The penultimate volume of the first season of Ghost in the Shell:
Standalone Complex has the plot moving at a fast and furious pace.
A trio of complex episodes, this volume ratchets up the tension as the
Laughing Man's plot becomes more clear, and takes some surprising turns.
In the not too distant future, most humans are augmented by cybernetic
implants. These implants make people faster, stronger, and more powerful.
No longer do you have to spend excruciating hours in the gym to get the
perfect body, you can just order one. Crime is still prevalent in
this future society, and the criminals are now much more powerful.
In order to combat these criminals, a special division of the police, Section
9 has been created. Manned with state of the art cybernetically enhanced
officers Section 9 handles the cases that no one else is equipped to.
This volume picks up where last volume's cliff hanger ended, as Section
9 discovers a rouge element in the government; a faction that is heavily
armed and has access to the newest military hardware. After one of
their own was nearly killed though, Section 9 isn't in the mood to be passive,
and they go up against the crooked agents with everything they can.
Of course discovering a paramilitary organization within government
creates a lot of questions. Who set it up, and why? As this
elite police group starts following the trail, they discover that the web
of conspiracy turns out to be much wider than anyone anticipated.
The Laughing Man is also active. He wants to know why the Murai
vaccine was not approved, and micro-machines were touted as a cure to cyber-brain
sclerosis, even thought they are totally ineffective at stopping the dreaded
disease. When the two investigations meet, with the two sides team
up or go to war?
This is one of my top two series that are currently being released.
(The other one is Paranoia Agent.) It is really hard to talk
about this volume though, because so much happens, there are so many twists
and turns that really make the series even more intriguing, but I don't
want to give anything away. Suffice to say that if you've followed
the series this far, you'll want to pick up this volume too. Thing
just get better and better in this series, and I'm waiting with anticipation
for the final volume. I can't wait to see how this all wraps up.
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 with the same episodes repeated but with a DTS sound
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.
In addition to a series of trailers, this DVD sports a pair of ten minute
long interviews. The first is with screen writers Junichi Fujisaki,
Yoshiki Sakurai, and Nobuyasu Terato, and the second with Dai Sato and
Shotaro Suga who also work on the scripts to the show. These are
pretty interesting as they talk about how they worked together as a team
and how the scripts would evolve.
One of the best series that's currently coming out, this volume of Ghost
in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a real roller-coaster ride.
Crammed full of more plot turns than most entire shows, this volume makes
things much more clear while adding more questions. Shows like this
are the reason that we watch anime, so go out and pick up a copy.