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Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex #1 PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Written by maehara   
Friday, 01 December 2006 00:00
GitS:SAC Volume 1I'll admit it's a bit strange starting on Stand Alone Complex's first season when I'm almost done with 2nd Gig, but such are the vagaries of my backlog.  And so it's back to the beginning of the story, as Section 9 show us what they're made of before taking on the problem of the Laughing Man...

1 - Public Security Section 9
Major Kusanagi and her team are called to a hostage situation at a geisha restaurant - although with a government minister included amongst the hostages, the military are itching for their excuse to take control of the operation, so S9 don't have much time to resolve the situation.  The geisha are all robots - servant androids - and have been hacked to become the hostage-takers, so part of the mission becomes tracking down the person responsible for controlling them, but when the one lead they have shorts out his own memories to stop S9 probing them, their problems are just beginning...

Action womanConfrontation

2 - Proof of Recklessness / Testation
During testing, one of a group of three prototype tanks - larger versions of S9's Tachikoma units - appears to take on a mind of its own and breaks free form the test centre.  S9 are called in to try and restrain the rogue tank - their initial investigations reveal that the tank had been loaded with the personality of one of the researchers who had been working on the prototype, Takeshi Kago, who had died the previous week - but that doesn't fully explain the machine's actions.  It doesn't help that the tank's manufacturers aren't being wholly forthcoming about what it will take to stop the tank's rampage...

Don't argue with thisDisconnection

3 - A Modest Rebellion / Android and I
After a case of mass android suicide, S9 decide to check out the manufacturing company's factory.  The model affected was an older one, no longer in production - something that has upset hardcore fans of the model.  When Motoko's check of the plant's systems detects a virus designed to only infect the one model, the obvious conclusion is that a disgruntled owner was resonsible for the virus and subsequent suicides.  With the Jeri model now being so rare, tracking down the main suspect is easier than expected - but when he turns out to be the son of a diplomat stationed in Japan, it looks as though there'll be nothing S9 can do...

Hopeful tachikomaYoung love?

4 - The Visual Elements Will Laugh / Interceptor

Togusa receives a late-night 'phonecall from an old colleague, Yamaguchi, who's been working on a special investigation into what's been called the "Laughing Man Incident", the largest ever case of corporate blackmail.  His inquiries have uncovered some unusual activities by the investigation's senior officers, and he's looking for Togusa's advice on what to do next - but on the way to meet him, he's killed in a road accident.  When Togusa learns of the "accident", he's convinced the timing was a little too convenient, and takes his concerns to Aramaki, who allows him some time to try and figure out what happened...

Paying respectsLaughing Man

The first three episodes are stand-alone stories, used to briefly introduce Section 9 and its personnal and to give the audience a good idea of what they do and how good they are at it.  The TV series takes place in an alternate timeline from the movies (hence why the Major is still with us), but otherwise if you've seen the first movie you'll know what to expect - lose the philosophy (mostly) and keep the action, and you're sorted.  With androids being a major part of life in GitS's world, it's no surprisde that they're the centre of attention for the opening episodes, complete with some superficial musing on the true nature of life and intelligence.  All interesting enough, and fairly typical territory for this show.

The final episode on the disc introduces this season's main story arc - the Laughing Man, who after a few years off the radar makes a very high-profile return when the unit investigating him/her/it suffers a public scandal.  Whereas before he was engaged in corporate blackmail, though, this time around it all seems a little more personal.

As introductions go, this disc serves the purpose quite well, letting you get a good feel for how the world works before introducing the main story.  One of the problems I've had with 2nd Gig has been that the arc episodes haven't been very well placed through the series - it's too early to say yet if the first season suffers from the same problem, bit I'd suspect it probably does.  I'd be happy to be proven wrong, though.

On the technical side, the CG in these episodes wasn't as good as I've come to expect - I suppose the series' age is already beginning to show.  Subtitle fans will also want to bear in mind that the subtitle timing for this release is noticeably off - captions are sometimes early, sometimes late, and very rarely ever properly timed.  It's annoying to begin with, but you do get used to it after a while - not that that excuses the fault in the first place.  Personally, I didn't think the dub for GitS was all that good, so switching to the English audio wasn't an option for me.

I'd always avoided Ghost in the Shell - there's been too much hype around the franchise, which always makes me wary.  It took seeing an episode of 2nd Gig at London Expo last year to finally pique my curiosity, and I'm glad that happened - 2nd Gig is one of my favourite current series, and I'm enjoying going back to see where the TV series started.  These episodes aren't perfect, but they are definitely enjoyable, and worth picking up.

Rating - ****

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