English: Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex
Synonyms: Ghost in the Shell SAC, Ghost in the Shell TV, 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
Duration: 25 min. per episode
Rating: R - 17+ (violence & profanity)L represents licensing company
Score: 8.461 (scored by 45192 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
Popular Tagsaction cyberpunk mecha sci-fi
Mar 14, 2013
Don't trust the tags - they lie: this anime is not cyberpunk. Though it does share the name, the general sci-fi concept and the main characters with its famous predecessor, the Ghost in the Shell movie, this show does not continue the movie's plot and has none of that cool & gloomy cyberpunk atmosphere 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:
- cyberbrains and prosthetic bodies, that allow to communicate at distance without using phones; to record information with eyes like on camera; to replace injured limbs & organs and increase body strength; but most importantly, to transfer one's mind from one body to another, which makes it very easy to conceal a person's identity;
- AI, that allows to have android helpers and army/police robots used for transportation, reconnaissance, combat and hacking;
- some other innovations like micromachines utilized to maintain connection between cyberbrain and computer networks; or thermo-optical camouflage used by special forces.
Unsurprisingly, not only those 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 a symbol often means more than something it represents (sounds paradoxical at first but you'll get it in the course of the story). All those topics gain importance every day due to rapid technological growth, which makes this futuristic series very relevant to our present society. 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 will 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, 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 sure 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 in 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 lots of 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 animes, GITS SAC does not present you any unique art style. What makes its animation outstanding nonetheless is the overall quality. You would never think this show was made in 2002: it still looks like a contemporary work and even better than many today's animes 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 truly amazing, there's not really much of it and all the tracks are of 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 typical 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)) 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 coolness as special agents. Even Tachikomas (those AI tanks) have a number of funny, interesting and really great moments of their own.
The only remaining issue is that while the characters are certainly not cardboards, they still don't get much development. 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 show as its main focus lies on story, philosophy & action. Yet that doesn't become a serious problem because the protagonists are already charismatic and memorable individuals, easy to sympathize with and generally fitting for this kind of show.
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. However, in order to enjoy this anime you should bear in mind two crucial things:
1) GITS SAC is not cyberpunk (at least, not a classic representative of the genre);
2) the show demands your thinking and attention to follow the story and appreciate its ideas.
If you remember that while watching the series, you will 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
Sep 28, 2009
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
Apr 22, 2007
Unlike the movie, the TV series focuses on Section 9 and their exploits rather than the deep philosophical quandaries presented in the movie. The over-arching storyline of "The Laughing Man" leaves you flabbergasted as it unfolds like a cherry blossom. Conspiracy and intrigue are the main strengths of the story where nothing is quite as it seems. Perhaps the only flaw are some of the convoluted dialogue that might put off someone who's looking for a typical no questions asked, "wham bam, thank you ma'am" kind of action anime. GiTS will make you think and recollect the minutest of details. The anime demands your full concentration and attention and makes you appreciate the complexity of the plot. Coupled with some superb action sequences with synchronous heart thumping music by Yoko Kanno, GiTS delivers a great experience.
The animation is as good as it gets, nothing less is expected from Studio I.G. It's a great improvement from the movie (then again the movie was made in 1995, almost 6 years before the TV series).
The first series neglects to really look at any of the characters in depth, except for "The Major" - the deus ex machina of the series. They remedy this in the second season (see my review for GiTS: SAC 2nd Gig). Unlike the Major in the movie or manga, this Major suffers neither from constant self doubt nor erratic behaviour. However, a little more character development for the other players would have been nice.
