Deal of the Day -- Harry Potter - Complete 8-Film Collection
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Set before the film, there is Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The 26 episode TV series. The exploits of Section 9 at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. First point to make, if you think this is just a cash-in over the popularity of the film then relax, this is in every way on par with the movie (though the second movie "Innocence" looks like it will blow everything out of the water!) The TV series centers around Motoko Kusanagi and her team of professionals. There are some old favourites like Batou, Togusa and of course Aramaki Daisuke the leader, and also some new faces like Saito the Sniper, Isikawa and a whole load of tachikoma police robots (these never made it to the film and the series will show you why). This is'nt all Motoko's show though as you might excpect, episodes and time are given over to other characters, building up your respect for them and ultimatley wanting them to make it to the end....but more of that in a minute. The main thread running through the episodes is the precursor to the film A pre-Puppet Master type figure known simply as The Laughing Man. TLM is trying to unearth some secrets that the Governmaent dont want brought to light, and when Section 9 start getting close to the truth they themselves become targets in one of the most nail biting build ups in a series I've known. Interspersed through this plot there are a few "Stand Alone Missions" involving terrorists, kidnapping and AI becoming too real (cant say too much on that subject). As for the animation, it had me scratching my head for a while. It is very good with full a blown CGI opening, but the main body of the work I just could'nt tell if there was CGI in it or not, and I think that is a compliment to the tightness of the style of this show.Read more ›
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If you've seen the original movie then you've GOT to get this series! The animation is on a par with the movie as it includes 3D techniques developed since the film (vehicles move and look better etc.) and the stories are good too, with a great story-arc about the Laughing Man (the main baddie before Project 2501). The dubbed version stays pretty close to the meaning of the original Japanese, and it sounds like they've used the original actors from the movie (I couldn't tell the difference, anyway!). Having seen the entier series on a Japanese import(with some 'interesting' subtitles!) I can happily say that the episodes only get better, and that I'll be getting all the dubbed versions as they're released, 'cos then I'll be able to concentrate on the great visuals :) Get this NOW, you will not be disappointed!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Now, in the Comfort of Your Own Home...20 Dec. 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
Ghost in the Shell was one of my first exposures to Japanese feature length anime. It was at its time a superb technical and artistic achievement, and still is today, despite the number o anime series that have borrowed from it. Now a new venture brings the same contest to the more intimate television experience. And once again the durability of the plot and ideas are demonstrated to a new audience.
The context is a time not far in our future when heavy cybernetic modifications of the human body are possible. For some this has gone to the point of using a totally artificial both with an implanted human brain (the ghost) and it's associated quirks and personality. The star of this series is one such, Major Moto Kusanagi, both beautiful and deadly. She is a lead investigator in Section 9, a special police branch headed by Chief Aramaki. Her and her team are often brought in when a case involves national security and the intermixing of cybernetic and human consciousness. For the fans of the original film and the manga, the whole crew is present - Batou, Togusa, and the ever-present Tachikoma robots.
The continuity between this series and its origins is excellent - although Kusanagi has a habit of being even less dressed than she appears in the film. The world of the series has been updated a bit to cover for the change in public awareness of digital possibilities. The premise for this is that the events leading up to Kusanagi's transformation into a creature of the net simply didn't happen. Director and writer Kenji Kimiyama has set out to create a slightly more down to earth story with more components of a police procedural than deep philosophical moments. Although the issues of what is human and what is not still continue to haunt the stories it not longer dominates.
The four episodes on this disk cover a police cover up about a hacker incident, a military cyber-tank that suddenly develops an alarming amount of intelligence, a unique form of bait-and-switch in a geisha house, and a series of suicides by beautiful but obsolete androids. Each story manages to explore the tension at the human machine interface, revealing a sometimes chilling vision of the human and AI experience of a world traveling at Internet speed.
Of note is that the music for the series is by Yoko Kanno, one of Japan's most significant composers for the film. She has been responsible for Cowboy Bebop, RahXephon, Escaflowne, Wolf's Rain, and a host of other successes. Ghost in the Shell is another proof of her skill at matching music to concept. Put this whole effort down as a must of Ghost in the Shell fans.
