S.A.C. 2nd GIG

A close sequel to the acclaimed Ghost in the Shell anime series, the events of 2nd GIG begins shortly after the reforming of Section 9 and premieres with their debut. Japan’s prior executive cabinet had dissolved, and is now headed by the new Prime Minister. Political stability hangs on a hinge as tension builds between the Japanese government and refugees from China thanks to the targeting made on refugees by the mysterious terrorist organization known as the Individual Eleven. But all is not as it seems on both sides of the conflict, and Section 9 faces a dilemma that could end in civil war fueled with weapons of mass destruction. Will Major Motoko Kusanagi and her team be able to resolve the issue in time to prevent the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people?

As you may remember, one of my primary criticisms of the original Stand Alone Complex is how loose the plot was; it would hit a plot point, and forget about it for several episodes before delivering the next, leaving roughly two thirds of the entire series as filler, which is really annoying for a series as intelligent as Stand Alone Complex. Well, the writers seemed to have focused their thoughts this time around, and the filler in 2nd GIG is kept fairly minimal; most episodes did something to progress the plot and keep the story interesting. They also managed to do this without dragging out the events and creating a convolution (our friends producing Gantz could have taken a few pointers from these guys). Twists and unexpected developments furthered the mystery while raising the stakes, which made sure that 2nd GIG remained engaging, thought-provoking, and entertaining.

That said, it wasn’t all rigid and focused on the plot. We got the chance to get to know some of the lesser players much more personally, and certain episodes became dedicated to the development of these characters. The developed characters were a favored touch, but it still seemed like many of these characters became secondary, even less at times, in the overall evolution of the plot. They received a spot of limelight, and were then forgotten and as disposable as they ever had been; in other words, their development did nothing for the story. That isn’t to say that it wasn’t enjoyable; it was simply unnecessary since it didn’t go anywhere. The development of the primary characters, however, such as the Major, Batou and Kuze, did especially well in favor of the plot and heightened the experience of the series, making certain aspects of the show more powerful and emotionally captivating. This is a good thing, by the way.

To be expected from Ghost in the Shell, 2nd GIG remains highly philosophical and conceptual, much so in regards to political and sociopolitical issues, and the classic Isaac Asimov-esque drama involving the clashing and blurring of humanity and artificial life. Not much is to be said here. As always, Ghost in the Shell remains thought-provoking and prophetic, reflecting as much on its own reality as it does on our own. Much like its preceding series, this story is focused much more on an extroverted philosophy rather than introspective as the Oshii films were.

In many ways, 2nd GIG learned from the mistakes of Stand Alone Complex, and my major complaints of the original are washed away with the sequel. My only real criticism is of the antagonist, the real one. I won’t give any spoilers, but as you may be familiar with in the original, the antagonist is left very unclear and illusive; the same thing is done in the sequel. However, it seemed the intent was to have actually introduced the villain beforehand, without revealing his role as villain, to make the climax all the more satisfying. Despite this, OBVIOUS VILLAIN IS OBVIOUS. From the second you see him, you pretty much know he’s the evil mastermind behind everything, and the rest of the series is just a waiting period to reveal him as such. He’s not a bad villain, and his methods and motivations are developed quite nicely, but could he be anymore obvious? Whatever, I digress. That’s the worst I have against the series.

I apologize for the tardiness of this review; I meant to have this done a long time ago, but it’s difficult to stick to a schedule for something as long as any Ghost in the Shell series. Despite how long it took me to finish, I really enjoyed 2nd GIG, moreso than the its predecessor. Like I explained earlier, it really managed to patch up all the mistakes it made in the original, which made the overall product much more impressive in the long run, and it was a very appropriate sequel to the success of Stand Alone Complex. Overall, I give it a 9/10, and I guarantee that this is one series that certainly wasn’t a disappointment. And now that I’m done with 2nd GIG, you know what that means? Solid State Society is the only thing I have left to review, and it’s a film so I can get it done quickly! Expect that very soon. Until then, this has been the Geek With Taste, making up for lost time.

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