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You'll Never Walk Alone

July 20, 2009

     One of the most popular anime in the first half of the 2000s was Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, an adaptation of Shirou Masamune’s popular manga, Ghost in the Shell, which was adapted previously into a movie of the same name.  The story takes place about twenty-five to thirty years in the future, where developments in technology, cybernetics, and the internet have made it common place for people to have cybernetic brains and technologically-enhanced bodies.  In this world, where people question the existence of a soul, or “ghost,” or where your brain can be hacked into, crime is at a new level.  So you need a new level of cops.  Enter Section 9, an intelligence agency in the Japanese government.  Led by Aramaki Daisuke, otherwise known as the “old ape,” its field leader is Kusanagi Motoko, a female cyborg with super strength and tons of smarts, who is also probably anime/manga’s greatest female character.  She and the rest of the gang, including Batou, another cyborg with a whole lot of passion and a sense of humor, and Togusa, the least cyberized member of the team and a former police officer, track down cyber terrorists and criminals of all sorts.  They are assisted by the cutest tanks ever (WTF, right?), the Tachikomas, as well as an army of androids.

     This show is, at its best, one of the best in the business.  It gets extremely psychological in the coolest ways, analyzing the bizarre kind of people that would arise from this hypothetical cyberized world of the future.  It also really gets into the minds of the various main characters, all of whom are extremely likable.  It even examines the idea of AIs developing their own ghosts through the Tachikomas.  It’s high octane action that still takes time to develop its cast while creating a totally believable, historically based world around it.  At its worst…  it’s actually still much better than most other anime.  I admit that Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig, the second season, was definitely inferior to the first.  But even still, I was hooked.  The artwork is also great looking, as it is dark enough that it fits the topic perfectly.  The soundtrack is semi-interesting, but I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best anime has to offer.  I watched this show in English (yes, I do that a fair amount), and truth be told, this dub is superb.  I mean that it’s one of the absolute dubs you will ever see.  Mary Elizabeth McGlynn is a perfect Major (that’s Kusanagi’s nickname), and Richard Epcar is a perfect Batou.  I also definitely prefer the English Tachikoma voices, since they are now further differentiated by actually unique voices.  If you love police dramas, you should watch this.  If you love anime, you should watch this.  If you love dark, gritty, psychological stuff, you should watch this.  If you like all three, and you haven’t watched this, you’d better watch it.  Or the Major will come get you.

Story: 9.7      Artwork: 9.4      Soundtrack: 9.0      Acting: 9.7      Overall: 9.7

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