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  Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Year: 2002
Director: Kenji Kamiyama
Stars: Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Crispin Freeman, Michael McCarty, Richard Epcar, William Knight, John Rubinstein
Genre: Animated, Science Fiction, TV SeriesBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: A whole load of nuts, bolts with a great set of pins, the world’s sexiest thong-clad Robocop returns to DVD in episodes 5 – 8 of the fantastic Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex series. Continuing where Volume 1 left off, Major Motoko Kusanagi and the officers of Section 9 are still on the tail of the deadly cyber-terrorist The Laughing Man and seem to be getting nowhere. Every door they open just seems to reveal another ten locked ones. In fact, Section 9 have begun to wonder if the Laughing Man really exists at all?

It’s a novel story alright – perhaps “downright weird” might be a better description – and it’s pretty damned complex too – and at times it may feel a little hard to grasp, especially as these are just four episodes in a massive 26 part series. Ghost In The Shell isn’t recommended for those looking for a filler between Big Brother and Turn Your Hovel Into A Palace or whatever other shit common retards waste their time watching these days. Having said that, this isn’t geek material – far from it. The story deviates from the Laughing Man thread for a couple of episodes while we see the Section 9-ers pursuing a cloned drug-lord and revolutionary leader – assassinate him as many time as you like, he just won’t go away! – and a bunch of kids running an organ-smuggling ring. And it goes without saying that Stand Alone Complex provides more than the required amount of blood and bullets.

As this is part of a series, it’s hard to really grasp anything too deep and meaningful here although – as with other sci-fi anime – by the time the series is finally over, the viewer doubtlessly will be questioning their role in society both today and tomorrow. That old “man-meets-machine” thing is ever-present, as is a vague whiff of “Big Brother” syndrome, but more interesting here is the series’ perception of the Laughing Man – to the public, little more than a great-looking logo – as a new pop-culture icon, with even children wearing his image like they’d wear a pair of Nike trainers.

Other than the different storylines, there isn’t much to be said about this that hasn’t been said about it’s predecessor (see my review of Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex Vol. 1, elsewhere). The perfectly rendered and absolutely gorgeous Kusanagi is reason enough alone to see this! Just check her out in her military garb, split-skirt, stockings and all – for that guy she stomps with those army-regulation high-heels, it must have been a dream come true! As you will have no doubt guessed, the animation is fantastic – repeated viewings show just how intricate and complex it is. Just look at the cars, people and machinery moving in the background, reflections (check out the guy looking at porn on his laptop whilst he’s being interviewed) and the way the camera’s focus appears to shift during certain scenes – it’s just so goddam realistic! Hell, even the numbers running across computer screens look great in this! (I’m not joking!)

Those friggin’ tanks are back too and the fact that they don’t suffer too serious damage is heartbreaking. These things, in case you don’t know, mince around half-wittedly shouting in horrible cutesy helium-blasted voices, presumably to provide a little comic relief for the more easy-to-please viewer. The two minute pieces they perform after each show are annoyingly unfunny, all too reminiscent of those little “comedy” fillers that appear on Jetix just before Power Rangers Time Force (whaddaya mean I’ve got problems?). There is, however, some real humour in here, such as the Texan-speaking organ-magnate who seems to have been rebuilt as a car-battery and a wonderful scene in which Kusanagi (seemingly) causes some young villain to piss himself. Cruel irony that most other red-blooded males in his position would wet themselves in a slightly more wholesome, yet no less embarrassing, manner.

If you’re gonna watch this, then perhaps it’s a good idea to check out Vol. 1 too. But it’s not essential. Conversely, if you’ve seen Vol. 1, then you’re definitely wanna see this. And if you’ve just seen this, then you’d have to be dead from the neck up, the waist down and every other little bit in-between not to start salivating at the prospect of Vol. 3 coming along in the future. Perhaps this is the show to help the world’s population of withdrawn, freakish, mentally-unbalanced sci-fi geeks begin their long journey back to Cool City again. I think it might even work for me.

Aka Kokaku Kidotai: Stand Alone Complex
Reviewer: Wayne Southworth

 

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