GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX review/preview
by David Blackwell
Years ago, I read a fantastic comic book known as GHOST IN THE SHELL. Dark Horse presented the GHOST IN THE SHELL magna
in the form of an 8 issue comic book series for the USA. I liked reading about the world of Tokyo in 2029 with cyborgs working
for a covert government agency. I loved the GHOST IN THE SHELL anime when I watched it on STARZ! years later, and now I have
seen three episodes of GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX- a 26 episode anime series now airing in Japan. 12 episodes
have aired via paid TV in Japan so far, but the series acts as a companion piece to the manga and the anime film.
Episode One shows a covert team made of humans and cyborgs trying to figure out why a government minister was taken hostage
by robot geishas. Episode 9 has most of the action take place in a futuristic chat room where people discuss and watch video
relating to "The Laughing Man". They are discussing whether a recent crime was done by "The Laughing Man"
who first popped up a few years ago leaving behind his symbol with his brand of crime. One of the people in the chat room
isn't who they appear to be. Is someone else also not what they appear to be? Is The Laughing Man in the chat room? It is
a very interesting episode even if it is a talking episode and there is even a jab at otakus.
Episode 10 has Batou remembering his past when he was working for the CIA as the team hunts down a serial killer that
the CIA want dead. Episode 11 has one of the team, Togusa, go undercover as an orderly at a facility that treats people with
serious cyberbrain closed shell syndrome to find out who has hacked into the Ministry of Health, labor, and Welfare's database
from the social welfare facility and finds that the patients talk about someone called "The Leader".
STAND ALONE COMPLEX is a very interesting series from the four 24 minute episodes I have watched. The animation is great.
It combines traditional animation with 3-D CGI animation. Each episode is overflowing with lots of story and even some rock/techno
music at times. I cringe at how much would have to be cut out and censored to air on American TV because this is definitely
not animation for kids.
GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX is a series with very mature subject matter with graphic situations, violence,
and graphic language. It would be a shame if this series aired on Cartoon network. This series is as great or greater than
the NEON GENESIS EVANGELION anime series (26 episodes and two movies). GITS: STAND ALONE COMPLEX is a thought provoking series
that shows a possible future in Tokyo of 2029 where the United States is the bad guy in the 2 of 3 episodes that I watched.
Of course, I do wonder if the Laughing Man will become a major villain like the Puppet Master was in the anime film. Will
the Leader show up again? Where is the series heading and will there be a major arc forming that will be resolved by episode
26? The series is in a world where people's brains get hacked like computers. Each episode adds to that world.
If aired by the right cable network, GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX could be as popular or more popular than
the last interesting mature sci-fi series to air on cable television, AEON FLUX. It is just too bad that more serious animation
can't make it on TV in the United States due to some thinking animation is just for kids. It is an attitude that needs to
be fixed and more should accept the possibilities and stories that animation tells can be more than kid stuff in the United
States. I like what Japan has done with their magna and anime. They offer a variety of material for various age groups from
kids stuff to teenage audiences to adult audiences.
GHOST IN THE SHELL: THE STAND ALONE COMPLEX deserves the biggest audience possible because this is a great anime series.
I hope ther eis another GHOST IN THE SHELL series after these 26 episodes. I can't wait for this series to come out on DVD
in the United States because the series has left me impressed so far.
this article (2.68) is (c)2003 David Blackwell and email any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE (7-7-2004): Season 1 starts being released to DVD by Manga Entertainment on July 27,2004. Season 2 is currently
airing in Japan. More info on the series can be found at http://www.ghostintheshell.tv/ and http://www.productionig.com/
The series is expected to start airing as part of Adult Swim (on Cartoon Network) in November 2004.