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Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, 2nd Gig #5 PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Tuesday, 10 October 2006 00:00
Cover Art (Volume Five)Ghost in the Shell finally gets some focus as their investigations lead them closer to Kuze, whose behind-the-scenes dealings are beginning to point towards some deadly plans.  Before that, though, there's a joint operation in Berlin for Motoko and Batou to take part in, as the international terrorist known as Angel Feather bites off more than he can chew...

17 - Red Data / Friendship Between Mother and Son
Kuze's been traced to Taiwan, where as in Japan he's been working with refugess and creating a certain amount of trouble as a result.  By the time Motoko gets there to liase with the local authorities, she finds that Kuze's already left the island, but while there she finds herself getting involved in a dispute between a young boy and some local gang members.  By coincidence, the boy has had dealings - very shady dealings - with Kuze, and when he learns that Motoko has a full cybernetic body soon becomes enamoured with her.  Just what Motoko needs to make him a good source of information...

Messing with the wrong peopleForced entry

18 - Trans Parent / Angel's Song
Batou's in Berlin with the Major as part of an multinational observation mission.  They're on the lookout for Angel Feather, a major international terrorist whose modus operandi is to attack buildings near to sites holding intergovernmental negotiations, and with just such a conference due to begin shortly in Berlin, there's concern he'll strike again.  Finding him is complicated by his use of a full cybernetic body and frequent changes to his facial appearance, which is why a large multinational squad's been assembled to catch him - but so far their combined efforts have drawn a blank.  Batou finally makes a breakthrough when he becomes suspicious of a young wheelchair-bound girl who seems to be able to see him even when he's using his camouflage suit...

Watching from the rooftopsInnocence lost

19 - Chain Reaction
Section 9 is back on Kuze's trail, after hacking a refugee cyberbrain hub to trace him to the stronghold of Dejima.  With tensions rising, Dejima has declared its independence and it's into this hostile territory that the members of Section 9 must go if they have any chance of tracking down their man.  However, the refugees seem to be expecting them, and it is clear that they won't be getting anywhere without a fight.  Meanwhile, a prominent Foreign Office minister has died in suspicious circumstances - yet more evidence that someone's trying to destablise the government...

Tooling upInto the cyberbrain

20 - Fabricate Fog / Confusion in the Far North
Still on Kuze's trail, the battered Section 9 agents head to Etorofu and into another deadly situation.  Kuze always seems to be one step ahead of them, but now the things have taken a very serious turn.  He and his followers have been trying to obtain nuclear material from the Russian Mafia, hoping that possessing nuclear arms will force Japan to recognize them.  Section 9 may suspect that events are being manipulated from afar, but they have a race against time if they are to stop Kuze concluding the deal.

Planning meetingKuze, cornered

Kuze may feature by name in episode 17, but there's only the flimsiest of connections to him, with Motoko's nameless new contact being the real star of the episode - streetwise and confident, but finding himself just a little out of his depth when it comes to dealing with properly organised syndicates.  Motoko takes on almost the role of protector for him, showing there's perhaps a mother's instinct in there somewhere, and gets him out of serious trouble on several occasions.  Not an earth-shattering episode, but certainly enjoyable enough.

Episodes 19 & 20 are the main event of the disc, however.  Kuze's clearly aware that Section 9 are on his trail, and leads them quite a merry dance, as he quickly proves himself capable of misleading even Motoko.  There's a lot shown here of his dealings with the refugee groups he's helpling and how he's come to raise enough money to support his campaign, which goes a long way to fill out the mystique behind the "legend" he's become.  Curiously, his lips never move when he's speaking, which is a little curious - I still haven't quite figured out what's going on there.  A similar convention is used when the S9 members are speaking over the 'net, but in Kuze's case that's not what seems to be happening.

The disc ends on a serious cliffhanger, when Batou finally manages to get face-to-face with Kuze - but the resolution of their meeting will have to wait until next volume.

In between the main arc story, episode 16 goes off on a bit of a tangent, with another investigation for Batou and the Major that includes a fairly shameless attempt to evoke a little sympathy from the viewer.  I quite like this kind of episode, especially since the emotional manipulation isn't too blunt and the story is very well presented.

Overall, probably the best volume of 2nd Gig in a while, as we're finally beginning to see the main story arc kick up a gear and become the real focus of the series - after a long run of episodes that were pretty much standalone, that's just what I'd been waiting for.  The episodes still aren't without their moments of introspection, but they're definitely worthwhile.

Rating - ****

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