R2 DVD Reviews
Written by maehara
Saturday, 16 September 2006 00:00
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex continues, as Section 9 takes a breather from dealing with the Individual Eleven, and instead looks to the past, carries out some Tachikoma maintenance, solves an unrelated murder, and helps the Prime Minister keep an eye on the less loyal members of her government. All in a few days' work for the Major and her men - but our old friend Goda is still scheming in the background...
13 - Face / Make Up
The problem of the Individual Eleven - magnified by the mass suicide - is getting beyond the ability of Section 9 to control. The technical folk have idenitified a virus that leads those infected by it commit suicide, a virus that was probably behind the Individual Eleven's deaths, and the recent spree of suicide bombings by illegal immigrants, but what to do about it? Closer examination of footage of Kuze, taken during the rooftop image, gives S9 two leads on other people who may have been involved - but their investigation takes a turn for the worst when a member of Section 9 is filmed killing one of the leads...
14 - Poker Face
The American Secretary of State is in Japan for treaty negotiations with the Prime Minister, and Section 9 are handling the security detail. For some of the team, that means hiding out in the Tachikoma's truck and playing poker, where one of the players (Saito) seems to be particularly adept at keeping a poker face. It's a skill he learnt while he was a mercenary, and to help pass the time he tells the others his story...
15 - Afternoon of the Machines / Pat
Tachikoma maintenance isn't the most exciting of things, even for the tachi's themselves (What type of oil will we get today? Woohoo!), so they've been putting the time in by scanning through the police database for information on the Individual Eleven. When they spot that over half of them came from a police or military background, they think they're onto something - but what is it about that makes people from that background more susceptible to the virus? Time for some profound tachikoma psychological analysis. Meanwhile, the Major and the others are investigating another possible suicide when there's a suspicious gas explosion nearby. A researcher is identified as having been inthe vicinity of the explosion - a researcher who had a key role in the creation of the tachikoma...
16 - Being There / Another Chance
The refugee problem is growing worse, and all the government agencies concerned are doing about it is arguing with each other over who's to blame - meaning the Individual Eleven are well on the way to achieving their aims. To make matters worse, the Prime Minsiter is beginning to doubt she can control events or the various agencies and politicians she needs to resolve the problems she's facing, so she approaches Section 9 to keep any eye on some of the less loyal members of her government. Meanwhile, the rest of the team's being catching up on Kuze's background information...
Okay, so these episodes aren't entirely without mention of the Individual Eleven, but that investigation definitely takes a back seat, despite the rather gruesome mass suicide that ended the last disc and begins this one. The main news is that Kuze survived the killings and is now the centre of S9's investigations - when they aren't busy with other things, that is.
A second member of the team is set up for murder in episode 13. While the method of the setup is fairly unique, it's still too much of a rehash of episode 10 and Togusa's framing, so I'd have to call it a bit of cheating and, for the most part, filler - even if it does seem to link back to Kuze in some way. Is only with the final episode that the underlying story really seems to get back on track, and even then it's as a sidestory to the political scheming that's going on in that episode.
The other two episodes, though, are worth their weight in gold. In Poker Face, you can never be entirely sure if Saito's story is real or a fabrication - but seeing the Major at work in a different setting from her usual "covert ops" routine is worth seeing. Afternoon of the Machines is more of a comedy piece - as usual when the Tachikoma feature heavily. It's almost a full-length Tachikoma Days episode in a lot of ways, as the machines talk amongst themselves and try to figure out what the Individual Eleven are up to. There's a break in the humour for some action scenes with the Major and Batou, but that's not really the main focus. It's different in tone from the usual GitS episode, but it's great fun to watch.
I can't help but wish they'd just get on with the main story, though - last volume followed a similar pattern of standalone and arc stories, and while the standalones are usually very well-done & interesting tales, there's only so much filler you can take. With the series now past the half-way point, hopefully events will begin to pick up speed a little and focus more on the main story, rather than taking too many more detours.