The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Title: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex aka Kokaku Kidotai: Stand Alone Complex
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Production I.G.
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 10 Oct 2002 – 25 Mar 2003

Synopsis: In the near future, the margin between the cybernetic and physical world is made obscure as technology has been implemented into the human world far beyond anyone’s expectations. As technology and humanity progress, the number of cyber-crimes has risen immensely. With this, the Section 9 is formed to tackle various missions ranging from cyberterrorism to cyberbrain-hacking.

The Highlights
Animation: Breathtaking.
Plot: Intricate and sometimes plain confusing.
Story: Some episodes are more interesting than others.
Music: Some of Kanno Yoko‘s most popular works of all time.

Following a long hiatus since the 1995 groundbreaking movie Ghost in the Shell(1,2), came Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Kamiyama Kenji took a risk by transforming the overall image of the smash hit and it paid off in spades as this remains as one of the most popular cyberpunk anime in modern times.

To start off, this is a series where aesthetics are done with style and grace. The animation is simply awesome and it improves gradually after every episode. What’s more, the blending of CGI and animation is visually smooth and each character is drawn with delicate consistency. I can dare say that the visual presentation here is among the best of its time.

The plot is, to a certain extent, both intriguing and complex (no pun intended). Kamiyama Kenji did something exceptional by incorporating adaptations of popular novels into the series, such as Flowers of Algernon, the Nine Stories and most importantly, The Catcher In The Rye, which plays an immense role in the Complex episodes. Unfortunately though, the series is heavily based on technological analogies and jargons which may bewilder certain viewers. My only advice to viewers is to pay close attention to the show, or else you will find yourself stuck in a world full of technological and philosophical babble. Furthermore, while some episodes are down-right gripping, I found others to be not as riveting, particularly many of those not concerning the Laughing Man case.

The cast is both good and bad at the same time. Each member has their own set of attributes, which helps in diversifying the section, but what made them that way was not explored. What is left is a group of elite anti-terrorists with mysterious backgrounds, apart from Kusanagi Motoko herself.

You can bet that the music is in safe hands whenever Kanno Yoko is at the helm. Her illustrious work in GITS:SAC shows why she is considered one of the most prolific composers in the anime industry after introducing hits such as the unforgettable “Inner Universe”, brilliantly sung by Origa.

GITS:SAC will eventually force you to imagine what the future will generally be like when technology is pushed beyond limitations. Brimming with adrenaline-pumping action and intelligent criminal minds, this series is something worthy of at least a try. The only thing you won’t expect to see here is emotional pathos. If you’re looking for pure action, look no further – Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex has got it all covered.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: AC

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