Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig Vol. #7 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: ¬£19.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 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. #7

By Dani Moure     December 05, 2006
Release Date: December 04, 2006


Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig Vol. #7
© Manga UK


What They Say
The final move....

The Prime Minister is taken into custody but her removal from office is kept a secret. Aramaki and Togusa work to reach her so they can prevent a nuclear attack. In Dejima, the military begins its assault. The Major and Section 9 do their best to defuse the situation and the injured Ishikawa tries to deliver the rest of the plutonium to the authorities to prove their case.

During the fighting, the Major and Kuze become trapped beneath the rubble together; things are starting to go Section 9's way but the nuclear missile is still being readied for launch!

Includes episodes 24 to 26: the explosive second series of Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex ends here!

The Review!
After 52 episodes, one of the best TV series to grace the UK finally comes to an explosive end.

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 getting translations for the Japanese part of the episode titles again with this volume though (I'd love to know why this is so inconsistent between volumes, perhaps it's an every-other-volume thing?!).

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 green 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 here cap things off nicely, with an interview with Kenji Kamiyama (Director), Ken Nishida (Gohda) and Rikiya Koyama (Kuze). As always they all have a lot of interesting tidbits to give, such as talking about playing villains and who their characters really are.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It was with some sadness that I popped this final disc of 2nd GIG into my DVD player, because Stand Alone Complex is simply a series I don't want to see end. Sure, a continuation movie (Solid State Society) has already been announced, but there is nothing like knowing you have a plethora of new episodes of one of anime's finest television series left in the pipeline. With these final episodes the action really heats up, and all the players make their last moves to try and swing the balance of power in their favour.

With Dejima bridge having been destroyed by the refugees, rumours are abound that they are planning a mass suicide using nuclear weapons, something that threatens the whole nation of Japan. As such, the Cabinet opt to send in the SDA and begin attacks in an effort to thwart their plans. Acting under his own agenda, the Chief Cabinet Minister has Prime Minister Kabayuki arrested and Aramaki, Togusa and Proto held securely in her office without the rest of the Cabinet knowing. He uses emergency procedures to call on the help of the US, who are also unaware of the coup that has taken place, and the nuclear threat only increases.

Section 9 meanwhile head into the heart of Dejima, with Batou leading the front as they try and get to the truth about the situation, knowing that the refugees don't actually have any nuclear weapons with them at all. The Major chases after Kuze, and when she finally gets to him, explains the situation. He agrees to help her, but as the pair try to leave they are trapped, and begin talking and discovering some interesting intersections in their past.

In order to stop the Chief Cabinet Minister's plot, Togusa rescues Kabayuki, who sets a plan in motion to stop all hell breaking loose. At the same time, the Tachikoma are forced to make a decisive decision to save the lives of the three million refugees that could be bombed. As it all comes to a head, who will be the winners and who will be the losers?

There's one thing that you could pretty much guarantee with the end of this series, and that is the main story would always be resolved. Thankfully there is no pandering out of a proper finale here; what we get is a good and proper solid conclusion to the refugee storyline, with the story left open for more by having the characters continue on with their lives afterwards, rather than some lame attempt to not resolve the story.

The conclusion is quite satisfying, too, bringing many of the ongoing threads together and tying them up quite nicely. The main aspect of the refugee saga is split into three key parts: the nuclear bomb aspect of the main group of refugees, which is dealt with in the political side of the storyline as well as most of Section 9; the Kuze factor, which is unsurprisingly left to Kusanagi; and the Gohda side of things, with his involvement called in to question.

Only the last aspect doesn't really get much screen time at all, and in the end if you take Gohda on his own (without his involvement in the political side which is handled by the Chief Cabinet Minister) then perhaps it's the least satisfying of them all. It has the most cracking conclusion of them all (Kusanagi really does kick ass royally when she gets going), but it would have been nice to have him brought a bit more to the fore in these episodes rather than leaving the feeling that he is still somewhat on the outside despite his involvement.

That would be my only real criticism though, because the rest of it is fantastic and plays out superbly. The political side holds a lot of intrigue, as you're left wondering how Kabayuki will outwit her usurpers and if she'll even have enough time to do it before the Americans come in with the nuclear weapons of their own. Aramaki's involvement is as excellent as ever, with him proving his worth once again, his intelligence never failing to provide options even when it seems there are none. The rest of the team play an interesting role, with Proto not lasting long at all, Togusa remaining at the Chief's side and generally out of the main danger zone, and Batou heading the team from the front lines.

Batou's encounter with Section 4 is quite intriguing as well, giving glimpses of history and showing us more people with eyes the same as his. The Tachikomas also have a role in it all, just to make sure everyone gets a place in some of the action, and theirs proves quite pivotal in the end. When it comes down to it, a bunch of AIs striving for more "humanity" make the most human decision of everyone involved, and they do not falter from their path even though they make the most noble sacrifice. It's almost mesmerising to watch as they carry out their objective and you can't help but feel for them and how far they've come. There is a great line of acknowledgement from Aramaki as well, when he tells the Prime Minister what some of "his men" have done, which I thought capped the whole thing off perfectly.

The final aspect is Kusanagi and Kuze, a relationship that has taken a most interesting path over the last few episodes. One of the best things about the Kuze character is that at first he was portrayed as something of a cold-blooded killer, letting the rest of the Individual Eleven lop off each other's heads while he ran off laughing. But gradually, the writers have done a masterful job of showing exactly what he is really all about, and that his purpose isn't as sinister as it first appeared. Seeing Kusanagi almost fall for him in many ways, with her work having been affected in the past, has been equally stirring, and it's capped off really well in their encounter and conversations over the course of these three episodes. It's great to know that Kuze is indeed the child from her past, as that just gives all the more justification for her feelings.

It's worth giving a final note, since this is the last disc, to also mention that the quality of animation throughout the series has been exemplary. Sure, there have been the odd off-model moments, but they're so few and far between, and miniscule in comparison to some even 12 episode series, that you can see the justification for this being the most expensive anime TV series ever made. The music right through the series has also been superb " Yoko Kanno at her best " with some subtle background ambience really kicking into full force when needed (and the openings and endings have been brilliant as well).

In Summary:
Just about every disc, I have waxed lyrical about how good this series is, and sure enough, fourteen discs later, I can't say anything else. Stand Alone Complex is, quite simply, one of the most gripping, well-written, simply superb anime series you could ever hope to come across. The second season had a lot to live up to, and more than managed it, in some ways surpassing the first in sheer ongoing quality. Everything about it just reeks of excellence, from the production values down to the finely crated stories, and I can only give the series my absolute highest recommendation. I can't wait to revisit this series for years to come.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0; 5.1; DTS),English Language (2.0; 5.1; DTS),English Subtitles,Interview with Kenji Kamiyama (Director) Ken Nishida (Gohda) and Rikiya Koyama (Kuze),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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