In the aftermath of the Fourth World War, refugees from various Asian countries are strewn across the globe, and three million of them happen to find their way to the shores of Japan. Without a land to call home, these people are forced into five camps across the country; they are initially used as a source of cheap labor but are never naturalized as citizens of Japan. Upon solving the Laughing Man case in 2032, Section 9 is reborn and immediately put to work uncovering the mystery behind Individual Eleven, a terrorist group focused on freeing the refugees. But various factions within and outside the government threaten to cause the ever-evolving situation to spin out of control.
summary by Eek
Highs: Awe-inspiring political thriller; top-of-the-line production values
Lows: Occasional filler episodes; same old characters for the most part
You will never hear me say that I’m a Ghost in the Shell fan; Shirow Masamune’s works just aren’t my cup of tea, but I’d be damned if I didn’t say that 2nd GIG made me want to seriously reconsider my Top 10 list. Yes, it’s that good.
Bad news first: there are some episodes that are filler. Top quality filler and far less than what was in Stand Alone Complex, for sure, but these episodes do nothing useful other than killing time. However, most of the filler contributes something to the main plot, thus not being an entire waste. And if you’re expecting much in the way of character development, it isn’t here. With exception to Major Kusanagi and Saitou, everyone is static and flat. The amount of insight you’ll gain on them is limited at best, and often, they all come off as possessing the same dull, encyclopedic behavior. This is not the anime’s selling point…
… but just about everything else is. 2nd GIG is, at its heart, a hardcore political thriller that would give Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October and Clear and Present Danger a run for their money any day. Starting with a seemingly mundane incident, this anime gradually develops the situation into being very serious and captivating; you will not want to take your eyes off the screen. There really isn’t much in the way of action compared to other Ghost in the Shell anime, but the few action scenes here are intensified as puzzle pieces fall into place and each faction pushes towards their goals. With well-timed plot twists and deception, the grand scope of what the series pushes for begins taking form early on and continually to grow. As can be expected, audio and visual quality are topnotch. Production IG‘s art and animation never wane for a second, and Kanno Yoko’s beautiful music shines from start to finish. It’s nice to see big budgets put to good use.
The only other anime that would really fall into the political thriller category would be Gasaraki, but even then, 2nd GIG is easily a step above, if not more. It even exceeds its predecessor with regards to depth and doesn’t bother spending too much time on philosophy. For an intelligent thrill ride, look no further!
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex — 2nd GIG can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.