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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex Volume 2 - Deluxe Edition With CD
Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex Volume 2 - Deluxe Edition With CD
Starz / Anchor Bay // Unrated // September 28, 2004
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted October 14, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Show:

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 of them.

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.

The DVD:


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.

Audio:

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.

Video:

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.

Extras:

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.

Final Thoughts:

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.

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