Anime: Ghost in the Shell: Arise Borders 3 & 4
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: October 13th, 2015
Retail Price: $39.98

Ghost in the Shell is a worldwide phenomenon of a franchise. The anime is based on the popular manga by Masamune Shirow, and the story centers on Major Motoko Kusanagi – a cyborg human hybrid who uses her enhancements to solve acts of cyber terrorism. This bundle tells side stories to the anime series itself with two hour long episode renditions of Ghost in the Shell, in a heightened state. Of course Motoko doesn’t act alone, and has the assistance of a team behind her consisting of Batou, Ishikawa, Saito Togusa, Borma, and Paz. Motoko is one of the most deadly out there, and in “Border 3: Ghost Tears” she has found temporary solace in a relationship with prosthetics technician Akira Hose. This first feature pits love and trust against each other in an interesting turn of events. The second feature called “Border:4 Ghost Stands Alone” focuses more on the concept of this cyber based future, and the likelier risk of ones unfortunate demise. For the first OVA, I enjoyed the idea of a world outside of her programs makes a fantastic depiction of a limited romance discovering what it means for these cyborgs to love or feel emotion and the sense of futility in the second. I wasn’t privy to the series beforehand other than an episode here or there, but these stories felt isolated enough to feel like standalone spotlighted work, or a delightful continuation for long time fans of Ghost in the Shell. Using universal themes in this unconventional fictional world is an intelligent way to display that the series and films are created with intent in terms of being thought provoking.

The characters in these OVA’s are given enough screen time to establish relationships such as the bulky and intimidating Batou. Their interactions (Batou and Motoko) happen to be sometimes brutal and other times comedic. They use him for ongoing jokes to the plot, and the dynamic between him and Motoko feels like a platonic love (until one scene later on) that is a bond the other characters don’t quite experience. Togusa the detective manages to take on major moments in Ghost in the Shell, and his stakes couldn’t be higher with a newly forming family on the way. In a matter of moments you begin to create these varied emotions towards characters that in some capacity can’t comprehend themselves. The blend of humanity and cyborgs creates an interesting divide when it comes to morals and general decision making, but you know that despite that – the core team manages to blend both smoothly in a cohesive family(ish) unit.

The animation in Ghost in the Shell: Arise is a lovely mix of colorful hues and influences with CGI to add that futuristic appeal to the world. In most series CGI isn’t exactly my favorite use of animation, but with cars and drones looking to set themselves apart from average technology, it creates a nice mixture. The audio in the anime is a great voice dub as usual with my favorite supporting character Batou voiced by the talented Christopher Sabat and the main character effectively capturing the tough persona (with soft innuendos) is voiced by Elizabeth Maxwell. On a production standpoint, Ghost in the Shell: Arise doesn’t feel rushed or unnecessary in any way, and like these stories were natural components made without haste. FUNimation also handled the packaging quite nicely in a beautiful artwork style case with the combination of DVD and Blu-Ray enclosed, with differing cases for both “Border 3” and “Border 4”.

The messages to Ghost in the Shell are surprisingly powerful in their mini-film individual elapsed time. The concept of life and death is constantly expressed through both the humans and the cyborgs in both parts, proving that the series has much more to explore in terms of plot and development. “Border 3” deals more with love and loss through a technological standpoint and “Border 4” tackles coping along with losing your identity, so the stories don’t feel repetitive or dependent on each other. If anything, I feel like this is the best medium (the almost hour long installments) for Ghost in the Shell to be told in the future and I’m enjoying the Arise series. The anime series clearly has more to offer than a 20 minute duration, and a couple of these longer running OVA’s (there are 5 out there) could tell a whole lot of characters stories if they use the same concepts for the entirety of the Arise features.

I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable Ghost in the Shell: Arise was, and appreciated the two separate outlets to introduce viewers to the elaborate world in the anime. The characters Batou and Motoko remained the most fascinating, making me want to further invest my time to the series to discover what else the pair has experienced. The combination of the positively gorgeous animation, the complexity of the characters, the music, voice acting, and well established core group of characters, has officially made me more of a fan of Ghost in the Shell, and I recommend you pick up the series on DVD and Blu-Ray as well as Ghost in the Shell: Arise which is now available by FUNimation!

Overall Score: 7.5/10

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

-The 50 minute runtime felt like a better time to create and conclude a narrative while expanding on the characters’ past.

-The dub cast was definitely a positive aspect to the series

-The deaths of cyborgs really evoke a sadness that humanizes the robots in an interesting approach.

-I enjoyed all of the moments with Batou, and his use in Arise feels the most prominent aside from the main character Motoko.

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