Ghost in the Shell: Arise 03 – Ghost Tears – Review
Sure, of course, it makes Motoko a deeper character if she’s shown sulking like a little girl! Considering how mature and competent she seems in all the other Ghost in the Shell stories, it’s paramount to show her being all moe and whatnot!
Ghost in the Shell: Arise 03 – Love Hurts – Review
The Ghost in the Shell: Arise series seems like a deeply flawed project so far. There’s something fundamentally wrong with how these movies have approached its prequel-status. Instead of expanding the universe and exploring the characters of the Ghost in the Shell series, the series gets lost in its portrayal of incidents. Using the Stand Alone Complex franchise as endpoint, this series tries desperately to create explanations and background for details that smartly were left unexplained in the Stand Alone Complex series. Worse than just starting out with flawed intentions, the way this series goes about addressing these goals is just inept. What should be a series driven by its characters, is a series driven by happenstance. This has given each of the movies a very incidental feeling that would rather drown the audience in inane details than try to thematically connect these prequels with the other stories in the Ghost in the Shell series. And the third movie… well, it mostly just does the same shit the previous two movies have done.
Running Time: 59 min
In 2027, Motoko Kusanagi is a highly skilled agent of the military that meets Daisuke Aramaki, former soldier who is currently the chief of Public Security Section 9. Their encounter sparks the assembly of an elite new unit within Section 9.
Aramaki is a completely useless character in this movie. On one hand he’s bickering about Motoko’s team not being up to his standards but on the other hand his section is completely incapable of dealing with the Qhardi-terrorists without the help of Motoko’s team!
Prequels are a real storytelling-challenge. First of all, there’s a difference between those franchises where the writers (or writer) decide to have a prequel and those franchises which are so popular they think to bait fans of the previous stuff with the prospect of a prequel. Ghost in the Shell: Arise is clearly the latter and with that it definitely falls into the realm of the Star-Wars-prequels. At this point nearly everybody is aware of the fact that the Star-Wars-prequels were hardly a success and that most fans don’t like them. And there are plenty of reasons for why those three Star-Wars-prequels are hardly the addition to Star Wars: The Franchise it needed. In many ways, you could say the same thing about the Ghost in the Shell: Arise series so far.
For the record, I’ve hated the first two movies in the Ghost in the Shell: Arise series. They were terrible! Forget the comparison to the other great works in the Ghost in the Shell franchise. On their own, these two movies were just garbage already. What those two movies projected were lofty ambitions brought short by bland writing and a hectic direction. They tried SO hard to emulate the deep and sophisticated cyberpunk-action of the Ghost-in-the-Shell-Stand-Alone-Complex-franchise but that very goal turned against them. The plot was a confusing mess, not because of its aspired depth but because of its unnecessarily complicated presentation. And the characters got dragged down by equally unnecessarily exposition that gave explanations for stuff that nobody needed. The fans especially didn’t need those details because they got a good characterization in their head already from the Stand-Alone-Complex-series and the rest of the audience will be even more bored by the tedious exposition that characterized these movies.
The whole Arise franchise has already failed by not tying the movies together in a better way. It’s obvious that all the three movies until now have been about how Makoto got recruited by Section 9 and how she formed a diverse team of specialists that would later solve cases in the Stand-Alone-Complex-franchise. That’s what the whole thing is actually about. And it’s hard to keep that in mind watching these movies when it becomes apparent just how shitty their pacing and plot-work is. In this third movie it’s Togusa’s turn to be recruited for the team and honestly, I can only sigh when I try to find a connection between the Arise-series and any other Ghost-In-The-Shell-series.
Actually, in the series’ defense, I feel like every movie has been better than the last so far. Or maybe that’s just me getting used to the jumbled storytelling-method of this movie-series. Anyway, this movie has three storylines to deal with this time around: One is the terrorist-attacks of the Qhardi-movement from some Arabic-like country, two is the romance between Akira, a rich genius-cyborg-prosthetics-engineer and Makoto who are both at odds about their near future together and three is Togusa’s investigation of the murder of a detective at a dam. If that sounds like a lot of story for the plot to get through, that’s because it is. And the same kind of problems (even if somewhat lessened), that have plagued the whole series so far, still plague this movie: This series just doesn’t understand how to bring structure and pacing to its multiple storylines.
