After viewing the first volume of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone
Complex, I though that it was shaping up to be a very good series.
This second volume cements that opinion, and even improves upon it.
This is a great series that is going to end up on a lot of peoples top
ten list and the end of the year.
Section 9 is a special division of the Tokyo police department and they
have their work cut out for them. The Laughing Man has shown up again
after a six year hiatus, and the cyber-terrorist is making threats that
Section 9 takes seriously. The Laughing Man is an amazing hacker,
with the ability to hack into people's cyber implants and even alter what
they see. That means that he can commit crimes in crowded places
and no one can identify him afterwards. Section 9 has been spending
a lot of time sifting through the mountains of data and interviewing suspects
about this mysterious villain, and they think they have tracked him down.
But with someone as skillful at gaining access to computer systems as The
Laughing Man, can the police even be assured that the records they are
accessing are accurate?
Following the open ended two part Laughing Man story, there are a couple
of stand alone shows which were both very good too. In the
first, Section 9 has to trail a South American revolutionary who was recently
reported killed. It seems that this man has more lives than a cat,
because many countries are after him. But why does he come to Japan
a couple of times a year? Section 9 has to find out.
Then they have to track down a group that is selling black market human
organs. It could be the Yakuza, or is it some other faction?
This story, despite the subject matter, had a lighter tone and was amusing
while also fleshing out the world of the future and the problems that come
with advanced technology.
This volume builds off of the foundation the first DVD laid. This
show is has a very good mix of action, mystery, and a little humor superimposed
onto a very detailed and complex world. Finding out how this world
functions is almost as interesting as finding out the solution to the latest
mystery. The Laughing Man storyline is both intriguing and a little
bit eerie too.
I also love the little bumpers at the end of each show where the mini
tanks give a little lesson. An unexpected way of ending the show,
but these humorous shorts work very well. I end up laughing at most
Ghost in the Shell is one of those shows that starts going strong
from the first notes of the intro song and doesn't let up until the credits
start to roll. The animation is absolutely fantastic, with a seamless
mix of CGI and traditional animation. If you thought Blue Submarine
No. 6 had some impressive visuals, you should see the opening credits
to this show.
This two DVD set comes in a single width Amaray case with an audio CD.
Both are packaged in a slipcover. One disc has the four episodes
with a Dolby Digital soundtrack, and the other has the same four shows
with a DTS track.
Be warned, Bandai and Manga, who are co-releasing this series, messed
up on the discs a little. They mislabled the DTS and DD discs.
You still get both soundtracks, but with incorrect labels. It has
been widely reported that the single disc edition that was supposed to
come with a DD soundtrack is actually the DTS version. Bandai is
willing to replace defective discs. You can get the details here.
I viewed the show with both the English dub in DTS and the original
Japanese DTS track. Both sound amazing. There is good use of
the full sound stage on both 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 lyrics.
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.
There are a couple of extras that appear on the Dolby Digital disc.
First is an interview with Osamu Saka who voices Aramaki in the Japanese
version. The interview is a little over 9 minutes long, and he talks
about how he feels about the show in general and his character in particular.
There is also an 11 minute interview with Yoko Kanno where she talks about
the score for the show and she came to create the music that enhances the
show so much.
The deluxe edition of this DVD comes with an audio CD; Be Human by Yoko
Kanno. I usually don't get into soundtracks, there's only so much
background music I can take. I know Kanno from her work on Cowboy
Bebop and Escaflowne, and I enjoyed the music in those shows, but not enough
to run out and buy the CD. After listening to Be Human, I am reconsidering
that. This is a very good CD. I've been playing it frequently
these past few days, and I am amazed at the varied types of music that
is here, and the fact that all of it is good. From the rocking Trip
City, to the piano and flute music of Patch Me, this disc shows off Kanno's
wide range of ability. A nice touch is that they've included the
lyrics in the booklet that accompanies the CD. This CD is a great
extra, not just something that was thrown together at the last minute.
You can't really ask for much more than what Bandai and Manga have included
with this disc. The DTS soundtrack is absolutely awesome, and the
image is fantastic. The sound track CD is a great extra filled with
some very good music. But the real draw to this disc is the show.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a great show that will
keep you enthralled from beginning till the end. A must buy for anime
fans. Highly Recommended.