Don't put off this series because you didn't like the movie, this is a whole new ball game, as the cliche goes. Then again some of the more hardcore fans of the first movie believe that the TV series diluted the core philosophical issues and rather gunned for a audio-visual spectacle. There's nothing wrong with that I say, this is still one of the most captivating anime series I've seen. Highly recommended. read more
Mar 18, 2012
I’m going to say right up front that this is an excellent series and that you should definitely see it if you're a sci-fi fan and/or a cyberpunk fan; even if you’re not, if you believe in the originality of intellectually challenging anime series, you should definitely watch it. Based on the same manga that the movie is based on, the series takes place in the near future and is set primarily in Japan. Technology is very pervasive, with nearly everyone having accepted some form of “cyberization” that links them to an even more advanced version of the internet. Criminals, by utilizing the same technology, commit sometimes very dangerous crimes. In that same technologically advanced city, there exists an independently operating police unit, Section 9, which deals with such malicious crimes. Led by Daisuke Aramaki and Motoko Kusanagi, Section 9 deals with such crimes over the entire social spectrum.
The anime, being directed by Kamiyama Kenji, is a piece of art. Having said that, the anime tries it’s best to fiddle around with one’s mind by presenting numerous “Stand Alone” cases and, I must say, the director pulls that out quite efficiently. The preliminary episodes aren’t as mesmerizing as one might expect after seeing the original movie, but as the episodes go by, the actual meat arrives. Several philosophical questions are asked in the process and one might find it fascinating as to how the anime keeps on answering them in the process.
Since the anime is set in the future, there is a lot of time spent given to the characters simply communicating with each other about past events--in order to help those watching the anime understand the nature of the GITS world--which wasn’t provided in the actual movie thus making it hard for some people to grasp what was going on. This often makes the anime feel slow, especially when there has just been an intense action sequence. However, most of the time there are interesting major revelations--sometimes subtle, sometimes pronounced--in the "slow and talky scenes" that give them a good redeeming factor, if you're able to understand the complex nature of them. The complexity of the series is another double-edged sword; often you can get hopelessly lost in the political or mechanical garble that makes up such a large part of the series, but when you rewind the scene and persist with understanding it, there is a great sense of satisfaction when you finally put the pieces together.
When visuals are to be regarded, Gits:SAC reigns above all the anime you might have witnessed; the complexity of the backgrounds is on par with the complexity of the actual plot, which to some, is fascinating in itself. The use of CGI has been depicted very well, unlike most of the anime with low-production values. The use of CGI can be witnessed quite well in the first visual, that is, the opening theme. Lighting, depth, movement; all have been appropriately balanced in the visuals; everything is lit so well and provides such a vivid tone for a scene--it really has an effect on the mood that is trying to be conveyed. The future world has been showcased very carefully; gadgets, buildings, vehicles, etc. have been showcased well and actually portray the “futuristic” feeling one is to endure while watching. The characters are animated well, and the style of the whole series is very well crafted throughout. It makes good use of 3D visuals, not going overboard but still providing a suitably futuristic feel.
The sound has been as carefully put together as the visuals. Every sound effect is instantly believable as being something futuristic. Whether it is the Japanese dubbing or the English dubbing, both are aptly done and enhance the emotion and sensation one is to experience while interacting with the characters; they get to the emotional level well throughout the anime. The character voices are, therefore, excellent--being suitably different when the characters are communicating verbally and neurologically. The opening and ending theme have very carefully been chosen and are showcased exquisitely through the worthy visuals they deserve. The word “aeria gloris” in the opening theme has been utilized quite well in the opening song, sung by Origa, and adds to the “feminine” side of the anime, at the same time meaning, “Lofty things to glorious deeds,” or so I heard. The ending theme, though not as popular, also adds to the cliff-hanger type of feeling the episode usually ends with. The sound effects are superb and give audiences the chance to immerse themselves into the story.
Characters are probably the best asset of the anime. Even though they all are mostly mature, both physically and mentally, yet character development can be noticed quite easily in the series, even if that character development is petite in a sense. Priority has been given to the plot, and the main characters have only been developed to the point where it was considered necessary. The Tachikoma tanks, on the other hand, consisting of Artificial Intelligence, have distinctively shown character development as they are said to be “maturing.” This property can be noticed in several scenes as they all go all out into discussion and immerse in the depths of the world, the philosophical side included. There is no protagonist in the anime; rather, the whole Section 9 has been given a special place in the anime; it can be seen, though, that mostly the 3 members, being the most interesting ones in distinctive fields, of the group actually suck up the slotted time of the episode.
