Anime Review: 'Ghost in the Shell: Arise' (2013) OVA

Updated on March 15, 2020
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Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

Region A U.S. blu-ray cover.
Region A U.S. blu-ray cover. | Source

Quick Summary

Director: Masahiko Murata and dub ADR director Zach Bolton
Studio: Funimation Entertainment
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Runtime: 55 minutes
Availability: On DVD and Blu-Ray, buy on Amazon or RightStufAnime, streaming on Netflix and FunimationNow

Story Summary

Major Motoko Kusanagi has just returned from overseas to Japan. She gets caught up in a mystery after her commanding officer is murdered and she starts to investigate what happened to him. This begins the series of events that causes Motoko join Section 9.

The Story Is Not Outstanding But It’s Still Enjoyable

The anime story is interesting, but it wasn’t amazing. I liked it because I already like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex so it is interesting to me. However, if you’re looking for an amazing story, Ghost in the Shell: Arise does not quite match the excellent writing and storytelling that amazed me in Stand Alone Complex.

The cases that Motoko investigates are intriguing. I love these characters and their origin stories are interesting, but they're not at all amazing. It’s decent storytelling if you have watched the other Ghost in the Shell anime. The stories aren’t bad, but it’s not the best this franchise has to offer.

Motoko Kusanagi in her first meeting with Aramaki.
Motoko Kusanagi in her first meeting with Aramaki. | Source

Ghost in the Shell: Arise - borders 1 & 2 - Coming Soon - Trailer

The Animation Is Really Nice

The animation is very well done and looks fantastic.

The animation is from Production I.G., so it looks fluid and fantastic. The character designs are a little different from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, but it’s definitely visually interesting and the fight scenes are once again top notch in typical GITS style. But fight scenes aren’t what carry an anime.

The art style looks nice but it’s not quite as consistent compared to the previous anime. The background art is really nice to look at.

The English Dub Isn’t The Best, The Bandai Entertainment English Dub Is Too Hard To Top:

Funimation did a good job with the English dub but there are a lot of flaws with it, mainly Funimation recasting the main voice actors because that’s what the Japanese dub did, save for the voice of the Major. In English, everyone has been recast. Elizabeth Maxwell is decent as Motoko Kusanagi. I’m very biased towards Mary McGlynn who played Motoko in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Mary just did a better job, Elizabeth is not a bad voice actress, but she sounds very stiff and wooden.

I did enjoy John Swasey as Daisuke Aramaki, and he gave a performance that I enjoyed.

Alex Organ is a great actor and I enjoyed him in Psycho-Pass (2012) as Shōgo Makishima, but I did not really like his voice work as Togusa. He’s going up against Crispin Freeman’s Togusa, and Crispin Freeman wins hands down, and Alex is a great actor too.

One performance I did enjoy was Christopher R. Sabat as Batou. Sure he’s not Richard Epcar, but he did a great job and he made me enjoy the English dub, even if the rest of the cast isn’t one that made me want to go pick this up for my collection.

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn is ironically cast in this series, but not as Motoko (They should have kept her in the role; it would have made this a must-buy for me). She voices Kurutsu and is a saving grace to make the English dub enjoyable, Funimation knew she was famous for voicing Motoko, but followed the Japanese in recasting actors, much to my annoyance.

I would probably recommend the Japanese dub, unless you’re disappointed that they changed most of the Japanese cast too. The dub’s not bad, just not outstanding like the previous series.

Ghost in the shell Arise OST OP あなたを保つもの

The Music Is A Mediocre Follow-Up To Yoko Kano

The music is less than stellar. Cornelius is the composer, his music is okay, but it’s very unmemorable and he’s no Yoko Kanno. The music is just all right, and for Ghost in the Shell, that’s just not good enough. It’s one of the weakest aspects of the OVA (Original Video Animation).

The music is something that has always been iconic about this franchise but this music is very lackluster compared to all the other anime in this series. It’s very disappointing because the music has always been outstanding until now.

Parental Rating

Ghost in the Shell: Arise is rated TV-MA for language, violence, and nudity and is for a mature audience because of its themes. It’s not recommended for kids and teens.

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Motoko doing her iconic jump.
Motoko doing her iconic jump. | Source

It Isn’t As Good As Its Predecessors

Ghost in the Shell: Arise is not nearly as good as its predecessors; it’s still a good entry into the Ghost in the Shell franchise. It was an enjoyable anime to stream, but it’s not one that I’ll be adding to my anime collection.

It is worth your time to stream it, I enjoyed the series, but I don’t want to spend the money to have it in my own collection. It is something that I did enjoy as a fan of this franchise and I do think it is worth the time to stream it.

Quick Summary

What Works:
What Doesn't Work:
Decent story, world-building and characters
English dub can't match the Manga Entertainment English dub
Very nice animation
Lackluster soundtrack
The writing isn't as good as other installments in the franchise

My Grade: B-

Ghost in the Shell: Arise (2013) is an interesting OVA series that complements Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. It’s an enjoyable anime that expanded on the universe and showed me more of the characters that I loved.

Unfortunately, the story wasn’t as good as the previous series and it can’t quite live up to the high standards of storytelling that Stand Alone Complex set, but it was still a good anime.

I recommend streaming Ghost in the Shell: Arise. It’s not extremely outstanding, due to its flaws and odd voice acting choices for the dub, and the music’s not as good as it should be. The story is interesting, but it didn’t hold my attention like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, which I could watch all day. It was worth my time to stream it but I don’t feel compelled to buy it. Give it a watch in Japanese and enjoy it, it’s a fun science fiction anime, but not as good as it should be.

You should only purchase the anime if you feel that you have to have it in your collection. Even though it has great production values and a decent English dub, it’s probably best just to stream it because it’s not nearly as good as other installments of the franchise and you’re better off buying them over this one. It’s not a bad entry, it’s just not nearly as good as what has come before, but it is another interesting glimpse into the world this franchise has created.

It’s better than the live-action Ghost in the Shell movie, but that film had its own problems because the writers didn’t understand the source material. While the writers of this anime definitely understand the source material, the stories they told weren’t as good as other stories they’ve told with these characters.

It is still worth your time to watch, but it might not be worth it to spend the money on it unless it is on sale online. It is an anime that I enjoyed but it’s not one of my favorite anime and I don’t feel I that I have to own it.

My Rating

4 stars for Anime Review: Ghost in the Shell: Arise (2013)

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