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'Ghost In The Shell: 4K Ultra HD'
(Atsuko Tanaka, Iemasa Kayumi, Akio Ôtsuka, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / NR / (1995) 2020 / LGF)

Overview: 2029: A female cybernetic government agent, Major Motoko Kusanagi, and the Internal Bureau of Investigations are hot on the trail of “The Puppet Master,” a mysterious and threatening computer virus capable of infiltrating human hosts.

Together with her fellow agents from Section 9, Kusanagi embarks on a high-tech race against time to capture the omnipresent entity.

Director Mamoru Oshii’s award-winning cyber-tech thriller, based on the comic book by Shirow Masamune, is lauded as one of the leading Japanese animation films of all time.

Blu-ray Verdict: Lionsgate Films (LGF) is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the simply brilliant 'Ghost In The Shell’ in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this September 8th, 2020.

For my money, this 'Ghost In The Shell: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Ghost In The Shell' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1, and Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.

For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as the roof top drop scene, where she is spying on the bad guys, and then, when disrobing, does her magnificent backward dive off the top of the building, now come alive, shimmer and shine! It just all comes more vividly to life, which is amazing to see, in truth.

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material; notably the gorgeously badass fight scene between our hero and a big, goatee-wearing thug, the background awash with bill stickered posters and adverts. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: Japanese: LPCM 2.0, Japanese: Dolby Atmos, Japanese: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: Dolby Atmos, and English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit).

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, allow me open with this quote: "There are countless ingredients that make up the human body and mind, like all the components that make up me as an individual with my own personality."

"Sure I have a face and voice to distinguish myself from others, but my thoughts and memories are unique only to me, and I carry a sense of my own destiny. Each of those things are just a small part of it. I collect information to use in my own way."

"All of that blends to create a mixture that forms me and gives rise to my conscience. I feel confined, only free to expand myself within boundaries." - Major Kusanagi.

The 1995 cyberpunk film by Mamoru Oshii made a splash for anime in Western markets. On top of its stellar animation, character and world design, much in the tradition of the cyberpunk genre, GITS presents a philosophical look at highly cyberized highly bureaucratic highly oligarchic late capitalist society.

Major Kusanagi, we're informed, is equipped with a fully cyberized body. None of what can be physically identified as "her" is organically her. Nothing but her consciousness, or ghost, remains inside of a mechanical shell.

There is a particularly compelling scene where the Major ponders if she can even be called really human any more. Her reflection provokes thought as to what it means to be human, and as to where and how much technology as a capacity to augment our reality has eroded our humanity.

This philosophical pondering of self leaves us open to many ways of answering what it means to be a self in an age where all things and even people are becoming commodities in an increasingly bureaucratic and autocratic society.

It's the axiom of impersonal market forces, high tech-low life culture that speaks to the immediate critique of the social relations and warped view of self that liberal capitalism puts us through. For that reason, on top of some of the best animation I've ever seen, easily the best animation of the '90's right up there with 'Cowboy Bebop', I think it's important that as many people as possible experience this film (especially as it is now out as this wondrous 25th Anniversary 4K Ultra HD edition along with a quite stunning Steelbook edition too).

As for the Special Features included here on this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition, the stand outs for me are both the brand new bonus featurettes: “Accessing Section 9: 25 Years into the Future” and “Landscapes & Dreamscapes – The Art and Architecture of Ghost in the Shell.”

As the knowledge that people LOVE machines in 2029 AD is immediately drummed into us from the off, we are also made aware that the creation of this film back in 1995 was a master work that broke the mold of conventional filmmaking.

It further, and fascinatingly informs us about DGA (Digitally Created Animation), where they say as much as such a service was rarely used in TV back then, here for the film, well, it was surely to become the standard for creating digital effect in the future.

It further explains how these hand drawn background cells, which were then shot on film, were stacked upon each other to complete the "3D" look so that the overall visual (with added graphics and even audio) can then be digitized and turned into data.

Sure, all stuff we take for granted now, but to watch and listen along in these two brilliant new featurettes, the flashback in time is a glorious one, for sure.

The 'Ghost In The Shell: 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack' will be available for the suggested retail price of $22.99.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

• Full-length audio commentary of Ghost in the Shell with Mary Claypool (Animation Writer and English Language Scriptwriter), Eric Calderon (Animation Producer and Writer), Richard Epcar (Voice of “Batou”), and Charles Solomon (Animation Historian and Critic)
• “Accessing Section 9: 25 Years into the Future” Featurette
• “Landscapes & Dreamscapes: The Art and Architecture of Ghost in the Shell” Featurette
• Production Report & Digital Works Featuretes
• Theatrical Trailer

Official 'Ghost In The Shell' 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Trailer

Special Feature Clip - "Ghost In The Shells Impact"

Special Feature Clip - "Mainstream Influence"

Special Feature Clip - "Photo Inspiration"

Special Features Clip "Like A Good Wine"

'Ghost In The Shell: 4K Ultra HD' Blu-ray Amazon Purchase Link

'Ghost In The Shell: 4K Ultra HD' Steelbook Blu-ray Best Buy Purchase Link