With the complex plots, some being duller than others, the replay value of the series is tarnished to a certain degree, especially since you have to be in a certain receptive mood to watch it. But overall, I enjoyed it greatly. My advice though, is to be attentive--it's a bit unfortunate, but this series requires it. If you are in a mood to watch something casual then I highly encourage passing this one since it requires lots of attention, and if you leave even a single piece out, you might just not get the whole account. The enjoyment factor, though, is increased to an optimum level due to this persevere factor. It’s quite a feeling when one tries to solve the mystery on its own, considering how enormously complex it is.
The intellectual aspect and the level of complexity of Gits:SAC may turn off some people who are not looking for a mental exercise while watching anime. A good part of the series is driven by dialogue, and one episode in particular is almost ninety percent dialogue. For those dependent on the subtitles for comprehension, this can also be tedious, and can sometimes feel more like reading a novel and not watching an anime. Still, if you’re looking for something psychologically epic, Gits:SAC is for you. read more
Jun 29, 2012
Stand Alone Complex, despite being nearly a decade old, still holds up as a fantastic anime today. It follows an episode structure that I find to be masterful when done correctly, which is involving a main plot combined with not really filler, but not really character building stand alone episodes peppered into the series. The result is an extremely plot-driven anime, regardless of whether or not it's the main plot or a side one.
Story - 9/10
Between the sci-fi futuristic setting and mysteries surrounding crimes in this world, it's hard not to have your curiosity flowing during an episode. This is an anime with some of the most intelligent writing around, with plenty of interesting ideas presented, and characters rarely ever seem to sit around and talk too much which lets the action pick up at a great pace. It's also is a rare anime where there really isn't anything I consider to be real filler. The stand alone episodes hold up great just like the complex main plot episodes. There wasn't a single one out of all 26 eps that I didn't enjoy and the only one I even thought could have been better was the very last one. Not that it was a bad ending, but the resolution of the main plot seemed like it didn't have the total impact it should have.
Animation - 10/10
While there isn't anything overly artistic about the animation of SAC, I gave the animation a high score because of how well it holds up for being a ten year old anime. It looked stupiendous back when it came out, and it hasn't aged poorly in any form. It has sort of a timeless look where nobody is ever going to watch it and feel like it's out of date. Colors and cityscapes look beautiful and the world is rich with detail. Although it does have some questionable moments of CGI in episodes, most of the time it's quite beautiful, particularly on the Tachikoma robots, computer screen tech, and creating nice depth and lighting effects. The action and fast paced stuff is also animated with such top notch fundamentals and camera work. Seeing metal get shot up doesn't usually look this good.
Sound - 10/10
Yoko Kanno composes a triumphant opening and ending theme here, compounded with an exceptional and somewhat overlooked OST that fits the setting and tone to a tee. It's a creative blend of sounds ranging from rock to techno, but everything does it's job to suit the moment and futuristic world. Voices are all very well acted, and do a great job distinguishing the characters and all seem very fitting. The only thing that ever comes close to faltering in the sound department is the childlike voice of the Tachikoma, which I know some people flat out hate. It tested my patience on an infrequent occasion, but I came to love those high-pitched think-tanks.
Characters - 8/10
Stand Alone Complex is story-driven, and if one comes in expecting to get a whole lot of backstory and development on characters, they may be disappointed. The cast is all likable and cool, but the show pretty much trades it's character development time in to spend it's hours weaving the plot. Motoko is a favorite for obvious reasons, being a rare strong-willed and non-cliche woman who can get the job done. She never waivers, and she doesn't stay predictably hard during the course of the show either. Batou was probably my second favorite behind the Major, and he gets blessed being the focus of some great moments that show off his skills. Togusa was another character I found myself respecting the longer I watched. He's definitely the kind of guy that could have been written poorly and turned into a hated face of an anime. I also enjoyed the Tachikoma and they actually may be the ones who technically got the most development of the show, and I loved their last few appearances.
