From Manga Entertainment: Back In 1995, artist Masamune Shirow and director Mamoru Oshii's insanely influential adaptation of Ghost In The Shell burst onto the international film scene, introducing a new wave of Japanese animation through its mesmerizing cinematic expression. Seamlessly merging traditional cel animation with the latest computer graphic imagery, this stunning sci-fi spectacle broke through the boundaries of mainstream animation with its detailed artistic direction and uniquely intelligent story line.

Nine years later, Ghost in the Shell is about to take once again the world by storm with a movie sequel, TV series and several DVDs set to debut this Fall.

On September 17th, Go Fish Pictures will release the long-awaited sequel Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence in theaters. Once again written and directed by Mamoru Oshii, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence—the first anime ever to compete for the Cannes International Film Festival's coveted Palme d'Or—is the story of a solitary cyborg who desperately wants to hold on to what's left of his humanity in a world where the worth of the human soul is fading almost into obscurity.

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Less than two weeks later, on September 28th, Manga Entertainment and Bandai Entertainment will release the highly anticipated anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The series, which will be released bi-monthly on seven DVD volumes over the next year, was created by the revered animators at Japan's Production I.G.—the team behind Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and the anime segments in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Volume 1.

Only a month later, in early November, the anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex will debut on Cartoon Network's highly rated late-night Adult Swim. Set in the not-too-distant future when technology plays a key role in everyday human life, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex follows the adventures of the most popular female cyborg, Maj. Motoko Kusanagi, and her fellow police officers of Section 9.

The anime’s year will end with a new beginning with the December 7th releases of a Special Edition DVD of the movie that started all the hype above . . . Ghost in the Shell, will be re-released with enhanced audio/visual and language options in a feature-packed set that is sure to please even the most die-hard fan boys.

On the hell side of the equation, HBO Home Entertainment has announced that we’ll all be getting a second chance to take an eerie trip through the Dustbowl and the last great age of magic when they release Carnivale: Season One on DVD this December 7th. You’ll love this stuff, trust me . . . In a time of titanic sandstorms, vile plagues, drought and pistilence -- signs of God's fury and harbingers of the Apocalypse - the final conflict between good and evil is about to begin. The battle will take place in the Heartland of an empire called America. And when it is over, man will forever trade away wonder for reason. A sweeping epic that is both challenging and highly accessible, the series focuses on the primordial conflict of good vs. evil, as played out against a pair of vivid and unusual backdrops: a traveling carnival working the American Dustbowl circuit, and an evangelical ministry in California. The episodes will be presented in 1.85/16x9 widescreen and DD 5.1 audio.

The set’s supplements will reportedly include:

• Audio Commentary With Director Rodrigo Garcia

• Making Of Carnivale

• Tarot Card Game

• Museum of TV and Radio Seminar

• TCA Trailer

• The Original Pilot Episode Titled "Milfay"

It’s going to be setting you back somewhere in the range of $99.99 and it’ll maybe even be worth that.

Meanwhile, only marginally fitting into today’s chosen routine is BBC America’s announcement that Volume Two of their fantastically cool series MI-5 (known in the UK as Spooks) will be available to own on January 11th 2005. This new five-disc set will include aucio commentaries on episodes one, two, three, five and ten, deleted scenes, some behind the scenes featurettes for nine of the episodes, interviews with the cast and crew and a photo gallery. It’ll be hitting you up for ‘round about $79.99.

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Miramax Home Entertainment and Quentin “Kill Bill Volumes1 and2” Tarantino will be presenting/premiering My Name Is Modesty on September 28th. This direct to DVD adventure, will trace the origins of femme fatale super-spy to be Modesty Blaise -- a young girl orphaned during civil war in her native Romania. Taken in by a casino owner who has ties to the mob, Modesty learns how to fight, steal and spy. Once grown, she becomes the casino owner's bodyguard, but is ultimately unable to protect him. When an enemy from his past murders her benfactor, Modesty seeks her revenge. Beautiful, sexy and dangerous, Based on the graphic novel’s and comic strips of Peter O'Donnell My Name Is Modesty is being advertised as an exciting new telling of her action packed adventures. Of course, if it really were one, it’d doubtlessly be showing up at your local Cineplex rather than in this here column.

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The DVD’s bonus materials will include:

• Commentary with writers Lee Batchler and Janet Scott Batchler

• Commentary with director Scott Spiegel and producer Ted Nicolaou

• Creating The Ultimate Heroine: The Making of "My Name Is Modesty"

• Retrospective of Modesty Blaise comics and artwork

• Conversation with Peter O'Donnell, the creator of Modesty Blaise

• Conversation with Quentin Tarantino and Scott Spiegel

• DVD aspect ratio: 1.85:1, enhanced for 16x9 TV screens

• DVD sound: Dolby® Digital 5.1 Surround Sound

• Languages: English

And lastly . . . Just in time to coincide with the Sarah Michelle Geller top-lined remake, Lions Gate Home Entertainment has announced that Megumi Okina’s Ju-On: The Grudge will be hitting the street on November 9th. The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 and English 2.0 Surround Sound with English and Spanish subtitles. Extras will include behind the scenes footage, audio commentary with Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel, deleted scenes, cast and crew interviews, the theatrical trailer and a Trailer Gallery. But, It’s gonna set you back something like $24.99.

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