Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. 2nd Gig: Volume 4 Review

The hunt for Hideo Kuze goes on, when Section 9 come across a vital lead that may shed more light on the mystery man. But their investigation soon runs into problems when one of their own team members is involved in a murder case. Elsewhere Saito tells an interesting tale and the Tachikomas are back to their old tricks.


After “Selecon”’s gob smacking finale, volume four of 2nd Gig picks up the pieces, as Section 9 attempt to track down two face designers who may be linked to Hideo Kuze. The intrigue is racked up once more as their investigative endeavours lead them down an uncertain path. While “Make Up” is an interesting episode as far as the Individual Eleven is concerned, it’s all we have to go for the duration of this volume. This is purely Section 9’s time to glisten in the sun, as director Kamiyama finally gets around to dealing with supporting characters that have been kept in the shadows for far too long.

And so 2nd Gig sticks predominantly to several Dividual episodes as they take a look into the backgrounds of two overlooked, but essential members of the team. In “Make Up” a sub plot involving a murderer who looks uncannily like Paz places the character central stage; although this doesn’t delve too deep it does open up a couple of avenues in which to explore Paz’s personal life. Essentially we learn that Paz is a bit of an unemotional womaniser and if anything this places quite an unexpected twist on things, particularly when he’s a good guy who we should automatically like. But the writers don’t need to force these characters upon us and they don’t need to stick to a form of convention in order to appease anyone. We’ve come to learn that each member of Section 9 has his or her own personal vices: Kusanagi, undoubtedly a bit of a lesbian; Batou and his hidden feelings toward the major; Aramaki and his attraction toward Kawabuki; Togusa and his quiet family life and so on. None of them lead particularly simple lives, given the pressures of their daily job and this creates some solidly entertaining and very rea moments.

In “Poker Face” it’s Saito’s turn to reel of some healthy exposition as he recalls his first meeting with Kusanagi, during a Middle-Eastern confrontation. The episode begins by getting into a social and political commentary involving the United States appealing to Japan to form a treaty, now that its economy is suffering after the last world war. This extends to reiterating the policies of a pretty harsh Japanese government that realises it now has the upper hand. But all of this last merely minutes and when we’re taken into Saito’s poker game we’re handed a pretty tense story. Not only do we learn how Saito lost his left eye, but we also see several Section 9 members as they were as former soldiers. This also ensures that we can now look at their unit and get a far greater feeling for their close-knit relationship; they truly have been together for a long time and entrust their lives to one another.


“PAT” will instantly remind fans of the series one episode “Machines Désirantes”, in which the Tachikomas debated over what it meant to be human. Now that they’ve had a chance to evolve they can extend their beliefs and exchange ideas. When most of them are left at Section 9 to undergo maintenance (with only one Tachikoma chosen to escort Batou to the Spring-8 Meet) the conversation revolves around the collective feeling ostracised. While this may appear to bare significant similarities toward the aforementioned episode of series one it brings into play some interesting parallels as the bubbly robots compare their situation to being not entirely unlike that of the Individual Eleven. Acquiring individuality and raising points about subjectivity as Kusanagi and Batou seek out their inventor, Asuda - a neuro chip pioneer – makes for a very chatty but compelling episode.

The final episode on the disc, “Another Chance”, reveals a new twist involving Prime Minister Kayabuki. Kusanagi begins to show concerns in regards to Kayabuki’s attitude, wondering if she may have ulterior motives for something. This isn’t dealt with on any major scale, however, so we have very little to go on at the moment. When the episode provides some exposition about the fourth war and the consequences as a result of the aftermath, with Korea getting a relevant kick in the face, it then places complete emphasis on Kuze by delivering a back story that details how he came to be today. The episode finishes on a decent note, with not so much a cliff-hanger, but a brief appearance by Gohda (his only in this volume) which is certainly enough to have us wanting more.


