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Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

In the not so distant future, mankind has advanced to a state where complete body transplants from flesh to machine is possible. This allows for great increases in both physical and cybernetic prowess and blurring the lines between the two worlds. However, criminals can also make full use of such technology, leading to new and sometimes, very dangerous crimes. In response to such innovative new methods, the Japanese Government has established Section 9, an independently operating police unit which deals with such highly sensitive crimes. Led by Daisuke Aramaki and Motoko Kusanagi, Section 9 deals with such crimes over the entire social spectrum, usually with success. However, when faced with a new A level hacker nicknamed "The Laughing Man," the team is thrown into a dangerous cat and mouse game, following the hacker's trail as it leaves its mark on Japan. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
User Count36297
Favorites Count961
Start Date1st Oct 2002
Next ReleaseInvalid date
Popularity Rank248
Rating Rank330
Age RatingR
Age Rating Guide17+ (violence & profanity)
SubtypeTV
Statusfinished

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This anime in one word "amazing" its an anime with a futuristic setting and follows the major through the laughing man incident. It has a high energetic feel and is very action orientated with one of the most bad-ass female characters, it also has a great musical score by Yoko kanno and the animation quality is amazing for an anime from ten years ago and it really looks fantastic, the story is full of explosive action and has some surprising moments although not a perfect story it does have truly fantastic moments and if you are a fan of ghost in the shell then you'll love this and if not you'll love it anyway with enough happening to keep you absorbed and fully interested in the anime across the entire series and is a must watch for any anime fan. Although some characters do not feel fully explored they all add to the story in some way, all in all a must watch and a truly fantastic anime and comes highly recommended even if you just want to see the most bad-ass female character ever!!!!!!

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is an anime that needs no special introduction since it often gets praised as one of the most outstanding series ever created. The question is, what are the reasons for those high accolades and are they actually justified? Well, let's look into the matter to find out the truth. STORY While often claimed to be the best cyberpunk show ever, GITS SAC is ironically one of the less typical representatives of the genre. Although it does share the name, the main characters and the focus on cyber technologies with its famous predecessor, the Ghost in the Shell movie, this series doesn't continue the movie's plot, and the "punk" &amp; gloomy atmosphere is pretty much absent here since the creators decided to make the anime accessible to a general audience. Did they make it worse? I think, no. While the show indeed became a little more mainstream, it also gained a lot in the story department. The story takes place in **a society with amazing technologies**, precisely: - cyberbrain i.e. human brain with cybernetic augmentation that allows its user to have a mental interface with computer networks and thus communicate at distance, transmit &amp; download information directly into the brain or simply enter the net like virtual reality and operate there; - advanced prosthetics: in the world of GITS SAC not only one can replace injured limbs &amp; organs but also have an entirely new artificial body. Consequently, this technology permits cyberbrain users to transfer their minds from one body to another which makes it rather easy to prolong life or conceal a person's identity; - some other important innovations include robots with artificial intelligence; micromachines utilized to maintain connection between cyberbrain and computer networks; and thermo-optical camouflage used by special forces. Unsurprisingly, not only these technologies change the everyday life as we know it but they also alter people as such, blurring the line between man &amp; machine, virtual &amp; real worlds. Therefore, the story tackles quite a number of **thought-provoking matters**, from classic sci-fi themes (like the aforementioned artificial intelligence) to philosophic questions of [memetics][1] and [hyperreality][2], explaining how information is transferred in modern society and how it affects our perception of reality. All those topics gain importance every day due to rapid technological growth, which makes this futuristic series very relevant to our present world. That's why I highly recommend to watch it attentively as it will sure give you enough food for thought. However, even if you are not that much into philosophy or science, I believe you may still enjoy the show since it has **absolutely kickass action and one of the most thrilling