Overall - 9/10
With no strong flaws, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a very impressive anime that knows it's fundamentals and plays to the strengths it has. It's never trying to be something it's not or appeal to people who wouldn't be interested. This is a thinking viewer's anime with some great moments of action and a little bit of humor. I was hooked from the opening moments of the first episode and left wanting more by the time I saw the closing moments of the last. There's a high value for rewatching this series and I can finally understand the classic status that this superb anime is given by most. read more
Jan 20, 2008
Cyberpunk anime is relatively rare, and in this chest of obscure goods, Stand Alone Complex arguably shines the brightest.
The main storyline, which follows The Laughing Man incident (per the Review Guidelines, I'm not going to elaborate on the plot details, if you really want them, see Wikipedia), is a gripping thrill ride through the dark underbelly of a fully cyberized society. The series explores a host of typical cyberpunk scenarios, ranging from sensory perception espionage to corporate terrorism to cybernetic body swapping and much more. Philosophical issues typical in cyberpunk media are incorporated relatively seamlessly into the series, such as the identity problem and emergent behavior.
Carefully considered references to relevant Western literature (particularly Catcher in the Rye and The Laughing Man by JD Salinger) appear in the anime often, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that, unlike in most other anime, they actually tied into the plot quite well and in many cases foreshadowed the future in unpredictable fashion.
The series is action-packed but tasteful in its portrayal of violence. People die in various ways, and just enough blood and gore is shown to keep the experience visceral, but not to the point of offending anyone. I liked the honest representation of warfare (a lot of other anime will just have the protagonists "knock out" enemy combatants; this series doesn't hold back in this regard, people who are shot can and often do die-- something I appreciate as it maintains tension well.)
I don't usually describe a series in this way, but SAC is just, simply, "cool." The Section 9 team uses a variety of equipment, ranging from thermo-optical camouflage (essentially invisibility) to high powered sniper rifles. The way the team (an elite group of special ops veterans) plans and executes their missions is very professional and the directors paid careful attention to tactical details normally ignored in other anime.
The art in this series, btw, is spectacular. The team in charge very clearly made good use of computers, particularly when they did their cartoon shading for the Tachikomas. The result is a clean, very detailed and yet natural style.
The series does have its weaknesses of course. The stand alone episodes (those unrelated to the main storyline) vary greatly in their quality. Some episodes are too predictable, such as Episode 3 in which (surprise) an AI doesn't behave as it should and Togusa wonders whether it gained a "ghost" (a term in the series that's semantically similar to "soul"). Why is it that practically every plot-relevant AI encountered acts like it has gained a ghost?
Character development was not very even in this anime. Batou, Togusa, the Major, and Aramaki are the only characters with significant character development. Saito and the rest remain enigmatic and don't have any backstory until the 2nd season. Even the talking, thinking tanks (Tachikomas) are more central to the plot than the rest of the Section 9 team. At least they get a couple episodes mostly to themselves.
Some people who are paying close attention will also notice some annoying misconceptions, eg "offensive" firewalls being the most annoying and conspicuous.
But all in all, it was a great season. It's too bad the 2nd one is so disappointing in contrast.
Nov 28, 2008
Visually GiTS:SAC is nothing short of stunning for a televisied series, from the computer generated introduction down to the stills. Characters emote well enough and whatever may be happening at the background during the show isnt forgotten either. Musically GiTS:SAC is beautiful, scored by none other than Yoko Kanno, (Cowboy Bebop, Wolf's Rain, RahXephon) the introduction song "Inner Universe" is superb, composed perfectly to the GiTS:SAC atmosphere. The song "Lithium Flower" (a reference to the major i assume, fitting name :P) is the ending theme and again fits with the GiTS:SAC atmosphere. I liked some of the tracks so much during the show that i've bought the OST, its true Yoko Kanno can do no wrong.
Character wise, i cant flaw the show. Although the character development for Ishikawa, Saito, Pazu and Borma is non exsistant they arnt forgotten during the series and are consistantly put to logical use which is good to see considering supportings characters are often known to dissapear or make random cameo's. Batou and Togusa really shine in GiTS:SAC, unlike the Major who comes off a little robotic Batou and Togusa have moments in the series where they get caught up in there cases and these emotional outbursts or frustrations really serve to get into the characters heads and understand them.
