There are a few movies that have a great impact
on a genre, not only influencing films and shows that come after it, but
also generating a lot of interest that wasn't there previously. Like
years before it, 1996's Ghost in the Shell was an incredibly successful
movie that gained a legion of fans on both sides of the Pacific.
In 2002 a TV series was created based on this popular movie: The
Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex. This series has
now been released on DVD by Bandai.
It is the year 2030, and the world is becoming
more integrated with computers. Not just the ability to surf the
web on your TV, but being able to replace your limbs and augment your senses
with cybernetic devices. This gives man enhanced abilities, but also
blurs the line between what is alive and what isn't.
But the fact that computers are omnipresent and
totally relied upon also creates new crimes, and new ways of committing
crimes. The police are having a harder and harder time keeping the
peace with both cybercrimes and physical crimes on the rise, and that's
where Section Nine comes in. Section Nine is an elite team of police
agents that get to handle the toughest cases. Just about all of the
members are enhanced cybernetically, and are the top men and women in their
fields. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex follows the cases
that this crack team takes on, and some tough cases they are. In
one show they have to stop a newly manufactured super-tank that takes off
from the proving grounds one day and seems to have a life of its own.
They have to track down a hacker who has put let a computer virus loose
into cyberspace that causes a certain model of android to commit suicide,
and Section 9 is called in when some Geisha robots run out of control and
try to kill their clients.
I was a little hesitant about this show before
I viewed it. I really enjoyed the movie, and had the fear that this
show would either lower the production values or destroy the plot.
I needn't have worried. This animation on this show is very good,
with even some background details having motion. They didn't cut
corners and the show looks great. The CGI animation blends seamlessly
with the tradition style, and helps the show look more expensive than it
probably is. There actually is not as much CGI as one would
expect from the opening credits, but where it is employed it is done so
As the name implies, most of the stories in this
series are self contained. Each little mystery reaches a conclusion,
though some are more tightly wrapped up than others. The writing
on the show is very good. The stories are very creative and entertaining,
and they are not predicable. Another thing that makes this show stand
out is that over the corse of the disc, each of the team members in Section
9 starts to have a more rounded personality.
The thing I really like about this show is that
it can be viewed on several levels, and it works well in each. As
a straight adventure show, this program really rocks, with explosions and
car chases and lots of guns. But it is also deeper than that, examining
what a soul is, and what makes someone human or alive. For example
in one show a person's religion forbids him from accepting prosthetic devices,
even if they will save his life. But what about after he dies?
Can his brain be implanted into an artificial body? And if it is,
is the person really alive?
Great animation, good stories and an effective
soundtrack make this a DVD that all anime fans should try out.
This DVD comes in two versions. A regular version, which is the
version that is reviewed here, and a deluxe version. The deluxe version
has three discs. The first is the same as the regular version.
DVD two has the same four episodes with a DTS soundtrack, and the third
disc is a CD of the music from the series.
The viewer has the choice of viewing this program in either an English
dub (5.1 and 2.0) or the original Japanese (also 5.1 and 2.0.) There
is good use of the full sound stage on the 5.1 tracks, giving the show
a very encompassing feeling. Music and incidental effects come from
all angles surrounding the viewer, but these never become overpowering.
There isn't a trace of hiss or distortion, and everything is very clear
and crisp. I viewed the show in both English and Japanese, and I
had a preference for the original language, but the English dub sounded
great as well, with the voice talent doing a good job. There are
optional full English subtitles or just subtitles for the signs and song
The video on this show is absolutely stellar. The anamorphic widescreen
video was encoded from a high definition master and is just about flawless.
The colors were excellent, blending gracefully from shade to shade without
any signs of banding. The picture was sharp and the definition was
first-rate. This is a great looking show.
In addition to a textless opening and closing, this DVD has an 11½-minute
interview with Director Kenji Kamiyama who talks about why they decided
to do a TV show and how the show was developed. Next is a ten minute
interview with actress Atsuko Tanka who plays Kusanagi, She mainly talks
about the characters in the show as she sees them. Both of these
interviews were filled with shots from the show and a lot of padding.
There isn't really as much information given as their running times would
There are also trailers for Witch
Hunter Robin, Yukikaze,
This is a great series, a show that is destine to be on a lot of people's
top ten lists for this year. The stories are great, the animation
is excellent and the DVD has top-notch audio and visuals. This is
a show that works very well on several levels. Even if you haven't
seen the movie, you should check out the series. Highly Recommended.