Episodes

Make Up
After analysing the recent news footage involving the Individual Eleven, Section 9 continues to investigate Hideo Kuze and how he managed to slip through and cause so much havoc. They soon discover that Kuze had help in designing a new face, one that is so advanced it’s almost impossible to detect. Knowing that only two men in Japan are capable of carrying out such feats of work they set out to find them, but when they turn up dead the investigation crashes to a halt when Paz is identified as being the designers’ killer. Can he really be involved in such acts?

Poker Face
During a poker game Saito tells the story of how he faced his greatest foe; it was to be the scariest day of his life. But his fellows wonder if he’s speaking the truth or not…

PAT
The Tachikomas have been researching the Individual Eleven, whilst trying to find a particular vaccine. When Batou invites a Tachikoma to join him and Kusanagi at the Spring-8 Meet the rest soon feel left out and soon hold a private debate. Kusanagi searches for their creator in a bid to find out how to erase his existence from the Tachikomas’ memory.

Another Chance
Section 9 have to do a little work for the PM, which causes some concern. Meanwhile they learn a little more about Hideo Kuze.


The DVD

Manga continues to use their attractive menu designs to get us through things. One thing I never mentioned before was that unfortunately there is no play all option. At least navigating isn’t too arduous though.


A/V

Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 2nd Gig comes to DVD in fine form. The image quality is very sharp and vibrant. Manga seems to have fixed the dodgy compression faults this time around, though banding and high frequency Edge Enhancement still frequents. Still, the image is stunning throughout when compared to a large majority of anime on DVD; this also being taken from a HD source.

As for sound we get the same options as before: Disc one holds English DD2.0, Japanese DD2.0, English DD5.1 and Japanese DD5.1, while disc 2 contains English DTS and Japanese DTS. So for my primary listening experience I went with Japanese DTS, which I do for every volume, despite the English track being very respectable. All things considered this sounds as good as the first series did - when it was working properly. The amount of surround details is amazing as usually there’s some kind of ambient effect or otherwise in every scene, so it’s pleasing to be able to pick out these little things like machines working etc from time to time. Dialogue is nicely centred and when Section 9 communicates via brain waves there’s a nice feeling of separation and good steering. Action scenes are typically explosive and make the most out of the DTS, with plenty of whooshing sounds and clunky metal being pushed about – you won’t find better worded descriptions than that folks…

Optional English subtitles are available and are fine for the most part. I only recall one error which was “Buck (back) me up.”

Extras

Interview with Kenji Kamiyama, Toru Ohkawa (Saito) and Takashi Onozuka (Paz) – 11.52
Director Kamiyama discusses with the two actors about the kind of characters that Saito and Paz are. The conversation heads toward the actors explaining how they get a handle on their roles, despite these characters having so little dialogue throughout the series. A few interesting facts are divulged, such as Paz’s story originally being a vehicle for Batou and how specific characters are given specific storylines. The trio offers a revealing insight into Paz’s character and they go on to discuss Section 9’s cohesiveness and then Saito and the reasoning behind his particular story.

Interview with Kenji Kamiyama, Sakiko Tamagawa (Tachikoma) and Yutaka Nakano (Ishikawa) – 12.19
This starts off by discussing how the Tachikomas are now depicted; why their brains were moved onto a space station and how their individuality is kept intact. Dr. Asuda’s character is touched upon, along with his relationship to the Tachikomas; there is also talk of similarities between Asuda and Batou, which is a connection that’s easy to miss first time around. Nakano talks about the difficulties in playing a character who reels off complicated and technical explanations. The team finish up by chatting about the series strong cast of characters, including Kuze, who Section 9 is slowly beginning to understand.


Overall

2nd Gig takes a bit of a breather for its fourth volume, with little in the way of big developments concerning the Individual Eleven. It does offer some very good character insights though and we’ve just about come to know every member of Section 9. Another solid release from Manga as we pass the mid-way point.

View a clip from the show.

Film
8 out of 10
Video
8 out of 10
Audio
9 out of 10
Extras
5 out of 10
Overall

8

out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 04:52:44

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