The base DVD includes two excellent interviews. One is with director Kenji Kimiyama that reveals a lot of his intentions in the series. The second is with Atsuko Tanaka who is the Japanese voice actress for Major Kusanagi. It is a shame that the US audience is often totally unaware of the real dramatic forces brought into play by the original cast, but goes along with dubbing that is often too flat and poorly translated. Tanaka is a force of her own, and the listener should at least take the time to listen to the Japanese with subtitles to get a sense of Kusanagi's intended voice.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Vol. 1 Review18 Jun. 2004
Alan V. Dunkin
- Published on Amazon.com
The Ghost in the Shell name is best known for the animated movie released in Japan and the United States in the mid 1990s, based on the popular manga by Masamune Shirow. In 2002 Production I.G. started ambitious work on an evolutionary animated series heavily based on the manga, with more input from Shirow. In June 2004, the series will make its American debut on the Cartoon Network, followed by this DVD release in July. Stand Alone Complex then is the title for the TV series, which takes place independently from the manga and theatrical movies. Crafted wonderfully, the series features a balance of intelligence, technology, rebellious counter-culture, sadness, action, and cerebral plots that, while typical of Japanese manga, go far and above what American viewers typically receive. Movie watchers will see some familiar characters and settings - the main character, Major Motoko Kusanagi, is the tactical commander of Public Peace Section 9, a described governmental "offensive force against crime" led by the older Daisuke Aramaki. Section 9's members are nearly all cyborgs - military-grade constructed bodies and cyberbrains that host the human brain imprint (essentially the soul or "ghost" of a person, the "shell" being the body). Batou, the muscular gung-ho cyborg, and Togusa, the semi-normal relative newcomer (he's essentially a human with some cybernetic implants) should also be familiar to movie viewers, as is Ishikawa. Other more one-dimensional team members, like Saito, Pazu, and Boma, will probably be more familiar for manga readers. The Tachikomas (Fuchikomas in the manga) round out the active Section 9 staff, sentient AI tanks that provide a bit of humor with their child-like, yet compelling, mannerisms, personalities and voices. The overall series plot and title stem from the Laughing Man case, though there are plenty of individual one-episode stories. The episodes are frequently introspective, while highlighting and sometimes amplifying various human flaws through technology. Another theme involves a kind of revolutionary counter-culture fixating around the cult figure of "The Laughing Man," a seemingly ingenious hacker whose apparent crimes in the past may or may not have spawned independent imitators for common causes - the "Stand Alone Complex." The show's writers seem to be well versed in alternative or counter-cultural ideas - the Laughing Man frequently appears in the guise of a rotating smiley-face icon quoting from J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye," while the name "The Laughing Man" itself is from one of Salinger's short stories. The quality of the artwork varies by the episode - there isn't one unifying art style as in other anime series. That said, the animation is generally quite good, with a generous mix of 3D graphics blended with the 2D characters. Likewise the music direction and composition is amply offered in the varied and frequently eclectic style of Yoko Kanno, and resembles her mix in Macross Plus and Cowboy Bebop. Frequently the combination of art, music, and plot mesh quite well. Viewers may question Kusanagi's dress code, the quick bouts of graphical violence, or the complete lack of action - this show is definitely not for children. The Special Edition DVD set features 3 DVDs: the first features the first four episodes with extras, the second features the first four episodes with DTS sound (and extras), and the third features the original soundtrack for the first season. Only the first disc is featured with the regular set. Here is an episode summary: SECTION 9: The series is introduced after a short encounter with a rooftop criminal as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and party is suddenly held hostage in a robot geisha house. Aramaki quickly takes control with Section 9, but nothing about the hostage situation, the aftermath, or the army's involvement is as it seems. The entire team is introduced, some albeit briefly, as is Aramaki's long-time friend Kubota. The plot generally isn't too complex and is easy to figure, but it's a good start. TESTATION: At the Kenbishi Heavy Industry's Maneuvers Dome the company's new heavy multi-legged sentient AI tank seemingly goes