One thing that surprised me is the character development for the Tachikoma's (spider like robot's section 9 use, also called "Think Tanks"), an entire episode during mid season is dedicated to a single Tachikoma, the Tachikoma's are an important plot device in GiTS:SAC and i was pleased to see they werent forgotten at the end of the series either, i was initially skeptical about them but they do grow on you through there child like curiosity and logic.
The GiTS:SAC story is a little confusing for a first timer, i myself am still unsure about the entirety of it all but thats only the mark of a great anime. I understand the basic idea's in the main storyline but i will go back and rewatch it to get all the little nuisances i may have missed because GiTS:SAC is full of them. A series that makes me want to come back and learn more about it deserves the score i'm giving it.
There isnt much else i can say without delving into the storyline or giving something away and that is something i definately do not want to do because to get the most out of GiTS:SAC you must watch it and piece it together for yourself, half the fun is working out the mysteries alongside the members of Section 9 as they solve the crimes.
What are you waiting for? Get out and experience GiTS:SAC for yourself and see if it lives up to your expectations, i know i've been converted to a loyal fan. Now, time to buy the second season :D read more
Jul 20, 2009
The story revolve primarily on the human obsession with technology and the changes he has made to be able to fight against diseases and how this resolution made him a slave of the technology itself.
The art design is extremely well done, and the mecha design is beyond excellent.
What was a surprise for me, was the characters, I don't know how, but the mangaka gave them a strange a strong personality especially the major Motoko Kusanagi ... it's like they are real people who exist.
I'd never get enough from watching this serie over and over again, the 1st gig was a huge hit in the world of animation and it showed how the human can be very dangerous. read more
Apr 27, 2008
Stand Alone Complex is definetly not your normal anime. Just the name should give away the fact that this is a different kind of anime. What i have to say about the story of Ghost in the Shell is that it is really confusing. If you are looking for an anime that you can sleep through then keep looking because even if you are able to read the subs (i like to watch only subbed anime =) then there is still a high possibility that you won't get what's going on. The reason I didn't give GITS a high score in the story category was mainly because the plot wasn't steady as it should have been. I actually didn't even know what the plot was until the very end of the show. Instead what i got was a bunch of random episodes that mostly didn't correspond with each other. Its just not that enjoyable...
Hmm...what do I say about art? Art these days usually doesn't have the major mistakes it used to back in the old days. I gave art a 7 because although it didn't have anything wrong with it, I still didn't like it. The art in this show is more realistic than that of others (as in if you see an old guy you also see every wrinkle on that old guy...). The thing is I just couldn't fully accept the style of this anime's animation.
If by sound does that mean sound effects, voices, or music? In any case I would still give it a 8. I didn't notice much in sound effects besides what would sound normal in reality (guns, footsteps, ect). As for voices for the characters, I thought all suited the characters exceptionally well. The main reason I gave this category a 8 was because of the music and background music. The main theme song turned out to be one of the best anime songs I have heard. It also really set the mood for what this show was trying to be.
The characters in this show did not do much of a job in any development. Mostly they were just there and none of them had much of a story. What I look for in a character is a sense of attachment which is exactly what i didn't get in GITS. Instead I felt like I didn't care what happened to any of them and actually felt like the show would be better without some. One character I did like was Tachikoma, but that was only because it was a giant fighting robot with machine guns and rocket launchers that had the personality of a child (who doesn't find that funny?)
Well this series did have its ups and downs (mostly downs) and i ended up feeling like it would have been better if i didn't waste my time. The fact is I couldn't get into this show because there was no character development, little plot, and it made cyborgs sound boring and useless. If your looking for a show where you can't wait for the next episode to begin then i suggest that you don't watch this show... read more
Oct 15, 2009
We're speaking of the anime of the most famous movie that was ever created since humanity.
