem generally lies with the computer-generated imagery in the film. Whether it’s because of the aged source footage or if it was intentional, but the computer-generated imagery looks more like a 480p release than a 4K one. It looks entirely upscaled to fit the format so the image looks a bit blurred. Regardless, the color saturation is phenomenal in this release. The colors are bold and jump off the screen. It’s something that you can see in the slums chase scene towards the first act of the film. The HDR is the exact reason why you would get this 4K release. This is a must-own release for any fan of the anime classic.

Video Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Ghost in the Shell

Audio

Ghost in the Shell hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with the original Japanese and English 2.0 LCM track and a brand new English and Japanese Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. This review will reflect Ghost in the Shell‘s Japanese Dolby Atmos track. Although it’s nice to have the original 2.0 soundtrack in this release, the Dolby Atmos track is the real winner here. There’s a lot of dynamic audio — complete with full-sounding sound effects and wide spacing. The car chase zooms across the soundstage, for example, and gunfire also has some considerable heft.

Unfortunately, the overhead and atmospheric sound effects are barely audible. If you stand close to the speakers, you can hear a sound coming from them, but it does get drowned out by Kenji Kawai’s haunting and sorrowful score. The score, however, envelops you like a blanket — a heavy, bass fueled blanket. The dialogue is distinct and focused. Overall, this is a nice audio mix put out by Lionsgate.

Audio Rating: 4/5 atoms

Ghost in the Shell

Special Features

Ghost in the Shell‘s Ultra HD Blu-ray disc has the following special features on the Ultra HD disc:

  • Audio Commentary with Animation Writer and English Language Script Writer of Ghost in the Shell Mary Claypool, Animation Producer and Writer Eric Calderon, Voice “Batou” in Ghost in the Shell Franchise Richard Epcar, and Animation Historian and Critic Charles Solomon
  • Accessing Section 9 – 25 Years Into the Future
  • Landscapes & Dreamscapes – The Art and Architecture of Ghost in the Shell
  • Production Report
  • Trailers
  • Digital Works

The feature commentary is so insightful and informative that you’ll learn so much more than an analysis of the film itself. It’s a broad learning experience that’s a must-watch for any fan of the genre. It’s worth mentioning how well the audio commentary sounds since all of it was recorded remotely at the guest’s own respective homes. If you’ve heard the commentary for The King of Staten Island, you can see how low-quality remote recording can be.

“Accessing Section 9” is a retrospective feature where various critics, cast, and writers of Ghost in the Shell look back at the impact of the film 25 years later. Despite all of the deserved praise that the film gets from all of the featurette’s guests, it’s not entirely a love fest feature. It does have some insightful analysis of the film and provides a different perspective of the film. “Landscapes & Dreamscapes” features “Anime Architecture,” author Stefan Riekeles who provides an incredible amount of filmmaking analysis about the world of Ghost in the Shell. “Production Report” is a legacy featurette from the early years of Manga Entertainment. “Digital Works” is another legacy featurette that breaks down the revolutionary process of combining traditional and computer-generated animation into a single film. 

Special Features Rating: 4/5 atoms


Overall, Ghost in the Shell is not just an anime classic, but a cinematic classic. Much like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Toy Story, the film changed the way the world saw feature animation. Ghost in the Shell showed the world that this is not just a medium for children anymore. When it comes to the video and audio, both are superb, and the special features are absolutely enlightening.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

Facebook Comments

About author

Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1598 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.