ghost in the shell: stand alone complex
starring: Shiro Saito, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, and William Frederick Knight
REVIEWER: nick tonkn
The futuristic adventures of a female cyborg counter intelligence agent and her support team.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex follows an elite law enforcement unit known as Public Security Section 9, where the assault team is headed by Major Motoko Kusanagi, recently portrayed by Scarlett Johansson in the 2017 live action adaptation.
Section 9 investigate cybercrime and terrorism cases and; in a world where transhumanism is wholly embraced and people opt for robotic implants of body parts or even whole prosthetic bodies, this unit is of vital importance and they do find themselves rather busy. This is well explored by the Laughing Man Incident, which shows a corporate terrorist hacker editing themselves out from video feeds and from witnesses cybernetic vision. At one point the hacker takes control of a key member of the police through the implant in his brain at a press conference in order to make a statement.
The series debuted in 2002, with the second season and film Solid State Society
following over the next four years. This box set collects both seasons and the 2006 film, as well as the comic shorts Tachikomatic Days that follow each episode and feature the Tachikoma or “think-tanks” that are imbued with artificial intelligence. The shorts explore the show’s notion of the “ghost” in machines in a light hearted way, with each of the tanks developing separate identities.
The Stand Alone Complex series follows the lead from preceding entries in the Ghost in the Shell franchise, but distinguishes itself by having more focus on action. This leads to intense episodes, especially when relating to the key story lines such as the laughing man incident. However, this can feel at the expense somewhat of the depth of the original films.
Stand Alone Complex may feel a bit impenetrable to a newcomer, as the show doesn’t provide hand-holding exposition, or obvious character introductions - rather it just puts us in the thick of it from the start, leaving us to come to understand the characters of Section 9 over time.
An interesting and compelling series, one which doesn’t shy away from the societal and existential issues that can arise from the world that Stand Alone Complex presents.