Judge Adam Arseneau suffers from Post-Traumatic Ghost in the Shell Withdrawal Syndrome—or PTGITSWS for short.
The Final Move
All good things…
Facts of the Case
While the rebels clash with the JGSDF in Dejima, Kuze attempts to regain control of his comrades by reestablishing communication via the net. The Prime Minister and the Chief have been ousted from power and held in detention, powerless to affect the events playing out. The Major is off to find Kuze and try and attempt to resolve the situation without further violence, but both are soon attacked by sentry helicopters and trapped under falling rubble.
Meanwhile, the Rangers of Section 4, under direction from the JGSDF, pursue Section 9 through the streets of Dejima. Section 4 is under the impression that Batou and his men are terrorists with stolen plutonium—which Batou realizes is exactly what they look like.
Events complicate even further when an American Empire nuclear submarine is detected off the coast of Dejima. Section 9 surmises that its presence can only mean one thing…that the city is about to be written off, literally.
It's finally over. With this final three-episode installment of 2nd Gig, so ends a season of the most engaging and consistently fascinating anime series currently in production. The surprisingly mournful and bittersweet finale cumulates political events set into motion before we even realized they existed into a twisting, tense finale that does a fairly good job at not letting itself down. After all, the show had a lot to live up to.
• "Episode 24—Nuclear Power"
Tense, tense, tense is how you would describe "Nuclear Power," as
the full ramifications of Gohda's plans unfurl themselves around the viewer and
choke the breath right out of them. The stakes are going up, doubled by the
political involvement of the Americans. What I love about episodes like this is
how complex the plot points, subplots, and political maneuvering
becomes—trying to keep track of it all can be dizzying. An excellent
• "Episode 25—This Side of Justice"
"This Side of Justice" balances nicely between action and plot,
offering some interesting parallels between Kuze and Kusanagi as they meet
face-to-face for the first time. Trapping them under the rubble provides an
opportunity for them to discuss their various views on the world, and the Major
realizes she has more in common with him than she ever imagined. I also like how
events from a previous throwaway episode way back suddenly travel full-circle
here in terms of Kuze's back story, which may or may not be intertwined with the
Majors. We also finally understand Kuze's motivations, for better or worse,
which ends a gradual shift in our perceptions carefully cultivated over the last
ten or 12 episodes. Top-notch stuff.
• "Episode 26—Endless°Gig"
All good things have to end, but as an ending, things went a little fast for
my taste. All those Tachikoma haters out there will be satisfied (one way or the
other) with their involvement in the resolution to the crisis.
"Endless°Gig" did a half-decent job of wrapping up the story, but
the entire build up simply felt too large to be defused by a mere episode. I did
like the tie-in to the original Ghost in
the Shell movie at the end, for fans hardcore enough to remember how the
characters were dressed at the start of the film. It's hard to properly discuss
how I felt about this episode without completely spoiling the ending all over
the place, so please excuse my brevity. Not the best episode, but not a terrible
finale all things considering.
I have to admit, I feel kind of empty now. 2nd Gig did a marvelous job of building up tension over a long, drawn-out period, almost cruelly so. Then, suddenly, no more episodes. It's kind of unfair, really. In previous reviews, I wondered whether or not the show could ever live up to its potential. Without mincing words? Yes, it did just fine.
Ghost in the Shell introduced us to this fantastic world, the first season of Stand Alone Complex expanded it, and now 2nd Gig has filled in the back-story details of the complex political and historical developments that helped shape events in Japan, illustrating the undercurrents of social discontent that still trouble society. Previous installments were introspective looks into the nature of humanity, identity, and consciousness, while 2nd Gig took a more literal, real-world examination into the world of the future—an extroversive view, if you will. It changes the tone somewhat, but it has expanded the enjoyment of the entire canon immeasurably with its depth of focus and attention to detail.
As with previous installments, the audio and video quality is nothing short of anime reference material. The technical presentation is simply stunning. Extras are running a bit dry by the end of the series, but this has been a trend along the way. Still, it is nice to get an interview with the so-called "villains" of 2nd Gig, the voice actors who play Gohda and Kuze—it makes for nice contrast.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The ending was rushed, plain and simple. For the show to methodically build Kuze up as a protagonist and then resolve his plotline in ten seconds is just mean, man. And while Gohda's resolution is satisfying in one sense, it leaves an incredible amount unresolved. We really needed one more episode to fully do justice to the twisting, labyrinthine storyline proper.
Complex, tense, action-packed, and introspective, the two Stand Alone Complex series have proved their worth as fine additions to Masamune Shirow's elaborate universe. As in the first season, 2nd Gig stumbled here and there, but only in tiny increments, quickly regaining its footing and hurtling towards a spectacular finale. When taken in as a whole, the entire 2nd Gig experience is extremely satisfying and memorable, towering over all competition in the serial anime department.
If you haven't invested time in Stand Alone Complex yet, you are missing out on something worthwhile, challenging, and engaging. Unfortunately, at the time of this publication, nobody is talking about a third season of Stand Alone Complex, so this and the upcoming Solid State Society one-shot in 2007 might be all we get of Section 9.
I say enjoy it now. Anime really doesn't get any better than this.
Released on all charges, provided the defendant comes back for a third season.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Manga Video
• Interview with director Kenji Kamiyama, Ken Nishida (Gohda), and Rikiya Koyama (Kuze)
Review content copyright © 2006 Adam Arseneau; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.