English: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Synonyms: Ghost in the Shell SAC, Koukaku Kidoutai: Stand Alone Complex
Japanese: 攻殻機動隊 STAND ALONE COMPLEX
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 1, 2002 to Mar 25, 2003
25 min. per episode
R - 17+ (violence & profanity)
L represents licensing company
Score: 8.451 (scored by 58343 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
action cyberpunk mecha sci-fi
SynopsisIn the not so distant future, mankind has advanced to a state where complete body transplants from flesh to machine is possible. This allows for great increases in both physical and cybernetic prowess and blurring the lines between the two worlds. However, criminals can also make full use of such technology, leading to new and sometimes, very dangerous crimes. In response to such innovative new methods, the Japanese Government has established Section 9, an independently operating police unit which deals with such highly sensitive crimes.
Led by Daisuke Aramaki and Motoko Kusanagi, Section 9 deals with such crimes over the entire social spectrum, usually with success. However, when faced with a new A level hacker nicknamed "The Laughing Man," the team is thrown into a dangerous cat and mouse game, following the hacker's trail as it leaves its mark on Japan.
[Written by MAL Rewrite]
Related AnimeAdaptation: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Alternative setting: Ghost in the Shell
Sequel: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG
Spin-off: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Tachikoma na Hibi
Summary: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - The Laughing Man
Side story: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Tachikoma no Hibi Fan Disc
Characters & Voice Actors
Director, Script, Storyboard, Series Production Director
Episode Director, Storyboard, Key Animation
Episode Director, Storyboard
Episode Director, Storyboard
Science Fiction has come a long way from stories involving the unknown reaches of space by the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells to stories that draw social implications of our own society from famed authors George Orwell and Phillip K. Dick. There is little doubt that anime productions have tackled a lot beneath the limits of the genre ranging from Space Opera to Cyberpunk. One series that is often considered one of the most popular in the anime Sci-fi genre is Ghost in the Shell. After the success of the movie, directed by celebrated director Mamoru Oshii, we now have Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex but this time without Mamoru Oshii involved with the production. Considering how well Oshii directed Ghost in the Shell, people were skeptical on whether Stand Alone Complex could best out the movie in terms of quality storytelling and animation. Long story short, it did on almost every aspect perfectly.
The way the story sets up isn't just following one main story, which is the Laughing Man plot arc, rather it follows a formulaic style that makes us follow the Section 9 team going after various cases around the world. A case against the show's credit that the Stand Alone episodes deviate the main focus of the Complex episodes that chronicle the Laughing Man plot arc, but I would argue that the Stand Alone episodes are important to deal with a great amount of character development for our main characters. Some of the episodes offer memorable story arcs that aren't important to the overall narrative but they constantly show how immensely well crafted the writing is in not only the dialogue but of how well put together the world is in the show. What's so great about the world of Stand Alone Complex is the subtle details the writers put into account, such as the political and social plateau of how the world works that truly make it a living breathing world and not a superficial one.
As with character development goes, Stand Alone Complex definitely stands out in how it gives a lot of time to put forth plenty of depth with each character that is on-screen. This doesn't just apply with the main characters, many of the side characters in each episode that we come across has a deep level of characterization to where they aren't just these one-sided antagonists who do evil, they're just normal people who are in this situation because of the society they're living in. With regards to the each specific main character, they all have their own uniquely written personalities that show off their own personal presence in the show. Handled with great care and precision, they all play out so well with each other that make you care so much for their own struggles and relationships as coworkers trying to handle any given situation they meet. Chemistry is the key part in tying together a well-rounded cast of characters and Stand Alone Complex hits the nail on that part exquisitely. Batou and Kusanagi are especially two of the best characters, simply by how well the chemistry is between the two from their interactions and personalities.
What many consider the most poignant in the Ghost in the Shell saga is its music. Out comes famed composer Yoko Kanno producing all the music in Stand Alone Complex and provides a deeply layered texture into the overall atmosphere in the show. Shows typically set in a futuristic setting relies heavily on electronic sounding orchestration mixed in to feel more natural within the landscape of the setting. While there are certainly a lot of that to experience through the ears, Yoko's brilliant blend of Jazz, Electronica, and Classical musicianship that combine each other amazingly well to give the soundtrack it's own unique style that she is widely known for. Although I find Kenji Kawai's score in the Ghost in the Shell movie left more of a profound impact on me in how it incorporates a lot of dark ambiance to the atmosphere, there is no denying the creativity that Yoko put into the score and ignoring completely would be insane when discussing the show.
Normally anime movies have the upper hand as having stellar animation and art while TV anime have a limited capacity in the level of budget that film studios have. There are, of course, exceptions to this and Stand Alone Complex is definitely one of them. Sure the animation isn't as fluid as the movie but how the art's quality perfectly compliments the ascetic vision that the artists were going for, it's a true accomplishment to experience. How the city looked, the characters all having their own distinct look that makes them recognizable the moment we see them, and how the 3D models of the machines flow with the 2D animation of the characters work each other sublimely.
It is haphazard to call Ghost in the Shell an action show since it relies heavily on Noir aspects of tone and pacing, unlike in your typical action show where the pacing is more fast-paced in that respect. However, once it does delve into action territory, that is where the animation and sound really take it to the next level of technical genius. The fluid motions involving characters fighting each other still hold up to this day than many other action anime out there in terms of animated fighting sequences and gun fights. Sound effects of machines and gunfire feel very authentic and real that puts you on the edge of your seat as you're transported into the scene. So yeah like I said, the show on the technical level is surprisingly still amazing to look at as it once was ten years ago.
One other aspect of Ghost in the Shell that is often noted when discussing the series is its profound philosophical themes. In the movie, it delved into the ideas of consciousness and ethics of A.I., while Stand Alone Complex is mostly centered on political corruption and conspiracy theories that involves the book "The Catcher in the Rye." The one part where it does delve deeper into is when we follow the Tachikomas and how they describe the "Ghost" in each machine through their A.I. Oddly enough, it really works despite the fact that these childlike voiced machines seem as though they were there for comic relief. With regards to the political themes thrown into the plot, it doesn't have nearly as much impact as the writers thought it would have considering how it's told through a conventional style of storytelling and not try to seem as though they wanted to make a big political statement out of it. That's not the same as saying that it's a huge knock on the show, but it's something that I felt would've been much stronger.
Whatever the case, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex will surely leave a strong impression on people on what makes a story stand-out as one of the most well-crafted entries in writing great characters and a largely detailed world. It is by no means a show that you can just like for the action or the great animation because that is only one-third of what makes Stand Alone Complex so deep in its overall philosophy and story. Well written character progression, great world-building, and amazing animation all combined into one glorious experience that will inspire anyone who wants to get into writing stories for years to come.
Grade: A read more
Many anime fans consider the 1995 movie "Ghost in the Shell" to be a classic of the first order so when the Stand Alone Complex series was released six years later, many were sceptical as to how good it would actually be (and I will admit to being one of those people). Production I.G. managed to put everyone's fears to rest though, just not in the way we all expected (I'll explain in a bit).
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a series that really doesn't need any introduction. The original movie proposed a disturbingly plausible future for mankind that is akin to the work of Philip K Dick and William Gibson. The series however, deviates from the movie's premise in a number of ways, some of which are not obvious at first, partly because of how the series is laid out.
SAC isn't a sequential series, and is actually made up of two completely different plot elements - Stand Alone and Complex. The Stand Alone episodes focus on the work of Section 9 as they investigate various cases, while the Complex episodes focus on the main plot - The Laughing Man. This has caused a certain amount of confusion for some people who were expecting a series that developed in the manner a "normal" anime would, especially as the Stand Alone and Complex episodes were interspersed with each other.
Where the series really shines though is in the complexity of it's story, characters and setting. The biggest change between SAC and either of the movies is that the focus is not on "individuality". Instead, SAC takes a far more societal perspective, and the Stand Alone episodes are actually essential in this respect. Without them, the viewer would remain unaware as to exactly how the members of Section 9 fit into the workins of society and government and, more importantly, how they fit with each other as a team. Each member of Section 9 is a survivor after all, and the Stand Alone episodes highlight this fact in a way that the movies never could.
The Complex episodes that form the "main" story arc can be watched as a separate entity, as is proven by the release of the compilation movie in 2005. The problem with this though, is that the viewer is far less familiar with the workings of Section 9 or the influence of it's chief, Aramaki Daisuke, within the political, police, military and business sectors of society.
With regards to the stories in both Stand Alone and Complex, they are very well scripted. The change of themes between SAC and the movies has been accomplished in a unique and inventive manner, with far more focus on poiltical machinations, schemes, plans, plots, second guesses, double jeopardies and outrirght confrontations. The series is extremely successful in it's depiction of a society that has begun to stagnate, partly because of the usage of cyber culture, with Cyber Brain Sclerosis being a metaphor for this deterioration. One of the truly great things about SAC is the debates that occur in most episodes, some of which are slightly surreal (in the middle of a gun battle for example), but all of which provide the viewer with a perspective on what is occuring that is sometimes surprising. Some may find this philosophication to be off putting, but SAC, indeed the entire Ghost in the Shell franchise, was never intended to be all glamour and no substance.
In terms of art and animation most viewers agree that SAC is a step up from the original movie, even though the series had a much lower budget per minute of animation than the either of the movies. One of the upshots of this is that, whilst the majority of the series is extremely well animated, especially in terms of blending CG and normal animation, there are occasions when the foreground action does not conform with the CG background. Even with that flaw though, the series remains extremely well animated and choregraphed for the most part, and aside from that issue I mentioned, most other problems are simply nit-picking.
I will mention one thing about the animation though. SAC is particularly noteworthy for it's fairly accurate portrayal of combat. Unlike most action anime, there are no glamourous finishing moves here, no power-ups, no fly-by-wire martial arts, etc, etc. Instead what we have is what one would expect in this sort of scenario, a group of tough soldier-like veterans who fight to win.
Sound is another area where the series excels and, in many respects, SAC is actually superior to the movie in terms of it's effects usage, voice acting and score. The dubs for both Japanese and English are extremely well done, with the English dub adopting a far more intuitive approach instead of an outright translation. The voice actors for both dubs are extremely well suited to their roles, with Tanaka Atsuko reprising her role as Kusanagi Motoko from the original movie along with Ohtsuka Akio and Yamadera Kouichi (Batou and Togusa). Mimi Woods, who played the major in the first movie, has been replaced in the English dub with Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, and I have to admit that I much prefer McGlynn's portrayal to Woods' as her voice has a cadence and that is far more suited to the role.
Given the length of time between the original movie and SAC, it's only natural that there would be some changes to the cast. On the whole, SAC is well served by it's voice actors, and the changes to the cast have actually improved the quality and delivery, making the characters that little bit more believable than they were before.
The music for SAC was composed by the great Kanno Yoko, who should need no introduction. The often inspired creations add a depth and tone to the series that goes beyond anything achieved in the original movie, however most people will simply focus on the OP and ED. "Inner Universe", the opening track to each episode, has become one of the most played anime songs in history, a remarkable feat given that the lyrics, written by Origa (Ol'ga Vital'evna Yakovleva), and Shanti Snyder, are almost completely in Russian. The track, sung by Origa and soprano Benedict Del Maestro, is striking in that it blends several different genres of music. The ED, an alternative rock track titled "Lithium Flower", is another rarity in anime as it is one of the few songs written and sung in English.
I could wax lyrical about the music in this series, especially as I'm a huge fan of Kanno's work, however I think you all get my point already.
One of the biggest differences between SAC and the original movie is the inclusion of the other members of Section 9. In the movie they were either bit parts or alluded to in conversation. Here, however, they are characers who not only have a role within the framework of the story, but individuals in their own right. The major characters like Kusanagi and Batou have also undergone a tranasformation, not in terms of looks but in terms of persona. Each of the main characters feels more "real" than they did in the movie and, while this may be due to the fact that the series can give more background, this is still a very noteworthy achievement as anime in general is notorious for offering poor characterizations.
Possibly the most fascinating and interesting addition to the series are the Tachikomas. These A.I. controlled "mini-tanks" sometimes act as comic relief, however their main pupose is to highlight how humans in the series are becoming more robotic, whilst beings like the Tachikoma are becoming more human. This is one of the reasons why the Tachikoma are presented with childlike voices and qualities, especially an insatiable curiosity.
SAC is one of the few anime that, in my opinion, can only be "enjoyed" in purely subjective terms. The complexity in both its story and characters, combined with its technologically plausible setting, ethical debates and philosophical arguments, means that whilst there is a lot of action, there is actually a point to it all instead of it being just mindless violence.
This is very much an intelligent series for intelligent people and, while there are some who won't enjoy it, I found the blend of action, mystery, philosophy and thriller to be truly excellent. read more
Both are procedural crime shows and set in a future version of Japan. Both shows are very focused on sci fi and each has their own interesting gallery of gadgets and systems. Both follow the attempts of a law enforcement agencies attempts to capture an enigmatic criminal who's always several steps ahead. Ghost in the Shell is more episodic and the underlying plot is visited in standalone episodes throughout the season. Psycho Pass is more focused on the main plot. I've heard Psycho Pass get called at best inspired by and at worst a rip off of GitS but I think it's its own show and I'll recommend it as such. If you like detective stories, Sci-fi, and character driven drama you'll like this
Both are set in a plausible futuristic setting focused on some police authority. Action scenes litter throughout both series, and when done, they're brilliantly choreographed. Like any two great sci-fi, both looks critically into the social implications of technology, the ethical considerations, and any significant impact of change in lifestyle. Easily two of the best sci-fi anime has to offer, utmost care was put into both in developing a world that feels real and the characters themselves behave accordingly to the circumstances given.
Both are crime-solving anime in a similar futuristic setting. Both get very serious and give a commentary on the human condition.
First of all in both cases we have the police as the main characters. Secondly we could say the time period is not too distant cyberpunk style future.
Psycho - pass seems to have some interesting philosophical views on this kind of future... It's the kind of anime which actually needs you to think when watching it.
Ghost in the shell has multiple story arcs, while Psycho Pass has a single arc which connects it all together.
Both are set in a futuristic society and both talk about psychology and philosophy extensively.
Both of these story lines fall deep into the future with technology that can better mankind but also still have the same amount of crime. Characters are a bit different than ghost in a shell however you will learn about the characters in this anime at different episodes just like ghost in a shell.
Both series shares similar themes involving dealing with criminals in a world with powerful technology. In fact, these traces of technology can be traced with cyperpunk themes. Thus, both series has a similar feeling.
Both series' characters works with a superior organization to deal with the criminals using their skills.
Production I.G. is also involved with both series hence similar animation artwork and visuals.
Both series has action, drama, police, and great dialogue usage in many scenes.
Both anime have a similar feel to their story telling as well as both being worlds in a not too distant future. Both can also be classified as science fiction and each follow a form of law enforcement.
Both animes feature an advanced technological society that despite the cutting edge technology suffers from both existential and criminal issues. Both animes feature cybercrime and a lot of action. Both animes focus on police and investigations.
Both are in the future, have to deal in a sci-fi genre and deal with aspects of philosophy. Specifically, they deal with the philosophy of current life and future life. Both also have great, almost similar artwork (minus characters).
They're both set in futuristic/cyberpunk type worlds (although PP seems a few decades behind GITS technology-wise) and focus on law enforcement, while also delving into themes like grey morality. The main difference is in the main theme; where GITS focuses on the idea of individualism in an increasingly connected world, PP chooses to explore the idea of freedom vs security. If you liked one it's a high chance you'll like the other.
Both of these anime are set in the future and deal with law enforcement. Ghost in the Shell revolves more around how we are losing our grip on humanity compared to how horrifying humanity is in the future with Psycho Pass. Both of these anime also have underlying meanings that really strike a chord when they are finally understood.
Both are about police investigation. They both set up in a sci-fi world. They both have a strong squad that each member have his speciality.
Similar art and pacing. Deal with similar themes.
They are both futuristic sci-fi series featuring philosophical aspects. Ergo Proxy is a bit slower-moving, with greater emphasis on charater development, whereas GitS is somewhat more episodic and more plot-focused, but both are excellent choices for a sci-fi anime fan.
Both is kind of mecha ,both has nice stories ,main character girl who's albe to use gun .
Both series contains a cyberpunk like theme in a futuristic world. As such, the presence as advanced technology and cyborgs are present.
Both series has a complex plot along with a female protagonist who is independent, strong, and skilled in what she does. She encounters conflicts throughout the series but also has help and allies. They also question their own origins as well as how humanity came to be by their times.
There is a sense of dark mystery in the both series that has a serious mood to them.
Both series has action, drama, occasionally comedy, and science fiction themes.
Both deal with cybernetics, conspiracy, have well developed characters, and serious philosophical elements. They also have strong lead female characters. There are dark, if not cynical underpinnings in both series . While there are significant differences in setting, story, and style, one can't help but feel that Proxy and Ghost are spiritual siblings.
Both stories are action packed with a mystery shrouding in it. both stories' protagonists are the same in some traits and actions that they do and accompanied by a someone they trust. both series' story revolves in the near future where machines and humans co-exists, living harmoniously until something unexpected happened.
Both series combine Sci-Fi with political intrigue. They also both have a similar "near-futuristic" setting, as well as tough female lead characters.
- Similar animation styles. Very dark, desolate and foreboding, each in their own way.
- Strong "female" leads.
- Both have deeper undertones and use a ton of subtle (and not so subtle) symbolism. (GITS more political, and Proxy more theological.)
While I would like to praise both, I did feel Proxy had far too much filler and drawn out exposition. But still, both shows look great with some nice animation.
Opening Theme#1: "Inner Universe" by Origa
#2: "GET9" by Jillmax (Japanese Terrestrial Broadcast)
Ending Theme#1: "Lithium Flower" by Scott Matthew
#2: "I Do" by Ilaria Graziano (Japanese Terrestrial Broadcast)
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