Mamoru Oshii’s ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Returns With New Trailer Ahead of Re-Release

Written by Eli F. on December 15, 2016 

Ghost in the Shell

Update: As expected, the original Ghost in the Shell will return to 110 theaters across the United States on February 7 and 8th. Get tickets here and see the original story below.

No doubt eager to capitalize on the upcoming live-action adaptation, Anchor Bay Entertainment and its subsidiary Manga Entertainment are gearing up for a deluxe rerelease of the original animated Ghost in the Shell. First released in Japan and the US in 1995, the landmark science fiction film by legendary director Mamoru Oshii is one of the most visionary and influential films in the “cyberpunk” subgenre that exploded onto the silver screen with Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and enjoys a longstanding literary tradition thanks to authors like William Gibson and Neal Stephenson. Taking an unmistakably Japanese (and indubitably Oshii) approach to the genre, Ghost famously features both mesmerizing action sequences that inspired the Wachowskis in the direction of The Matrix, and lengthy meditations on transhumanism, existentialism, and spirituality in a hypercapitalist dystopia where human bodies and memories are subject to the same means of production and reproduction as any material resource. Oshii’s characteristically stunning imagery is brought to life by the immense talents of animation studio Production I.G., in one of the first high-profile productions to integrate the rapidly emerging technology of computer-generated imagery with traditional hand-drawn animation. The film also boasts a haunting, dissonant score from longtime Oshii collaborator Kenji Kawai incorporating traditional Japanese vocals and instrumentation alongside moody synths to create a surreal world where spirit and machine exist in uneasy harmony. In addition to its influence on sci-fi cinema, Ghost in the Shell was also instrumental — alongside Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira — in bringing Japanese anime to the attention of Western filmgoers and sci-fi fans on a wide scale.

ghost-in-the-shellDue this March, the new release under the Anchor Bay label looks to see the original film resuscitated in HD with both a collector’s edition Blu-Ray release and, at least in the UK, a limited theatrical run. The Blu-Ray will feature a steelbook casing with stunning new artwork – no word on whether it will also include new features. Ghost in the Shell was first released on Blu-Ray in 2008, in a radically altered new version of the film spearheaded by Oshii under the title of Ghost in the Shell 2.0. Featuring new animation, a retouched color palette, reworked sound effects by Skywalker Sound, and a re-recorded Japanese voice track, this edition of the film drew polarized responses from fans, leading many to liken Oshii to George Lucas, and his new version to the similarly divisive Star Wars Special Editions in 1997. This version, however, looks to be the original cut, remastered in HD but otherwise untouched. One minor caveat of note to hardcore fans: judging by the trailer (embedded below), it appears that Anchor Bay will also be using the original English voice track recorded over 20 years ago. While ahead of the curve for anime dubbing in the 90s (and, allegedly, featuring a minor uncredited performance by a pre-fame Bryan Cranston) this English track is marred by wooden performances and numerous oversights and errors in translation (a quotation from the New Testament, of all things, is prosaically mangled). Fans have long asked for a new English voiceover from the cast and crew that worked on the popular spinoff TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2003-2006), which retained VO veterans Richard Epcar and William Frederick Knight but revamped the rest of the cast and featured more faithful script translations. Looks like they’ll have to keep waiting. The original Japanese voice track, starting Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Otsuka, and Koichi Yamadera will presumably remain untouched.

In February, Anchor Bay also plans to bring both seasons of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex to Blu-Ray for the first time outside Japan. Also animated by Production I.G., supervised by Mamoru Oshii and original manga author Masamune Shirow, directed by Blood: The Last Vampire veteran Kenji Kamiyama and featuring an eclectic techno-pop soundtrack from fan-favorite composer Yoko Kanno (of Cowboy Bebop fame), the show is set in its own continuity separate from the movies and takes the form of a crime procedural, with the cast of characters investigating various cyber crimes and uncovering wide-reaching corporate and government conspiracies over the course of each season. The series delves more into the sociological aspects of cyberpunk than the films’ focus on philosophy, and several characters and plot points appear eerily prescient of real-world phenomena including Wikileaks, Anonymous, and political fallout from the Syrian refugee crisis. Premiering in Japan in 2002 and concluding with a made-for-TV movie in 2006, the series has enjoyed international popularity much like the original film and continues to air in rerun slots on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block to this day. The producers of the upcoming live-action film by Rupert Sanders have cited Stand Alone Complex as a major influence on par with the original films and manga.

Distribution rights to Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Mamoru Oshii’s stunning follow-up to the original film are currently held by Funimation Films, with no announced plans for a new Blu-Ray release. (The only prior BD, released by Bandai Entertainment in 2009 prior to the shuttering of the company’s US distribution division, is long out of print and commands extravagant prices on Amazon and eBay.) Ghost in the Shell: Arise, a series of original animated videos created by Production I.G. without the involvement of any creative staff from prior GitS adaptations, is currently available from Funimation. The original series of graphic novels by Masamune Shirow and adapted into English by renowned translator Frederick L. Schodt, is available in print from Dark Horse Comics.

Ghost in the Shell with limited steelbook packaging with exclusive Mondo artwork will arrive on Blu-ray on March 14, 2017. If you’re in the U.K., it’ll also be coming to theaters and one can see details here. We imagine some U.S. theaters will also be screening it, so stay tuned for details.

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