First of all, the anime looks like a typical plot: The future with robots and technologie. It may be a mainstream story that was used in other anime. This time we're in Tokio. Thing's didn't change. There are just robots and people with cyberbrains. There are no galaxys with aliens etc.
As you can read, the story is about a group called 'Sction 9'. They do their job but later, they have to deal with a hacker. Not a normal hacker, a pro. That's all you have to know since it's the mainstory. The story is divided in 'Stand Alone' episodes and 'Complex' episodes. The SAep's tell story's about the section 9, about the protagonists. The Cep's tell the mainstory. I think this is a really unique storytelling I've never seen in other anime. You can relax withe the SAep's and be thrilled with the Cep's.
I' very in love with the whole style. The character design fits the atmosphere and you know, GitS is know for detailed artwork. The bg's are pure sex.
Sound: It's a matter of taste but GitS SAC has probably the best opening for ever. When I hear it I indulge in reminiscences.
In SAep's you will learn why they joined the group. You won't find out much though. I just can say that 2nd GIG is more emotional; simply heartbreaking.
If you like cyperpunk or anime which handle in the near future, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a must seen. Everything fits the mod. The atmosphere is plain great. Nah, did I mention it has the best ANIMATION of all anime?
It has read more
Jan 16, 2011
But before I get to those, I want to compliment on the characters for this series. One of my biggest beefs with the movie adaptations of Ghost in the Shell was that the characters appeared to be lifeless and lacking in personality thus making it tough to relate to them. Here in Stand Alone Complex, the characters do display a decent amount of personality as Batou occasionally likes cracking jokes and getting short-fused at points during the series plus the Major is shown to be a little bit easygoing when not involved on missions and having her moments of anger as well. There is some fleshing-out of the major players of Section 9 where you get enough sense of how they adapt to their lives as cyborgs and their personal beliefs regarding situations that they face on and off missions. Of course with the series being more plot-driven and action-oriented, you shouldn't expect too much in the way of character exploration and development.
On the plot end, Stand Alone Complex is scattered up into two different types of episodes: "stand alone" and "complex". The "stand alone" episodes are episodic plots involving Section 9 taking up a case or dealing with matters around their headquarters. These episodes tend to focus around covering aspects to the characters or the world in which Stand Alone Complex takes place in, which I will get to in a little bit. The "complex" episodes explore the main storyline to the series, that being the Laughing Man case. This one proves to be quite the complicated little case to cover indeed as what starts off as a simple case of corruption within city police turns into a complex plot involving an infamous hacker and a grand-scale conspiracy connected to some rather powerful figures in political and economic circles. Like the "stand alone" episodes, the "complex" episodes are connected to the exploration of issues faced within the world of the series, as well as exploring corruption within politics and economics which is a hot-button topic within current events for our time as well. The "complex" episodes do build up to a suspenseful finale and ties up all loose ends concerning the political-economic conspiracy, the Laughing Man's identity and the fates of those within Section 9.
In terms of relating its elements to the cyberpunk genre, Stand Alone Complex does do well at giving its audience enough familiarity with the issues and new technologies used within its near-future setting while exploring its characters and developing its plots. Throughout both the "stand alone" and "complex" episodes, elements to the world of the series are explored in a future where the developments of cyberbrains and cyborgs create a blurring line over one's human identity. This is where the show's philosophical element comes in where heavily cyberized characters like Batou and Motoko often contemplate on how much of their humanity and original self is intact through the cyberization process. The series also explores the societal effect and new risks of cyberbrain use and having a cyborg body. There is talk on new diseases discovered from use of one's cyberbrain, the obvious risk of one's body being vulnerable to hackers if cyberized, cyborg bodies being illegally modified as use for prostitution or assassination and trying to recreate the very personality and identity of a cyberized individual's "ghost" (slang for a person's soul in the world of GITS) through cyborg copies. Focus is also given at points to the AI development of the Tachikoma units used for combat developing their own individuality and even having their own comical omake at the end of each episode to the series.
