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Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig - The Individual Eleven PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Monday, 26 May 2008 16:00
Individual ElevenHot on the heels of The Laughing Man comes the short-form version of 2nd Gig, as Section 9 face the threat of the Individual Eleven – and a far more dangerous foe from within the government itself...

As you'll probably know by now, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex follows the adventures of cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi and her colleagues in Public Security Section 9, with 2nd Gig dealing with the attempts by the shadowy Goda (from the Cabinet Intelligence Office) to use man-on-a-mission Kuze to create the conditions necessary to overthrow the Japanese government. If that sounds horribly complex, don't worry - it's not, and it's definitely easier to follow than the first season's Laughing Man story. It does get off to a slow start, as the Individual Eleven set about creating publicity for themselves without it ever being explained what they're after, but once events start to pick up speed it soon becomes a gripping story.

There are two sides to the tale: on one side is Kuze, who has a certain set of beliefs that he's come to after a life that's been far from easy. Having been trapped in an artificial body since childhood and having experienced the horror of war at first hand, he's well acquainted with the unhappier side of life and has come to the decision that the 'net offers a way out of human misery. He's also an incredibly charismatic personality, which has led to him becoming almost an icon, or de facto leader, amongst the refugee community without ever really trying to gain the position - although having such a large following in place both makes it easier for him to achieve his aims, and brings him to the attention of the authorities that much more quickly.

Uneasy allianceKuze

OperationsPolite discussion

On the other side is Goda, the public face of a conspiracy that could see Japan's Prime Minister overthrown and the country fall into martial law, if his backers get their way. The sheer number of refugees in the country has created a lot of tension, with certain groups within the government believing that the Prime Minister's policies are creating more problems than they're solving - their plan is to create a situation that will allow them to wipe out the refugee communities, solving one problem in a quick but drastic way, while replacing the Prime Minister to ensure that the situation can't occur again.

In between the two are the Major and Section 9, who start off reluctantly co-operating with Goda before realising what's going on and trying to find a way to prevent a massacre. In this cut-down form, the show runs through a number of set-piece confrontations as Section 9 work out what Goda is planning, and try to find a way to gain the support of Kuze in averting disaster - not easy as Kuze is not trusting of any connected with the government. It's only when a past connection between Kuze and the Major becomes apparent that they start working together - by which point they've left it dangerously late. Sadly the story from 2nd Gig that went into the background of their connection has been completely removed from this version - a real shame as it was a genuinely moving piece.

CyberspaceTrapped

There really is very little that's not to like about this movie. If 2nd Gig had a failing, it's that its pacing wasn't as tight as it could have been, but that failing has been largely corrected with this release. Events follow a natural flow that's easy to keep track of, so that come the last half-hour or so everything begins to fall into place, leaving nothing there that will outright surprise you or leave you wondering just what happened. If there's anything to criticise, it's that The Individual Eleven suffers from the same flaw as The Laughing Man in being 45 minutes or so too long to be comfortably watched in one sitting - it's a good two-and-a-half hours long - but there's really nothing else that could have been cut from 2nd Gig to make it shorter. As it is there are already a few scenes I would have liked to have seen retained that didn't make it.

So again we come back to, who is this aimed at? As with The Laughing Man, it's primarily for completists and newcomers to the series - the collectors' mentality speaks for itself (and the Archive extra is a decent behind-the-scenes show that's not available elsewhere, as far as I'm aware), while newcomers get a very good, wonderfully-presented story without having to shell out too much. If you already own the 2nd Gig TV series, though, this will have only limited appeal.

Rating - ****

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