Ghost in the Shell: Arise – the Original Soundtrack Review

“Reporting for duty, Major!”

It’s no big secret that quite a few of us at The Outerhaven are HUGE Ghost In The Shell fans, and we were immensely excited when ARISE was announced earlier this year. But as details of the new project emerged, thoughts of worry started flooding our brains, as pictures of the Major’s character designs, changing of the voice cast, music composer, and plot premise were major (pun intended) departures from the popular franchises’ previous iterations.

Personally, there was no other change more worrisome than the new project’s soundtrack, as Japanese electronic musician Cornelius would take the reigns of the series’ music production from longtime contributors, Kenji Kawai and Yoko Kanno. There was quite the derision (and division) when the first piece of music was heard in the preview trailers for Ghost In The Shell: ARISE. Some fans found it unsettling that the work sounded nothing like sound visionary Yoko Kanno’s acclaimed compositions for the Stand Alone Complex series, while others (like myself) found it interesting, but wisely wanting to hear more before voicing their approval.

The Ghost In The Shell: ARISE soundtrack finally released on November, 27th, and after quite a few listens, I can honestly say that while it doesn’t necessarily live up to previous musical entries, it’s still a pleasant listening experience that in it’s own way, admirably fits the universe of Ghost In The Shell. Listening to his album, one can imagine that he listened to (and even enjoyed) Yoko Kanno’s works, and composed pieces that are in a way a homage to her sound. There are unfortunately, no influences present from Kenji Kawai’s soundtracks for the original GitS films which is a bit of a letdown as Cornelius at heart, comes off as a minimalist trying his hand at a lush electronic futuristic sound. Tracks like “Breaking Point” wouldn’t seem out of place in the Stand Alone Complex discography, with it’s lush rock drums and guitar riffs, while the title track “Ghost In The Shell Arise” sounds unique with it’s sparse percussions, vocals and keys playing at a speedy bpm and comes off as quite fresh, soundwise.  Other tracks, such as “Action Woman”, “Highway Friendly” and “Toughdaf” really lend a minimalistic and futuristic action-y pace to the ears.

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As competent and as well meaning as this soundtrack is, not all is well with Cornelius’ production choices. Tracks such as “Instability Mobility”, “Solid Iced Air” and “Mystic Past In The Mist”, come off as uninspired incidental music that get repetitive and otherwise boring, real fast. “Opening Title”, “In The Shell”, and “Ending Title” on the other hand are by contrast, quite nicely put together ambient tracks that’ll leave you wondering why he never let them build up into something truly epic and worthy.

They’ll leave you yearning for some sort of percussion or other layering. It’s very difficult to speak on ARISE’s soundtrack without making comparisons to Stand Alone Complex’s soundtracks, for the simple fact of Kanno’s work setting the bar so high and having become synonymous with the Ghost In The Shell world. Production I.G should have known this as you can’t have someone like Cornelius follow someone like Yoko Kanno, who has more than proven herself as a top tier composer that can effortlessly weave her way around many a genre and atmosphere.

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About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. Available for podcasts upon request.