December 24, 2005

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex (2004)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

110 mins. · Unrated
16x9 · 1.85:1

Format
UMD

Audio
English - DDS
Japanese - DDS

Subtitles
Englishnglish

Extras
Four Chapter Index, Trailers, Credits Page

Starring
Atsuko Tanaka and Osamu Saka

Review by
Brad Baker


Rating



(2004)

The beautiful "Aeria Gloris" song is part of the tasty Japanese-rock soundtrack that propels the anime "Ghost in the Shell, Stand Alone Complex Season 1, Volume 1" UMD. 3-D geisha robots, sexy techno-chic designs, and expert digital ADR sound recording complete the package. Maybe the director says it best: "It is a time when, even if nets were to guide all consciousness that had been converted to photons and electrons toward coalescing, stand-alone individuals have not yet been converted into data to the extent that they can form unique components of a larger complex".

Whatever.

"Ghost in the Shell" is the cyberpunk epic of crime, existentialism, and humanity that has become an underground smash. Major Mokoto Kusanagi, the exotic female cyborg, is back. Together with the officers of Section 9, she continues her desperate mission to fight crime in both the real and on-line worlds. She and Section 9 will intercept murders, track down runaway state-of-the-art killing machines, and solve mysterious conspiracies.

"Ghost in the Shell, Stand Alone Complex" is a 26-episode television series based within a world parallel to that of "Ghost in the Shell". This brand new Volume 1 UMD contains four episodes.

The CGI opening credits are impressive. Ethereal choir music introduces thermoflague, bullets, and robot tanks.

In episode 1, Major Matoko stands atop a building, receives wireless orders directly into her cybernetic brain, and then easily positions herself to battle a grisly goon from the roof-tops. Each episode has great music and original animation. I can't stop humming the opening song. As always, Sony's game and movie sound production here is just stunning.

The UMD seems to enhance the multi-track audio, providing intricate surround effects. Doors open and close on the right speaker, guitar strums are on the right, and more specific music cues introduce scenes on the left. The soundtrack is strong, metallic and loud. I like loud. And the UMD highlights depth-enhanced dialogue. Good use of reverb, or adjustable play-back during sound recording of dialogue lends added drama. Recent audio tracks should sound good, and credit should be given here for getting it right. The Japanese and English tracks are both very clean. The dub is free of any translation issues.

As I said, the video is bright and clear; the UMD LCD screen seems to crystalize "Ghost" sequences into an amazing series of vivid tableaues. I noticed some slight color smearing of the red and purple at the top of the frame in parts of Episode 2, but otherwise color is dead-on.

The unrated UMD has chapter stops, four trailers, and a technical-credit page. A mind-prodding screenplay, innovative animation, and hot Japanese cyber-punk rock; this baby is for kids of all ages.

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