In terms of visuals, Stand Alone Complex is above average in its presentation for the time it was released. There is clearly plenty of effort put into getting as much detail into the scenery of New Port and the cyber world as possible featuring vivid and colorful settings. A mix of cel-shaded and CG animation is used for creating these environments and rendering vehicles, characters and robots into them which works almost seamlessly. Movements and action scenes were animated at a fluid pace, especially with Tachikomas and mechs in action. Yoko Kanno contributes her soundtrack composing talents to the series and as usual, her tracks do well at blending with many of the situations that take place onscreen.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex delivers quite well with both style and substance with its sci-fi action genre. It combines above average visual presentation of nearly-seamless blurring of CG and cel-shaded animation with two types of plotting styles that serve to explore the characters and world of the series, as well as the complex plot developments brought on from the Laughing Man case. Anyone who is into the sci-fi or cyberpunk genre should definitely check this series out as it has much more time to explore both plot and philosophical dilemmas for its time period than those two other movies. I look forward to wanting to check out 2nd GIG sometime in the near future. read more
Dec 16, 2010
It is about how the phenomenon of THE LAUGHING MAN — unique minds becoming individual components of a complex system acting as one collective consciousness (memes), and the phenomenon of THE TACHIKOMA — perfect machine copies of each other evolving individual differences, are the two inevitable consequences of data synchronization.
The interaction between these antithetical phenomena is explored on a literary level in Stand Alone Complex, and political in 2nd GiG.
Stand Alone Complex is the most cerebral anything anywhere, and it has prophesied most contemporary Internet phenomena such as Anonymous and Asange with perfect precision several years ahead. read more
May 19, 2010
Spoilers included by necessity:
I found it really disappointig that the final solutions to the main mysteries didn't actually have anything to do with the technology of GITS's world like would have expected. Why not explore the chance that, for example, the EXACT replicability of things electronic input/output to brain allows could result in different minds processing the raw thoughts to a same conclusion as the results of human minds being at some level identical? Instead the "copies without original" were explained through memetics, despite the fact that the concept of memes doesn't have much to do with random people deciding to do the same thing randomly after witnessing some event.
This reminds me much about the reasons why I don't like Paranoia Agent - making a work that involves psychological and sociological dynamics, but then exaggerating the phenomenon to totally unplausible levels causes it to not deliver any real message, or illustrate the workings of these theories in educational sense. Some may find it brilliancy, but I find it as a lacking sense of reality and/or poor grasp of the concepts it is all about. It's even more frustrating when it's offered as a solution to a mystery the whole series is based upon.
Also, what's up with the Major's outfit? Nobody wears clothes like that, that's pure fanservice. It's up to you to decide whether or not this cheapens the work (GITS is not a character-driven show to begin with after all), as long as you aren't a hypocrite and think that in the case of Code Geass it does but in the case of Ghost in the Shell doesn't.
Some praise the difficulty of the plot to follow, such as mentioning a important, relating case in one episode in the beginning when one has not a clue of the whole picture of what the series is about, and then casually referring to it later on. I can't see how this is a positive thing and somehow adding 'depth' into it and not different from just bad storytelling.
My strong opinion is, mindfuck for the sake of it is never good, it should be used only as a tool to serve a purpose, to deliver the message of the work if it cannot be effectively delivered any other way (such as in Paprika, in which it is fun to guess whether what's happening is a dream or real event, or to a lesser extent in Serial Experiments Lain, which uses uncertainty and inconsistency as a metaphor for the layman's defective understanding of the nature of modern technology and detachedness from the world's clockwork functions).
Overall, Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex is pretty average and unrealistic cyberpunk that has nothing that is actually worth a honest thought of 'what if this happened in reality' and you haven't seen somewhere else already. And by this I mean most of the Stand Alone episodes are based onto recycled cyberpunk ideas.
Mar 13, 2010
Sep 9, 2011
People are merging with techology and the social impacts as well as the dangers of it are part of the storyline. There is a elite para-military force of enhanced people that try to keep order in a very hard to be ordered world.
