Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd Gig

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is an excellent anime and this statement applies to both seasons, but the second season offers us a different flavor than the first. It's tough to describe at first because all of the same elements are there. We have all of our primary and secondary characters. On paper the only real difference is the villain (or villains). Of course, the character of Prime Minister Kayabuki is a new addition, but not a real pivotal one. Her character is more or less just there to move the story forward. 

So what is different? Well, this season is more about physical terrorism than cyber terrorism. Granted, this is Ghost in the Shell so cyber terrorism is a huge part of it, but there's more emphasis on the people and the weapons they use this time. Ultimately, this season is about the threat of nuclear destruction, but the themes of racism between citizens and refugees is a huge undercurrent. By manipulating this the Individual Eleven create a situation where another war seems inevitable. 

But whose side are the Individual Eleven on?

The Individual Eleven is another stand alone complex, but this story is less about the Individual Eleven and more about one man named Kuze that is caught between the lure of the Individual Eleven and his own ideals about the world. 

Kuze himself is a fascinating character. His character (or more accurately "the Individual Eleven") and the work that inspired him is based off of the real life author, playwright, and director Mishima Yukio. Mishima actually tried to pull of a coup d'etat in 1970, but that failed miserably and he performed seppuku. But his attempt at changing the world was more or less a planned suicide and nothing much more. His animated fictional counterparts seem to have loftier goals in mind. 

Kuze, given much more background than the Laughing Man ever received, becomes the best thing about 2nd Gig. However, the first season had a better storyline overall. 

The dialogue is still incredibly heavy and watching the subtitled version is a bit of struggle. Personally, I think it's worth it. It's been awhile since I've seen the dubbed version so I might need to do that sometime soon. 

Patience is key with this series. Watching it once was enough to get the gist of this story, but it takes multiple views to really digest everything. This can be good or bad depending on perspective, but I love stories that don't just give everything away on first viewing. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex makes you earn everything from it and this can be incredibly frustrating at times, but excellent at others. 

I find it excellent more often than not. 

The music in 2nd Gig is definitely a triumph. Kanno Yoko is a genius. She improves on her contributions to the first season. Just fantastic stuff. 

My final note on this season is how it pays a bit of an homage to movies like Taxi Driver, The Matrix (which the original movie helped inspire), and even the original Ghost in the Shell movie. There are some subtle moments and some not so subtle moments, but watch out for them.  

This anime is over ten years old, but you damn sure wouldn't know it. It's still cutting edge even for today. 

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