First Look: Ghost in the Shell Arise – Alternative Architecture


Alternative titles: Koukaku Kidoutai: Arise (TV)
Anime Original by Production I.G
Streaming on Funimation


A television series adaptation of the four Arise OVA-films, set roughly three years prior to the events of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.

Artemis’ verdict: How Is GitS Still Good

By all rights, Ghost in the Shell should now be a terrible experience. First the original manga in 1989, then the first film in 1995, of course the excellent TV show in 2002, then the sequel to the TV series as well as another film both in 2004, and following that those four Arise films between 2013-2014… you’d think Ghost in the Shell would now be a husk of its former self. Even this new TV series, a recompilation of the most recent films, is technically just promo work designed to tie in with yet another film coming out this June – but somehow I’m still watching, and this franchise is still actually good. There’s also enough new material here to make this current series worthwhile even if you’ve already seen the Arise films, and since Production I.G rarely drops the ball when it counts, Alternative Architecture predictably looks and sounds fantastic – the OP alone is a work of art. Ubukata Tow has done very solid writing in the past as well, and his experience with sci-fi really shines through here. Whether you’ve been a fan of the franchise up to this point, or have never before been introduced but can appreciate a decent cyberpunk story, Alternative Architecture makes for a more than decent watch.


Marlin’s verdict: Stay Down

I’m not sure if it’s just because I was expecting more of the old GitS, but I found myself just not enjoying most of this episode. For starters, there’s a lot of ugly CG use that really takes me out of it, something the original SAC did a great job working around. I’m also not a huge fan of this particular characterization of the Section 9 crew. I know that this is a bit of a selfish line of thought, but I still remember Stand Alone Complex well. The jarring difference in maturity between that Major and this one seemed off beyond just their age difference. She’s still someone who has been trained as a soldier, and yet she shows incredible lack of proper conduct. I’m not sure if they’re trying to feed that into the idea that they’re still some kind of government contracted mercenary group, but it made everyone seem incredibly incompetent. It does seem like Arise could still manage to touch the same vein of philosophical questions that its earlier iterations lived and breathed on, but for now I’m fairly unimpressed.

Gee’s verdict: Watch Stand Alone Complex First

I will admit that despite my hesitance due to my dislike of the Arise designs, I have to give it some credit. All in all, it’s an alright cyberpunk anime with the political machinations, philosophical ponderings, and the requisite tactical operations that define Ghost in the Shell. My problem is that while it’s an average anime, that makes it a poor Ghost in the Shell. It’s unfair to Arise, but when compared to the original Mamoru Oshii films and the fantastic Stand Alone Complex, Arise simply doesn’t hold up on any level. Despite being newer than the other two, its production values are notably worse in almost every regard. The designs are weak, the soundtrack is inferior to either Kawai or Kanno’s work, and even its underlying narrative is just a retreading of what prior works in the franchise have achieved. Arise is not a bad anime by any means, but as an entry in a franchise known for its extremely high quality, it’s a disappointment. If you’ve never watched anything from Ghost in the Shell, I highly recommend going back to the Stand Alone Complex anime before bothering with Arise. If you’ve already seen Stand Alone Complex and are just jonesing for some more Ghost in the Shell, I’d almost recommend just rewatching Stand Alone Complex again.


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