Ghost in the Shell:
Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig
|Length: 26 Episodes
||Studio: Production I.G
Availability: Series dubbed and subbed on DVD from Manga Video.
Notes: This is the second season of the excellent Ghost In the Shell:
Stand Alone Complex tv show.
I am a soldier...
(Note: It may help to read my review of the
before reading this one!) A year after the events of the first season of
Stand Alone Complex (SAC), things are looking grim for the Major and her
elite unit of counter-terrorism specialists known as Section 9. The team was
forcibly disbanded by the Japanese government, and is now keeping a low
profile and biding their time until their talents are needed again. They get
their opportunity when a group of terrorists calling themselves the
"Individual 11" take hostages at the Chinese embassy. The new Prime Minister
calls upon Section Chief Aramaki to resolve the situation quickly and
painlessly. When Section 9 succeeds, the Prime Minister puts them back in
business. Thus launches the next case taken on by the unit.
The story of
this follow-on series focuses on the tensions that have been created by a
large influx of refuges into Japan from mainland Asia. Millions of people
displaced by war have been welcomed into Japan as a cheap labor force for
rebuilding. But, now that the country is back on its feet, many are
agitating for these refuges to be deported. Behind the scenes, a shadowy
figure known as Gouda within Japan's government seems to be pushing for
agitation of the refugees, making the situation even worse. This plot is
interesting because of the many parallels it draws with the modern day
world. Of course, terrorism has been on the forefront for the last several
years. And, the issues revolving around the Asian refugee problem have
uncanny echoes here in America with the debates on how to deal with the
illegal immigrants here.
SAC 2nd Gig's
plot is thus interesting and pertinent to modern day events, but I found it
less engaging that that of the first season's. Part of this may be
attributable to the fact that the pace and writing of 2nd Gig didn't seem as
tight as the first. For example, there seemed to be a number of filler
episodes in the later half that seemed to take away from the ultimate
conclusion of the story arc. On the other hand, these filler episodes were
reasonably done in their own right, and they did really help to flesh out
the back stories of the characters to a greater extent that has yet been
seen on film, so they detract very little from the overall series.
Ghost in the
Shell has always been about intrigue and mystery interspersed with high
technology and amazing action sequences. 2nd Gig uses that formula to good
effect, and some of the action sequences are quite novel. All of them are
very will animated, with CG being relied on to animate most of the Mecha
seen in the show. This has resulted in 2nd Gig having a very polished and
smooth look that improves on the first season, which was already a high
water mark for graphical quality, in my opinion. Quite simply, this is a
beautiful looking piece of animation. Backing up the gorgeous visuals are a
solid soundtrack and excellent voice acting. The dub, in particular,
maintains the high standard set by the first season of the series. A show
like Ghost in the Shell features a lot of dialog and fairly advanced
conversation, so it is quite a feat for it to have been dubbed in a way that
not only makes sense, but sounds good too!
Just like the
first season, the second season DVD release has an odd distribution of 26 episodes
on 7 discs.
The extras also consist almost entirely of interviews with the staff of the
show. These were somewhat uneven; I found a few to be quite interesting,
others I found quite skip-worthy. Still, the DVD release is a solid package
and worthy addition to any anime collection.
2nd Gig is a very well-done show. While I don't think it quite surpasses the
first season, it only just misses the mark. Given the high bar set by the
first season, that is saying a lot. Highly recomended!
By Andy Rucker