"Life without truth is not possible. Truth is perhaps Life itself" - Franz Kafka
One of the keys to creating a successful story is innovation, in particular, creating something that is both interesting and relevant, but approached from a different perspective. Of all the genres of the storytelling medium, science fiction is the only one that holds up a mirror to a possible future be it good or bad. It's for this reason that the genre is often lauded and derided, sometimes by the same person, as science fiction is predictory by nature, in other words, it posits how humans would behave in certain circumstances.
the last twenty years there have been numerous sci-fi tales in one form or another, many of which came about because of the end of the millenium. Some of them were simply terrible, whilst some were only average. Of the good ones, only a few had a lasting influence on the stories that came after. One of those is Ghost in the Shell.
Following the phenomenal success of the original movie and the TV series Stand Alone Complex, director and chief writer Kamiyama Kenji, together with the staff of Production I.G., formulated the direction in which the story would progress. What they needed, according to Kamiyama, was a completely different direction to the first series, with new goals, a new focus, and a chance to explore the world of GitS. After discussions with Oshii Mamoru it was decided that, in light of the events of 9/11, the issue of war could no longer be avoided.
This decision ultimately paved the way for a sequel that is not only superior to the original, but one that is also far more relevant to modern society.
Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd Gig is set several months after the end of Stand Alone Complex. At this point in time Section 9 is training, however the changes to the Special Forces bill mean that they are still not a legal force, and their status is akin to that of a terrorist organistion. The chief, Aramaki Daisuke, is attempting to resolve this but, like any modern society, the paperwork needs to be in order (gotta love bureaucracy).
During this time, a new Prime Minister hascome to power, and she has promised to fix the problems caused by crippling taxes and the waves of Asian refugees who are coming to Japan because of the Fourth World War (or, the Second Vietnamese War).
One of the areas where 2nd Gig deviates from SAC is that the story is based far more on world events and history than before. SAC is essentially the platform from upon which this series stands, and it's advisable to watch that series first before watching this one as the viewer is then familiar with the characters and the work of Section 9. Unlike SAC, the focus in 2nd Gig isn't on the work of Section 9, but rather on the society itself. I mentioned in my review of the first series that the phenomenon of Cyber Brain Sclerosis was also a metaphor for the gradual deterioration of society, and while SAC alluded to this, here it is made all too clear.
2nd Gig is nothing if not brutal in a certain sense. The series has a more defined sense of plausibility than anything before, and also a sense of inevitability. The power plays, politics, machinations, plots and plans are as complex and devious as they were in SAC, however here they have more of an edge to them because of the parallels with real world events. There is a lot of action in 2nd Gig, however like SAC, the action is not the important part of the show. The focus is on political and social movement, so when the action happens it's usually the result of a series of circumstances or plans. Here, taking action is an effect for the most part, not a cause, and this is one of the key plot elements in the story as the "reactionary" mentality of society is tested by the Individual 11.
As with SAC, and any other GitS project for that matter, the pacing and flow of the story is excellent. Each aspect of the plot is very clearly covered, used and acted upon. Each element of the story is involved and well thought out, especially in relation to other elements. In this respect the series shares a few things with SAC's Laughing Man Arc, however this aspect is carried here for 26 episodes with almost no let up.
One interesting point to note is that the history given in 2nd Gig is the same as that given in the Appleseed Databook. This suggests that both stories take place at different times in Earth's history and, when one considers the technology used and applied in Appleseed, it gives the entire GitS story a slightly different perspective.
In terms of visuals, 2nd Gig is nothing short of excellent. The animation is ever so subtly better than SAC, especially the blending of 2d and 3d, with movements and actions flowing as freely as they did before, but without any of the clashes that occured from time to time. The colour scheme is extremely well suited, and reflects the grim reality of the story, while the level of detail in the back and foregounds pushes the bar even higher than it was before. The visual effects are also excellent, and way above those used in other sci-fi series.
In addition to this, the art direction is superb throughout the series, especially in the smaller moments before action is taken. In one episode the team from Section 9 is seen gearing up to respond to a hostage taking. The animation and detail in this one sequence in particular, highlights the level of detail and quality, as well as the sense of realism that Kamiyama was aiming for.
Sound is, once again, way above par. The effects are extremely well used and, whilst some people may be a little overwhelmed by some of the explosions, most will find them quite satisfying. One thing I do like about the effects in both series is that of the bullets fired from different guns, as they do sound different to the naked ear (because they are).
As I've already talked about the voice acting in my review of SAC, I'll skip that part as the acting in 2nd Gig is at least equal to the first series, and the main roles are essentially the same. I will, however, mention Koyama Rikiya (who plays Hideo Kuze), as he gives the character a kind of reserved charm that is very much in keeping with the story.
The music is, once again, composed by the one and only Kanno Yoko, and her style and flair is such that the series just wouldn't be the same without her compositions. The OP, "Rise" (sung by Origa once again), has actually split opinion as to which of the two is the better song - "Rise" or "Inner Universe" (personally I love them both). The ED, "Living Inside the Shell" (sung by Steve Conte), is also a great track, but I have to admit that I prefer "Lithium Flowers" from SAC.
One thing to note about the OP and ED for 2nd Gig is that it actually has three of each. The original broadcast featured the two tracks mentioned above, however the second, terrestrial, broadcast featured two different tracks. The second OP, "Christmas in the Silent Forest" (sung by Illiara Graziano), is a more haunting track than the martial "Rise", and has a very Bjork-esque quality about it. The ED, "Snyper" (sung by Iliara Graziano and Steve Conte), has much the same feel as the OP.
The third OP and ED, "Torukia" (sung by Gabriella Robin), and "I Do" (sung by Iliara Graziano), only appear in the final episode.
As far as the characters go (and it's pretty damn far to be honest), they are simply astonishing. Because of the groundwork laid by the movie and SAC, the each member of Section 9 is an almost complete persona from the start of the show. Now, hardcore fans of character development probably won't like what I'm about to say next, but the truth is the truth. Sometimes character development gets in the way of the story proper, something which we have all seen happen in other anime. The fact that almost every character is not only an adult, but also an almost fully realised characterisation, means that there is nothing to hold back the story. Granted there are times when the characters come into sharp focus, but the series deals with these times with aplomb, grace, and sometimes violence.
I have seen, on occasion, people remark that the episodes that focus on a particular character are often slow and boring. I disagree with this view as, in any story, there are occasions when a character becomes more "audience friendly" and accessible. These "slow" episodes also help modify the pace of the story as a whole, and invite new routes down which it could progress.
I will freely admit that I actually prefer 2nd Gig to SAC. This isn't because I found SAC inferior though, it's simply because I related more to the events, action, social and politcal movements and impact, and overall sense of realism in the second series. Where SAC focused on both society and individuality, this also did the same, but from a slightly different angle. One of the things that I have been impressed by in both series is how, in the main story arcs, the "bad guy" isn't quite as evil and bloodthisrty as we initially believe him to be, something which calls the definition of "evil" into question.
This is, like every other part of the GitS franchise, a superb anime. The blend of action, drama (both political and otherwise), intrigue and mystery is on a completely different level to most other anime.
As with SAC, 2nd Gig continues to be an intelligent series for intelligent people. In addition to that it is also a scathing criticism of how wealthy nations have coped with the global refugee crisis, as well as a visionof how bad things can get if society is not more aware of it's own failings.
NOTE: If you haven't seen 'Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex' I recommend you watch that first. I have reviewed that as well.
Just when one thought that with 'Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence' and 'Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex', this franchise had reached its pinnacle, Studio I.G. came up with GiTS: SAC 2ng Gig.