detective plots ever**. Essentially, the series tells a story of Section 9, a police department which is more akin to FBI or CIA rather than simple police as its members are simultaneously proficient in the arts of combat, hacking and detective work. The main plotline revolves around their exciting chase after the Laughing Man - a highly-skilled hacker, accused of corporate terrorism and blackmailing. Eventually, the whole cat &amp; mouse game turns out even more complex and interesting than it looks at first, involving more parties and providing fantastic social commentary... but I won't elaborate on that to avoid spoiling: let's just say I'm not a tiny bit overrating the qualities of the story. Like most, this story has its obvious drawbacks. I presume, there are three of them: 1) **contradictory setting**. The anime focuses too much on cybernetics, therefore you get the setting where people have androids and crazy technologies like the ability to transfer one's mind to another body... and yet they drive 20th century cars and live in 20th century houses. It just doesn't work that way. However, the amaziness of plot twists and those questions &amp; technologies almost negates the setting issue, and soon you simply stop paying attention to it; 2) while the anime is clever indeed,<strong> it may occasionally feel pretentious, prolix and difficult to grasp</strong> as the characters happen to carry lengthy discussions overcomplicated with pathos and philosophy. Well, that's bearable considering all the things they say are very interesting and plot-related - it's just the complex presentation of ideas that needs some time to get used to. Not to mention the show isn't only about talking: it also has very dynamic action and some nice comic relief like robotic tanks that read books(!); 3) half of the series are<strong> stand-alone episodes </strong>that tend to disrupt the main story's flow and make the narrative somewhat choppy. Yet they aren't your typical fillers because those little stories are very memorable and they allow to explore the world, flesh out the characters and tackle the main topics from different perspectives. You won't have much trouble with this aspect of the show (in fact, you may even like it) if you're generally ok with episodic format. Overall, the aforementioned drawbacks are effectively compensated with the positives, and the story successfully blends intellectual matters and pure entertainment in a very original &amp; enjoyable way. ANIMATION Unlike some other great series, GITS SAC does not feature any unique art style; what makes its animation outstanding nonetheless is the overall quality. You would never think this show was produced in 2002: it still looks like a contemporary work and even<strong> better than many today's anime </strong>in terms of both drawing and cinematics. The latter becomes especially clear when the action kicks in: not only it has everything you could ask for (gunfights, car chases, hand-to-hand combat, mecha combat etc.) but the choreography is very impressive and pretty realistic at the same time. On another note, the animation employs quite a lot of CGI yet it doesn't spoil the picture at all - in fact, it gives everything a sort of robotic look that ideally fits the show,  and the 3D models of various machines blend perfectly with 2D character animation. In general, I wouldn't go as far as calling the animation a masterpiece yet the excellent rating seems more than appropriate here. SOUND Well, soundtracks are probably the strongest part of the whole Ghost in the Shell franchise. However, while the music in the movie is amazing indeed, there's not really much of it and all the tracks belong to the same style. GITS SAC takes a different approach: the soundtrack by [Yoko Kanno][3] is **very diverse, with songs in different moods, styles and languages, but of the same exceptional quality**. So, besides it's beautiful and breathtaking, it also provides you a great opportunity to find a song that best suits your personal taste. Needless to say, it gets a 10/10 score. CHARACTERS At first glance the cast resembles a regular special squad... except their commander is a lady dressed (or should I say undressed?) in a very peculiar way, and they also have wacky AI tanks with high-pitched voices for fire support. These fanservice and comic relief elements may initially feel wrong in a serious anime that GITS SAC is**.