The part that bothers me so much is I've seen this type of technology being worked on and it will some day come to pass. Maybe not to the levels in this series but they WILL TRY to do it just the same and I hope they watch this series as it does have very good points about it raised in this show.
I highly recomend watching it. it's very interesting. Unique with great art work and classic Anime T&A of abundant sizes that they just love to play around with in them. LOL.... read more
Jun 22, 2011
Ghost in the Shell, of course, does virtually none of these things.
I tend to forget if I'm watching a cartoon, or just talking heads set to a static background image. I went in expecting a series full of tactical and corporate espionage.
What I got was two jack-wagons talking, one without pupils, while blue trashcans skirted about in a vain attempt to create comic relief. It was the animated equivalent of watching four of your nieces play house for hours on end.
Well, as far as near-static images go, they did rather well. I find the characters to be pretty detailed, and extremely varied. Is the animation good? It's so-so, not much to be animated. The art, though? Again, pretty good. Kudos on not fucking something up, guy.
Now, I know what you're thinking: "Derp you just want action 24/7, leave serious cinematic conversations to the adults" To which I respond: This wouldn't be a problem at all if the actors were good. But no, they just read their lines so disinterestedly that the viewer gets bored. You can convey information through exciting and fluid dialog, but they settle on boring and expository. The actors can't sound excited by this, and maybe that isn't their fault. With that script, it ain't easy. But either way, they failed to deliver.
Outside the two main characters, who I enjoy, the rest of the cast is extremely interchangeable. This is bad, for those following along. The whole "talking heads" motif running through this review is made even worse when those heads barely have any face at all. The series delves into repetitive very quickly when the conversations all seem to be the same thing.
A futuristic Law and Order? Perhaps. Just as boring as any Law and Order? Definitely. This show lures you along with the promise of an actual plot, and yet it chases its own "tale" for twenty-odd episodes, leaving the viewer robbed of both time and brain cells. read more
May 12, 2013
The segmented nature of the series, where predominately a crime/issue was dealt within an episode, enabled the viewer to delve into a particular character/scenario without overarching distractions. I appreciated this episodic approach as it gradually built an rich and interesting universe that was gradually brought together at the end as all the actors came onto the stage. The overarching plot regarding the Laughing Man was very well done, and there was a very unconventional antagonist that I had not seen before.
Being a sci-fi/crime anime, character development was not its main focus. I found some characters likeable, and others quite frustrating and shallow. Funnily enough I related to the Tachikomas (robots) more than anything else. But I feel the development was solid enough for the anime to perform well. There are, as Matt pointed out, some big plot holes which can be difficult to ignore but nothing breaks the anime.
Very few anime contribute to our understanding of reality and push new borders like Ghost in the Shell has done, definitely a recommended watch for all. read more
May 29, 2012
Oct 4, 2010
...*sigh* I'm so gonna get murdered for an opinion on this... thing.
(Forewarning: People who are fans of this show are going to hate this review, so if you're one of those people revering the show like it's Jesus, press the back button NOW.)
I don't know what everyone would think of this anime. I can easily chalk it up as 2 things. One, either it's the best spiritual sequel in the entire world, or it is the most BORING THING to come up since Trigun and Hellsing (and honestly, both of them were MORE BORING than Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and Hokuto no Ken.) Prior to watching S.A.C, I did not even WATCH Ghost in the Shell, partly because a) we didn't have internet at the time and b) no place was airing it. So, what can you do?
I'm not gonna even bother with my usual 4-tier anime review, and I'll chalk it up as one thing. BORING. Sure, the music and art style was good, but anything else is just plain BORING. Whatever good your friends tell you about this anime, and possibly the entire franchise, they're lying to you!
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to use my S.A.C. DVD as a drink coaster. GOD. read more
Jan 23, 2010
Having finished it...have to say, it's highly rewatchable. Either to better understand those fine details, or to be able to jot down thoughts you might wanna blog about or discuss...because there's a LOT in it, in each episode actually, but you're too caught up with the actual story and the characters the first time. Choice is yours, but you'll definitely start it over again after a while. read more