It carries over the same qualities that made the first series such a brilliant watch - an excruciatingly complex plot with conspiracy, intrigue and plenty of action and smashing music. The reason why this tops the first season is the more personal feel. Character development,
that was mostly sidelined in the first season, is present aplenty in the 2nd gig. You feel you're delving into the lives of the men and woman of Section 9. You get a glimpse of the pasts of the clandestine characters all while maintaining the cloak-and-dagger mystery.
The series also explores several political and moral issues of governance and right and wrong. It does not preach, there are no absolutes, and there is no such thing as a perfect political set up. The series maintains a hue of grey on all these matters, and tastefully so.
If you liked the first series, you absolutely must watch the 2ng series. If you haven't I recommend you watch the 1st gig before embarking on this one. The series ends in a perfect set-up for the new GiTS: SAC Solid State Society movie, which by the way, was quite disappointing, but nevertheless a great addition to the GiTS family. I'm not going to review SSS because if you're already hooked onto Stand Alone Complex, you won't be able to resist watching it.
A couple years back I reviewed Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, and it was fantastic with complex characters and compelling writing. It's one of the few things I've given a “10” rating. There's a sequel to the series, 2nd GIG, that came out not long after the first. So, will it be up to the same standard? Let's delve in and see.
We open with Section 9 on standby, waiting for the official order that will allow them to go back into action. A group calling themselves the Individual Eleven has stormed the Chinese embassy and taken hostages. Aramaki manages to get the Prime
Minister's approval and the group moves in, cementing their resurrection. Shortly thereafter, the refugee issue begins becoming more and more of a problem and the Individual Eleven name seems to keep popping up in disparate incidents relating to the refugees in some way, along with a strange mark that only a select few know about. Section 9 sets out to discover the truth behind these incidents and try to assuage the tensions with the refugees, before they turn into a full scale war.
I have two issues with the narrative here. The first, and lesser of the two, is that its big climax retreads one of the big tragic moments from the first series. The execution is different and the moment is still good but it is a bit cheapened as a consequence of being a variation of something we saw in the last series. Then we have the implied history betwixt the Major and one of the major antagonists, Kuze. Narratively, there's not much reason for this to be there. It barely comes into play within the story. It feels like a thinly veiled excuse to have Motoko be distracted and even that is only important for one major scene. Overall, that element is just a bit sloppy and mostly pointless.
Aside from those aspects, the story in this is really strong. It emphasises a more cohesive narrative in contrast to the first series' more stand alone, largely episodic missions where the main plot came into play for some episodes and not for others. This does have the benefit of letting the situation develop and worsen a lot more noticeably while building on the pre-established tensions. It takes quite a few twists and turns that keep you really invested. The pacing is actually really good too. The series never feels like it's dragging or like it's overly hectic. It's also really compelling to see Section 9 struggle to try and gain the upper hand against our main antagonist.
The series retains a strong cast. The more minor characters from Section 9 get to develop a bit more. The major characters are still really compelling and well developed. The various minor characters that get added to the roster have verisimilitude. Honestly, the biggest problem is with the major antagonists. While they do feel like actual people, they're also a bit under-developed. Especially when you compare them to the Laughing Man from the first series. Which is odd since he got significantly less screen time.
The artwork and animation are amazing. The visual effects are stellar. The action sequences are intense and really radical. Even the hacking sequences are really visually intense. The various set pieces, futuristic tech and the like are all really well designed. The character designs are good and the Major's absurd one piece bathing suit/ leather jacket combination has been banished to the Gamindustri Graveyard, or wherever it is stupid outfits go when they stop getting used.
The actors do a fantastic job. Saka Osamu, Ootsuka Akio, Tanaka Atsuko, Yamadera Kouichi and the various other actors all give superb performances. The music is great, adding to the atmosphere for the series.
Motoko's girlfriend from the first series doesn't really show up in this. Nor do they give us any other type of ho-yay. So, we don't get any.
Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig is not quite as good as the first series. It suffers from some relatively minor narrative problems and some slightly under-developed antagonists. That being said, it's still a fantastic series. My final rating is going to be a 9/10. Next week I'll continue looking at requests with One Punch Man.
It’s hard for me not to lavish praise upon the altar that is Ghost in the Shell, as I’ve always found the entire franchise to be among the pillars of great anime science fiction. Each movie and show has delved deep into psychology, spirituality and even to some degree religion. The question is how would Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG stand up to the incredible first season and movies. The answer is: it continued to raise that bar of excellence in this franchise.
Story: I don’t want to go into too much detail about the story of 2nd
GIG, since it’s a key factor in why this is such a great show. The basic premise is the same as the first season really. The key group of Public Security Section 9 is re-established after the events of the first season and is immediately thrown into a new series of crimes dubbed the “Individual Eleven.” The story for this season includes a lot of politics and shady organizations. You also get a greater idea of the state of world affairs in this Ghost in the Shell universe, and I think the show is better off for it. This is a mature, tense and entertaining story from beginning to end, and I found myself enjoying this season more than the first. There are only a few real stand-alone episodes throughout the series, and even those while somewhat divergent from the main plot, often reveal a bit of background on our favorite group of anti-terrorists. There is one rather mediocre romantic type sub-plot that I won’t go into great detail about, but I had a hard time buying into it with great enthusiasm. I think it added to the character, but it felt contrived, and seemed somewhat out of place. Not enough for me to hate it though, just to think it was somewhat awkward. Other than that, the rest of the story is simply superb.
Characters: Going into any Ghost in the Shell, you always assume that for the most part, the characters are established and you’re not going to get the kind of character development that you might in other shows, and this is true for 2nd GIG. These people are already bad ass, they’re incredibly good at what they do from the start, so you don’t get that progression that you might in other series where the characters start weaker and then progress to become stronger. Here, they start and finish strong. There’s development, and that’s a welcome change, but on a whole, Section 9 isn’t going to be radically different at the end of the show than it is at the beginning. That’s not a bad thing, because I’ve always felt that the main character, Motoko, is easily one of the strongest female leads in all of anime. She’s incredibly sexy, but beyond that, she’ brilliant and strong. It’s interesting to watch a character that’s as blatantly sexualized as the Major use that to her advantage when she has to. In the end, she’s easily one of the smartest and strongest heroines around, and you have to respect her for that. Her immediate cast is also very likable. Batou is a strong enough character that he could likely carry a show on his own, as was seen in the second Ghost in the Shell movie. Togusa, being the only real human character in Section 9 continues to give the viewers that gateway into the lives of this cyborg team, allowing us to step into his shoes. The rest of Section 9, while relatively minor characters, continue to add a lot to the show, even as side characters they’re each strong in their own regards, and a few get their own episodes to flush them out more, particularly Saito and Paz. Even new characters add a great deal to the show, with the new Prime Minister being a great addition to the cast for this season. I don’t think she had to be a particularly strong character, but the decision to make her one was well done and it added a lot to the show. Overall, the characters in this show are truly top notch, and they move the already great plot along even better. Plus, there may not be a group of more likable characters in all of anime than the Tachikoma’s, you simply have to love them.
Animation: It’s hard not to rave about the quality of the animation for any of the Ghost in the Shell, and 2nd GIG is no different. Clean and crisp character animation is quality throughout the show. There are the occasional times that the quality takes a slight dip, but given the level that it’s at most of the time, the budget had to be incredible and thus the occasional dip is to be expected. Inside of cyber space is incredibly imaginative and colorful, which brings a lot of vivid color to what is otherwise a very dreary palette. If there’s a complaint to be had about the art style, it’s the strange outfits that Motoko sometimes wears. She has this strange bodysuit/shoulder shirt/really low-cut jeans outfit that just comes across as a blatant excuse to try and dress her even sexier than usual, and borders on blatant fan-service. I’m not overly against fan-service, but it just seems out of place for her. But that’s a personal gripe, and not a major one. I’m sure there are arguments for why she’d wear such clothing, so I don’t hold it against the show. In the end, I think everything visually about the show is really top notch, even if occasionally it tends to border on the very dreary, that’s simply the vision of this future.
