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  • Sachi 2:55 pm on March 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Ghost In Shell, , , Motoko Kusanagi, , ,   

    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? (More …)

    • Yi 9:27 am on April 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I actually really enjoyed all the filler-ish episodes. It helps to build the world’s details even more. Still, yea agreed that some of the side character spotlight episodes were unnecessary. As for the villain, he is indeed pretty obvious, but the plot is still complex even then.

      Anyway, great review! I loved this series too.

  • Sachi 7:18 pm on February 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Motoko Kusanagi, , , ,   

    Stand Alone Complex 

    The Ghost in the Shell franchise surely is quite large; after finishing the two Mamoru Oshii films, I moved on to the 2002 anime series, Stand Alone Complex, which aired just two years before the premiere of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Also developed by Production I.G., this anime adaptation was directed by Kenji Kamiyama, whom of which also directed a little show called Higashi no Eden. Many American fans may have first been introduced to Stand Alone Complex when it aired on [adult swim] a few years back, and it apparently still gets a time slot every so often. Needless to say, Stand Alone Complex seems to be what people see first before being introduced to the rest of the Ghost in the Shell franchise, but does it live up to the legacy left behind by the original Ghost in the Shell film? Lets find out: (More …)

    • facugaich 11:28 am on February 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I’m a little surprised, since Stand Alone Complex has some of the best episodic content I’ve ever seen, at least it’s much better than Cowboy Bebop and I could’ve sworn you really liked Cowboy Bebop? Then again, episodic stuff isn’t for everybody.

      I’ve never watched the GITS movie so probably our perspectives and expectations while watching the series were quite different (think NGE vs Rebuild).

      Still, 8 out of 10 is a bit low, SAC is easily a 9/10.

      I think you’re going to like 2nd Gig a little bit better, since its overarching story is much more engaging and interesting than the Smiling Man one and, if I recall correctly, the stand alone episodes are a little more “related” to it.

      • Sachi 9:23 am on February 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Some of the Stand Alone episodes were really good, particularly in the beginning. However, as the series went on, a lot of them became great misses, such as episode 18. Although, I see the point you’re making with Cowboy Bebop, but my love for Bebop is more a passion than a result of careful criticism; I’m sure if I objectively critiqued Cowboy Bebop the score would certainly be much different than the 10/10 on my MAL.

        As for 2nd Gig, I haven’t gotten far but I am liking the stand alone episodes much better, and they do seem to have much more to do with the actual plot. I’ll make my final decision once I’ve finished.