** However, as the show goes on and the characters get some time to prove themselves you inevitably start to appreciate both their personalities and genuine brilliance as special agents. Even Tachikomas (those AI tanks) have a number of interesting and really great moments of their own as they end up playing a much more important part in the show than mere comic relief. Speaking of the main cast, it basically consists of 4 characters: - Daisuke Aramaki, the chief of Section 9 with sharp analytical mind and plenty of experience &amp; political connections, which enable him to pull the strings behind the scenes and gain the necessary information for the team. Seldom directly involved into police operations, he still maintains control over his agents and coordinates their actions with guick &amp; authoritative decisions. He is fairly strict yet very loyal to his subordinates, often even risking his career to protect them;  - Motoko "Major" Kusanagi, the squad leader of Section 9 with exceptional fighting &amp; hacking skills, great intellectual abilities, and major curves on top of that. Undoubtedly, the most popular character among the fans although the way she's presented in the 1st season is probably less interesting than in the 2nd season or the original movie because this "version" of Kusanagi is TOTALLY badass with no flaws &amp; weaknesses at all, which makes her a bit too unrealistic in my opinion. Not that I don't like her though - of course, [I do][4]; - Batou, the second in command under Kusanagi who often acts as a tough guy of the team. Despite that, he is by no means an average brute - in fact, he is pretty clever and even quotes various philosophers from time to time; it's just that this role fits him because of his strength &amp; experience. He cares a lot about all his teammates including Tachikomas despite being fairly carefree on the surface, and he also has very interesting chemistry with Kusanagi which, however, never really goes in the romantic direction; - finally, Togusa - literally the most human member of the team as his body has no artificial parts, and his brain has almost no cybernetic augmentation either. In GITS movie, this was actually the main reason why he became a part of Section 9: they wanted to have at least one member with a non-computerized brain who was still able to think like a "normal" human so that they wouldn't end up thinking the same way and always had an alternative view on a problem. Unlike the movie however, the series provides no substantial ground for his inclusion in the squad. As a result, Togusa has no distinctive role and factually does the same job as Batou and The Major, often ending up weaker in comparison simply because he is not a cyborg and has no physical abilities of his colleagues. Nevertheless, this doesn't make him a worthless character: he is a good detective, as well as a very nice guy &amp; real family man, so he still adds more human qualities to the team, albeit in a different way. Overall, this quartette of protagonists is impressive, well-defined and fairly easy to sympathize with. The only remaining issues are they **don't get much development**, and we learn very little about their lives before joining Section 9. One reason is most of their development &amp; background exposition happens in the 2nd season; the other reason is the nature of the series as its primary focus lies on story, philosophy &amp; action. Eventually, that doesn't become a serious problem because the main characters are fitting for this kind of show just the way they are; I only wish the other Section 9 members i.e. Ishikawa, Saito, Pazu and Borma got a bit more spotlight as they don't receive much attention throughout the series and seriously lack in presence department compared with the main cast. Thankfully, this issue is also fixed in the 2nd season where all four receive more opportunity to shine, with Saito and Pazu even getting personal episodes. As for the Laughing Man, I won't go into detail for obvious reasons - let's just say you'll be very surprised when you learn his actual role in the story. OVERALL As you could already guess, GITS SAC is one of my most favourite series and I highly recommend you to watch it in case you haven't. Bear in mind however that it strongly demands your thinking and attention to follow the story and appreciate its ideas. So, you'll need to use your brain quite a lot, and if you do, you'll certainly understand why <strong>this show belongs to the golden classics of anime </strong>and why it deserves the time I took to write this long review. [1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memetics [2]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperreality [3]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoko_kanno [4]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqmofWAAh1U

Ghost in the Shell: SAC is a prefect example of patience at work. The show at first has a slow pace but if say with it , you'll find a deep, dark,action-packed show that will leave you amazed! The story is entertaining and different from most of the police shows. Its about a special police unit called Section 9 as they investigate cyber-crime and terrorism cases; these cases often are connected to their pursuit of an elite "Super Class A" hacker and corporate terrorist known as "The Laughing Man."The animation and sound, especially the guns shots, explosions, robot sounds, all sound great.The Intro and Outro music is good too. All the characters are great, none where forgettable, and I like how everything tied together in the end.But the slow episode where unbearable at times but, after you get through them you'll love this show.It's no show that anyone should miss.

