Ghost in the Shell: Arise -Ghost Tears- Review

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AKA: Kokaku Kidotai Arise: Ghost Tears, Mobile Armored Riot Police: Arise -Ghost Tears-
Genre:
Cyberpunk/Action/Crime Drama
Year Released: 2014
Distributor: Funimation
Origin: Japan
Running Time: OVA, 58 minutes

Rating/Recommended Audience: TV-MA

Related Films/Series: Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society, Ghost in the Shell: Arise -Ghost Pain-, Ghost in the Shell: Arise -Ghost Whispers-, Ghost in the Shell: Arise -Ghost Stands Alone-, Ghost in the Shell: Arise -Pyrophoric Cult-, Ghost in the Shell: AAA, Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie, Ghost in the Shell (2017 American Live-Action Remake), Ghost In the Shell: SAC 2045
For Fans Of: Texhnolyze, Akira, The Matrix, A Scanner Darkly, Paprika, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Blade Runner

Notes:
-The Japanese language track was used for this review.

-This is the 3rd of 5 films in the Arise prequel series. It is strongly recommended to watch Ghost Pain and Ghost Whispers.
Fun Facts:
-Sean Lennon did the ending theme called “Heart Grenade”. Yes, the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono did a theme song for an anime.

-Kurtz’s Japanese VA is Mayumi Asano who played Blue from Wolf’s Rain and has done the Japanese dub voice of 3 different characters played by Taraji P. Henson such as Cookie from Empire, Katherine from Hidden Figures, and Joss from Person of Interest.


Woohoo! I made it to the third film (or border as they call it) of the Ghost in the Shell: Arise series. Let’s see how this prequel progresses.

Motoko Kusanagi and her team are investigating a terrorist cell called Scylla after they’ve been connected to a dam bursting in Newport City. These terrorists were part of an ethnic group called Qhardi (pronounced Card-y) whom Japan has warred with as they were trying to get independence. They find out that some of the low-level goons in Scylla were infected with cybernetic viruses. During the quieter times of the film, it’s revealed that Motoko is in a relationship with a prosthetic engineer named Akira Hose (last name sounds like Jose, not like something in a garden to water plants) who’s been taking care of her twitching limbs from a virus. However, there’s been evidence of prosthetics used as bombs which may or may not be connected to Akira’s company called Mermaid’s Leg. Also, Scylla has been tied to a water treatment company that’s headed by a Qhardi businesswoman.

The production quality from the previous films continues to be of a great caliber. Surprisingly, there weren’t as many fight scenes compared to the previous films. The emphasis is on the drama and mystery elements of the Scylla case. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a good chunk of action, but I didn’t feel it was as creative as other installments in Arise with the exception of a brutal scene where Batou takes out an enemy combatant which was a highlight of violence. Nothing here has changed that much from the visuals, but it’s not a bad thing since Production I. G. know what they’re doing most of the time.

The story itself has decent, but it didn’t hook me in the same way that Ghost Whispers did just one film ago. The Scylla situation was a bit confusing at first with the organization being tied to multiple successors who’ve been killed, but it did make more sense later on. I did have some issues with the portrayal of the Qhardis because of the not-so-subtle parallels to Middle Eastern and African terrorist cells by making everyone of that fictional ethnic group look evil or suspicious at best. If you’re an aspiring screenwriter, please don’t resort to the “always chaotic evil race” trope. It’s played out and it’s loaded with unfortunate implications. Besides that, there was a surprise with Motoko having a boyfriend. I was shocked that someone like Akira was able to hook up someone who can bash your face in or fill you with more clips than a movie trailer site. It was even more surprising with how effeminate she can be sometimes. I never would’ve expected to see her in lipstick, big earrings, and a fancy red dress for a date or anywhere. I’m glad they didn’t make her weak or sacrificing her resolve to appease men which is a plus. However, there was one fact mentioned in passing with her teammates that the Major herself had six boyfriends within six months at that point of the story. 

I can’t believe I’m going to make this comparison to one of the most butt-kicking anime heroines ever created, but I can’t ignore it. In the sense of dating guys, Major Motoko Freaking Kusanagi is like Taylor Swift!

That’s right, otaku. I went there. I totally went there. Go ahead and leave your troll comments.

I can’t say I was into Ghost Tears at much though. I thought the Mermaid’s Leg subplot was too obvious once they brought in Akira into the picture. There were certain aspects that were unpredictable, but the end result was almost exactly how I pictured. Scylla seemed a bit too abstract as an entity and it threw me for a loop when they brought back Kurtz to talk about that situation since she has a history against them in tandem with Motoko herself. I did like Motoko’s sadness at the end of the mission and how it tied to her past, but I think there should’ve been more gravitas with the other teammates knowing what she did back then. This is a minor nitpick, but I thought some of the references were faulty. I get the Scylla aspect tying into water, but I did chuckle a bit when some men were called that. You do know Scylla was a FEMALE monster, right? Also, the name they chose for the prosthetic legs that were evidence at the scene of the crime was un-creative. Would you like to guess what the products were called when the team were asking Mermaid’s Leg? I’m not kidding…the leg units were called “Ariel”. Wow, how creative. One could argue that there could be some fridge brilliance given the aforementioned character getting legs, but I wouldn’t qualify it as brilliant given how obvious the reference was.

Ghost Tears felt like the writers were treading water. I wasn’t into this movie as much as I was for the previous films. I hope they expand on the Scylla situation despite some of the flaws in it’s portrayal since it looked like they were going somewhere with the situation involving the mysterious “Fire-Starter” individual. The visuals are still enjoyable as to be expected, but the story wasn’t as strong this time around. The music is still the same experimental quality, but the ending theme was decent though. This wasn’t my favorite Ghost in the Shell film (no, I have no plans on seeing the American remake), but it wasn’t horrible. Just slightly above average.




Adjustable Point System:

Add 1 point if you’re a Ghost in the Shell fan
Add 1 point if you like romantic subplots
Subtract 2 points if you need wall-to-wall action



Pros:
-Great visual production quality
-Some plot progression material with villains
-Motoko’s character development in the end of the film

Cons:
-Unimpressive action sequences
-Obvious plot twists in regards to Scylla and Mermaid’s Leg
-Qhardi assailants are questionable given real life geopolitical events

Final Score: 6/10 points

Content Warning: Still for older teens and up like several other films in the Ghost in the Shell franchise. The murders do get more intense despite less fight scenes with people being used as human bombs and Batou literally rips a man’s head off and you see a mix of organic and cybernetic tissue coming apart. There’s some partial nudity that’s covered and some sexual content. Not to mention Akira and Motoko’s conversation about going into virtual reality has some double entendres in it. Just saying.

-Curtis Monroe

All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws.

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