    • ExplicitlyContradictory 10:55 pm on February 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I like your analysis on certain levels but I think you miss the deeper differences: comparing the original film to the Gits: SAC is a false equivolency. To be glib let’s call this a “tale of two Motoko’s”…the essence of the film I think really concerns: identity, individuality, posterity. In the film Kusunagi’s first real inciting incident is when she sees a virtual copy of herself as she rides on a ship. While she’s obviously become weary of her job and the restrictions emplaced, the finale is set up because of this moment. She realizes maybe she isn’t unique, afterall and begins a cycle of angst with philosopher-speak as her world unravels. One of the criticisms of Gits the original film is the excessive nudity Kusunagi has, as if this existence in and of itself proves gender confinement. What I think is crucially wrong about that analysis and the key difference in the two series is in the film, she doesn’t own her body and in the series she does. This startling admission when she speaks about rebelling, or quitting her occupation that she has become weary of, showcases WHY the ending happens I think. Whereas in the series, Kusunagi is much less angstful because she’s secure in her individuality, owns her body and in fact, owns several clones of herself. What an amazing difference this makes! Oh sure, she’s dysfunctional as all get out (being emotionally incredibly distant, even more robotic than in the film…it’s a wonder this Kusunagi never wonders if she really is human, after all) but she also realizes that she can quit section 9 and not have to “give it all back”. Because of this, I think you find two very different worlds…Gits: SAC does deal with gender occassionally, but in a much subdued fashion from the film. The key differences in less insecurity explains why Kusunagi isn’t nearly as angst-filled for one, and for two she’s entirely devoted to her job. In the film Kusunagi is portrayed outside of work so we get to see how a full-conversion cyborg handles life as a normal, sort of (this is much more evident in Innocence from Batou’s life) whereas in the series 99% of what we the audience gets to see is her interacting with Section 9. The main criticism I’ll make of Gits:SAC is it’s altogether too impersonal compared to Gits (actually the movie addresses much of this, but I’ll leave that to you to discover), the characterization is a bit sterile compared to Gits. The series also thankfully (even though the Major is a very compelling character) provides some character growth to Togusa and company as well. Plus, the Tachikomas are very camera muggy, demanding attention. I think it all comes down to preference….I found great utility watching both worlds..though honestly, I prefer Gits:SAC more. It’s not because of the philosophy of Gits, which I actually enjoyed, it the Major. She’s much more likeable in Gits:SAC (we won’t even get into voice acting quality, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn does such a great job of voicing Motoko I really can’t imagine her having a different voice) because even though she’s emotionally more sterile…she’s also a lot less selfish and self-centered. The Gits Kusunagi spends pretty much the entire film aside from the amazing fight scenes ruminating on her existence which drives her final decision to allow the “merge”, I’ll touch on that too because I’ve read a few suprisingly in-depth intellectual discussions about the Major and the Puppet Master and the abrupt re-arranging of her gender to become subservient and passive. The main interpretation I’ve read is although Gits does experiment with removing all conventions of “organic” gender identity with such a strong and forceful, independent female as the Major, at the end (and with the nudity) it places her back into the role of being woman, mother. The nudity I think goes back to the concept of self posession, she knows her body is “rented”, therefore rather than place any special value upon concealing her flesh (I also disagree with her naked scenes being fan service…let’s face it, the Gits Motoko is borderline ugly) she holds know premium. This also explains why the difference between the two Kusunagi’s in regards to risk-taking. The Gits Motoko values her brain and ghost….the rest of her, especially after seeing a clone of herself is negotiable so she takes risks, even one which finds her tearing her own arms off trying to rip a tanks hatch open. The Gits:SAC Motoko is capable of being reckless…but she has her limits. I think no greater example is when she’s faced with the same problem (stubborn tank hatch) she tries to rip off, can’t and gives up on that plan, temporarily. I could be entirely missing the boat her but I think the difference between a self-posessed, more secure character and one who isn’t is the juxtaposition. Kusunagi only has limb damage (okay her left arm gets blown off to the elbow, but she isn’t completely prone (a helpless mind) like the film, in fact the scene terminates with her utterly losing it in a rare show of emotion) as a result of trying to dodge a missle while escaping danger…but it’s not voluntarilly pushing beyond her own limits. Finally, I’ll touch on the Gits scene of the “merging” between Kusunagi and the Puppeteer. I can’t juxtapose with Gits:SAC because you haven’t seen the film and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t. Since Kusunagi spends her off and on hours in Gits completely and utterly insecure in her identity, the scene relates to this and something else: she cannot reproduce. Losing even the option to reproduce at a young age I think partly explains her self-posession and identity problems (abstractly I should say since she has a real self-posession problem which coupled with literally seeing a clone of herself, which I touched on before) so therefore in the scene when the Puppetmaster offers her a way to create offspring, I think she jumps at it even if it means being the passive receiver (though what they create isn’t an offspring so much as an off-shoot) because being able to reproduce, even with a sentient machine proves she is organic and therefore alive. Kusunagi in Gits:SAC doesn’t seem to have the same problem…though it would be interesting to see how this version would respond if such a way was offered to her. So, in closing…good analysis but when comparing the two, it’s apples to oranges. While both have essentially the same characters (albeit the Gits:SAC Major is much more pleasent looking and sounding) they’re from two different circumstances and therefore come from completely different viewpoints. The Gits:SAC Major is much more idealistic than she is in Gits even though she rarely shows it (yes, I think the bedrock politics of Gits:SAC is decidely more liberal than Gits, and I’ll explain this to anyone who wants to discuss), she’s more secure and focused as well. The background characters in Gits:SAC are MUCH more developed (although Batou is pretty similar, maybe less dark than in the film) and even though the episodes are more slowly paced it’s because they handle the subject matter more thoughtfully in my opinion (though you should see the Gits:SAC film, it’s very rapid in pace and should honestly have been longer….) and provide the audience with a better idea of who the characters are; that is just my opinion, anyway.

