Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex #2 Print
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R2 DVD Reviews
Written by maehara   
Wednesday, 10 January 2007 04:00
Ghost in the Shell: Standalone ComplexThe Laughing Man turns out to be more of a problem than anyone expected - mainly as it soon proves impossible to tie him down to any one person - but that doesn't excuse S9 from carrying out their job of preventing the killing of the Superintendent-General.  But how do you defeat someone who can be anywhere and yet nowhere..?

5 - Decoy / The Copycats Chant
With the Laughing Man now very publicly back in action, Section 9 are called in to work with the police to uncover his identity.  Aramaki's got his own idea of what's going on, though: that the Laughing Man's reappearance is a setup by the police themselves to draw attention away from the scandal surrounding their improper use of surveillance devices.  Trying to uncover enough evidence to prove that theory, S9 launch a surveillance operation of their own, and it's not long before the Major discovers Aramaki may be onto something...


6 - Meme / The Copycats Dance

S9's target has used the radio signals used by the police to relay a modular virus into the cyberbrains of the men guarding the Superintendent-General - but until the effects of the virus begin to manifest themselves, there's almost no way of telling who's been infected.  S9 aren't the only ones being led a merry dance, either, as Nanao - the man the SIU were setting up to be tagged as the Laughing Man - is found dead, while the Laughing Man's accomplices soon become numerous enough that the Major has problems dealing with them...

Laughing Man?Resting place

7 - Idolater / Idolatry
Revolutionary soldier Marcelo Jarti is meant to be dead - assassinated in an attack on the hotel he was staying at - but when he arrives in Japan looking very much alive, it becomes clear that reports of his death have been exaggerated.  A check back through the records shows he's been visiting the country regularly for a while now, and so S9 become interesting in just what he's doing there - but their surveillance operation is interrupted when the drugs squad come looking for one of Marcelo's new associates...

Gangster CentralKiller cyborgs

8 - Missing Hearts
A friend of Motoko's who works at a local hospital has developed some concerns about the hospital's sources for transplant organs, and after looking into the matter S9 begin to realise that something shady is going on.  Their investigation leads to a pair of med students who have been taking organs left over from cyborg operations and selling them on - something the Major thinks is a truly low way to make money, so much so that she takes a thoroughly unprofessional pleasure in teaching them a lesson they'll never forget...

Boss?Just a moment!

Two arc episodes, two standalone episodes - we'll look at the arc stories first.  The more you see of the Laughing Man, the more you wonder just what's going on.  It's here that the first use of the term "standalone complex" appears in the show - used to describe the way in which so many unconnected people suddenly appear to claim they're the Laughing Man or acting on his behalf.  The exact meaning of the phrase is never really explained, leaving you to take your best guess at it yourself - a cynic might say that's because the writers themselves didn't really know what they meant.  As seems usual with GitS, there's a fair amount of conspiracy theory surrounding the Superindent-General's involvement and what the police may be trying to cover up, but there's also a healthy dose of action to keep the adrenaline going.  Things can get a little confusing, but it's enjoyable enough to watch.

The stand-alone stories are less important, but in this case probably more interesting.  Episode 8 is the better of the two, as Motoko and Batou pull no punches with the wayward med students.  On the one hand, Motoko's seriously disgusted at the way they've chosen to make their money, but since what they're doing is also treading on mob territory the lesson she teaches them also has a serious side to it.  The obvious fun she and Batou have while chasing them down is great to watch, though.

Episode 7 is less interesting, mostly on account of its slower pace.  It's more of a traditional cop story, with Togusa taking a lot of the limelight while trying to figure out what Marcelo's been doing in Japan.

Overall, this is another good batch of episodes.  Sometimes I wish certain aspects were explained a little more clearly (depending on whether I'm in the mood to figure them out or not), but for the most part GitS:SAC is well-presented and very easy to watch.  Roll on the next volume.

Rating - ****

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