And the movie ends (of course) with Togusa’s complex role within Motoko’s team being reduced to a silly punchline.
Every movie of this series so far has been a total mess, if you’ve tried to follow the movie the first time around you’re watching it. And that doesn’t mean any of these movies have been deep, complex or witty (although they tried VERY hard to be any or all of those things). Rather, all the movies so far have failed on a fundamental level to juggle all its storylines and connect them with each other, while still maintaining an overarching plot-structure that makes the movie seem like a whole. Instead, all these movies have a bunch of stuff happen at the same time and the mood of each scene seems to be completely random. You have no idea what kind of scene will follow after the one you’re just watching. There are a ton of storylines happening at the same time and there are also subplots as well. It’s impossible to get into the rhythm of any of these three movies because of that!
This third movie has been the best so far, mostly because the storyline of Makoto’s relationship with Akira is a somewhat quiet one that delivers a much-needed break from the hectic action that’s the rest of this movie (and that defines the Arise-series so far in general). Also, the emotional connection between Akira and Motoka does ground the movie somewhat amongst all the infodumps for the pseudo-terrorist-actions.
Then again (just like in the other two movies), the portrayal of Motoko in this movie is VERY problematic for anyone who has seen the Stand-Alone-Complex-series. Motoko is one of the greatest female heroines you will find in any anime-series she’s also a not very deep character. In fact, you don’t learn a whole lot about Motoko in the first season of the Stand-Alone-Complex-series but that’s where her appeal as a character comes from. She’s mostly a cipher in terms of personality but that absence of apparent humanity is also what drives her to act curious and somewhat emphatic when confronted with examples of human sentimentality. This is a character hungering for something she doesn’t possess and can never regain. That’s why she also always met the human ticks around her with this wry sense of humor because it expressed her regret as well as her longing in regards to humanity. And it certainly isn’t the sort of complexity that needed a prequel-based character-arc.
What these first movies unnecessarily try to explain is why Mokoto became that person. Some characters are more a formula or an idea than a fully formed psychologically-reasonable person and it’s fine to not want to show the latter for artistic reasons. Not every well-developed character needs to have Freudian problems. Some characters are more an artistic statement than the shambled mess that is a truly realistic character.
If nothing else, the Ghost in the Shell: Arise series is just GREAT at delivering overly specific exposition that happens more for the sake of the plot than the story.
But this third movie wants to put Togusa into the center. With the introduction of the other team-members I was okay, but Togusa is a special case. The way the previous two movies introduces its star-recruits seemed kinda like hamfisted retconning but that hardly seems appropriate for Togusa. If anything, thematically he’s the second-most important character after Motoko because he’s her complete opposite. She’s the epitome of a cybergenetic, high-functioning person while Togusa seems somewhat average compared to that. He has a family, he still has most of his biological body and he’s a weirdly conservative person. He’s a reminder of the past while Motoko is in the process of evolving into something transhuman or something like that. Even if the Stand-Alone-Complex-series didn’t really talk about this thematically, it made clear that he had a way to look at the world that was completely alien to everyone else in the team. He didn’t take the advances in technology for granted and therefore had a sort of outsider-perspective that allowed him to have insights the cybergenetic rest of the team wouldn’t have had.
Well, that’s the concept presented by the Stand-Alone-Complex-series and here’s a whole movie focused on his recruitment. The movie fucked it up, of course. Sure, his part in the movie was one of being a very persistent detective who served justice more than anything else. Aside from that, though? Nothing. Thematically he really was just the one good cop in a precinct full of corrupt cops (or something like that). All the clues were basically presented to him or were delivered to him by some deus-ex-machina-insight based on bullshit-knowledge that needed to be explained with a bit of exposition. Overall, it wasn’t the most boring part of the movie but considering how much screen-time it got it was a rather underdeveloped storyline that ultimately brought Togusa into the fold of Motoko’s special team.