      • Sachi 4:46 pm on February 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        I’d like to state that my ultimate grading decision was not based on a comparison between Oshii’s film and the series; I acknowledged as such in the review. I recognize that there are different motives behind the different continuities, and that they weren’t intended to be similar products.

        Next, I disagree with your statement that the background characters are more developed in SAC in comparison to Oshii’s films. The original SAC series included characters such as Paz, Borma, and Saito, yet they received no development whatsoever (at least, not until 2nd GIG). Oshii had the good grace to have these characters written out completely instead of having them awkwardly present without any real meaning. The only characters that got any real development that didn’t receive such in Oshii’s films were Togusa, Aramaki, and maybe Batou, but the jury’s still out on that one.

        As for the rest: great analysis/comparison, and it’s even enough to merit it’s own blog instead of being confined to a single comment. You should consider that.

    • Rare 7:57 pm on February 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I disagree fairly strongly with both of your assertions regarding the storytelling of the series. Now I’m not accusing you of being a typical plot-whore, but I do think it takes a worrying degree of plot-based closed-mindedness to be so caring about SAC’s central plot that to have pace-stablizing, in-depth world and character exposition wrapped up in a micro-plots that are, themselves, incredibly interesting and engrossing be not only interruptive, but also make you forget the central plot is fairly nonsensical. The other assertion I take issue with is that SAC does not reach the philisophical level of the Oshii movies. Oshii focuses on philosophy relating to identity and existence in reflection Motoko’s state in the movies. SAC not only touches on brand of philosophy, but has a focus on a completely different brand (being social philosophy of course). I’m not saying that philosophy is as important to SAC as the movies, but to suggest there’s a large different in depth between the twos’ is very disagreeable; it’s focus, not depth.

      • Sachi 4:26 pm on February 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        You do have a point there with the Introspective vs Social Philosophy, but I would still argue that Oshii’s films pack a whole lot more depth than SAC, especially when considering the time restraints a film has in contrast with episodic series. Oshii’s films have more of a statement to make, whereas SAC seems to just play with ideas.

        I would argue, though, that 2nd GIG gets pretty close to Oshii’s films in terms of depth. I’ll get into that when I make my review.

    • Rare 12:04 am on February 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      “a lot of them became great misses, such as episode 18”
      I hadn’t noticed that before I made my previous comment. In light of now noticing it: REALLY? That was one of the best episodic episodes in the entire series, if not the best from season one. Didn’t you also note the admiration you had for Oshii’s philosophy? You gotta stay more consistent kid.

      • Sachi 4:18 pm on February 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Episode 18 had a decent premise and idea, but was carried out very awkwardly and it lacked any sort of punch that would allow it to have a positive impact on the series as a whole. While it was one of the only episodes (if not the only episode) to reveal information of Aramaki’s past, the rest of the content was all rubbish. It had a great idea with the mixing of two personalities/ghosts to make a new one and the struggle between the two that proceeds it, and I would have liked to have seen that done right, but the way it was delivered was sloppy and ultimately ruined it for me. Anybody can have an interesting philosophical thought, but that doesn’t excuse poor story telling and overbearing exposition.

        As it might have been made apparent by my comment of episode 18, this was the only episode of the entire first season that seriously frustrated me with how poorly it was done, especially when compared to some of the earlier Stand Alone episodes of the season.

        • Rare 3:27 pm on February 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply

          I’m still baffled. The episode being done so perfectly (including storytelling, but especially cinematography) is what makes it so favorited by myself. I just have no idea what you’re looking you’re looking for in a series like SAC is that episode isn’t it.

