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Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex #3 PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Monday, 15 January 2007 04:00
Ghost in the Shell: SACAfter dropping in on an online chat about the origins of the Laughing Man, Ghost in the Shell: SAC moves on to serial killers, mental hospitals and a runaway Tachikoma.  All in a day's work for Section 9 - but for all that, they're really no closer to solving the mystery that the Laughing Man represents...

9 - Chat, Chat, Chat / The Man who Dwells in the Shadow of the Net
Kusanagi eavedrops on a futuristic chatroom dedicated to the crimes committed by the Laughing Man.  The chatroom is populated by anonymous strangers, each with their own elaborate conspiracy theory about who the Laughing Man is and what his purpose may be, which they're only to happy to explain to everyone else - in tedious detail.  One of the members, however, seems to know more than you would expect from someone who's just theorising, and catches the Major's attention...

ChatroomAround the table

10 - Jungle Cruise / A Perfect Day for a Jungle Cruise
An American serial killer stalks the city streets using an unusual (and brutal) methodology: he skins his victims alive, using the victim's own cyberbrain connections to record the process in detail before selling on the recording.  Batou's familiar with the technique - he'd encountered similar techniques during his time inthe Rangers, and soon develops a very personal desire to see the killer brought to justice.  But the Americans have also had their representatives assigned to the investigation, and seem to want their man back with the minimum of fuss...

Chauffeur dutyAnger

11 - Portraitz / In the Forest of Pupae
Togusa is sent undercover to investigate a mysterious government facility for the treatment of "cyberbrain closed shell syndrome".  He's disturbed to find that many of the facility's patients are children, while what he encounters is chilling in its implications and may hold the key to the Laughing Man mystery...

OverloadSounds familiar

12 - Escape From / Tachikoma Runs Away - The Movie Director's Dream
Batou's Tachikoma goes AWOL and encounters a young girl searching for her lost dog.  It helps her to search for the missing pup, and learns some valuable lessons about life and death along the way.  Meanwhile, a discarded cyberbrain leads Kusanagi on a soul-searching ghost dive...

When girl met tankFriendly face

The first episode is less chatroom, more chatshow, thanks to the way the "chatroom" is presented on-screen.  Fortunately there's no screaming, bitch-slapping or chair-throwing - far more civilised than that - but an entire episode of plot exposition doesn't exactly make for thrilling viewing.  While Motoko does learn some tidbits from her time there, it's doubtful as to how useful it'll be.  Not the greatest of episodes.

The rest of the disc is far more interesting, though.  Episode 12 takes the fun award - it's hard not to love the Tachikoma, thanks to their childlike personalities, and an episode that focusses heavily on one of them is always a good distraction from the show's more serious side.  The second half of the episode, with Motoko's brain-dive, isn't as good, but provides a story that's a little on the surreal side and another change from the usual routine.

The other two episodes are more traditional investigative fare.  Episode 10 hints at a lot of gore - most of it thankfully off-screen - but the point of interest is how events there link in with Batou's past and how he reacts to Amoretti's actions.  Let's just say he's not a happy man, but in terms of keeping the attention and emotional involvement, this is the best episode on the disc.  Episode 11 is similarly investigative, but doesn't grab the attention quite as well.

A bit of a mixed bag for this volume, then, although the good is really good, so I've no problems with recommending this release.  The Laughing Man saga continues to unfold at a very slow pace, but there's plenty of time left in the series for that side of the story to kick into gear.  The stand-alone episodes are often better. anyway, as there's less messing around with conspiracy theories.  Well worth picking up.

Rating - ****

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