Music: Once again, I feel that Yoko Kanno really steps up and provides a score that helps accentuate what is already a fantastic show. The opening song “Rise,” makes the intro one of my favorites in a very, very long time. It’s not often that I’ll watch the intro to a show more than once or twice during a season, but I almost never skipped the intro to this season because I just enjoyed it that much. Other wonderful songs include the return of Monochrome from the first one, plus Cyberbird and Torukia. This is a score that’s beautiful in every aspect, but there’s already been heaps of praise given to Kanno-san for her work on Ghost in the Shell, so all I can say is that it lives up to the hype.
Overall: This has probably been the best show I’ve watched in the past 6 months at least. It’s mature and deep, between the political plots and the introspection on the meaning of individuality and once again reflecting on the meaning of having a soul. At the same time, it’s also very exciting, with a number of great action sequences that really keep the tension high. From beginning to end, there isn’t much about Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG that I didn’t love, and I easily give it a 10 and recommend it to anyone who likes sci-fi, cyber punk or anime in general.
The 2nd gig is a real disappointment compared to the first season of Ghost in the Shell. There are two interconnected storylines (Gouda and the Cabinet of Intelligence; The Particularist Eleven) that run side by side and eventually are tied together. It's an interesting storytelling approach but wasn't executed particularly well. They should have taken a more conventional approach by having the storylines run more in parallel within each episode, and not have episodes dedicated mainly to one or the other. I can't help but feel some coherence was sacrificed for this interesting innovation.
As far as stories go, there
was nothing all that original. We have the scarred, evil antagonist (Gouda) on the one hand and the revolutionary with a heart of gold (Kuze) on the other. These are very transparently obvious archetypes and it becomes a bit underwhelming. The story gets worse over time. I'm not going to spoil anything (you can't spoil anything which is already rotten, after all), but let's just say the ending reveals that Gouda was involved with a certain country that was going to secretly use nuclear weapons on Japan. Sigh. A weak plot with stereotypical characters, leading up to a predictable, weak finale.
Oh, for sure, there were some decent parts. Saito and Pazu finally get some reasonable character development (sorely and very conspicuously missed from the first season), with episodes (13&14) dedicated specifically to the backstory of those two characters, how they joined Section 9 for example. We also get some interesting history on the Major and the other characters. Still, as before, only the Major, Aramaki, Batou, and Togusa get any real action. The rest of the Section 9 team doesn't really do or say much of interest.
We are treated to some well done computer-assisted art, although it pales when compared to the first season here as well.
There were some annoying, noticeable gaffes. Like in the first season, we still have to put up with the nonsense about "offensive" firewalls (there's no such thing, firewalls are software that intercept and block or filter traffic, you can't use them to damage any software, just lock nosy people out or keep spies within from sending stuff out.) Also, encryption only prevents people from understanding your communication, it does not prevent people from realizing that a connection is being established (the series makes this error in Episode 10). There are more annoying mistakes but I will not bore the reader with them.
Unlike the first season, the second season does not make any clever references to Western literature, which was disappointing, as I was quite impressed by how the first season worked the J.D. Salinger angle into the Laughing Man incident.
All in all, a disappointing follow up to a terrific first season.
The Laughing Man arc of the first GITS:SAC was one of the best plots I've ever seen in all of anime. Sure show itself had problems with needless filler (a good half of the show could have been cut without affecting the story much), but the incredible plot, superb action, and clear cut distinction between filler and plot (complete with handy label).
It would be pointless to say that I began watching 2nd GIG with high expectations. I was expecting another incredible plot with fantastic action and either less filler or filler that was much, much better. I have to say that the
filler was much, much better. But the real letdown was that the fantastic, fast-paced plot that made GITS:SAC a great anime was simply not there. In its place was a convoluted mess, filled with pointless episodes and altogether incredibly bland.
The issue with the plot was this: there wasn't one for most of the story. Most episodes served to only minimally enhance the plot, and even when they did they only introduced plot points that became exceptionally handy later on. I do have to say that the quality of the filler got better compared to the first season, but the sheer amount of filler is simply inexcusable.
When the plot finally did appear it was complicated without being particularly engaging or complex, plagued with pacing issues, and just generally mediocre. Not to mention that the ending was absolutely terrible. A tacked on ending that offers no closure that drives all of the emotional intensity that the writers managed to gather right into the ground.
Excellent artwork. Top notch animation with a bit of original flair. The character designs are acceptable, and the Tachikomas are awesome looking. Artwise, 2nd GIG meets every expectation of a high budget anime and then a little bit more.
Great sound. The music is excellent, the sound is good, and the voice acting was well done. Oh, and the Tachikomas are awesome.
The people were well developed, with good backstories, and decently realistic actions. For the most part, the characters are nothing special. They're well done, as expected, but it's hard to care too much about any particular character. The standout(s), though, are the Tachikomas, who are funny, lovable, and awesome. While I do want to say that far to much time was devoted to "Tachikomas doing cute things", I still have to say that they are the best characters in 2nd GIG.
Too much filler, too little plot. That's the key problem with 2nd GIG. The entire show could have been shortened to 13 episodes without losing much of the plot or tension. The show drags itself from episode to episode desperately trying to keep you watching with mediocre teasers about where the plot's going. That being said, there are still some genuinely good filler episodes and when the plot finally does get moving it's still watchable. Combined with the Tachikomas contemplating the meaning of the universe, being lovable, and being awesome the experience is passable. At the very least, there are superpowered cyborgs shooting at each other.
Overall 5/10 (barely):
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex lacks a few key things. It lacks a solid plot, it lacks ways to tell what is filler and what isn't, and it lacks philosophy, mystery, or action strong enough to carry a plotless, poorly paced series. And without anything like that, all it is is simply a mediocre anime that fails to accomplish everything that it needs too. In closing, I'd recommend 2nd GIG to someone who has nothing better to watch or to someone who is desperately looking for cyberpunk anime. It's also worth watching if you've seen the first season, if only to complete the Stand Alone Complex continuity.
After watching the fantastic first series of SAC I could not wait to get sunk into the 2nd Gig, however I was only met with disappointment. What made the first series so compelling and original was totally missing in 2nd Gig.
Let me explain; what made SAC different from other anime was the way in which it retold classic crimes with that twist of GITS universe. The plots were always interwoven with tales of morality based on technology and crimes were often solved with the application of complex technology based approaches.
Secondly the very strong characters help to put it all together, whilst they are
well defined and linkable they are never take themselves too seriously.
Sadly a lot of these factors were missing in 2nd Gig;
Firstly there are a lot of character development episodes, at least 1 for every member of the team. Character development can be good, but I was just overwhelmed and bored by 5 or so contiguous episodes which were all character development. The second problem with the character development episodes is that they did not really use many of the plot devices available to them through the GITS universe, making the character development shallow.
The plot for the second series really slows the story down, SAC was never a fast paced anime but 2nd Gig takes it to a new level, most of the time was spent listening to people having conversations about the "individual 11" without actually taking the plot anywhere, I lost interest in a lot of the episodes because got the feeling that the writers had forgot they were writing an anime and were writing a dissertation on human relation. If you've watched the first series you might think I'm being picky, because uninterrupted dialogue was part of SAC but 2nd Gig takes it way beyond too far.
Other than the character development episodes there are few stand alone episodes in 2nd Gig, which again slowed it down a whole lot, I thought the Laughing Man story arc from the first series was brilliantly paced, with most of the episodes being stand alone investigations with a sprinkling of Laughing man culminating in an all laughing man finish. But 2nd Gig did not grasp this at all and just ploughed deep into the main shallow plot, and here is my main problem with 2nd Gig:
The plot that takes up most of the episodes is extremely shallow, the theme was very basic and did not hinge on anything that was unique to the GITS universe. There was nothing GITS about it, it is a very matter of fact telling of goverment Vs terrorist. The first few episodes and the last few episodes I think were the best, they had some substance to them and they made me connect with the GITS universe. However, most of the episodes just seemed like they could have been in any drama series or anime with a light smattering of GITS.
Good points about the show continue to be the art and music, thumping tunes come up in briefings and during missions adding to the atmosphere and all of the characters are well drawn and animated.
Most of the characters remain well defined and unique, with the exception of the Major's story arc becoming a little too predictable during the second half of the series. I also couldn't help feeling that they made the Major a little too overbearing in 2nd Gig, in the first series she was elite, but it just seemed like in 2nd Gig they had to make her out to be too good and she lost some of the rapport she had with the other characters as a result.
In summary, 2nd Gig looks and sounds as good as the first series, but it lacks uniqueness and quality. I would recommend the first few and last few episodes as they were the best and whilst I would recommend watching this series before the Solid State Society film it is not particularly necessary.
Overall: This is actually one of my favorite anime series, when you watch it right after GitS:SAC, it flows pretty well. If you like a pretty deep sci-fi psychological action thriller, then GitS:SAC 2nd G will do well in pleasing you.
Story: I thought the story was quite good, though it does not top the original SAC story, it did make quite an impression however. There were plenty of twists in the story to keep you guessing all the way till the end. One thing to look out for is the explaining, they usually spend a decent amount of time explaining situations, so be prepared for
lots of dialog.
Art: well its GitS, the art is very good and fluid, considering that it gets about 30million yen/ episode budget. The backgrounds and scenes are colorful and rich, they almost always fit the mood as well.
Sound: there are no complaints on part of the sound, the opening and closing are pretty catchy. The BGM is usually right on the spot.
Characters: All the characters all get some time in the limelight, so you learn even more about them. you wont really find any shallow characters in GitS, all of them have unique personalities and pasts.
Enjoyment: I really loved this series, and it fulfilled pretty much all my expectations that I had from the first season. I recommend this to pretty much anyone that likes action and thinking as well.
I love the complex story telling. Even though there are a lot of twists in the plot, in the ends it easily merges and effortlessly tells the story.
The sound perfectly conveys the mood of a particular moment whether it is poignant, action filled, suspense. I gave the highest points to both story and sound because much effort has been put into it as evidenced by watching 2nd Gig.
I love the animation, I just hope they kept it more realistic like in the movie or the series' first season. Sometimes Motoko's eyes are too big, she often looks like an anime (well?) character
because of the exaggerated features.
Overall it is a brilliant piece of cyber punk anime, one you could categorize as the thinking man's anime! Loved it very much and I recommend it to everyone.
Continuing off from the first season, Ghost in the Shell 2nd GIG effectively makes itself into a political thriller series where what comes across at first sight as Section 9 trying to halt terrorist activity turns into an elaborate political conspiracy that once again pushes Section 9 to its limit in trying to halt. Much like the first season, 2nd GIG explores what appears to be a typical case for Section 9 to get involved in. But as they uncover more holes in facts being shown on the surface with said case, they become entangled in something much bigger than originally anticipated. In this case,
the situation uncovered by Section 9 slowly develops to involve multiple factions trying to push events for their own cause resulting in things getting increasingly chaotic as events press on throughout the series thus creating an intense political situation offering enough to keep you hooked on the developments and tensions from start to finish. I've heard of some folks criticizing the plot developments being too complex to follow and considering it a negative. But with the build up of the mounting situation and how it eventually escalates, I'd say the complex developments were more than welcome as it showed just how messy the tensions between factions within this season of Ghost in the Shell would ignite as they continued to be left unresolved.
Much like the first season, characterization isn't the prominent focus of Ghost in the Shell. However it does provide some interesting fleshing out of Motoko and a few members of Section 9 in the show's filler episodes. In particular, what is revealed about Motoko's past becomes connected to the tense plot developments building up when she uncovers some shocking information on one of the main foes being targeted in this season. Said major foe also gets better fleshed out compared to The Laughing Man from the first season. The Tachikomas are also shown to become more sentient throughout this season as well, also playing a major role in the tensions that escalate towards the second half of this series. Other than that, 2nd GIG still tends to downplay characterization with some characters in Section 9 hardly being fleshed out thus leaving the viewer to care more about being hooked on the plot than characters as a whole.
Ghost in the Shell SAC: 2nd GIG still retains the high-quality production values that it had from the first season. The show features a great blending of CG and cel-shaded animation that immerse together almost seamlessly. Animation tends to move at a very fluid pace with the highlights for it being scenes where characters move about in the world of the Net and while not as plentiful as the last season, action scenes. Plenty of detail was put into the design of scenery, character designs and the CG renderings of robotic tanks like the Tachikoma. Once again, Yoko Kanno lends her music composing talents to the series featuring a great quality soundtrack where musical tracks fit in perfectly with the tense situations that develop throughout 2nd GIG.
Retaining the excellent production values of the first season combined with an addicting political thriller style plot that further escalates as events progress, Ghost in the Shell 2nd GIG proved to be quite the worthwhile watch for me and I hope to get similar enjoyment out of seeing the Solid State Society movie when I get a chance to see it at some point.
Ghost in the Shell 2nd gig, second part of the Stand Alone Complex story-line of the Ghost in the shell franchise, is one of those anime which aren't usually talked about much, but of course, you might have heard about it but not too many discussions around. Now does it deserve more recognition or it just wasn't worth noting? Oh who am I kidding, I gave it a 9, of course it does, its not perfect though, but still close.
This is the 2nd part of the Stand Alone Complex story-line, so you would expect some improvements over the first part/season, and thats just what
it did. The series had quite a cast of characters, and it's quite visible that they put some effort into making them all distinct, and unique, they did quite a job at that. The main plot focuses on only The major (Motoko Kusanagi), Togusa and Batou, and in the first season they left the rest of the team left out, however, in 2nd Gig, they tried to fix that and they made some time for some of the other characters. Although they left out two of the team (Borma and Ishikawa), but nevertheless, they did a good job with the other characters.
The story is mainly episodic but, unlike the first season, this time, they actually all get connected nearing the end. I felt like shows a lot of Motokos past, along with some of the other characters, making them more memorable, the only complaint I have on this, is the lack of screen-time for the supporting characters, but still that didn't stop them from being distinct or memorable. Some of the side characters had their own episodes showing their pasts, but during actual events they don't really show much. The villain is amazing, the story itself connected really well and went smoothly, even though it has a lot to do with politics, and cyberpunk themes at the same time, it makes it interesting.
The concept of a "Stand Alone Complex" is great, its may give people who don't like episodic in general some ammo to dislike the concept, especially in first season, but in this, its more connected, the singular stories are even better, and you would just know how important every episode is while you watch it.
There's not much to say about the animation and music. The OST was brilliant, done by Yoko Kanno, it is beautiful, I could listen to nearly every track in the OST alone, and the opening "Rise" by Origa added a great touch to the anime, and better yet, the opening video isn't in that hideous 3D animation like the first season, its animated just like the rest of the show, it fits perfectly and gets you excited for the anime, and as for the ending "Living inside the shell" by Steve Conte, was not only one of my favourite endings, but also one of my favourite songs in general, I loved his vocals from the Cowboy Bebop OST, actually, I think 2nd Gigs OST rivals cowboy bebop. The only issue I found in the music was that the ending didn't have any animation, if they had anything for us to see like pictures of the characters like the first season, but still, a great song, and nearly all the music in the OST is amazing.
The animation was quite fluid, and its art style really fit the show and the theme, but for some reason, I didn't really notice or just stop to look at the animation or the art in general, except on some parts where you would notice how beautiful the faces were made, but at other times its just bland, doesen't really captivate you, but still pretty goodlooking.
In overall, this is not only good for its own story, it gave us a whole new story and still somehow maintained a good link with the first one, fixed nearly all the flaws of the first part, such as showing more of Section 9 team, and making the villain much better, it didn't exactly go all the way to making a perfect anime, but its still amazing and I highly recommend it.
The first part is still amazing, this just gets better.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is back with a second season! What's so different about it from the first season? Nothing, yet everthing! 2nd GIG does sport a more straight forward and engaging main case, compared to the Laughing Man of the first season. While the Laughing Man had a lot of scientific themes such as data manipulation and whatnot, the case of the Individual Eleven is much more action and drama oriented, which made it simpler yet more impactful than the Laughing Man case.
2nd GIG also explores the pasts of the members of Section
9, ranging from hints to Motoko's mysterious past, to the stories of side characters like Pazu and Saito. Even the Tachikomas, who were thought to have been wiped out in the past season, make a triumphant return, and they gain even more of the spotlight! Each of the new cases in 2nd GIG, both the single episode and the longer ones, felt personal on some sort of level with the characters, especially with Motoko and Batou. 2nd GIG really highlights the emotions behind some of these cases, while the first season highlighted the tactics and technology.
- A bit easier to understand story!
- Badass cast of characters are back in action, and this time, they get fleshed out a lot!
- Incredibly high quality art and animation!
- Kick ass soundtrack is back, and although I prefered the OP of the first season, this season's OP is also pretty good.
- Still holds the Ghost in the Shell charm of philosophical themes!
- Dives even more into the theme of an overly cyberized society.
- Less complex than the first season.
- Stuffs in most of the juicy parts of the main storyline into the last few episodes.
- I find this to be a positive, but there are a lot of tachikoma fillers. This may throw off some viewers.
As stated before, 2nd GIG is the more emotional part of the Stand Alone Complex story line. While it does still dive into a lot of sci-fi themes like the first season, especially hacking, 2nd GIG focuses more on the personal reasons of the members of Section 9. A lot of the cases showcase one of the members taking it extremely personally, whether it be because of a member's past or their basic beliefs in life. The story of 2nd GIG really mixed in well character development, sci-fi themes, and engaging and thrilling action.
The Ghost in the Shell franchise as a whole is well known for having ahead of its time art and animation. It manages to portray action both engagingly and realistically. There are very few filters during action scenes. The action scenes are very down to earth and well choreographed, resulting in a lot of awesome hand to hand combat scenes, gun shootouts, explosions, and bloodshed.
Just like the first season, 2nd GIG has an incredible hype generating soundtrack during action scenes, mood fitting soundtrack during the suspenseful scenes, and even has a lighthearted soundtrack during comedic tachikoma scenes. Ghost in the Shell always had a knack for supporting the mood of a scene incredibly well with its music. The sound effects and voice acting are incredibly on point as well.
The already lovable and badass Section 9 is fleshed out even further due to the more emotionally based story. A lot of stories about the pasts of the members are explored, with some episodes dedicated to the backstory of a member. Major Motoko also reveals snippets of her enigmatic past through the case of the Individual Eleven, and it reveals that she really is 100% human, despite her cyborg body. Batou is shown again to be easily influenced by his emotions during cases, as he lets his emotions guide him when he does his job, sometimes resulting in him going against orders. These little depictions of personal emotions really humanizes the cast, making them even more lovable.
The Ghost in the Shell franchise is just an incredibly fun to watch series! It masterfully executes both thought provoking themes and thrilling action, so it's the best of both worlds!
I think that 2nd GIG was a bit better than the first season, but both were definitely masterpieces in their own ways. 2nd GIG will definitely appeal to fans of more emotionally driven shows, while the first season will appeal to those who like fancy terminology and sci-fi.
2nd Gig is a continuation of Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex. They're so similar I'd rather just talk about their differences here. The atmosphere, execution, and characters are all the same. The only thing that really changes is the story. The story in 2nd Gig is simply worse, which is weird. It feels just as epic and dense, but it's not. The music, the directing, the monologues, they're all there. But, the substance is missing. It feels like a Shell of it's predecessor, missing its Ghost. I know I said earlier that the characters were the same, but that's really the missing factor. The
Laughing Man is an incredible, plot driving mastermind with amazing convictions and self righteousness, while the Individual Eleven are just... bleh. 2nd Gig tries to make this "Jesus" character, but it fails tremendously. Maybe it just didn't sit right with me, personally, but that's how I feel. Don't hurt me.
Okay, this series is still very much so worth a watch, especially if you already like the Ghost in the Shell universe. It's beautiful, with a compelling story and set of characters.
(This is a spoiler-free review adapted for this site)
[Synopsis]: The second season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex takes place two years after the resolution of the Laughing Man incident – After resolving a hostage crisis Section 9 becomes reinstated under a new Prime Minister however becomes involved with an enigmatic terrorist organization called the ‘Individual Eleven’. Between this new terrorist threat and the numerous refugees in Japan left over from the aftermath of the Third and Fourth World Wars who’s rebellious sentiments have been stirred by recent events, Japan has turned into a powder keg and as the story unfolds it becomes
clear that some of those in power are manipulating both the government and the refugees towards an all out war. Kusanagi Motoko (Tanaka, Atsuko) and Section 9 aim to uncover the circumstances surrounding the Individual Eleven and resolve the tense relations with the refugees before the situation turns to outright bloodshed.
To speak firstly about the cast as a whole and to compare it’s composition and qualities to that of the first season – Section 9 remains, for the most part, unchanged and features all the familiar and iconic faces it had previously. One major difference I noted was Togusa’s involvement this time around was lessened considerably in comparison to his presence in the prior season where he acted as the driving force within the Laughing Man investigation and so those who enjoyed him and his family man dynamic will be disheartened to know that, while he is still around, he stands out about as much as Pazu or Borma. Chief Aramaki’s presence is also somewhat diminished this time around as the story focuses more on Motoko as well as the the antagonistic characters in the show such as Kazundo Gouda and Kuze Hideo. I think this change worked excellently for the show as the antagonist of the previous season was shrouded in mystery almost entirely throughout and so this more insightful and universal approach caused me to become more invested in the characters outside of Section 9.
Kusanagi Motoko remains the portrait of badass and intelligence she exemplified in the previous season however this season does investigate her character to a greater degree if only slightly. Some of her background story is revealed and while it ties in to the plot at hand Ghost in the Shell does not press this fact and rather allows it to exist without drawing attention to it which I found to be the most tactful method to represent this feature – this creates a situation where we know slightly more about the character however it causes no great impact to the story which is the case with a handful of other character investigations done throughout the season in the ‘stand alone- episodes. This season attempts to shed a bit more light on Motoko’s humanity in comparison to her usual cybernetic perfection however it’s hard to introduce believable flaws in such a character and so while we ultimately know more about her the viewer’s perception of her does not change in significant ways nor does this additional information factor heavily into the story.