It’s an undeniable fact that the way information is delivered, received and processed has gone through a drastic change in the last couple of decades. With the advent of the Internet, the urge to know just about anything echoes in the manifolds of the Internet. Available information is acquired from various sources, where each source has a different story to tell on the same subject, even when the possession of such information can be considered unethical or even illegal. What’s more, the load, or even overload of available information; the dependence on various sources; and the ease at which information in various format (story, witness accounts, films, photographs) can be falsified makes it increasingly difficult for one to tell apart what is real and what isn’t. Set in a futuristic society in which technology has advanced to the point where the lines between man and machine; mind and artificial intelligence; reality and virtual reality blurs, we have Section 9, a secret public safety organisation who solve the day to day crimes ranging from mass murder, to cyber hacking. Among these various criminal cases, Section 9 stumbles upon a rather difficult case to solve concerning an A-class hacker, commonly known as The Laughing Man. The crew is soon sent into a chain of events, which leads them closer and closer to the mysterious motives of the The Laughing Man. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex explores in great depth the many facets of one underlying theme: cybernization. The cyberbrain, in essence, contains the 'ghost' of the person, and its implementation is what defines whether one is cybernized or not. Depending on the user's choice, it also is possible to acquire a prosthetic body. Albeit less human and more machine, the benefits derived from cybernization are many: direct brain-to-brain communication, visual information recording (through one's eyes), replacement of injured body parts, increased strength and stamina, and in particular, the transfer of one's mind from one body to another. However, downsides are also potentially existent: the cyberbrain can be hacked by anyone with the necessary skill set, as well as be victim of unwanted viruses, firewalls or even conditions like sclerosis and cyber-autism – computer security and biotechnology are a constant topics brought up throughout the story. The existence of Section 9, too, is a reflection of cybernization: as a secret intelligence department specialised in counter-terrorism, their reason of existence is to deal with cases related to the cybernetic realm. Varying from investigation and espionage to covert operations and rescue missions, Section 9 serves as an essential backbone for the maintenance of order and security in the futuristic setting of SAC. The department is composed of several highly skilled agents; each one specialised in a specific area of relevance. On their own, save for Motoko, they aren't particularly complex characters – and they don't have to be. What makes Section 9 special is the integrated whole which is composed of the individual roles of each member, who are characterised in a realistic fashion and with personalities and backgrounds reflective of the futuristic society and conditions they live in – the construction of the setting here is, once again, of high relevance, as it sets the parameters for the characterisation of the cast. The approach GIT:SAC takes for character development can be only described as unique as to how it gives almost equal amounts of time to add a layer a depth to each of its characters. In each of the stand alone episodes where the characters go through events, which reveals their depth of characterisation in which they can be, described as normal peoarple reacting logically to their surrounding in the futuristic society. A lot of praise has been given to the narrative tone of the story and for good reasons. In spite of following the steps of a counter-terrorist group, the portrayal of the cast and their mindsets remains neutral throughout. Very much like the criminals they fight against, their behaviour and actions are defined as a product of their positions within the society – with laws, socio-political issues and norms – instead of a product of the polarisation between a 'bad' and 'good' side of the coin. Indeed, the believability and realism of SAC can be largely attributed to how it invites the viewer to explore multiple viewpoints. This by itself is an absolutely formidable feat. As far as technical aspects go in terms of animation, GIT:SAC never fails to deliver. An incredible lot of detail has been put in especially the backgrounds, equipment, and technology, integrating the futuristic in a setting not too far removed from the present day. The animation is fluid almost throughout with little to no inconsistencies. The show also boasts an excellent level of tact at handling its CGI elements. They never seem out of place and never stand out in the scene in any awkward manner, though there are occasions where the action doesn’t conform with the CGI backgrounds. Even with the said flaws, the show is efficiently animated and the action scenes remain extremely well choreographed. Talking about the well-choreographed action also brings up another