Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG Volume 2

It seems Section 9 have finally found a true adversery in Gatou; the vividly disfigured chief of the Japanese police force who’s twisted face is mounted on this very DVD cover. Hiding behind layers of burocresy, he obviously delights in pulling the strings of Section 9 and playing the many departments of the Japanese government against each other. His true agenda is still unknown, but an obvious interest in the escalating refugee problem and a vague connection to the infamous Individual 11 terrorist group immediately raises doubts that he may not be the ultra nationalist his fearsome appearence suggests.

Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig #2 continues to present a slight change in way this show is usually directed; truely, it is now a stand alone complex of episodic adventure which in turn influences an ever worsening swamp of complicated government conspiracy.
The writers at Production I.G. must have gone to great lengths to weave such an interconnected web of paranoia and back-stabbing, being sure to give each character their fair share of the limelight but never forgetting to substancially progress the plot too, and I can’t help but marvel at the masterful story telling at work here, it’s great that each episode is filled with enough open-ended bytes of information and hints about certain characters without ever over powering the situations at hand.

As it goes, this is hardly the most action packed volume of Stand Alone Complex. Debate, speculation and political wranglings dominate the narrative which while dotted with moments of quick fire action, is mainly memorable for the firey exchanges between Section 9 and their new worst enemy.

We return to the show with terrorist group the Individual 11 threatening to assasinate Japan’s prime minister. She will now need a team of bodyguards to protect her and who else would she call on but Section 9. Matoko and the rest go along with their orders, but aren’t exactly happy about being given such a boring job; that is until a hyper-advanced samurai cyborg shows up, sword in hand, intent on murdering the prime minister.

Meanwhile, Togusa is given a new case to look into. When a cyborg is killed in a horrific car crash, he is ordered to investigate the mysterious identity of the corpse and the trail of information leads him right into the heart of a densly populated refugee zone; the crumbling remnents of (“old”) Tokyo.

I’ve so far tried to write about the contents of this volume rather than the more cosistent elements of Stand Alone Complex. By now, you should know that it always looks fantastic; revelling in realism, we are continually to presented a world that is not too disimilar from our own. Of course, it has some trademark flourishes of sci-fi cool; a robotic cyborg wielding a samurai sword is a striking clash of old fashioned tradition and futuristic technology that looks odd when set against the “uber guns for all” approach of Section 9.

As good as Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG is, it won’t be to everyone’s tastes. The sheer complixity and volume of technical jargon regularly used in each episode sometimes makes coversations and plotlines hard to follow and the narrative’s political inclinations may disappoint those who fell in love with the episodic science fiction of the first series. With that said, Ghost in the Shell has always been for serious, mature anime fans and provided you know what to expect here, 2ND Gig is proving to be as consistently interesting as its predessesor.

In Summary

You can’t match Section 9 for muscle but you can unsettle their tender government position, there by rendering their physical strength essentially useless. I can’t expect that Aramaki and Matoko will be made fools of for much longer but for now it’s quite strange seeing Section 9 being treated almost like throwaway thugs.

As ever, Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG #2 looks fantastic but what really strikes me about this new series is the spell binding plot that looks to really focus on the ideas and morals behind revolution and terrorism. Paranoid and unsettling, 2nd GIG #2 is an mysterious piece of a puzzle we are yet to understand.

8 / 10


Washed up on the good shores of Anime UK News after many a year at sea, Paul has been writing about anime for a long time here at AUKN and at his anime blog.

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