  • Sachi 7:46 am on January 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Motoko Kusanagi, , , , , Terminator 2, The Empire Strikes Back   

    Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence 

    When creating a sequel there’s a few key things that you need to keep in mind. First, you want your sequel to have all the things that made the original great, yet on a grander scale; you want a better story, better special effects, better action, better everything! But you don’t want it to be the same, or else it’ll become bland and predictable, meaning that you’ll want to strive to do something different, breaking the status quo. You want it to remain true to the original and not break continuity so that it may truly be a sequel and not just a random movie with the same characters. However, if it were as easy as these last few sentences make it then we wouldn’t have this “bad sequel” pandemic we have now. Lastly, you’ll be needing to drop in your little dash of Chemical X to provide the cherry; add that secret ingredient and your sequel will be a masterpiece. Unfortunately, only a select group of writers accepted into the most secret circle of the Illuminati at birth know of this most important puzzle piece, and even they need to earn it. Others stumble upon it through sheer dumb luck. The secret of good sequel-making may be a mystery forever.

    Despite this lack of knowledge, however, we are still somehow blessed to experience good sequels every once in a while, and on the rarest occasion we get one that even surpasses the original, such as The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, and Terminator 2. Well, one more we can add onto that list is Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. (More …)

    • Fazmotron 7:36 am on January 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Anyone else scared of dolls now after watching this film?

    • marinasauce 11:01 pm on January 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      You certainly did rock this post ^_^ I enjoyed reading the prior post on the 1995 Ghost in the Shell, and I liked reading this one even more! A successful sequel blog post? (pardon my cheesiness)
      Nicely written again; now I have another of your recommendations to watch.

    • Mac Colestock 12:24 am on January 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I respectfully disagree. The biggest criticism often leveled at Innocence was how awkwardly Oshii placed his philosophical ruminations. At first glance, it certainly seems that GitS 2 tackles more subjects than its predecessor, but the thing is that GitS tackles all of the same themes and concepts without having to rely so much on uninspired talking heads to do so. Its themes are more refined and subtle, for one thing, but its narrative also more focused than its sequel; Innocence on the other hand always struck me as a work that Oshii lost track of where he was going with his narrative somewhere after the first half of the work. The problem isn’t the fact that it’s packed with exposition and allusions to intensely academic works (Gosenzosama Banbanzai was even more intense in this regard, yet he handled that beautifully). The problem is that these segments contributed very very little to the narrative and ultimately only served to underline the ambiguous nature of these characters’ predicaments, things that were already fairly obvious and could have been conveyed in much subtler ways. The fact that in GitS he’d already done exactly what he’d failed to do in its follow-up was quite disheartening.

      While I do enjoy it, I think GitS 2 is one of the weakest works Oshii has ever done for this reason–combined with the very awkward pacing and extremely tangential nature of the plot. The fact he followed this work up four years later with the phenomenal Sky Crawlers is a small miracle, IMO.

      Although to its credit, Innocence has some of the best action and mindfuck scenes Oshii has done. First half of the movie worked fantastic as neo-noir, too.

  • Sachi 7:48 pm on January 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Motoko Kusanagi, , , , , , , Wachowski Brothers   

    Ghost in the Shell 

    A question posed throughout all of human history, one possibly more insightful and more relevant than the meaning of life, deals with that of humanity. What makes a human being? Is it our body? Our intellect? Our consciousness? What makes man any different from a machine performing functions? Could a machine be more human than a human? The list goes on and on, and there’s still no definitive answer to the question— but it certainly gets us to think, doesn’t it? In 1995, an anime readdressed this question using cyborgs.

    Science fiction often asks this question, among many other issues and questions it address, and popularly roots from the writings of Isaac Asimov. Ghost in the Shell, produced by Production I. G. in 1995, premiered, introducing us to the world where the line between human and machine is no longer distinct, and many people have upgraded to cybernetic bodies. We follow Major Motoko Kusanagi, of the security force Section 9, as she and her team track down a dangerous hacker known as the Puppet Master. At the same time, Kusanagi questions her existence as a cyborg and seeks to discover what it means to be truly human. Ghost in the Shell was a breakthrough in animation, blending cel and computer animation, as well as in the international arena, being among the first anime to be shown extensively in North America, and even being an influence for the Wachowski brothers in creating The Matrix. So, what makes it such a great film? Well, lets go over that in what will by my first essay of my Ghost in the Shell marathon: (More …)

