update: We found a boxed set of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex used for a reasonable price, bought it and gradually watched all the episodes. I can't find the blog post I wrote when we finished them, so I thought I'd just make note of it here.
We enjoyed these.
Anime News Network
The Younger Son and I have been familiarizing ourselves with anime, and tonight we watched Ghost in the Shell. It wasn't at all what we had expected although neither of us knew what to expect, knowing nothing about the movie except that it appeared on some of the lists we've seen of recommended anime DVDs.
Moria reviews it here. AnimeWorld has a review that says,
Though Ghost in the Shell is a departure from the Masamune Shirow story on which it is based, director Mamoru Oshii has constructed a reserved, philosophical movie examining the meaning of the mind and the effects of technology on the soul. It lays out it's intricate political plot on a dark, subdued canvas that implies as much as it explains outright, in a world populated by harsh characters questioning their humanity. Undeniably stunning visuals, with fluid animation and incredibly detailed art, coupled with an abstract but impressive soundtrack round out the picture.
AnimeNewNetwork says, "It exists on the elite plane of modern anime masterpieces, and for this reason alone, it should be watched."
CyberpunkReview discusses the philosophical aspects of the story, commenting that the film "still provides anime’s the best examination in the questioning humanity. GITS is dominated by an ongoing discussion of what it means to be human and really, what it means to be alive."
Too Many Projects Film Club has a post discussing it.
We liked it, but I don't know that I liked it enough to shell out what it would take to collect all the DVDs in this franchise.