Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. 2nd Gig: Volume 7 Review
As the Dejima crisis escalates Aramaki and Prime Minister Kayabuki fall under suspicion of instigating treason, while Gohda sits back and enjoys the havoc he’s created. Meanwhile Kusanagi and her team find themselves heavily outnumbered as the race to secure plutonium grows tougher. They have but hours to save Dejima from a nuclear attack, thwart Kuze’s attempts of making a grand statement and hopefully put to rest Gohda’s master plan.
I’ve probably mentioned it before when I say that S.A.C. has always done well to balance its action and drama elements. In the final volume of 2nd Gig it goes all out to deliver three episodes of explosive action - and volume seven is quite literally explosive; Section 9 is playing the game of their lives, orchestrated by the ambiguous and scarred mad hatter, Gohda. Nukes threaten their turf and helicopters are blowing the shit out of everything. Director Kenji Kamiyama fiercely stages the final episodes and rarely does he let up as a full-on assault hits Dejima. Of course throughout this climactic battle there is also a war of words to contend with as the series’ political backdrop revels in certain participant’s secret agendas, which makes way for some tense set backs and pleasing character development.
With this being a final volume review there’s not a whole lot to say without starting to head into spoiler territory, suffice it to say that as with the first series 2nd Gig covers its basis and wraps up another epic storyline with panache. It doesn’t tie up every single loose thread, but then it doesn’t have to; it successfully rides on some ambiguous events, particularly surrounding some very close-knit politics, and as such paints its world as a somewhat mysterious and paranoia induced society. This leaves us knowing that Section 9 will always have something to worry about, that nothing ever is what it appears to be - and that in itself is a compelling attribute. Naturally though the big finale takes care of Gohda, it explores the relationship between Kusanagi and Kuze and it solves the Individual Eleven arc. It shows Section 9 performing at its best under heavy duress and it continues to support the ever growing spirit of the Tachikoma. If I’m to compare 2nd Gig though with the final events of the previous series I have to say that its impact is of a lesser greatness, mainly because the twists lack that jaw dropping audaciousness as before. Again we find that the Tachikoma play a significant part in how all of this will end, which does lend an air of familiarity, despite the little tykes being wonderful to watch. It appears as if Kenji Kamiyama might finally be letting them rest after they’ve achieved their true calling. But at this stage in Stand Alone Complex’s life who knows - anything can happen. But we’re led to believe that life moves on and that there are always new horizons to explore.
While Section 9 enters Dejima with a plutonium device Prime Minister Kayabuki is arrested for treason, with Aramaki also being investigated as one of her allies. At Dejima SDA helicopters and an American Empire nuclear submarine are detected with missiles poised toward its very heart. Comms are severed between Section 9 and the Tachikoma, which soon makes matters much worse when Gohda orchestrates the arrival of the Section 4 Rangers to apprehend Batou and his crew.
This Side of Justice
Section 9 is running rings around the pursuing SDA and Section 4, while Kusanagi finds herself trapped in a collapsed room with Kuze. As she learns of Kuze’s ultimate goal Aramaki and Togusa form a plan to rescue Kayabuki in the hopes that she can still turn the tide. But Dejima comes ever closer to falling and unless help arrives soon it’s going to be reduced to ashes.
With Kusanagi free from her entrapment she tries to help Kuze and the refugees’ plight, while the rest of Batou’s crew break away from their attack. Kayabuki and Aramaki try to reach a diplomatic resolution and Intel soon manages to lead them to Gohda’s whereabouts. Elsewhere the Tachikomas have managed to open up communications again and with the threat of a seemingly unstoppable nuclear missile formulate a daring and potentially life-threatening plan.
Well, Manga Entertainment finishes 2nd Gig on a high. As for most of this series on R2 DVD the quality has been very high, a massive improvement from the highly disappointing first series release. Menu designs are continually impressive and navigation is good, although I still would have preferred a play all option.
Taken from a High-Def source and 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. Banding and high frequency edge enhancement is here, though far from distracting. The rest of the image holds up as nicely as usual, with superb colours and plenty of detail. This is one of the finest looking anime series on DVD, which would get higher marks if it didn’t have to fall back on a couple of familiar foes.
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 aggressive and make the most out of the DTS, and if anything this volume is one of the most impressive sounding. The first episode on the disc features several massive explosions which sound superb and do a great job of rocking the sub-woofer. A wonderful way to go out on.
The optional English subtitles offer a better translation than last time, with no noticeable grammatical errors from this side.
Interview with Kenji Kamiyama, Ken Nishida (Gohda) and Rikiya Koyama (Kuze) - 10.54
While there’s not enough time to go into plenty of detail the participants in this rounds pretty much get straight to the point when discussing their respective characters. They chat about how they became attracted to their roles and the way in which each one developed during the course of the series. The story behind Gohda’s name is revealed, with veteran actor Nishida expressing his joy at playing a villainous character. The actors also recall their favourite episodes of the series and give reasons for doing so, in addition to discussing the overall impressions given by Gohda and Kuze, from initial introduction to the very end.
Well it’s been another brilliant run. Without a doubt Stand Alone Complex is one of the greatest anime series of all time. It’s delivered so much in the last fifty episodes and still continues to prove that it has a lot of shelf life left. So with that said next up is Solid State Society - a feature length film, with the additional promise from Kenji Kamiyama that we haven’t yet seen the last of Section 9.