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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Ghost in the Shell - S.A.C. 2nd Gig
Ghost in the Shell - S.A.C. 2nd Gig
Starz / Anchor Bay // Unrated // September 20, 2005
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted October 4, 2005 | 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
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Show:

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was one of the best series of 2004 and easily made it on DVD Talk's top ten anime list for that year.   A personal favorite, I was sorry to see the first season end, and have been highly anticipating the second year of the show.  Now that the first volume Ghost in the Shell: S. A. C. - 2nd Gig has been released, I'm happy to announce that it's been worth the wait.

Series Synopsis:

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:

At the end of the first season, political machinations caused Section 9 to be disbanded, forcefully.  They did manage to force the secretary general from office, but the group's situation was anything buy assured.  As this season opens there are still a lot of problems in Japan, and some that Section 9 is best suited to handle.  When a terrorist group takes hostages at an embassy, it looks like something that's way out of the police's league.  The PM calls in the chief and tells him that if his group, now reformed but not legally so, can rescue the hostages without getting any of them killed, she'll get permission for Section 9 to be reactivated and push a their budget through the legislature.  I won't tell what happens, but suffice to say that the series continues past this first episode.

The are a lot of racial tension in Japan at this time.  There are hoards of refugees and immigrants from Asia flooding into the country due to the 2nd Viet Nam War.  At first Japan welcomed the cheap labor to help rebuild after the conflict, but now the middle class sees their tax dollars going to help the new comers at the same time that they are taking up jobs.  The first three episodes clearly show how deep sentiments are running and how close to a crisis things are getting.

The volume ends up with what looks like the over-ridding story for this season.  A helicopter pilot out on maneuvers has a heart attack and dies, but his built in computer continues to function.  The 'copter refuses the recall command, thinking that the pilot is still alive.  Several other 'copters and a refueling ship take off from different bases, and along with the ghost piloted machine fly to a refugee camp and start circling.  No one can get control of the aircraft, and it's only a matter of time before they run out of fuel and start crashing into the crowds below.

Section 9 is ready to deploy, but they haven't gotten the word yet, when the chief meets a new mysterious person, a member of the Cabinet Information Security Division, Mr. Gohda.  This man with a horribly scarred face seems to know everything that is going on with the helicopters, though virtually no one outside of the military knows the score.  He has a plan to salvage the situation, but he needs Section 9's help, and he needs it now before the PM has given her permission.  Not used to being lackeys, they comply but at the end of the episode there are more questions than answers.  Who controlled the helicopters and why?  Did they want to stir up the refugees? How did Gohda know what was going on, and why did he insert himself into the situation?
 
 

The mysterious Gohda.

This is shaping up to be another great season.  The first three "dividual" episodes did a good job of setting the tone of the show with a lot of action but also a more cerebral second episode that's hard to get a grasp on at first.   The final show, a "dual" episode set up the mystery that I assume we'll be following this season.  Though not a mind boggling as the Laughing Man from last season, there are more elements in the mix and the mystery seems even deeper this time around.

2nd Gig is just an excellent show so far.  There is a lot of action, but not at the expense of an intelligent story.  This show is able to thread a complex mystery through the plot while not getting bogged down in a lot of details.  I can't wait to see how this turns out.

The DVD:


This DVD comes in two versions:  A regular version, reviewed here, and a deluxe version.  The deluxe version has an extra disc with the same episodes repeated but with a DTS sound track.

Audio:

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 lyrics.

Video:

Like the previous season, 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:

In addition to a series of trailers, this DVD includes a 16-minute long interview with director and chief writer Kenji Kamiyama who talks about the set-up for the second season.  There's also an interview with art director Yusuke Takeda and conceptual artist Hiroshi Kato.  They discuss the differences in the backgrounds between the two seasons.  A nice pair of interviews for those who are interesting in the way the series is created.

Final Thoughts:

This is a great disc.  The four episodes are all excellent, and the show has a good mix of action, drama and humor.  More than that though, the story is just first rate.  The plots are tight and the show is very engrossing.  This is one of those discs that you pop in and don't even notice the time passing until it's over.  Destined for this year's best of list, this show is Highly Recommended.

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