"Yeah, more like Ghost In The Smell!" says Judge Adam Arseneau, who's caught a whiff of a conclusion.
"Just as water runs downhill, the human heart also tends to revert to its basest instincts."—Gohda
Just when you thought things couldn't get any more tense and dramatic—oh, you've heard it all before. If anyone's still even reading these, you've been following the series close enough to know that things are blowing the @#$% up in Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig.
Facts of the Case
After fighting his way through Section 9, Kuze escapes with the plutonium and heads to Fukuoka to lead his rebellion. However, he soon finds the transaction conducted by the Russian Mafia to be slightly disingenuous. While the Chief pleads with the Prime Minister to let Section 9 try and take Kuze out before the government declares martial law, the Prime Minister sees her own political future become uncertain in the face of hostile forces within her own cabinet.
Meanwhile, the city of Fukuoka evacuates millions due to a nuclear bomb threat from the refugees and Boma tries to help the police defuse the situation. It seems Section 9 is helpless to stop the coming conflict between the JGSDF and the militant refugees, who are standing face-to-face across the battlefield, ready to clash—and all it takes is one bullet to start a war…
This is it. Five discs worth of tense, steam-pressured build-up have finally begun to boil over and explode all over the faces of anxious viewers. Kuze gets off with the plutonium, Dejima declares itself an independent nation, and the Self Defense Army preps for a massive invasion. Man, I've literally been shaking with anticipation waiting for this disc.
Volume Six is the most action-packed, dramatic, and plot-developing installment of the series yet, bringing to fruition ideas, themes, and events that seemingly began a lifetime ago. The ultimate puppet master is finally revealed in the refugee affair, their script being followed to the letter by all players. I shall not reveal any more than that, but the sheer scope of it makes me tingle in deep, naughty places. If you have had any doubt about 2nd Gig's ability to come through at the end, Volume Six will forever lay it to rest.
Here's the checklist. Volume Six features:
• Batou and Kuze in a knife fight
• "Episode 21—Embarrassment"
A top-notch episode no matter how you slice it, we get Batou and Kuze wailing serious amounts of ass on each other, explosions, and the beginnings of a crisis that threatens to overwhelm the entire country. How can you ask for more? Episodes like this remind me of exactly why I adore this show as much as I do.
• "Episode 22—Reversal Process"
"Reversal Process" has no action to speak of, only the satisfying "thunk" of pieces falling into place as the political and Machiavellian cogs whir and grind toward an ultimate confrontation between refugees and the SDF. The confrontation between Batou and Gohda is an intense duel of words difficult to follow, but extremely illuminating for the patient. I shall reveal no substantial plot details, but, suffice it to say, we come away from "Reversal Process" fully understanding the level of deception and disinformation circulating throughout Japan.
• "Episode 23—Martial Law"
Meanwhile, Kuze has been maintaining constant communication with three million refugees via his cyberbrain, keeping the situation under control. However, when the Cabinet Intelligence Agency jam all communication in and out of Dejima, the refugees are suddenly leaderless—and it doesn't take long before chaos ensues.
It's hard for these episodes to get any better, but "Martial Law" goes the extra mile and then some. Section 9 can already see how the cards are falling on this particular game and, despite their best efforts, they may end up holding the brunt of responsibility for this disaster, just like last time in the Laughing Man incident. It is only here that we finally realize the full scope of the plan set into motion, and the roles that Kuze and Section 9 have been playing in an orchestrated game. I swear, these discs keep ending on better and better cliffhangers.
As we wind ourselves down with this fantastic anime series, we can dispense with the endless technical gushing and praise I lavish on these discs every time they cross my desk. Like previous versions, Volume Six has one of the finest technical anime presentations you will ever see, doubly so in the Special Edition. No need to say any more.
Manga was kind enough to send the Special Edition of Volume Six for us to review, which is identical to the standard release save for a fancy aluminum case, three plastic figurines of a Tachikoma, the CEO President (love it!) and a Maid robot, and a DTS-only disc version of the episodes. Like previous versions of the Special Edition, if you're the collecting type, this might be worth the extra cash, but for average viewers, you'll be more than happy with the fantastic 5.1 presentation on the standard edition.
Extras are getting a bit tepid; all we get this time is a ten-minute interview with Kenji Kamiyama (Director), Osamu Saka (Aramaki), and Yoshiko Sakakibara (Prime Minister Kayabuki) discussing and ruminating on their respective characters, and the standard "Tachikomatic Days" featurettes preceding each episode. Nothing to see here, move along.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The single, horrible downside to Volume Six is the brevity. Unlike previous installments of four episodes per disc, this one only contains three. Please do not find this out the hard way, like I did, when I threw my remote across the room after failing to find another episode to satiate my lust.
Considering we're getting hosed on episode count, the least Manga could have done was boost the supplementary material to compensate. Oh, well.
Die-hard fans already know what I speak of, but for all those curious viewers, 2nd Gig is the ultimate pleasure-delaying anime, a mental and emotional investment that pays off only towards the final episodes. Heady, complex, and spiritually and intellectually compelling, with some of the most intense drama ever conceived in an anime, it is as fine an example of the genre as you will find.
This season is finally beginning to live up to expectations. I had every confidence in it to do exactly that, but it's nice to see it finally happen. The court will reserve final judgment for Volume Seven, of course, but in the meantime, try not to crack the jewel case gripping it with your white knuckles while watching Volume Six.
Volume Six is the best installment of 2nd Gig so far, hands down—and just one more to go…
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Studio: Manga Video
• Interview with Kenji Kamiyama (Director), Osamu Saka (Aramaki), and Yoshiko Sakakibara (Prime Minister Kayabuki)
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