Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig Vol. #6 - 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: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: ¬£19.99
  • Running time: 75
  • 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 Vol. #6

By Dani Moure     October 16, 2006
Release Date: October 23, 2006



What They Say
Revolution calling....

The revolutionary leader Kuze manages to elude Section 9 once more. There's no time for Section 9 to recover though because soon the threat of a nuclear weapon has the entire city of Nagasaki evacuated. Section 9 must then rush to the scene and determine the true origins of the bomb.

The government declares martial law and sends in the Self-Defense force to restore order. As the group from Section 9 works to prevent a nuclear explosion and unravel the truth behind these events, one random shot escalates the conflict to new heights!

Episodes comprise:
21. Embarrassment
22. Reversal
23. Martial Law

The Review!
Events begin racing towards there climax as we hit the penultimate volume of Stand Alone Complex.

Audio:
For this disc I watched the episodes with the English 5.1 track. I noticed no dropouts or distortions on either this track or on spot-checking the Japanese 5.1 track, and a brief check of the 2.0 tracks displayed no problem either. The music continues to come across very well indeed, and the effort put into the various sound mixes really pays off. The dub is excellent and the voice actors have grown into their roles so well that, although they sound different to their Japanese counterparts, they all fit their roles just as well.

Video:
Once again with this volume, we seem to be getting a transfer direct from the high-definition masters, as there didn't appear to be any PAL conversion problems that most series face (and the runtimes for each episode are shorter than their US counterparts), and the result is another superb widescreen transfer. I didn't notice any transfer problems in terms of artefacts or other compression issues, it just looked excellent.

The subtitles are in a decent sized white font with a thin black border, and are clear and easy to read. We're back to no translations for the Japanese part of the episode titles with this volume though (I'd love to know why this is so inconsistent between volumes!).

Packaging:
No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

Menu:
The menus have a completely different feel for this season, and after an opening animation the main menu has a blue theme this time. Computer style sound effects play over this menu, and the selections each appear to the left (setup and extras) and right (episodes) of the screen. You can select each of the episodes, "Parameters" (the language settings) and "Data Archive" (the extras). Selecting an episode takes you to a sub-menu in the same theme, except clips from the episode appear in the centre. From here you can switch episode, run the episode itself or "View Source Code" which displays a text-based summary for the episode.

While they're a nice enough theme, there are a couple of frustrating things. First, there's no "play all" option, and after each episode you're returned to that episode's menu, which breaks the flow of viewing somewhat. Also, you can't go directly into an episode without going through another menu, making navigation a bit cumbersome. And finally, the IDT Entertainment logo plays before each episode as well, and is unskippable, which is just a bit frustrating and needless.

Extras:
The extras are much the same as past discs, with more interviews. Here we get another interview instalment with Kenji Kamiyama and cast members Osamu Saka (Aramaki) and Yoshiko Sakakibara (Kabayuki). As always they discuss a few interesting points, such as Sakakibara's thoughts on Kabayuki's age and strengths. I have to say as well, I love how Saka looks almost like the embodiment of Aramaki! There's also an interesting "Archives" interview segment that has brief snippets with the various actors that couldn't be included on earlier volumes. There are a few brief spoilers in this one as a couple of people discuss episodes on the final volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the last disc, it was always going to be tough for the creators to maintain such a high level of quality for these next three episodes, but sure enough, as is almost always the case with this series, they have managed it in style. This penultimate volume of 2nd GIG brings a plethora of twists and turns as it races towards the series' conclusion.

With Section 9 firmly on the tail of Kuze, they're left firmly embarrassed by events that begin to unfold. First, Batou loses a fight with Kuze and ends up feeling rather humbled by his loss, and second, Kuze and the refugees end up escaping with their plutonium in hand. The crew get on the case but, as you would expect, Aramaki is far from pleased at what has gone on, and lambastes the group once again for their unusual failures. But as Section 9 investigate the incidents, they discover that Gohda may well be involved in what's going on.

But things get even worse as the refugees begin to run riot, with Fukuoka having to be evacuated following the discovery of a potential nuclear bomb inside a TV broadcasting office. As the Self-Defence Force is sent in, Batou is sent to meet with Gohda to try and uncover some much-needed information. Their rendezvous plays out like some sort of chess game, as each talk around their points while trying to get answers from their opposition. And just when you'd think things couldn't get any worse, the Chief Cabinet Minister begins a power play with Prime Minister Kabayuki, forcing her hand in sending reinforcements to Dejima in order to retrieve the refugees' plutonium. Tensions run high as Kabayuki then requests a UN inspection of Dejima to buy some time, but it may just be too late.

At this late stage, much of the focus remains squarely on Kusanagi and Batou, with the rest of Section 9 taking a backseat most of the time. Batou gets the most screen time of the two, with his fight with Kuze and chat with Gohda being two of the key moments over the course of the three episodes. The fight was particularly revealing for his character, as it shows that he does have some element of weakness and establishes that he isn't automatically guaranteed the win. He's forced to eat humble pie, and while he doesn't like it, it's nice to see some vulnerability to him. Likewise, his chat with Gohda is an amazingly gripping scene considering it's mostly just the two of them talking (albeit Batou is using the Major's memories to hold his own intellectually).

With Kusanagi, while she doesn't get quite as much time on screen, we get a number of revelations as Batou continues to see her acting somewhat strange since she dove into Kuze's mind. She finally relents and tells him that Kuze reminds her of a man she was once in love with. This in itself raises numerous questions considering we still don't really know who Kuze is, and indeed Gohda's true intentions are still something of a mystery despite the conversation with Batou.

Togusa definitely gets the short straw of the "major" characters, as much time has been spent over the series bringing him to the fore, whereas here he becomes pretty much sidelined as he goes around with Aramaki. The latter gets his usual brief, but always engaging, spells on screen, while characters like Pazu and Ishikawa mostly make cameo appearances as they carry out the small but crucial tasks asked of them.

The story has always been one of the series' strongest assets, and every volume I find myself more and more in awe of just how good the story in 2nd GIG is. The refugees have slowly been gaining momentum in their actions and finally their work pays off, as they take their stand at Dejima despite the coming of the Self-Defence Force, and they have plutonium to back them up as well. Section 9 have had some surprising embarrassments in the last couple of volumes, and although in the final three episodes it's pretty obvious they'll come in and save the day in some way, I can't help but feel excited at the prospect of finding out exactly how they will. The cogs continue to turn and with so many characters, agendas, twists and turns, you can only commend the writers for never dumbing the story down and keeping it as intelligent as they do (even if it does mean you have to really pay attention or face a fair amount of confusion).

In Summary:
There's not much more to say about this series that I haven't already said. The story just continues to get better and better, with numerous surprises thrown in along the way, and the wait for the final volume will now only seem longer having finished this volume. Although three episodes don't seem nearly enough to have left, I'm confident that the writers will pull off an ending that will wrap things up and we can all be pleased with. If the level of quality remains for just three more episodes, I will certainly have nothing to complain about.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0; 5.1; DTS),English Language (2.0; 5.1; DTS),English Subtitles,Interview with Kenji Kamiyama (Director) Osamu Saka (Aramaki) and Yoshiko Sakakibara (Kabayuki),Interview Archive,Episode Profiles

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.

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