It is the year 2029, and as many rush to embrace the changes that cybernetic technology bring to mankind, the seedier side of humanity is even quicker to take advantage of it. This series follows Public Peace Section 9, a government organization that plays behind the scenes to stop the worst of these criminals. Join Major Motoko Kusanagi and her team as they take you through an incredibly vivid world filled with plots of such depth and intrigue as is seldom seen.
The synopsis for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is so vague because of the depth of the story and how easy it is to give away spoilers. Now with that being said I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers throughout this review. During some of the other reviews you may have heard me say that a certain anime is a nice anime to just turn your brain off and watch…Ghost in the Shell:SAC is the exact opposite. Not only do you want to make sure that your brain is on you better make sure it’s at full power. The story of this series is so complex and filled with so many layers that if you aren’t paying attention it’s very hard to keep track of all the really cool plot elements that go on. I found that no scene seemed to be wasted. If they were showing you something it was for a reason. I found myself thinking that a scene was pointless and then a couple episodes later it would have huge ramifications on the story. There is so much political and crime drama that you’re stuck on the edge of your seat for almost the entire time. The show mixes in some nice comedy scenes that are genuinely funny so it’s not all drama and action but that’s definitely where the focus of the show is. The entire series felt really nicely laid out until the very end…like literally the last 5-10 minutes of the series. Those last few minutes or so felt so rushed and I really feel like they could’ve had a much better ending for what was a fantastic series. It doesn’t ruin the entire series or anything but it does take away some of that satisfaction you get from a complete ending.
Just like the story, I found the characters for Ghost in the Shell to be very complex and very well thought out. I’ll start with the poster girl of the show, Major Motoko Kusanagi. She’s a complete character. She is strong, confident, has a personality, has the looks, and is very polarizing. The show just draws you towards her and honestly makes it very hard to hate her. I’d honestly go out on a limb and say that if you don’t like Motoko then you don’t like Ghost in the Shell. She is literally the glue that holds the series and her team together. That being said she is my favorite character in the series. There wasn’t anything about her that I didn’t like. That being said, the person who came in close 2nd in my favorites list is Batou. He’s sort of like Motoko’s right hand man. He’s been around her for a long time and they share a very strong connection. Batou is also just a straight up badass that has a soft side he shows every once and a while. He is another character that the show just draws you to. The last main character is Togusa. He’s the only person on the team with no prosthetic parts. That being said though, he’s got the instincts and determination to make up for it. Only an order from Motoko or Captain Aramaki will make him give up on a case. This can get him into trouble as he seems to always be on the clock. He’ll find people that need help and will not hesitate to help them in whatever way he can. This also leads to him getting into trouble but it’s also what his teammates like the most about him. I could go on and on about every character but I think it’s best to only do a general analysis on the supporting cast in order to keep this review on the short side and to avoid spoilers. The supporting cast is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s filled with so many great characters. You even sort of start to like the main villains throughout the series as well. There are certain characters that you’ll hate but that’s going to happen in any series and in this case I’m almost positive you’re supposed to hate them. The characters for Ghost in the Shell are just so great that it’d be very hard to find many flaws with them.
The Ghost in the Shell:SAC soundtrack is one of the best I’ve ever heard. The 1st opening was posted to the site a few days ago but for those of you who haven’t checked it out yet it’s called “Inner Universe” by Origa with Yoko Kanno. I absolutely loved the song and how unique it was. It’s got some synthy kind of back ground music with very, almost, Gregorian female vocals. The song is also sung in 3 languages. It has parts in English, parts in Latin, and parts in Russian. In a weird way I loved the blend of the languages. The song is just really good so if you’re curious about it and never heard it or just want to hear it again go check out the video that was posted! The 1st ending was called “Lithium Flower” by Scott Matthew. The song was a blues rock type of song. It was very soft vocally. I didn’t like it at first but it sort of grew on me as the series went on. The 2nd opening is called “Rise” by Origa. It was a very similar sounding song to the 1st opening. This song was sung in English and Russian. Again the eerie sound of the song was just really cool and could really send chills down your spine. The 2nd ending was called “Living Inside the Shell” by Steve Conte. It was another blues rock song that was very soft vocally. It also took some time to get used to but it turned out to be a good fit and a nice song to chill to. The soundtrack was composed by Yoko Kanno. She’s practically a legend in the anime soundtrack world. Her other works include Darker Than Black, Wolf’s Rain, and Cowboy Beebop, and many other great shows.
The voice acting in Ghost in the Shell:SAC , although dated, was very good. Each character sounded almost exactly how you’d expect them to sound. I really didn’t dislike any of the voice acting in the show. The main cast goes as follows: Mary Elizabeth McGlynn(Motoko), Richard Epcar(Batou), and Crispin Freeman(Togusa). This is a very good main cast. A high quality cast usually means high quality voice acting and this is definitely the case here. I had seen a couple of the movies prior to watching the series but to be honest I never really paid attention to the voice actors or acting when I watched them as it was many years ago. Either way Mary Elizabeth McGlynn was perfect as Motoko. She perfectly displayed all sides to Motoko’s character and really made her a great character. Richard Epcar was great as Batou and really pulled off that rough and tough badass sound perfectly. Crispin Freeman is one of my favorite voice actors and it’s performances like these are the reason why. The supporting cast goes as follows: William Frederick(Aramaki), Michael McCarty(Ishikawa), Robert Buchholz(Pazu), Dave Wittenburg(Saito), Dean Wein(Borma), Steve Blum(The Laughing Man), and Kirk Thorton(Kuze). I didn’t add the voices of the Tachikomas because they had so many different voice actresses but I can say that they too were very well done. This was a very balanced supporting cast and each person played their parts to perfection. I’ll apologize now for any mistakes in the voice cast as their are so many different versions I tried my best to make sure each one was the same dub. Anyways this is a very high quality voice cast and the quality of the voice acting was so great I think even those who prefer subs may even find this one enjoyable.
I usually do a random anime for these reviews but this time I picked Ghost in the Shell:SAC because I wanted to make sure I saw it before the live action movie came out since I had only seen a couple movies prior and that was a while ago. I’m glad I decided to do that because this was a truly great series. It has all the suspense you could ask for and such a complex and layered story to keep you entertained the whole way. The ending is a little rushed but overall it’s great. I loved the comedic relief of the Tachikomas throughout the show and how well timed it was. If you like political and crime dramas then you need to check this out. I loved the characters, the voice acting, the soundtrack, the whole bit. The Stand Alone Complex series is 2 seasons with a total of 52 episodes. There are also several movies and OVAs in the Ghost in the Shell series to keep you entertained for awhile. There is a sequel movie to the series but I decided to only keep the review to the show itself so with that being said the rushed ending kept it from being perfect with a score of 9.5/10! (With the sequel movie it’s a definite 10/10)