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Ghost In The Shell -
Stand Alone Complex: volume one
 
 
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Ghost In The Shell -
Stand Alone Complex
: volume two
voice cast: Atsuko Tanaka, Osamu Saka

director: Kenji Kamiyama

110 minutes (15) 2004
Manga DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by John Percival
This release details the ongoing story of female cyborg cop Major Motoko Kusanagi and the officers of Section 9. The super sharp hi-tech detective story delves deeper into the case of the Laughing Man, a super-hacker and assassin with a scary ability to crack open the commonplace brain implants of people, and use them as weapons.

A great aspect of this series as opposed to the Ghost In The Shell film is the time taken to explore the depths of each character. We are able to witness more about what has bought Motoko to where she is now. Why she had her first cyborg body at a young age and the effect this has had on her? Also question what is about her that is still human and apart from the pin-up figure of her cyborg body is there anything of her ghost or soul that still defines gender. Additionally we are privy to Motoko's off-duty hours and the friends she spends time with, although with some being cutesy girls lounging on beds in their underwear this may have more to do with the original audience than true character development.

As we would come to expect in each of the fast paced episodes certain subjects are tackled. In Missing Hearts, black market human organ trafficking is bought to fore. A young girl is given a heart transplant, but it appears that the donor's parents had not given permission for the surgery. Without the heart, the girl faces having a full cyborg body like Motoko did at her age, and the similarities between this girl and Motoko prove unsettling for the Major. It transpires that a group of medical students decided to augment their income by selling off the organs of patients. However their illicit deals bring them to the attention of local yakuza and Section 9. In this hi-tech future with an abundance of mechanical bodies and cyborg implants it is somewhat surprising that a market in human organs is even present. Yet even this does not remain untouched by the hand of future technology, as during the course of the investigation they visit an organ farm where bar-coded pigs are being reared, obviously to have their organs harvested for human patients. Interestingly the owner of the organ farm possesses an entirely mechanical body that looks like a metal box on stilts, nothing human-looking about it at all. It is suggested that even the Texan voice emitted from the box is false.

Along with the other episodes on this two-disc set we are presented with another piece of slick anime that is extremely hard to rival. It balances rather intriguingly deep content with perfectly fast paced action. The animation is bright, vivid and manages to resemble pieces of our own present world. The CGI elements of the animation are blended extremely well and add to the overall tone and effect. The Tachikoma crab-like robot tanks whose inquisitive nature and cute voices do provide some comic relief but they move brilliantly. I do hope they play a bigger part in future episodes.

The voice acting is extremely well done and always appropriate for the situation. All in all it is a pretty polished production of this brighter cyberpunk future. The episodes in this edition are Decoy, Meme, Idolater and Missing Hearts. On disc one the episodes are presented with Japanese and English audio tracks in both Dolby digital 5.1 surround and stereo 2.0. Also there is an interview with Osamu Saka who does the voice of Armaki, episodes and character profiles and image gallery. The second disc has the same episodes but this time with Japanese and English audio tracks in DTS 5.1 surround sound.
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