Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 1st Gig Complete Collection Print
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R2 DVD Reviews
Friday, 16 February 2007 00:00
GitS:SAC 1st GigI love complete collections.  The individual releases of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex would have put you back  £150, but the collection is on the shelves for £40.  By any measure, that's a complete bargain (although the collection does away with 2nd disc from each release, so no 5.1 DTS surround tracks here), especially for a series this good.  What are you waiting for..?

For the full details of each episode and a good selection of screenshots, check the reviews of the individual releases and then come back here:
» Volume 1
» Volume 2
» Volume 3
» Volume 4
» Volume 5
» Volume 6
» Volume 7

HackedDowntime for the Major

I've never made any secret of the fact that I was very wary of all things Ghost in the Shell before I first saw any of it - there's just something about heavily-hyped shows that makes me naturally steer clear, unless I was in "on the ground floor" before the hype started to build (as I was with shows like Kannazuki no Miko and Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya).  My first exposure to Ghost in the Shell, then, was almost an accident - a screening of an episode of GitS:SAC 2nd Gig at London Expo in October 2005 - but I've been thoroughly hooked ever since.  Sometimes the hype is earned, and this is one of those times.

Public Security Section 9, run by ageing Daisuke Aramaki and commanded by cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi, is an undercover agency that looks into the more unusual threats against Japanese security.  They're particular field of expertise is in online technology, so when the Laughing Man - a cyber-terrorist who had held a number of high-profile corporations to ransom several years earlier - burst back onto the scene, they're the natural choice to pick up the investigations, especially with several question marks surrounding the handling of the official police investigation into those events, which is still ongoing.

ChatroomMachinery

What starts as a simple blackmail investigation, though, soon delves into the political heirarchy of Japan, where people who are more interested in protecting their own positions than protecting the public good come into the field of investigation - and don't take kindly to it.

Dotted in amongst the arc episodes dealing with the main Laughing Man investigation, there are also a number of stand-alone episodes that deal with the other jobs S9 are routinely asked to deal with.  Between the main story and these side-stories, there's a lot of ground covered, with plenty of variety in the storylines and plenty of screentime given to each member of the squad.  Kusanagi, her 2nd-in-command Batou (another cyborg) and Togusa (an ex-detective who's the most "natural" of S9's members), get the most on-screen time, but the others each get their own chance to shine.  While they take care of the action, Aramaki - a deft political operator - smooths the way behind the scenes and makes sure that his team are able to operate without too much interference, although by the end of the series even his abilities & contacts are being stretched to the limits.

First victimDefence

The first thing to say, is that GitS:SAC is never less than engrossing throughout.  The series is produced to almost cinematic standards and truly looks the part, while the story has been carefully crafted to tease you along at just the right pace.  Add in a well-rounded set of characters and believeable future setting, and you have a winner, no doubt about it.  Some of the early-season musings around the Laughing Man's identity and motives are a little abstract, but that's all cleared up by the end of the season so it's only a minor quibble - otherwise, this show genuinely is as near to perfect as it's possible to get.

Put all that into a 26-episode set at this sort of price, and there's really no excuse for not picking it up - unless you're a stickler for the 5.1 DTS surround tracks (only Dolby Digital tracks in this collection), in which case you'll have to shell out for the individual 2-disc releases.  GitS:SAC and it's follow-up, 2nd Gig are true modern classics, and are shows that any anime fan should try to see at least once.  Go get.

Rating - *****

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