Mania Grade: A+
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Manga Entertainment
- MSRP: 24.98
- 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 Vol. #07
By Luis Cruz
August 16, 2005
Release Date: July 26, 2005
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Vol. #07
What They Say
© Manga Entertainment
Section 9’s investigations have started to become a little too successful, and the truths they uncover hit too close to home for some of the higher-ranking officials in the Japanese government. Yet, despite the increasing political backlash the team soldiers on. But even they couldn’t imagine that their own government would turn against them.
The government has declared war on them, and they begin with an attack on Section 9 headquarters! But even with the latest in technology, will the military be a match for Motoko, Batou, and the rest of the team? And will the truth behind the Laughing Man incident ever be revealed to an unsuspecting world? Find out in the final shocking installment of the most aniticipated anime TV series in years!The Review!
The Laughing Man saga comes to a thrilling conclusion, but is it Section 9 that has the last laugh?Audio:
The Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track was used for my primary viewing session. From the opening theme to the ending theme, the track is rich and vibrant providing action throughout the entire soundstage. Whether it is the echoes of footsteps or the staccato of gun fire, it resounds with crystal clarity from the speakers. There are no noticeable distortions, dropouts, or other problems. Music, dialogue, and action are balanced well and do not overshadow each other. It is a superb audio track that makes the title even more enjoyable. Video:
Superb also describes the video transfer for this title; the colors are solid, deep, and lush. From dark alleyways to a sun-light highway, the world of Ghost in the Shell
is highly detailed and stunning making for a visual feast. Cross coloration and other problems seem to be non-existent; this is a gorgeous transfer that immerses you in the story's world.
Japanese credits during the opening and ending are replaced with English equivalents. Subtitles are yellow for dialogue and green for the song translations; both are quite readable without taking away much screen real estate.Packaging:
On the front cover, Kusanagi kneels before a Tachikoma. The series title is at the bottom with the volume number in the upper right corner. This is one of the more eye catching covers for the series and fits well with the content of the volume.
On the back cover, the requisite screenshots, synopsis, and disc specifications are rendered with a mechanical feel. The insert contains no chapter listings containing a summary of what the series is about along with a brief description of an armed suit.Menu:
The menus are rendered as the net interface the characters use; the main menu features a loop of the opening theme song with scenes from the episodes playing in the center of one of the menu controls. The menus are sharp and help immerse one in the world of the series. The main menu does have one minor flaw, as it does not use a consistent color for highlighting a selected menu item. It is a minor nuisance but does not detract much from a beautiful and functional set of menus.Extras:
The only extra is an interview with director and writer Kamiyama Kenji. For this interview, he focuses more on how he envisioned the world of the series and how he kept true to that vision while still respecting ideas from the rest of the staff.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a phenomenal setup in the previous three episodes, I eagerly awaited the final three episodes to see how the Laughing Man saga concluded. There was some trepidation that the series might veer away from what made it unique and enjoyable and deliver an ending seen in most other titles. As the final credits rolled, those fears had more than disappeared as the creators provided the perfect ending to the story.
Aramaki and Section 9 have finally uncovered the truth behind the Laughing Man incident and are prepared to move against the real criminals in those past events. Unfortunately for Section 9, someone seems to have leaked their activities to the press causing a public backlash against government sponsored covert ops groups. When Aramaki presents the evidence to the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister informs Aramaki that he has his own plans for dispensing justice in this matter.
Part of his plan is to make a public example of Section 9 by destroy them; once public sentiment has swung his way enough for him to be reelected, Aramaki will be free to rebuild Section 9 with new people. The evidence against Yakushima will then be used to oust him from power and close the matter for good. Aramaki vehemently protests this idea but finds himself powerless to stop the Minister's momentum. The elite paramilitary squad known as Umibozu has already been dispatched to Section 9 HQ.
Aramaki fires off a quick warning to Kusanagi to muster the troops and stay alive; as Aramaki's driver, Togusa finds himself away from HQ but soon behind bars as the chief seemingly betrays them all. The remainder of the first and second episodes features quite a bit of action as Umibozu hunts down each member of Section 9.
This series has impressed me time and again with the way it can blend the action sequences with poignant dialogue and use it to develop the individual characters. These two episodes are great examples as Kusanagi and Batou have a running exchange around a watch Kusanagi always wears and what it really means to her. It is the sort of conversation only two people that have learned to trust each other implicitly can have, and the writers took the time over the past episodes to build the pair up to the point that this exchange flows perfectly from them and the events they are in.
Three of the Tachikomas also make a final appearance and ironically add a human touch to the story. While hopelessly outgunned, the trio selflessly throw themselves into battle to help out their Section 9 friends. Their self sacrifice surprises even Kusanagi and elicits some regret from her for not recognizing the full extent of their maturation. Having watched these precocious tanks evolve over the series makes it easy for the viewer to empathize with her.
While the next to last episode ends with quite a bang, the final episode wraps things up in a quiet manner. Three months after Section 9 was attacked, Togusa finds himself unemployed and cut off from the truth of what happened back then. He fruitlessly searches for clues while watching the Prime Minister and other government officials reap the fruit of Section 9's investigation. Togusa stews over what sort of justice this is and decides to do something rash.
Fortunately, fate intervenes in the form of Batou. Batou takes Togusa to the new HQ for Section 9 and fills him in on what really happened. Aramaki was once again three steps ahead of everyone else and anticipated the Prime Minister's reaction. He trusted in each of the Section 9 members to stay alive long enough for the political heat to burn off allowing them to regroup as a truly covert organization. As for the Laughing Man, that part is best left for the viewer to watch.
This resolution may seem lethargic to some, but it is the perfect and natural conclusion to the story the writers have developed. While set in the near future, the world and characters are not far removed from what we see around us. These are cops trying to bring people to justice; they just happen to have some fancier tools at their disposal. Much like our world today, justice is sometimes meted out by men not much better than the villains they pursue. Those in power will do what they must to stay in power, something Togusa has to learn to live and cope with.
There were so many great moments in this final trio of episodes and in the series overall. From the start to this spectacular finish, Stand Alone Complex
told an intriguing detective story and created an engaging cast of characters that could rival a number of live-action shows. It is what good science fiction should be; a story that propels us into the future but recognizes that technological advances do not equal advances towards a utopian society. The end result is a story that can stimulate the imagination but engage the viewer on a familiar level.In Summary:
It would have been easy for Stand Alone Complex
to divert from what made the first season so remarkable and deliver a run of the mill conclusion to the Laughing Man saga. However, it stayed true to the world it had built and solidified this as one of the best series to air in recent memory. From the start, the series did not try to be some cerebral dissertation on technology and the essence of humanity.
It simply wanted to be a futuristic detective story, and it ends with the cops facing the same truth cops today face. Sometimes justice is served though men equally corrupt are the ones serving it. While some viewers may not enjoy the way this moral is revealed in the last episode, the events leading up to it and how the moral is revealed fits perfectly with the world and characters the creators established. This series has been a delight every step of the way and has blended amazing visuals with an equally amazing set of characters and story lines. Watch in awe. Aeria Gloris
Japanese DD 5.1 Language,English DD 5.1 Language,English Subtitles
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable