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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Kenji Kamiyama

U.S Voice Actors:
Bob Buchholz
Richard Epcar
Crispin Freeman

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What's it about
New government, new office, and a new aggressor... the continuing story of Ghost in The Shell: Stand Alone Complex takes a turn towards today's headlines as Section 9 faces a new terrorist cell called the Individual Eleven.
Is it good movie?
When I stepped up to the plate and agreed to review this monstrous boxed set, I was called a 'brave man'. I didn't think much of it, I consider myself to be a man of many tastes and really had no problem delving into what many consider to be a branch of one of the greatest anime series of all time, Ghost in the Shell.

With that being said, I'm pretty happy with my decision to grab a hold of this bad boy and try to wrangle it to the ground and crack its head open so you can all see what's going on. First, I apologize for the lengthy (and borrowed) description above, but I thought it would be much easier for a huge fan to try to explain what was going on rather than for me to do it. Essentially from what I gather, this show is basically a cyberpunk nightmare. Everyone has chips in their head and there are cyborgs going around, people literally plugging themselves into computers and all that jazz.

The whole thing spans across 7 DVDs and is really quite mind-blowing. We're talking over 10 hours worth of footage here. My complaints are not really against the show- from what I saw and understood, I really enjoyed. As I said before, I don't mind a challenge, but I think that my review of this show will end up disappointing true fans of the series because I'm really going in blind with absolutely no back story whatsoever. And unfortunately, having had a little bit of experience with anime-freak friends, story is everything, and most of these animes really don't ease the viewer in- they assume they already know.

From what I understood, the main plot of this flick revolves around Section 9, the awesome crew of people who work for the government to help clean up the city. They've been disbanded at the beginning of the series, but when a new terrorist faction called the Individual Eleven shows up taking hostages at the Chinese embassy, a whole new can of worms is opened and the government reassembles the team.

This isn't kids stuff. A lot of the Ghost in the Shell series deals with really heavy bureaucratic and social issues of a dismal future. I mean, entire 100 minute episodes can sometimes deal with government issues. Let's just say that the future doesn't look bright and technology isn't exactly favoured positively in this series. Technology has advanced, but society seems like it is about to fall apart.

The action in this set is good, and the animation is mesmerizing, but for someone who's just jumping into the series like me, again.. the learn curve is steep. There's a lot of political exposition, a lot of dialogue which didn't always make sense to me. There are a LOT of secondary characters too, this one doesn't dwell only on main characters, which can also confuse things sometimes. However, this can lead to interesting plot devices, such as the one in the second episode where things seem to take a 'Taxi Driver' like turn. And how could I review this without mentioning the Tachikomas? Those little robots are awesome.
Video / Audio
In terms of Video, I couldn't find a better looking disc if I tried. The widescreen transfer is simply gorgeous and I couldn't see a single thing wrong with it. Zero mistakes here.

Audio is also gorgeous, you can listen to 2.0 or Dolby 5.1 in Japanese or dubbed in English. If you have a Dolby system, you are in for an amazing treat. This series is very audio-oriented and you'll be in heaven.
The Extras
Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of extras that will blow your mind, and the ones that are there really don't offer a ton. All extras here are interviews. Most are short, between 5 and 10 minutes and the speaker is almost always foreign. You'll gain a lot of insight here though- throughout the massive set you get interviews with the Director, Writer, Art Director, Concept Artists, Designer, and Voice Actors. The interviews aren't compelling due to the foreign aspect, but they're very interesting and each member of the production crew seems passionate and intelligent. It's all pretty comprehensive by the time things are said and done, but the organization of things spread out the way they are makes things a bit frustrating. I'll list the interviews here, without going into specifics of each one.

Disc one: Interview #1: Kenji Kamiyama, Director Interview #2: Yusuke Takeda, Art Director & Hiroshi Kato, Conceptual Artist Trailers: Planetes, Mars Daybreak, Kai Doh Maru, Read or Die

Disc two: Interview: Parts 1 and 2 with Takayuki Goto and Tetsuya Nishio Trailers: Planetes, Mars Daybreak, Kai Doh Maru, Read or Die (again, I know)

Disc three: Interview - With Kenichi Takeshita and Toshiyuki Kono (Animation Director) Interview - With Kenji Kamiyama Trailers:Planetes, Mrs Daybreak, Kai Doh Maru, Read or Die

Disc four: Interview with Kenji Kamiyama (Director) , Toru Ohkawa (Saito) and Takeshi, Onozuka (Pazi) Interview with Sakiko Tamagawa (Tachikoma) and Yutaka Nakano (Ishikawa) Trailers: Planetes, Gundam Seed, Kai Doh Maru, Read or Die

Disc five: Interview With Kenji Kamiyama (Director), Atsuko Tanaka (Motoko), and Akio Ohtsuka (Batou) Interview With Kenji Kamiyama (Director), Koichi Yamadera (Togusa), and Taro Yamaguchi (Borma) Trailers: Planetes, Mars Daybreak, Kai Doh Maru, Read or Die

Disc six: Interview With Kenji Kamiyama (Director), Osamu Saka (Aramaki), Yoshiko Sakakibara (Prime Minister Kayabuki) Trailers: Mars Daybreak, Planetes, Read or Die, Kai Doh Maru

Disc seven: Interview With Kenji Kamiyama (Director), Ken Nishida (Gohda), and Rikiya Koyama (Kuze) Trailers: Planetes, Mars Daybreak, Kai Doh Maru, Read or Die
Last Call
Anime fans will already own this. It comes in a big box and it's a pretty box and has a TON of material. If you have never seen a Ghost in the Shell anime, don't start here. Start with the original anime film and then maybe move on to the first series of this season. From a production standpoint, it's a great series and I can tell that the series would be amazing if I knew everything that was going on. Unfortunately, I'm not a huge anime fan, but I was happy to have been immersed into this brilliant world of cyberpunk.
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