Well, talking about special… Motoka has a special someone in this movie and actually he doesn’t matter at all. He’s just a plot-device and well, I guess, some nice-looking guy who says sweet things to Motoko. What needs to be understood about this storyline is that it was actually about him offering her a way out. Okay, just ignore the rest of the movie for a minute… Motoko felt used by Section 9. They listened to her advice but didn’t trust her enough to competently take action following the advice she had given. And there’s a dialogue with her army-boob-lady-contact (who has a terrible chara-design) that bluntly tells her that she will be used and then discarded when she’s no longer needed. Meanwhile, Akira, Motoko’s boyfriend, gives her the option to leave the country and work for the idealistic endeavor to bring advanced cybernetics to Third-World-countries and generally work for the acceptance of cyborgs as people. That is Motoko’s choice in this movie and it leads to… nothing. Seriously, it leads to fucking nowhere!
The way these guys talk about how they have to stick to one-night-stands due to their jobs, they make it sound like they are the only victims here. What about the people they sleep with, though?! They sound SO pretentious and egocentric in this scene! Also, it’s kinda stereotypical for soldier-guys to bemoan their assumed inability to have a wife and a family.
Motoko’s hand gets forced somewhat by the Qhardi-Scylla-action-plot of this movie. And just mentioning this makes me fucking angry! This movie’s plot is a fucking mess! It’s not that any of the ideas behind the three movies until now are incompetent, stupid or insane. It’s just the way they are presented in each movie and the quantity of plot-hooks used always leads to these fucking messes that define the Ghost-In-The-Shell-Arise-franchise until now. So, I don’t even want to speculate what these terrorists from an Arabic country are supposed to represent (or the pseudo-terrorists they turn out to be but they are still lead by some colonel who seems somewhat mercenary and… aw, fuck it).
The biggest problem of this movie is that it’s just inane. It doesn’t make any sense because it doesn’t give any particular theme enough time to actually MAKE sense. Instead, the plot just drops scene after scene on the audience filled with these pretentious dialogues that are just lame info-dumps most of the time. That’s where the pretended depth of this movie mostly derides from: tedious exposition. This movie (and the whole Arise-series until now) thinks that something is deep, only because you need a minute to explain it in a dialogue or monologue. This Arise-series is SO surface-oriented with its meaningfulness. Everything this series wants to do is either tediously explained or is made obvious by whatever the characters say or do. There’s NO subtlety or hidden meaning to anything that happens. But to compensate for that, a TON of stuff happens plot-wise in each movie and it happens in simultaneously happening storylines that are somehow connected in a VERY complicated fashion.
Sure, the series seems to get better at dealing with its own messy formula but as long as the Arise-franchise does the same spiel it has until now, it will never reach the greatness of the Stand-Alone-Complex-series, let alone the first Ghost-In-The-Shell-movie.
- One of Saito’s (the sniper) defining character-traits is that he sleeps a lot. And yes, it’s exactly as stupid as it sounds.
- That Motoko’s boob-army-lady-buddy gives her this gun with the Scylla-logo makes NO fucking sense. It’s clear that it’s a plot-device for later when Akira recognizes the gun. And that naturally makes it clear what a fucking cheaply constructed story this movie delivers.
- Most of Togusa’s role as a natural human in a team full of advanced cyborgs is mostly expressed by the latter being like “You’re weird, Togusa!”. Riveting storytelling-choice! They might as well turn this into a sitcom with such ‘depth’.
- The romance between Motoko and Akira was perfunctory at best. It was a lame plot-device, nothing more (like a lot of things in the Ghost in the Shell: Arise series).
Posted on July 11, 2014, in Anime, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Reviews and tagged Anime, Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, reviews, 攻殻機動隊ARISE. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.