merit of the series, that is, SAC has a very accurate portrayal of combat. Unlike most action shows there aren’t any extravagant finishing moves, power-ups, or extravagant kung-fu hijinks. I also find it extremely wrong to call GIT:SAC an “average action show”, as it has a heavy reliance on tone and pacing, unlike your typical action shows that rely more on a faster pacing and generally have no regards for the tone of the show. Soundtrack is done by celebrated composer Youko Kanno, who has been the topic of various discussions in the anime community regarding her merits as a composer. Personally, I feel Youko Kanno produces good music in general but they normally fail to fit the tone and atmosphere of the show. However, with the GIT: SAC soundtrack, she hit the nail right on the head. The tracks themselves may be simple rock songs but fit the visuals far too well. The opening song done by Origa called “Inner Universe” is a fan favourite. A quick note on the voice acting: They are both fantastic in both the dub and the sub and I would openly recommend the dub to someone tolerant towards dubs. In fact, it’s one of those dubs I’d consider better than the subs itself, along with Cowboy Bebop and Baccano. Yes, the dub is that good! Even after all this praise, I must say that the series does have its fair share of flaws. My main critique would be even though the narrative is unique and smart, it’s easy to get lost in the political mechanics of the show and the story may often come-off as rather convoluted. The character animation takes a slight dip in quality when the camera is seen panning at a distance, but the good vastly outweighs the bad and that’s what matters in the end. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a brilliantly crafted anime with its excellent narrative, unique approach, various themes and vast universe along with some really strong characterisation. Themes and philosophies are implicitly presented but some may find this philosophication to be off putting, but Stand Alone Complex, was never intended to be all glamour and no substance (lol kek la kek). With all said and done, I’d like to say that I personally immensely enjoyed the blend of mystery, action and philosophy presented by SAC and it really wouldn’t be an exaggeration to label it as one of the best futuristic construction of society not only within anime as a medium, but fiction as a whole. Go watch Ghost in the shell: Stand Alone Complex. Shit’s Crazy.

I once read that war is supposedly the most efficient way of pushing technology on a higher level. This doesn't seem to be too untrue in the universe of Ghost in the Shell since it already has four world wars in total behind itself - one being a nuclear one; hence the technology within itself has sky-rocketed to incredible dimensions. The line between man and machine gets blurrier with each day and if Ghost in the Shell is popular for something that is not being a stellar piece of cyber-punk it is for the question what even makes us human. Broken body-parts can be just replaced by nano-technology, whole minds can be stored on external/internal devices called "cyber-brains" basically replacing a "broken" and error prone human brain, whole bodies can be switched in literally almost an instant. But this technology does not come without the inevitable disadvantages because something without disadvantages is perfect and perfection does not exist. With Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex the popular franchise got its big debut on television back in the day after the movie adaptions from Masamune Shirow's manga series happened in 1995 and 2004 which both turned out to be amazing movies as well. In some parts though I have to disagree with all the nostalgia-tainted people and have to say that Stand Alone Complex excels in almost every possible way over the movies - something some fans cannot seem to accept from my experience within the fan base. Of course there are no 100% objective reviews and I won't try into convincing you that this is one or anything like that. If you are one of those people who never gave Stand Alone Complex a try because of it "being not based on the manga" or "just being a cash-grab", maybe I could indeed convince you into giving one of the greatest shows I have seen a try. The story of Stand Alone Complex centers around the secret anti-terror organization called "Section 9" under the command of Daisuke Aramaki and its members doing their best to protect the world from everything evil... and laughing. The stories are divided into two kinds of episodes. One being "stand alone episodes" and the others being "complex episodes". The former are basically not related to the main plot whatsoever except leaving one or two minor trails to it some character might recall in the latter. "Complex episodes" mainly treat the so called "Laughing Man" case. "*But aren't the "*stand alone episodes*" nothing but pure filler then?