    • Mac Colestock 8:24 pm on January 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Oshii’s film adaptation of Shirou’s manga is barely even an adaptation. It’s probably best to consider them two different beasts altogether due to how drastically they differ, but that’s not to say either one is bad. Aside from visual models, the characters aren’t even recognizable; the thought provoking but loose and lighthearted tone of the manga is contrasted by the somber, introspective, and melancholy tone of the film; and not to mention how the whole narrative had to be compressed and rewritten to the point of only bearing passing resemblance to its source material. But they’re both excellent, since Shirou works well with the comic format and Oshii’s adaptation–though wild in its liberties–does it justice while still remaining thoroughly “Oshii”. He only loses track of himself with Innocence, but… oh well.

      The animation in that film is godly, too. Production IG certainly never fails to deliver on that front.

      • Sachi 8:36 pm on January 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Ah, the difference in tone is one thing I forgot to mention. The 1995 film certainly is much, much more serious than the manga, and rightfully so. I personally like the seriousness this film has, and is one of the many reasons I enjoy it more than Stand Alone Complex, but that essay can be saved for another day.

      • juliancan 11:25 am on January 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Extremely well-written article. Quite an amazing feat considering your age :D. I will be posting this article on Facebook with the hope that your number of viewers will increase thus gaining the recognition you rightfully deserve.

        Indeed, the philosophy presented in this anime is quite interesting too and your essay about how humane is a human is quite intriguing and does justice to the anime series itself. Good job :D.

        Other than that it is so weird, we have one year of difference but we are born on the same month and on the same day o.O. Both born on June 2nd. How did I acquire this information, by stalking your MAL account ;D:

        • Sachi 11:45 am on January 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply

          Wow, that is really weird. o.O

          I’m glad you enjoyed the article. 😀 I tried to spice up my style a little bit with this one, while still following the same basic formula I’ve been developing over the last several months. It’s good to know that it’s been working.

          Thank you for plugging my blog, as well! I’ll be sure to do the same for yours!

          • juliancan 10:41 pm on January 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply

            Anyways if you like anime series with a intriguing and convoluted plotline, having a lot of metaphors and symbolism hidden in it and of course a lot of depth, then I strongly suggest you to watch Monster and Honey and Clover. While Honey and Clover presents the whole philosophy surrounding the transition from adolescent to adulthood, Monster presents the danger of making a person miss his own childhood as well as teenhood, leaving him in an eternal deadlock of transition between his young years and his adult years. While Honey and Clover’s cast of characters are foolhardy college students, in Monster, the main interaction revolves around a life-saver– a doctor– and his pseudo creation, a young psychopath who has been trained to become the next Hitler.


            http://myanimelist.net/anime/16/Honey_and_Clover (the synopsis here does not do justice to its plot :/).

            PS: Watched Yumekui Merry yet?

            • Sachi 10:55 pm on January 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply

              Monster has been on my list of things to watch forever, and I’ve been meaning to get to it for a while. Perhaps after I finish my Ghost in the Shell marathon. As for Honey and Clover: I’ve heard of it, but I’ve never actually looked into it. It was bound to get onto my list at some point, though, and I may get to watching it soon based off of your recommendation.

              And yes, I did watch Yumekui Merry. It seems enjoyably silly, and I love the animation. I will certainly keep watching as the season goes on.

    • marinasauce 10:53 pm on January 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Though I’ve never seen or read any of the Ghost in the Shell works, I did find your article intriguing and well-written. You have a pretty good hook, with the list of questions and draw to the average reader’s curiosity about humanity, that also transitions quite easily into your discussion of the 1995 anime rendition. I’ll have to get around to watching this sometime soon >.<

    • Marina 8:24 pm on June 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I just wanted to drop by and let you know that I finally got around to watching this…and I loved it! Now I just need to get my hands on the 2nd film 🙂 Thanks for convincing me to watch it.

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