Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig: The Individual Eleven - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 155
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig: The Individual Eleven

By Bryan Morton     April 23, 2008
Release Date: April 28, 2008


Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig: The Individual Eleven
© Manga UK


What They Say
The year is 2030, and an influx of refugees have effortlessly transformed themselves into a terrorist organization known as the "Individual Eleven." With a sadistic intent of mass destruction, will they triumph in victory or discover the gloomy pitfalls of defeat?


The Review!
Hot on the heels of The Laughing Man comes the short-form version of 2nd Gig, as Section 9 face the threat of the Individual Eleven - and a far more dangerous foe from within the government itself...

Audio:
Audio is provided in English and Japanese, with both languages sporting 5.1 and 2.0 versions. Unlike the TV series, there's no DTS track this time around. I listened to the Japanese 5.1 track for this review - it's an impressive piece of audio, with full use made of the available channels to draw the best out of both effects and music.

While I didn't listen to the English track myself, dub fans should note that this movie uses a new dub cast, and not the VAs used for the TV series dub, so don't be expecting more of the same if you stick to the English track.

Video:
Video is provided in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and is just about flawless. There are a lot of dark scenes throughout the movie, which can sometimes be problematic, but not this time - there are no obvious flaws that I was able to see. Apparently, a number of scenes were re-animated for this release, although I wasn't able to pick them out - animation quality is consistently high throughout the movie. A visual treat.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
Heavy on the red this time, the main menu features the show's representation of flying through the network towards a firewall, with the available options listed along the bottom - Play Feature, Scenes, Set-Up and Bonus Features. There are no transition animations, making the menus quick and easy to use.

Extras:
Following the lead set by The Laughing Man, extras this time out comprise another new episode of Tachikomatic Days (in English or Japanese with substitles), the animated shorts that accompanied the TV series, this time featuring the tachikomas trying to solve a murder, and another episode of the Stand Alone Complex Archives, a 32-minute behind-the-scenes special.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
As you'll probably know by now, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex follows the adventures of cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi and her colleagues in Public Security Section 9, with 2nd Gig dealing with the attempts by the shadowy Goda (from the Cabinet Intelligence Office) to use man-on-a-mission Kuze to create the conditions necessary to overthrow the Japanese government. If that sounds horribly complex, don't worry - it's not, and it's definitely easier to follow than the first season's Laughing Man story. It does get off to a slow start, as the Individual Eleven set about creating publicity for themselves without it ever being explained what they're after, but once events start to pick up speed it soon becomes a gripping story.

There are two sides to the tale: on one side is Kuze, who has a certain set of beliefs that he's come to after a life that's been far from easy. Having been trapped in an artificial body since childhood and having experienced the horror of war at first hand, he's well acquainted with the unhappier side of life and has come to the decision that the 'net offers a way out of human misery. He's also an incredibly charismatic personality, which has led to him becoming almost an icon, or de facto leader, amongst the refugee community without ever really trying to gain the position - although having such a large following in place both makes it easier for him to achieve his aims, and brings him to the attention of the authorities that much more quickly.

On the other side is Goda, the public face of a conspiracy that could see Japan's Prime Minister overthrown and the country fall into martial law, if his backers get their way. The sheer number of refugees in the country has created a lot of tension, with certain groups within the government believing that the Prime Minister's policies are creating more problems than they're solving - their plan is to create a situation that will allow them to wipe out the refugee communities, solving one problem in a quick but drastic way, while replacing the Prime Minister to ensure that the situation can't occur again.

In between the two are the Major and Section 9, who start off reluctantly co-operating with Goda before realising what's going on and trying to find a way to prevent a massacre. In this cut-down form, the show runs through a number of set-piece confrontations as Section 9 work out what Goda is planning, and try to find a way to gain the support of Kuze in averting disaster - not easy as Kuze is not trusting of any connected with the government. It's only when a past connection between Kuze and the Major becomes apparent that they start working together - by which point they've left it dangerously late. Sadly the story from 2nd Gig that went into the background of their connection has been completely removed from this version - a real shame as it was a genuinely moving piece.

There really is very little that's not to like about this movie. If 2nd Gig had a failing, it's that its pacing wasn't as tight as it could have been, but that failing has been largely corrected with this release. Events follow a natural flow that's easy to keep track of, so that come the last half-hour or so everything begins to fall into place, leaving nothing there that will outright surprise you or leave you wondering just what happened. If there's anything to criticise, it's that The Individual Eleven suffers from the same flaw as The Laughing Man in being 45 minutes or so too long to be comfortably watched in one sitting - it's a good two-and-a-half hours long - but there's really nothing else that could have been cut from 2nd Gig to make it shorter. As it is there are already a few scenes I would have liked to have seen retained that didn't make it.

In summary:
So again we come back to, who is this aimed at? As with The Laughing Man, it's primarily for completists and newcomers to the series - the collectors' mentality speaks for itself (and the Archive extra is a decent behind-the-scenes show that's not available elsewhere, as far as I'm aware), while newcomers get a very good, wonderfully-presented story without having to shell out too much. If you already own the 2nd Gig TV series, though, this will have only limited appeal.

Features
Japanese Language 5.1,Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Tachikomatic Days,Stand Alone Complex Archives

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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