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Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, 2nd Gig #1 PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Friday, 09 December 2005 00:00
GiTS SAC 2nd Gig - Volume One (Cover Art)First, a confession: I'm late to the Ghost in the Shell party - both the movies and the first season of Stand Alone Complex passed me by, but I'm told that knowledge of prior events isn't essential to enjoy 2nd Gig, so here we are.  Even without having seen the earlier stories, though, Major Kusanagi and Section 9 have enough of a following that I had a rough idea of what I was going to get - which made it all the more surprising when I found this better than I had expected...

1 - Re-embody
Section 9 are still out of action, thanks to events at the end of the first season, but a hostage situation at the Chinese embassy gives them a chance to earn their active status back - but only if they can resolve the situation without civilian casualties.  A group calling themselves the "Individual 11" are behind the attack, hoping to force the government into dealing with the country's refugee problem - although unknown to them, the Government was about to announce plans along the lines of their demands anyway.  Keen to face down the terrorists without giving the impression of caving in to their demands means Section 9 need to be as discreet as possible, but a Police assault unit robs Kusanagi and co of the element of surprise...

GiTS SAC 2nd Gig - The return of the MajorGiTS SAC 2nd Gig - Not a good day for this hostage

2 - Night Cruise
Helicopter pilot & war veteran Gino works for the chairman of a major company.  He's generally quite cynical about the way the world is going - mainly the media's fault, as he sees it - and recently he's begun to have visions in which he kills his boss, Katakura.  It's something he would like to do, feeling that Katakura just walks over people with no regard for their thoughts or feelings, if only he had to nerve to carry through.  The effect of his visions is tempered by visions of a woman - who looks remarkably like Major Kusanagi...

GiTS SAC 2nd Gig - Dreaming happy dreamsGiTS SAC 2nd Gig - Looks like tha Major, talks like the Major...

3 - Cash Eye
There's an infamous thief on the loose, going by the name of Cash Eye.  As with most infamous thieves, there's nothing she can't steal, and she's only to happy to leave her calling card with her victims before carrying out the job.  When the Chairman of Tadokoro Corporation receives her card, he's convinced he'll be the next to be burgled and uses his contacts to bring Section 9 in to protect his assets. Kusanagi's doesn't appear too keen on taking on the job - it's not Section 9's area of expertise, and it clashes with her vacation time - but political expediency leaves her with little choice.  And so Section 9 find themselves working undercover at a very unusual party, with Kusanagi have to deal with a number of unwanted advances.  But it seems that Cash Eye may be closer to Tadokoro than he thinks...

GiTS SAC 2nd Gig - Discussing the jobGiTS SAC 2nd Gig - Tech support?

4 - Natural Enemy
During a military training operation, the AI units in a group of attack helicopters go rogue, literally flying into the sunset on their own initiative & gathering near the refugee district.  At the same time, similar aircraft from military bases around the country tke off on their own and join the others.  Suspecting terrorist involvement, Section 9 are brought in to take care of the problem, but this time Kusanagi's not in command - Kasundo Goda, of the Cabinet Intelligence Service, is parachuted in to control the operation, and the Section 9 operatives aren't happy about it...

GiTS SAC 2nd Gig - GodaGiTS SAC 2nd Gig - Tachikoma gets cold feet

Quite a bit of subterfuge going on here as well as the more direct action stuff - in epsiodes 2 and 3, Kusanagi's operating undercover, and in episode 2 you're not even sure until the final scenes if it's relaly her or not.  Cash Eye's entrapment operation is more on the comedy side of things - it was hard to tell for a while if we were going to get a visit from a DNAngel / Mouse-style phantom thief or not, but the plot eventually fell into place around half-way through the episode.  Night Cruise is the episode on the disc that requires the most effort to watch - not because it's a bad episode, but because it's so dialog-heavy, and the use of dream or hallucination scenes make it easy to lose track of what's happening if you're not paying attention.

Natural Enemy is the first episode that deals with areas that I'd expect to see, from what little prior knowledge I have of GiTS, and it seems to be the first episode of an ongoing story arc - I fully expect to see Goda making more appearances.  (As an aside, I like the was the episode title cards give a brief run-down of the episode and a little hint as to whether it stands on its own or forms part of an ongoing story - pay some attention to them and you'll see what I mean.)  The helicopters' appearance over the refugee district also server to rub them up the wrong way and raise tensions in that area as well.

Even jumping into the series "cold" at this point, these episodes were all easy enough to get into - although I now have 1st Gig on order and will update this review after I've watched it if it makes any difference to the "viewing experience".  This volume doesn't hit the streets until January 2006, but if you're a fan of darker, more action-oriented series it will be well worth the wait.

Just a few issues on the side: our screener copy had some issues that we're told will be corrected with the final release discs - most notably "dubtitles" instead of a proper literal translation track.  That said, the English dub is very close to the original Japanese anyway, so you would be hard pressed to spot too many differences.  Also, there's no "play all" option on either disc in the set - each episode has to be selected individually, and this issue isn't on the list of things to be fixed.  If either of those issues is likely to bother you, rent a copy first and make sure it's all to your satisfaction.

GiTS SAC 2nd Gig - Reset the World

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