The rest of the familiar cast is pretty much unchanged the previous installment – similar to the first season, Ghost in the Shell comes off fairly light in the character development department and opts to instead portray realistic and compelling characters that remain static while exploring their histories and backstories to better understand them as they are in lieu of any progression of their personality.
In the area of art and animation there are two things that come immediately to mind that contrast well with the first season – the first of which is the use of CGI. While the show still utilized it to create a handful of vehicles and occasional technological interfaces I found that it was slightly more sparse in this season and when it was used it blended in better than last time. This is not to say that the previous season used CG poorly and I would say that Ghost in the Shell used this technique fairly well given it’s world setting and that this season only showed an improvement in this.
Secondly, the character designs which would occasionally drop in quality in noticeable ways last season I think were far more consistent in their depiction this time around and while there are the occasional distant shots which lack the more intricate character details I think that the character designs were far better represented and executed this season which I feel is an important area of visual success in this category. Beyond those two things of note not much about the style or approach has changed since the first 26 episodes. The camera work is refreshing and interesting and the cyberpunk setting is expertly delivered.
The first and most important thing to talk about in respect to the story is the episode format used in this season. Whereas the previous season used two different episode types (Stand Alone in order to explore the world, concepts, and characters alongside Complex which focused on the progression of the main story) this season featured 3 different episode types: Dividual, Individual, and Dual. While it may seem that the ‘Individual’ episodes may take the place of the ‘Stand Alone’ episodes insofar as purpose this is actually the opposite of what they represent as they focus instead on the ‘Individual Eleven’ and on the main plot while the ‘Dividual’ episodes explored independent story-lines and self-contained plots. The dual episodes focus on the Cabinet Intelligence Service as well as the character of Kazundo Gouda and while they are differentiated from the ‘Individual’ episodes they are almost all relevant to the immediate plot. While the episodic structure of Ghost in the Shell is nothing new after the last season I would say that it is in this area where the greatest change in the story structure of the show takes place. In the first season the ‘Stand Alone’ episodes truly had next to nothing to do with the plot at hand and focused entirely on the stories they introduced however this changes in this season.
The ‘Dividual’ episodes do stray somewhat from the plot and some do commit fully to their independent stories however a great deal of them (and this includes the Dual episodes as well) come about at least within the context of the overarching story and often will reveal relevant information to the main plot despite being focused elsewhere. The gravity of this information is somewhat diminished because of the nature of the episodes and their impact is not felt nearly as much as a true ‘Indivudal’ episode however the end product of this approach is that the whole of this season’s 26 episodes feel far more continuous and referential to each other in comparison to the stand alone nature of the first season’s episodic format. I think this worked extremely well for the show and I found it to be a more enjoyable approach as, instead of exploring the world, the more independent stories explored the implications and context of the refugees and the characters which gave the story and the plot a considerably more fleshed out feeling as it approached its climactic finale.
In regards to the story itself I myself found this season just as compelling as the prior if not more so. The show’s heightened interest in it’s characters helped dismiss one of my qualms about the first season in it’s lack of character development and insight. We get a couple of background stories concerning the members of Section 9 it helps characters like Saito and Pazu stand out a bit better once we get to know them a bit better. While it is not in the style of Ghost in the Shell to present a ‘Big Bad’ at the end of the road for Section 9 to confront this season does present a couple of concrete, antagonistic personalities which I felt was different in nature from the Laughing Man who, while technically a singular person, was explored more vaguely as an abstract product of a stand alone complex. I liked this somewhat more traditional approach and the additional insight into the antagonists’ motives and plans made them feel more compelling as characters in their own right. Lastly, the culmination of the story is delivered in a similar manner to that of season 1 in that the ‘Individual’ and ‘Dual’ episodes come in quick succession at the end in order to maintain momentum and the actual content of the finale I found to be cumulative and exciting.
Not much of note changes in this department between the two seasons and those that enjoyed the music of the first installment will no doubt enjoy the music of this season as well. The few things I can make note of are that it felt like there may have been fewer insert songs in this season than in the last and that, when it came time to play up the action of the moment or the severity of the event, this season brought out the big guns and I felt that it did a better job of presenting a successful marriage of music and action than the first season. This not to disregard Ghost in the Shell‘s earlier utilization if it’s soundtrack but rather impress upon the greater success exhibited in this second season.
[Final Thoughts and Rating]:
To express my sentiments in a complete manner, I think that the second season of Ghost in the Shell both lived up to the good points of its predecessor and, in my opinion, ultimately came off as more enjoyable and exciting. My reasons for the latter sentiment are rooted in the various art improvements of this season, it’s interesting plot and more connected episodic structure as well as the small insights into the characters we receive. I feel like these reasons are quite contestable as the plot came off as slightly more traditional in nature than the first season and some people may have preferred to value the characters at a greater distance than what I would desire however I feel this season still exhibited what made the first season enjoyable.
I gave Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG a 7 because of its compelling cast of characters, interesting plot, and it’s cumulative finale. What stops the show from rising any higher in my opinion is firstly the lack of character insight which is a problem I had with the first season. This was somewhat offset by the nuggets of information we received about Mokoto and the members of Section 9 this season however as a viewer I almost always desire to see the characters fully fleshed out and explored so that I can understand them and their actions more completely however this want does not agree with the style of Ghost in the Shell which in all technicality is my own shortcoming and not a true negative aspect of the show but some of my reasoning none the less. This is not to be confused a lack of character development – I think that the show works well without featuring notable character development however greater insight into why the way each character was the way they were I feel would have gone a long way given that many of the characters were already enjoyable.
I would most obviously recommend the show to anyone who has seen the first season of the show as well as any fan of Sci-Fi for the same reasons I would recommend the prior season – It’s a staple within the genre and delivers its premise and setting extremely well. There is plenty of action throughout this season of the show however It’s not at the forefront of the show’s agenda and so it may not be there every episode like it might be for something that fully exhibits that genre tag. The plot is fairly intricate and has a handful of revelations and so the story is pretty compelling in this way and I would recommend the show for this reason.
Stand Alone Complex was based on Yoshiki Sakurai’s 2001 Media Ecology dissertation “The Whereabouts of the Other in the Future of Human-Robot Interaction” (「他我を宿す条件 ～人間・ロボット間コミュニケーションの行方～」).
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.
Masterpiece. Again. And just gotta love the last episode, like ep6 of Star Wars: when all the pieces of a brilliant 3D-puzzle fall into place. Quite overwhelming really, having to arrive to understand what everything's been about, even the details that made no sense earlier...but that's just like the first series, too. Same with how they close all the plotlines at the end, no open questions, no events left hanging in the air. Same with the complexity as well, woven together from many abstract layers, a feast for thought.
And just like the first series, this one's sure to make a few re-watch as well. Too
deep, to full - too complex. And that's the best damn characteristic of GitS.
Once more into the Stand Alone Complex cyber rabbit hole we go...
The 2nd season of Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex or "Ghost In The Shell S.A.C. 2nd GIG" once again follows Section 9 after their re-establishment by the new Japanese Prime Minister Youko Kayabuki to combat cyber-terrorism in the form of the Individual Eleven...or are the Individual Eleven the REAL villains here?...
