Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Vol. 1
She returns! One of the most famous icons in anime history revisits fervent otakus in this highly anticipated TV series. Are you ready?
When the original Ghost in the Shell came to the United States, it took anime to an entirely new level. Creator Shirow Masamune delivered one of the most recognized anime movies in US history. Strangely, its sales slacked in Japan, yet flourished overseas. Many anime fans have either watched or heard of Ghost in the Shell; after seven years, the television series finally has appeared.
Major Motoko Kusanagi launches into action with this fifty-two episode series. Section 9 is backing her, and they're ready to kick butt! Headed by Daisuke Aramaki, Motoko's team is a talented group: all -- minus one -- have prosthetic bodies, and each member has a unique characteristic that makes him or her formidable.
The story begins with Kusanagi investigating a foreign minister, followed by two Section 9 cases. The last episode on Volume 1, however, is a tad different. The initial three are "stand alone" chapters, whereas the fourth is a "complex" adventure. They are distinguished by color: green (stand alone) and blue (complex). So why did they name it Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex? From what I have seen, the green portions are side stories, and the actual plotlines are the blue bits.
The opening for the series was spectacular. Both computer effects and animation were done beautifully. Massive kudos to Production IG for a great job! I promise this; you will be speechless once you see the beginning sequence.
The music for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was awesome and full of fist pumping rock. I recently started to collect anime soundtracks, and this is one of my favorites. The opening theme alone got me addicted to the entire CD. I received it as a bonus included in the special edition of Volume 1. The composer, Yoko Kanno, has done spectacular work.
The dubbing of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was nicely accomplished. Many people know I prefer subtitles to dubs. After Otakon, however, where I met some voice actors, I now give dubbing more credit. Richard Epcar, who plays Batou, portrayed his character well. When I met him in person, Mr. Epcar informed me that he voiced Batou, so I wanted to see how he handled the character. His vocal tones for the mean, kick-arse Batou were perfect. I might be watching more dubs in the near future if they become like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.
Okay, after all that praise, it's time for the bad.
This is a joint project between Bandai and Manga Entertainment. There are two versions of this series: one is the standard edition (one disc), and the other a special edition (two DVDs and an extra bonus soundtrack). Unfortunately, the special edition DTS 5.1 disc has problems. Confirmed by fans, the Japanese audio track is slightly bugged. The DTS sound does not appear -- or is very faint -- on my left rear speaker. Many people have either cancelled their order or emailed Bandai regarding this issue. Now it only happened in the Japanese DTS 5.1, but I want to know also if there are replacements as well.
Problem number two: the soundtrack is also funky. Some of the parts run together (i.e. several songs have the next tune running on the same track). This is a limited edition, priced at fifty dollars MSRP, and it has two malfunctions? Not very good... I hope Bandai and Manga Entertainment correct the problem and reissue Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. I keep crossing my fingers that the next installment will not have these recurring troubles.
Overall, I was rather pleased with the first volume, and I want more! I let the problems slide by watching the first DVD that does not have DTS 5.1, but has standard 5.1 instead. With all of the action, I am interested on how each complex episode pans out. The animation was great, and the music was rockin'! Don't get used to me saying this: I even enjoyed the dubbed version. After watching Volume 1, I wanted to watch the original Ghost in the Shell movie and remember why it is one of the most widely known anime productions. My new problem is waiting patiently for Volume 2! I'll just have to jam to the soundtrack until late September when the second installment comes out.
Very recommended... Or, as I say it best, COP DIS!