berserk, blasts itself out of the Dome, and gets on the highway - but where is it going? And why? It's Section 9's job to follow and if possible stop the tank, while discovering why it went berserk. This episode really introduces the Tachikomas and involves one of the most sentimental and nearly tearful stories in the entire season. It's interesting how the direction focuses on the cyborgs of Section 9 as Togusa details how Kago wanted something similar for himself and could never get in life. ANDROID AND I: Old-style "Jerry"-type androids begin self-destructing in spectacular ways en masse, bringing Section 9 into the case, fearing a connection to an earlier case in the capital. While the case doesn't seem as vicious, the investigation quickly brings Batou and Togusa to the apartment of the perpetrator - a film-buff apparently in love with his android. Reportedly one of the show creator's favorite episodes. INTERCEPTOR: The fourth episode begins the main story arc with the Laughing Man case as a police investigator on the case and acquaintance of Togusa is killed before he can tell Togusa something about the investigation - not with the case itself but something going on at higher levels of the investigation and the special investigation branch formed to solve the case. Before long Togusa discovers the illegal use of interceptors - microscopic cameras implanted on the surface of the eye - on the team itself. A scandal unfolds, and before long the Laughing Man himself makes an "appearance." Honestly the first set should have the next two episodes as well as they are all linked but nevertheless these four show a fairly impressive range of what Stand Alone Complex is all about. Highly recommended.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Food for thought29 Sept. 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
The issues concerning the internet these days may well be considered as precursors to GITS:SAC. Privacy, access, surveillance, information, internet morality, and humanity are all problems dealt with in "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex", except that the implications and legal ramifications are well established and things of the past. You will be compelled to outgrow the technological adolescence of the present very quickly to deal with the maturity and depth of the world of GITS.
I've seen the entire series, and it is by far one of the best anime series I've seen. The original movie was quite revolutionary by itself, but I have to say that the creators, producers, and studio have outdone themselves by a long shot with this series. The original characters are all there, Major Kusanagi, Batou, Togusa, etc., with the addition of several others who provide support and round out Section 9, a futuristic FBI/CIA organization, as a unit. The series is very much like NYPD Blue, in that you get to know the characters and their cases quite well.
What's astonishing about the series is that the creators have provided an amazingly detailed premise: the world has gone COMPLETELY digital, and the world's population is now linked to the future version of the internet with implants to the point where the line between personality/self and this alternate space has blurred considerably. They then ask the mind-boggling question: what could possibly happen in this kind of world? They answer, of course, with half-hour case studies of cyber-crime, political intrigue, digital culture, and philosophical soul-searching.
Each episode is self-consistent and follows very stringently the physics upon which the series is based. By this I mean that this world has been constructed with a basic set of rules, and each episode tells a story based on these rules, but without bogging him/her down with details about the rules. Instead, the episodes tell their stories and the viewer is thus thrown in the proverbial deep end, inadvertently learning to read the fine print in between the storylines. The extrapolations, implications, and possibilities of such a world are explored to an incredible depth and detail that only anime can provide.
Of course, given the opportunity to explore, there are some episodes where the script becomes a bit too self-analytical, and that might detract the viewer from the storylines, but I think when you create such a world, you are somewhat obliged to delve into those issues.
Can a machine ever have a personality? If your ghost (read personality) can be hacked, how can you tell what is real and what isn't? When your personality can be digitized and you can live immortal in cyberspace, what meaning is there to having a body? What kind of crimes will criminals commit and how will they commit them given such unlimited access? What will be the shape of politics in a wired world? Can computer viruses infect human beings? How do you define love/emotions in cyberspace? If you could choose to be a cyborg, would you?