*", some of you might be wondering now. I have to disagree that they are pure filler. The cast of Stand Alone Complex is rather large. It is a welcoming change of pace to see more time being spend on character development without going overboard as usual anime does with things like beach episodes or something silly like that. You get to know the characters fairly well finding yourself caring about them and understanding them and their actions during several arcs, each of them having their own little stories putting different characters in charge to handle the cases around the world. It's one of those times I approve of filler since it not only gets me more of things but also focuses on exploring of what we know of the world of Ghost in the Shell. The world building in Stand Alone Complex is just amazing to make it short. Barely ever before did a world feel this alive to me. Without giving you away too much, Stand Alone Complex features a world rich on interesting information and a construct which seems believable and thought through. Animation wise Stand Alone Complex is also one of the better looking anime I got to watch this far. It may be just my personal opinion but Production I.G.s classical more realistic ways to do the faces of the characters is very appealing to me. Besides the facial animations the characters are designed uniquely as well giving everyone their own basic features which is not a common thing in modern anime where for example every female character looks exactly the same just with different hairstyle and color. The use of CGI is one of the things I dreaded most before going into the show. Innocence was almost 60% CGI so I expected it to be getting worse when seeing the opening for the first time. It didn’t turn out to live up to my expectations in this case, which is a good thing. For the biggest part the CGI was used on machine models such as the Tachikomas and rarely on anything else. Where Stand Alone Complex shines though are the animations during faster paced moments like action and combat scenes where at some moments the 3D and 2D animations flow and work together sublimely making them just gorgeous to look at. In terms of musical accompaniment Stand Alone Complex provides an equally flawless but less recognizable experience which only stands out during certain heavy-impact scenes and during the absolutely beautiful opening song performance “Inner Universe” by Origa. That opening really grew on me and is now one of my favorite openings of all time. Yoko Kannos works in Stand Alone Complex reach from chilly jazz tunes, to the obligatory electronic ones but also don't spare epic orchestral plays. It was a pure pleasure just listening to this anime. Regarding the voice acting the actors did a phenomenal job in both the Japanese and the English dub. I ended up watching the first half of the show with the Japanese dub but then switched because it was way more convenient to follow the plot and because I remembered some of the voice actors from the Stand Alone Complex PlayStation 2 game and this had waken some nostalgia. The characters range from your typical strong guy, Batou, who prefers words over actions but has a nice and soft core, to the loving family man, Togusa, and the kick-ass female lead, Motoko Kusanagi, most of the time addressed as Major. It may not be the most innovative cast there has ever been but the writers did a great job in making them chime together with the setting they are thrown into as well as the “stand alone episodes”. Each one of the main cast is incredibly developed with the time they are working together and the viewer getting to see each side of the coin of everyone. One of the most standing out examples is the Tachikomas. Basically spider-like robots used for battle and espionage operations with an own artificial intelligence. Getting to see them developing an own personality over the time and even starting to become individuals questioning the meaning of life and death was an interesting experience because one could assume they are mere comical relief-subjects due to their high-pitched voices and attachment to certain characters. While I can not say I enjoyed Stand Alone Complex on the same level as I would enjoy a Slice of Life comedy I can say that I would have never thought to get this thrilled by the end of the show. Be warned that this is not a high-octane action and over-the-top show with explosions and shootings every second. Most of the time it is slower paced, giving a cold feeling and time to get immersed into the setting. <strong>In conclusion Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is an anime you should not miss out on. If you are looking for a show with more behind its already gorgeous facade, something for the brain, an intriguing and intelligent thriller Stand Alone Complex is definetly something for you. It excels in every way possible over the </strong>**predecessors**<strong> and is a mostly a thrilling ride the whole thing through. The action will have you hooked, the animation as well as the brilliant and almost breathing world, the lively cast of characters and the well thought through storyline.</strong> **I can't say it often enough. Stand Alone Complex is one of the best shows I have ever seen and is worth your time over the course of 26 episodes for sure!**

A solid addition and building on the cyberpunk Genre, this anime balances political intrigue with action and deep characterization in a sci-fi universe to incredible effect.

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