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Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

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Genre: Action
Company: Production IG
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 10/1/2002 to 9/1/2003

In a future where the line between man and machine has quickly become blurred, Public Peace Section 9 is a task force put together by Chief Aramaki Daisuke to handle special criminal situations involving kidnapping, homicide and cyberhacking. Leading Section 9’s field team, Major Kusanagi Motoko and her squad solve cases with brutal efficiency. However, it is not until Section 9 uncovers a six-year-old unsolved case involving a mysterious figure known only as Laughing Man that they begin to see how deep corruption runs in the very government that employs them.

summary by Eek

 

Reviewed: 04/12/2004 by
Grade: 83% av-Eek

Highs: Jaw-dropping visuals; intense action scenes; Kanno Yoko knows what’s best!

Lows: Character issues; story goes off track at times

Ghost in the Shell was a movie packed with eye candy and stock sci-fi themes; nothing revolutionary. Yet while the original was flawed, Stand Alone Complex excels in some areas and maintains the same flaws in others.

When I say that this is the best art and animation I have ever seen in a television series, I mean it! Production IG went to the trouble of painstakingly detailing every cel to show vast cityscapes and intricate features, and with CGI that meshes so well with conventional art, you will be hard-pressed to find anything awkward-looking sticking out like a sore thumb. These outstanding visuals all work towards creating some of the most intense action scenes ever witnessed in anime. While explosions rip through buildings and bullets tear through flesh, your adrenaline will pump during the truly awe-inspiring action. Great choreography and animation help the action, but Kanno Yoko and her musical score take it all to the next level. Perfectly timed music enhances much of the anime’s atmosphere, especially the opening and closing theme songs, Inner Universe and Lithium Flower, respectively.

You know something is wrong when the Tachikomas (Sentient spider tanks) have more depth than half of Section 9’s staff. Part of the problem is that there is scarcely any background given on the main characters, let alone the rest of the field team. The other part of the problem is that we are never given any significant opportunities for characters to become better fleshed out than watching them on missions. This proves to be a significant shortcoming because most episodes are self-contained and do not accomplish much more than exploring philosophical points or showing off the good action scenes. In addition, I am strongly reminded of Cowboy Bebop because these episodes, while very entertaining, only allow opportunities for the series to stray away from the main plot surrounding the Laughing Man.

While it is hard to dismiss the flaws in Stand Alone Complex, they are easy to overlook when you see where it really shines. Simply put, Ghost in the Shell pales in comparison, and I am eager to see if 2nd GIG takes this franchise to places it could once only dream of going.

 

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.


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