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  • Sachi 7:18 pm on February 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Yoko Kanno   

    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 2:30 pm on December 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Classical, Cowboy Bebop, , Fullmetal Alchemist, , Jazz, Joe Hisaishi, , Koutarou Nakagawa, Kuniaki Haishim, Michiru Ōshima, Monster, , , Satoru Kōsaki, Shiro Sagisu, Susumu Hirasawa, The Seatbelts, Yasushi Ishii, Yoko Kanno   

    Talent Trumps Discrimination: Yoko Kanno 

    Most of us can agree that music plays a large part in cinema; it creates an atmosphere, emphasizes emotions to the audience, and, most importantly, invests the audience into the story. The same holds true for anime; in fact, music probably plays a larger role in this medium, since only so much can be portrayed by animated visuals as far as atmosphere and emotions go. With such an increased expectation for music in anime, the competition must be fierce, and it must surely be a lot harder for the average composer to get noticed.

    Likewise, considering Japan’s reputation of traditional gender roles and scanty attempts at gender equality— Japan ranked 54th of 93 countries in 2008 according to the Gender Empowerment Measure, and 106th of 189 countries for the proportion of women in the House of Representatives, according to a 2009 survey— it would be especially hard for women to become successful in a competitive work force. However, one Yoko Kanno has overcome both these adversities. (More …)

    • BornIn1142 9:53 am on January 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I’m surprised Yuki Kaijura didn’t pop up on that list of composers. I always thought she was quite well-regarded, but maybe I’m over-rating her popularity a bit. Her work on .hack was brilliant.

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