If you've ever asked yourself these questions, find the answers in this technically brilliant series.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Anime at it's best19 Jun. 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
For those of you who like the manga and the movie you will love this series. It is based off the manga and supposedly it is before the movie happened. For me I don't think so, there is a reason I believe why it is called Stand Alone Complex. Now the character design and the story is more from the manga. So for those of you guys who liked the movie and that's all you know or like, you might not enjoy it right away. This series is what the creator(Masamune Shirow)intended it to look like. The movie is the change. This is a 26 episode series so there are a lot of stories and situations to come. I'm glad that finally they are also using DTS for the sound. Many of the Korean animes are in DTS and it's so nice to hear it like that. The only bad thing is that they are charging alot more and giving you the 5.1 disc as well(like you'd play it if you have DTS). The soundtrack that comes with this is excellent, done by Yokko Kano, which is done by the same person who did Cowboy Bebop. Her versatility amazes me. My only complaint is the price as I do not think the next volumes will come anything extra like the soundtrack so you are paying the extra $10 dollars for the 5.1 disc which you don't care about when you buy the DTS vesion.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Where the line between humans and machines is blurred25 Nov. 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
I'll admit to you that I love to watch Adult Swim, and I'll also admit that I like certain types of anime. No, I'm not one of those nerdy card-trading Poke'mon lovers, I'm a young adult who likes to use my imagination in my down time. I like anime that's made for adults like: Big O!, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Outlaw Star, Tenchi and Ghost in the shell.
I was watching either watching Family Guy or Aqua Teen Hunger Force when I saw previews for this show start to air on Adult Swim, I thought thought it looked cool, it featured what looked to me like a cool futuristic take on robots and the humans that are seamlessly integrated with cybornetics to make them almost immortal, But I didn't know the half of it.
What I got was a cyber-punk version of the old black-and-white film noir mysteries. The series receives its subtitle from a theoretical mental complex attributed to the adaptation of cybernetics into the mass public. In the story, 'stand alone complex' is said to describe copies with no original and is portrayed by copycat crimes with no original criminal, or in other words, an imaginary criminal. It also refers to the structure of each episode: Each episode can be viewed independently of each other, and there is little catch-up (if at all) given in each episode to keep the viewer up to date.
Taking place in a fictional city of Japan called "Niihama-shi" (New Port City) in the year 2030, Stand Alone Complex tells the story of a special operations task-force called Public Security Section 9, or simply "Section 9". The series follows the exploits of Section 9's agents who range from ex-military to ex-police as they address each case and how it affects them on a personal level, eventually leading to the mysterious figure dubbed by the media as "The Laughing Man".
Public Security Section 9 is an elite domestic anti-crime unit tasked with the charge of preemptive prevention of technology-related acts of terrorism and crime. Their duties include response to serious cyber crimes (i.e. Cyberbrain hacking, cyber-terrorism), investigation of unlawful acts of those in public office and of high profile murder cases. From time-to-time they also serve as protection to foreign VIPs.
If you have seen the movie then you know that the TV series differs from the cinema adaptation in its focus upon issues created by the advance of technology. Instead of the intensely focused and personal examination of technology, presented is a look at society and technology as a larger whole. The series of 26 half-hour TV episodes has a larger budget of time to explore the concepts and ideas found in the original manga. In comparison to the film version, the series is considered by many to be easier to understand. Also, in comparison, the series can be found to be closer to the manga; due to the presence of some humor, the usage of the Tachikomas (Fuchikomas in the manga, and referred to simply as "tanks" in the one scene a derivant version makes an appearance in), the design of the characters, and also, the usage of the characters Paz, Bouma and Saito. Stand Alone Complex exhibits the accumulated experience and expertise of Production I.G. in their application of computer generated imagery. This is evident in their digital color grading, environmental effects, and cell-shaded computer models. Their work has been highly praised for its subtle contribution to a scene, which adds greatly to the atmosphere.
I think a lot of people will try to compare this to Cowboy Bebop as with so many other anime and mangas, but that's foolish. Stand Alone Complex is no better or worse than Cowboy Bebop, it's just a different story, different style, different sets of charactors and there places.
if you like anime or manga you'll definitely like this show. It's complex, has views on modern terrorism and how to deal with it, and not to mention the technology! Even if you don't watch anime just give a chance and take it for what it is.