Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Official Log Vol. #1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2005
The official primer for one of the best television anime series hits the English market. Immerse yourself in the world of Section 9 and how it was made.
The Japanese audio track present is the only audio track present, not surprising since this the dialogue consists mainly of interviews with the Japanese staff. The sound is clear and sharp but does suffer from some background hiss during some of the interviews. This may be caused by my equipment rather than the audio itself, but it did prove to be slightly distracting.
The video is a mix of widescreen for the actual anime clips, while the interviews and other supplementary material is full screen. While not as vibrant as the actual content DVDs, there were no noticeable defects that detracted from the viewing experience. The one complaint I found was that the white subtitles were difficult to read in spots due to the colors of the background content.
An A5 size book is contained in a slip case featuring Kusanagi on the back cover. The book is a rather plain cardboard affair with an impression on the front cover that contains the DVD. Unfortunately, the hub that holds the DVD in place is glued on to the front cover, but not glued on very well. Within the first two minutes of thumbing through the book, the hub separated from the front cover. Wrapped around the book is a plastic dust cover that has to be removed to take out the DVD. Despite the thinly glued hub, the overall packaging has a sturdy feel to it.
The menus are rather bland static menus with no music. A few images from the series are lined up across the bottom of the screen with the menu items underneath them. While not the most stunning menu presentation, it is quick, functional, and serves its primary purpose of getting you into the content.
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Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the things I always enjoyed about Shirow's manga was the copious notes he placed in the margins. They provided insight into the world he was building and helped point out items one might otherwise miss. I was delighted to see that the anime versions of these margin notes were picked up and translated for the English market. From interviews to highlights, this "Official Log" contains a lot of information about the series content along with what went into producing a show of such high caliber.
The DVD contains roughly ninety minutes of material broken into three pieces. First, there is a thirty-seven minute "Highlight Flash" feature; this piece covers the first nineteen episodes of the series and highlights the characters, weapons, and other items that comprise the world of Section 9. It provides a good refresher of what has happened over the course of the series.
The second piece is an "Interview Archive" that combines a few elements from the previous interviews on the TV releases with footage left on the cutting room floor. These interviews go a bit deeper into all aspects of the production and contain some amusing insights into how the show pulled everything together. Finally, there is a piece on the 9th Studio Digital Works crew and what went into producing the visuals of the series. It is a brief but insightful look at the vast amount of work that goes into producing an anime series and the challenges the studio had to face.
The meat of this release lies between the book's covers; more interviews and pieces on the production are fully translated within. What I found most interesting was the summary of the first nineteen episodes provided; they not only provide a synopsis for each episode, but they also point out the small details one may have missed during their initial viewing. If you are planning to rewatch the series, this material is the perfect companion to have available.
Official Log is the essential companion piece for fans of Stand Alone Complex. On the surface, this release might appeal only to the hardcore fans, but there is so much information packed inside that even casual fans will find that it provides a reason to watch the series again. Supplemental material like this rarely finds its way to the North American audience; it is fantastic and remarkable that Bandai and Manga have gone through the effort to provide it translated in its entirety. I cannot wait for the second log to be released; highly recommend for anyone who has watched the series.
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: C+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: Mixed
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex