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: 8.441 (scored by 54117 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
Episode Director, Storyboard
Episode Director, Storyboard, Key Animation
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is an anime that needs no special introduction since it often gets praised as one of the most outstanding shows ever created. The question is, what are the reasons for those high accolades and are they actually justified? Well, let's look into the matter to find out the truth.
While often claimed to be the best cyberpunk show ever, GITS SAC is ironically one of the less typical representatives of the genre. Although it does share the name, the main characters and the focus on cyber technologies with its famous predecessor, the Ghost in the Shell movie, this series doesn't continue the movie's plot, and the "punk" & gloomy atmosphere is pretty much absent here since the creators decided to make the anime accessible to a general audience. Did they make it worse? I think, no. While the show indeed became a little more mainstream, it also gained a lot in the story department.
The story takes place in a society with amazing technologies, precisely:
- cyberbrain i.e. human brain with cybernetic augmentation that allows its user to have a mental interface with computer networks and thus communicate at distance, transmit & download information directly into the brain or simply enter the net like virtual reality and operate there;
- advanced prosthetics: in the world of GITS SAC not only one can replace injured limbs & organs but also have an entirely new artificial body. Consequently, this technology permits cyberbrain users to transfer their minds from one body to another which makes it rather easy to prolong life or conceal a person's identity;
- some other important innovations include robots with artificial intelligence; micromachines utilized to maintain connection between cyberbrain and computer networks; and thermo-optical camouflage used by special forces.
Unsurprisingly, not only these technologies change the everyday life as we know it but they also alter people as such, blurring the line between man & machine, virtual & real worlds. Therefore, the story tackles quite a number of thought-provoking matters, from classic sci-fi themes (like the aforementioned artificial intelligence) to philosophic questions of memetics and hyperreality, explaining how information is transferred in modern society and how it affects our perception of reality. All those topics gain importance every day due to rapid technological growth, which makes this futuristic series very relevant to our present world. That's why I highly recommend to watch it attentively as it will sure give you enough food for thought.
However, even if you are not that much into philosophy or science, I believe you may still enjoy the show since it has absolutely kickass action and one of the most thrilling detective plots ever. Essentially, the series tells a story of Section 9, a police department which is more akin to FBI or CIA rather than simple police as its members are simultaneously proficient in the arts of combat, hacking and detective work. The main plotline revolves around their exciting chase after the Laughing Man - a highly-skilled hacker, accused of corporate terrorism and blackmailing. Eventually, the whole cat & mouse game turns out even more complex and interesting than it looks at first, involving more parties and providing fantastic social commentary... but I won't elaborate on that to avoid spoiling: let's just say I'm not a tiny bit overrating the qualities of the story.
Like most, this story has its obvious drawbacks. I presume, there are three of them:
1) contradictory setting. The anime focuses too much on cybernetics, therefore you get the setting where people have androids and crazy technologies like the ability to transfer one's mind to another body... and yet they drive 20th century cars and live in 20th century houses. It just doesn't work that way. However, the amaziness of plot twists and those questions & technologies almost negates the setting issue, and soon you simply stop paying attention to it;
2) while the anime is clever indeed, it may occasionally feel pretentious, prolix and difficult to grasp as the characters happen to carry lengthy discussions overcomplicated with pathos and philosophy. Well, that's bearable considering all the things they say are very interesting and plot-related - it's just the complex presentation of ideas that needs some time to get used to. Not to mention the show isn't only about talking: it also has very dynamic action and some nice comic relief like robotic tanks that read books(!);
3) half of the series are stand-alone episodes that break the integrity of perception and make the narrative look somewhat choppy. Yet they aren't your typical fillers because those little stories are very memorable and they allow to explore the world, flesh out the characters and tackle the main topics from different perspectives. You won't have much trouble with this aspect of the show (in fact, you may even like it) if you're generally ok with episodic format.
Overall, the aforementioned drawbacks are effectively compensated with the positives, and the story successfully blends intellectual matters and pure entertainment in a very original & enjoyable way.
Unlike some other great series, GITS SAC does not feature any unique art style; what makes its animation outstanding nonetheless is the overall quality. You would never think this show was produced in 2002: it still looks like a contemporary work and even better than many today's anime in terms of both drawing and cinematics. The latter becomes especially clear when the action kicks in: not only it has everything you could ask for (gunfights, car chases, hand-to-hand combat, mecha combat etc.) but the choreography is very impressive and pretty realistic at the same time. On another note, the animation employs quite a lot of CGI yet it doesn't spoil the picture at all - in fact, it gives everything a sort of robotic look that ideally fits the show. In general, I wouldn't go as far as calling the animation a masterpiece yet the excellent rating seems more than appropriate here.
Well, soundtracks are probably the strongest part of the whole Ghost in the Shell franchise. However, while the music in the movie is amazing indeed, there's not really much of it and all the tracks belong to the same style. GITS SAC takes a different approach: the soundtrack by Yoko Kanno is very diverse, with songs in different moods, styles and languages, but of the same exceptional quality. So, besides it's beautiful and breathtaking, it also provides you a great opportunity to find a song that best suits your personal taste. Needless to say, it gets a 10/10 score.
At first glance the cast resembles a regular special squad... except their commander is a lady dressed (or should I say undressed?) in a very peculiar way, and they also have wacky AI tanks with high-pitched voices for fire support)) These fanservice and comic relief elements may initially feel wrong in a serious anime that GITS SAC is. However, as the show goes on and the characters get some time to prove themselves you inevitably start to appreciate both their personalities and genuine brilliance as special agents. Even Tachikomas (those AI tanks) have a number of interesting and really great moments of their own as they end up playing a much more important part in the show than mere comic relief.
The only remaining issue is that while the characters certainly aren't cardboards, they still don't get much development, remaining cool rather than deep. One reason is most of their development happens in the 2nd season (also known as 2nd GIG); the other reason is the nature of the series as its main focus lies on story, philosophy & action. Yet that doesn't become any serious problem because the protagonists are still easy to sympathize with and absolutely fitting for this kind of show; I only wish the supporting characters like Saito, Pazu and Borma got a little more spotlight.
As for the Laughing Man, I won't go into detail for obvious reasons - let's just say you'll be very surprised when you learn his actual role in the story.
As you could already guess, GITS SAC is one of my most favourite series and I highly recommend you to watch it in case you haven't. Bear in mind however that it strongly demands your thinking and attention to follow the story and appreciate its ideas. So, you'll need to use your brain quite a lot, and if you do, you'll certainly understand why this show belongs to the golden classics of anime and why it deserves the time I took to write this long review. read more
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
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 amines 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).
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.
Both share a similar style where a greater storyline is carried on by seemingly unrelated episodes (or episode pairs in the case of Darker than Black).
Show is episodic in nature for the most part and is a crime/drama as well.
They have a very similar feel to them. The story in DtB is a little darker than GitS, and the worlds are very different, but the seriousness and overall feel to them is very similar. If you liked one, you should give the other a try.
They both have an episodic "crime of the week" format combined with a long-term story arc. There are sometimes similar plots, and both explore the idea of people who are somehow different from ordinary humans (cyborgs in GITS, people with superpowers in DTB). Both are intelligent (moreso GITS), dark (moreso DTB), and mature and have kickass soundtracks by Yoko Kanno.
Both, Darker than BLACK and GiTS: Stand Alone Complex have similar plot build ups. While each episode seems mostly independent of the other on a deeper almost all episodes are related in some way. Also both revolve around a team protagonists (although admittedly both teams has its own protagonist)
These two animes revolve a protagonist with a strong support team in a political and action thriller featuring unique powers (although that's a given in most animes).
While Ghost in the Shell series revolves more around a central political plot, Darker than BLACK asks similar metaphysical questions underlying Ghost in the Shell.
-Secret organisation employing talented individuals.
-Slow space at the beginning but later moves faster and becomes more intense.
-Realistic action and/or well animated action.
Note: Darker Than Black as special powers.
Both are based around teams in secret organisations investigating and participating in missions.
Similar style of case by case operations, with undertones of something more serious going on.
Both groups have specialists in their teams based on resources and abilities that aren't available to general public, some of which must be kept secret.
International governments/organisations trying to manipulate and control information and access to resources.
Both series look over the implications on society after drastic changes to what being human means.
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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