2nd Gig's opening has been relentless and bold, leaving us to wonder, "so will any of these episodes truly 'Stand-alone' as they did last season?" Well, the answer is "not really" but the motion is so good that it won't matter.
However, in these four episodes, we have our greatest change-of-pace away from the Individualist Eleven storyline, so enjoy what you get here.
My review is working off of fansubs, with the purpose of informing-- so some translations may differ from our ending results in the USA.
Episode 13: "Face"/"Make-up"
After the shocking end of Episode 12 where folks were literally losing their heads, we are slammed back into the aftermath where we attempt to figure out "What's up with that Kuze fellow?" The trail leads us to a specialist cyborg facemaker who's been recently put out of business by none other than our own Section 9 muscle-- Paz. Questions abound as we are given a window into this supporting cast member's life outside of work, and what consequences such a life renders.
Episode 14: "Beware the Left Eye" / "Poker Face"
You know the scene-- a battered war veteran sits playing cards with the rookies and he tells them about that one time he was "truly afraid" and saw what the make-up of his commander really was. In this episode Saito describes to the rookies his first encounter with the Major-- and the best part is that they weren't at all on the same side. It's tons of fun to see a younger Batou and Ishikawa trade quips, and always fun to see a "background" character like Saito in the lead.
Episode 15: "Afternoon of the Machines" / "PAT."
TACHIKOMA!!! That's right, it's the gang sitting around and playing philosophy again. This episode sets up some of the more important parts of this season's Tachikoma arc. While most of the crew is getting a tune-up and discussing the finer points of cybernetic life, Batou's personal Tachikoma goes with part of the Section 9 team to make some outside investigations... and the result brings the Tachikomas face-to-face with someone unexplicably familiar.
Episode 16: "The Fact of Being There" / "Another Chance"
And all attention back to the main plot. This episode is spent slowly unveiling Kuze backstory. The sad part? Kuze's just not as "cool" as last season's Laughing Man. The complex web be placed will pay off with a bang-up rest of the series...
Certain to be packaged with more delightful interviews and extras, let's hope that maybe Bandai/Manga Entertainment slip us OST 3 for the Special Edition.
Anyways, enjoy this disc-- there's only a couple more "side-story" episodes left, and then the final plunge; with a story arc that's more intense (and oddly inspired by the original manga) than most of what we've seen thus far.