The third volume of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex continues
with the same high quality shows that the previous volumes contained.
Section 9 is still tracking down the Laughing Man, but whether they are getting closer or not is anyone's guess. There
are also some eerie stand alone shows that give this disc some punch.
The volume starts off with a complex episode that takes place mainly
in a chat room in cyber-space. After the Laughing Man's last attack,
the conspiracy freaks and amateur detectives are all trying to figure out
what the attacks mean, and how they fit together with the other Laughing
Man crimes. It gave a good synopsis to what has gone on before, and
several theories as to who or what the Laughing Man actually is.
The first stand alone episode brings the last war back to Batou.
In a rather chilling episode Section 9 joins forces with the CIA.
It seems that one of their men that was used for psychological warfare
in the last war has gone rouge. This guy is a trained killer, who
was used to kill and mutilate entire villages in an effort to make the
enemy loose their will to fight. He's gone to Japan and has started
a killing spree, tying people up, skinning them alive, and then leaving
them to die. Batou ran across this man and his handy work while serving
in the military and has regretted not stopping him when he had the chance.
Now he's determined to track this killer down at any cost. But the
CIA know more than they are letting on.
Next up is another eerie episode. Togusa goes undercover and enters
a hospital that treats kids with cyberbrain closed shell syndrome.
These are autistic-like children that get too involved with cyberspace
and can't shut themselves off. Many of them are very gifted programers,
and the institute is using the children to create defense mazes and then
sell the intricate programs to the military.
The children get excited when one of them mentions that "The Chief"
is coming for a visit. None of the adults know who "The Chief" is,
or what his coming means, but Togusa is on his track.
The final episode is another stand alone show that's quite entertaining.
A battle tank gets some strange oil and decided to go out for a walk.
It meets a little girl who is looking at her lost dog, and the two take
a trip across the city. On their journey, the tank finds an interesting
box that has no viruses or defense programs, but anyone who jacks into
it doesn't come back out.
This was another great volume. The creators hit upon a great format
for telling their story with this show. The 'complex' episodes have
a very interesting story line that's getting better and better as the series
progresses. They are broken up by stand alone shows that flesh out
the current world and culture while also giving the illusion of a passage
The high production values and excellent animation also add to this
show, making it one of the best drama to be released all year.
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 an extra disc that includes the same four
episodes as the first, but with a DTS soundtrack.
The viewer has the choice of viewing this program with either an English
dub (5.1 and 2.0) or in 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.
This DVD sports an 11-minute interview with actor Akio Otsuka (Batou)
and an second 11-minute interview with audio director Kazuhiro Wakabayashi.
There is also a series of trailers.
Another great volume. This series started out very strong and
hasn't let up. The four episodes on this volume are all excellent
shows. Though one of them is a little hard to watch, and not for
children, the series continues to amaze me. Highly Recommended.