Just like LA's first season review, S.A.C 2nd GIG has it's own form of episodes; individual, dividual and dual. The individual episodes concerns the Individual Eleven, the dividual episodes are stand alone episodes that have development towards the Section 9 members (from
the Tachikoma's creation, Pazu, Togusa gets into a courtroom case to his justice being conflicted, how Saito got recruited to Section 9 and hell MOTOKO herself gets a vague one concerning her backstory *cough* if that's how you see it *cough* it becomes connected to one of the Individual Eleven later *cough* *cough*), the dividual episodes as usual have some relation to the major plotlines of the Individual Eleven and dual episodes. Dual episodes have relations to the CIS (Cabinet Intelligence Service) and a new character by the name of Gouda Kazundo voiced by Ken Nishida, the head of CIS.
Now this season may have some new elements towards the Individual Eleven and CIS however the anime has more in common with the framework of the Laughing Man incident, what does LA mean?...well...let's start off with the fact that once again there is a cyber-terrorist with good intentions (Laughing Man and Individual Eleven), a huge incident happens to Section 9 that incapacitates them, obligatory Tachikoma development episode, the government is the main culprit through corrupted back dealings that MADE these cyber-terrorist do what they did. Yes if anything the second season had similar plot beats to the Laughing Man incident right down to the major shifts in the plot. Nonetheless even the main characters point out how similar the situation in S.A.C. 2nd GIG is to the Laughing Man incident, though even the similarities to the Laughing Man has plot significance concerning the REAL villain of the anime. Finally, Motoko gains a connection towards our anti-villain of the anime? (but this time through her BACKSTORY!, not in a collective belief way, hint: paper cranes)...yeah it's in this season too.
Where the anime deviates in some ways is the obvious new criminal organization of Individual Eleven and the CIS and their new goal as well as some majorly needed development from the rest of Section 9 AS WELL AS Motoko which was a surprise (though in some ways having Motoko vaguely telling her backstory kinda removes the mysteriousness about her, but nonetheless it becomes double edged now that LA thinks on it...LA kinda saw both sides to this but overall wanted this kind of development from Motoko since the 1995 Movie). Finally it deviates all due to the semantics of dual episodes in the form of Gouda but he has his own problems in terms of plot and atmosphere.
Well on speaking of problems, aside form the plot beat framework of the Laughing Man incident, S.A.C. 2nd GIG just like it's first season has some lull moments and talk of existentialism and "what's truely human nature or cyborg's nature be like human" which may obviously bore people, thinking this anime is more action than talking (something LA picked up from this season...yes it took LA THIS long to realize), but to S.A.C. 2nd GIG's defense, if the serious topics of refugee crisises, stand alone complexes, terrorism for the greater good as well as Motoko's development is anything to go by, the anime still has material that might interest you. The next problem LA kinda had with S.A.C. 2nd GIG was Gouda as a character...if ANYBODY saw him...you can easily say that "YUP, he's the villain, that mug can kill a puppy!"...and although he himself is complex in his doings...he is essentially the Big Bad behind the Big Bad, if anything Kuze, one of the Individual Eleven is the more interesting villain of S.A.C. 2nd GIG, Gouda is typical evil government personal, this is entirely LA's opinions on the guy but even the red herring of this anime can't excuse this kind of character and what LA calls a diminishing plot point all the way through the second season. The only defense LA will say to Gouda is that he himself does get slightly interesting concerning his involvement with the stand alone complex issues and Kuze in some form, but other than that...he's an eye rollingly "off" villain for Ghost in the Shell. Finally, once again this is something that came into attention for LA in S.A.C. 2nd GIG but it concerns Motoko, as in she is the all mighty janitor concerning most of the dividual and some of the individual episodes (mainly character-centric episodes with Batou, Pazu and Togusa), Motoko essentially is the one that resolves most of the problems that arises in those dividual episodes and yes, she is the "Major" and she is the main character of the entire series and all but because of her constant involvement at times, she also ROBS some of Section 9 of their glory at times and that can get annoying. Any defense to this?...YES, as much as Motoko is all mighty janitor she too has her limits (and what with her vague backstory that helps open herself up outside form her cold tactical ways), she at one point of the anime DOES screw up HORRIBLY making her deflect the "all mighty janitor" flaw from her.
In terms of animation, the animation done once again by Production I.G has some top notch animation all the way round (once again typical), from the character designs, the tech to even the rare battles are gloriously detailed and pretty detailed all the way round. The animation however does have it's own rare times where the animation gets ever so slightly derpy with it's facial expressions to characters on the background but concerning the consistency throughout the anime, it's something that can be given a bit of grace as the derpy moments were "rare". Overall, typical Production I.G but typically GREAT from Production I.G.
In terms of voice acting, once again, LA had no qualms with the voice acting but special mentions goes to Rikiya Koyama as Kuze. Atsuko Tanaka as Motoko and Akio Ootsuka as Batou were great as usual. Nonetheless the voice acting is typically great even in this high end production anime. As for the soundtrack, the soundtrack and OST fitted the mood perfectly, from dramatically intense to cerebrally serene to tech poppy when it needs to but it was to the point that LA could just see the soundtrack as a bonus to the atmosphere but no so much the focus which is kinda the point. The OP "Rise" by Origa was probably LA more favourable OP from the Stand Alone Complex series (though the first season's OP was good as well, LA just liked Rise a bit more).
The final arc had gotten mixed feelings for LA, although the ending did not follow the same framework as the Laughing Man incident's finale it did have it's fair share of problems, but if there was ANYTHING to go by, the ending went from bad to worse to chaotic in terms of the three factions (CIS, JSDA and Section 9) going at it and that means LOTS of shootouts to hacking all around, LA would say it was a reward for going through all the talking and scheming it took just to get to this kind of ending, next would be the many tiny detailed call backs to the previous dividual and individual episodes that gets called on to the finale (from the Tachikoma's, Motoko and Kuze to all the way back from Episode 1!!!), finally this second season's finale DID NOT end in an anti-climax with it's handling of the crisis point and rather well done pacing with how it balanced it's "talking" with it's action to culminate in it's finale and the resolutions from both our main villains comes to a pass and to that LA can easily say that yes..Gouda FINALLY gets his comeuppance in such a liberating way, something the Laughing Man incident didn't even get to do. But as to what made this ending kinda mixed for LA, was most probably and obviously Gouda himself, sure it has the entire "corrupted government official" villain scthick with him and that's for the course for Ghost in the Shell let alone Stand Alone Complex, but it's just how blatantly evil he gets and pretty much pronouncing he's the bad guy...Motoko stopping his plans while trying to help the anti-villain kinda dampened the experience to what was a bombastic conflict that arose all through Gouda himself. Overall, the ending was still mixed for LA but it did go out with a bang......though the Jesus allegory was a tad on the nose don't ya think?.
LA was pretty skeptical about this second season what with LA constantly comparing it to it's first season and LA had HUGE beef with this second season essentially taking the same framework and major plot beats of it's first season as well as one of the major villains being rather "off" to the entire Ghost in the Shell franchise and everything but as much as LA had grips with those elements, the second season still provides a solid plot once again concerning Stand Alone Complexes let alone diving deeper into one, character development what once again were sorely needed to Section 9 and especially with Motoko as well as pretty consistently decent to great animation typical of Production I.G for this second season to have it's own identity in a sense, ironic since LA was barking at this second season for being a clone of the first season, this is justifiable because even it's first season had problems of it's own (and wasn't perfect is what LA is getting at) and this second season had it's own strengths from our anti-villain Kuze and it's weaknesses from the blatantly obvious villain, Gouda. Ghost in the Shell S.A.C 2nd GiG is overall a decent second season, trying things in a new direction of flaws and strengths but keeping to old traditions.
Arguably one of the greatest anime films of all time, Ghost in the Shell pushed the boundaries of modern science fiction, building upon the cyberpunk genre invented by William Gibson in his momentous novel Neuromancer. It inspired The Matrix, and also inspired an anime television series that was both complex and smart without being too convoluted. Ghost in the Shell’s futuristic world is something so beautifully complex and realistic, it’s like a sci-fi author’s wet dream. With Second Gig, there is a lot to live up to. Made exclusively for Adult Swim (back when Adult Swim actually played good stuff and was not a nightly
parade of Family Guy and King of the Hill reruns), Second Gig is arguably better than its predecessor.
The story is complex. Very complex. There are multiple layers to what happens and while overall the idea and the main story are not that hard to understand, it’s the fact that you are entering a whole new world that makes it so complex. There are new types of crimes, there have been World Wars that have changed everything. This rich back story and all of the science involved makes Ghost in the Shell as great as it is.
Second Gig revolves around an island containing refugees from the previous World War who are getting riled up by an apparent leader and a group known as the Individual Eleven. This leader is a very philosophical and ideological man who doesn’t know that he isn’t the only lead player on his side. There’s a lot of things going on and the refugees, wanting the island they occupy to be considered an individual nation from Japan, embark on terrorist actions and all kinds of violence and cyber-warfare to get it. In order to quell this rebellion, the Prime Minister calls in Section Nine led by Arimaki. What seems to be a rebellion turns into total warfare and more and more players join the battle, making things more and more complicated.
The story of Second Gig, to me, is a lot better than the Laughing Man arc of the previous season. First of all, it stretches across pretty much the whole season and doesn’t leave a lot of episodes that feel like filler, unlike the first season that had maybe eight or nine main story episodes and a bunch of inconsequential ones between. Secondly, the drama that is built up toward the final episodes is really good and keeps you glued to your seat. While the finale isn’t amazingly action packed and violent, it’s still really fun to watch and a great conclusion. And if you’re watching Ghost in the Shell for action, you’re watching it for the wrong reasons.
The story also contains everything you’d expect. Lots of philosophy. Lots of science. While questions are not directly asked within the series, you as the viewer are made to ask some questions, the simplest of which is “What is human”? Is a cyborg human? It’s very effective in that way without feeling forced.
The animation is decent, but not great. Character designs are cool but they don’t look particularly good. The sci-fi elements such as the Tachikomas and the helicopters look great and the city looks especially good at points. Otherwise, animation isn’t the strong-suit here.
Sound on the other hand is really good. The opening, I felt, was better than the previous season’s. The ending song is good. The music during the show is, you guessed it, good. The American voice actors aren’t bad either, though Kusanagi’s voice actor was not as good as everyone else. She was just kind of blah.
The characters are hard to really differentiate between (like I typically do with my reviews) because they were all pretty basic. They each had an individual personality but, for me, none of the characters took on a life of his or her own. And this isn’t particularly bad because Ghost in the Shell is more plot based than character based. While Kusanagi does have a bit of time to reflect on her past and this does give her more depth, it’s not a lot. All the members of Section Nine are cool, but none you can really invest yourself in. Meanwhile, the bad guy, Hideo Kuze, is actually the most three dimensional of the characters. His story is pretty likeable and his intentions fairly noble. You’ll either love him for his ideology and who he is or you’ll hate him for it. Which is why he’s such a great character and a great bad guy in a political situation. It’s one of the most effective parts of Second Gig; you can support either side and feel a little bit more invested in the world the show portrays. That’s the thing, you don’t invest yourself in the characters, you more so invest yourself in the world.
Overall the focus on politics, philosophy, science, and warfare is a great step forward from the first season that seemed to focus more on showing you the science. The Laughing Man case was good, but the Individual Eleven case is complex, full of twists and turns, and fun to watch. While the series may fail in the character department, the characters are distinct enough that you won’t care. It’s the plot that matters, and Second Gig delivers there.
Usually a second season of a show puts me off, I mean that's a whole lot of episodes to watch. 26 is my sweet spot, but 52? I watched the first season and could not start this fast enough, and the craziest thing happened: season 2 was even better than season 1.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex second Gig is, again, a tightly packed action/thriller. The premise of the show is sort of simple, there is a refugee crisis, a low pay work surplus, and mass immigration into Japan. Think civil unrest, and confusion between whether terrorists are locals, refugees, or even something new.
Again, Major Motoko Kusanagi and Section 9 attempt to stop the crisis that is facing society: Civil War. I sure hope there's no conspiracy to spark unrest going on in the background...
Again, there are stand alone episodes, which expand the world and explore backstories, and complex episodes which are investigative and later battle focused in nature. Both types of episodes up their games even more than the previous series, managing to make you ask the questions rather than asking itself.
The story arc is top notch. Again, the major themes are big government involvement, inter-sectional infighting, cyber warfare, terrorism, some philosophy, but with new additions of civil unrest, war profiteering, failure of democracy, and the threat of nuclear destruction. You're getting a realistic uprising with all the trimmings: why it happens, how its funded, what it wants... All under the charismatic leadership of a freedom fighter, Kuze. Escalation is dealt with wonderfully, and mysteries are never too vague to become boring or repetitive.
The characters are expanded on, and the entire team get lines! Major characters such as Kusanagi, Goda, and Kuze have wonderful individualism and charm, for better or worse. Side characters not as included in this season as the last, meaning the focus for development stays on Section 9, Government Agencies, and Freedom Fighters. There is a lot more emotional charge behind people's motivations now, especially between the Major and the Freedom Fighter. By the end, no matter who loses, you'll know who they are, what they want, and why they deserve what they get.
The animation remains superb, with the exception of the weird 3D intro scene. The character design expands to include even more cyborgs, robots, machines... There are better scenic locations like the sunken parts of the old city, the ghettos that the refugees live in, and the high security contrast of the rich local Japanese government types. Action sequences become even more of a joy to watch You can almost feel the weight behind every punch, and the facial animations are superb (I'm looking at you here Goda). This is 2004 work at a 2010 level.
The sound is largely repeated, at least variations on a theme, from the first season. You've got guitar and bass, some brass, synth, lounge singing, up as far as choral music - and none of it feels out of place or forced into a scene. All I could have asked for is more strings, but I settled for how well the soundtrack could play my heartstrings. After I finished watching, I downloaded the 3 OSTs and now they're on constant rotation on my phone. That's pretty much the best compliment I can give any music.
The last season spent quite some time world building, meaning this season has a lot more time for strong plot and experimentation. Special mention to the stand alone episode with the "identity crisis" plot, that sums up the cyberpunk feeling of this show in 1 episode. By the time you finish episode 26, you'll won't be screaming Motoko, you'll just be screaming. With satisfaction. Batou's Gambit? Goda's plan? Kuze's freedom? The Tachikomas path? Squee. This is the Ghost in the Shell gold standard.
I didn't like SAC but SAC2 is in a whole another level. It's the same staff and they did a great job here.
There is improvements in everything, the art, the story, the characters, and I would say even the music (that was already great) got better - as the opening song felt connected to the anime and not taking on the existentialism of the movie.... even Motoko got an improvement in her wardrobe! I mean, looks like she got a pay rise and finally was able to buy some pants.
Some of the "stand alone" episodes were great with great plots and characters, like the second
episode that had all that Taxi Driver feeling on it - this one really got me into the SAC2 as it showed it wasn't going to be just another police drama - and the poker one was also great - is that story true? Maybe we will never know... although I think some episodes were very poor, like the one of the blind girl and the one of the young drug dealer, but still, there is a great improvement in all plot development and the stories told.
There is also lots of references to the manga, and stills a complete different serie from the manga and the movie, but unlike SAC, SAC2 is actually good and felt refreshing and got me excited to see what's next on Ghost In The Shell universe.