GitS: S.A.C Episode 01
I'm on a Ghost in the Shell phase, so I intend on reviewing all material of this universe. As I already reviewed both movies, it's time for the series.
The series, named Stand Alone Complex, has two seasons and one movie, called Solid State Society.
First season was produced between 2002 and 2003 and was written and directed by Kenji Kamiyama, with Shirow Masamune (GitS manga creator) having "production advisor" credit. Both Shirow and Oshii give space for Kamiyama, who must have had given some impression with his works in Jin-Roh and Blood: The Last Vampire. And he doesn't dissapoint. Of course Shirow And Oshii's influences are felt and Kamiyama said in a interview:
"So I am extremely grateful to Shirow Masamune, the original author, to let a rookie like myself do the job."
Newbie, but with a iron hand.
The first season has 26 episodes and they are divided in two categories:
SA - for Stand Alone
C - for Complex.
The Complex episodes are part of the season's main case, the Laughing Man incident, and indispensable for understanding the story, while the SA episodes are independent from the main storyline.
The SA episodes are nice and help in filling the background, wether from characters or even the world itself. Also, they give a fresh breath from the Laughing Man case, sometimes much welcomed, but the series standout in the Complex episodes.
The case investigated by Section 9 in the Complex episodes is known as the Laughing Man incident, himself considered a Super Class A hacker, and is the great trump card of the first season.
Not that the Stand Alone episodes are bad or don't deserve recognition, but the Laughing Man case shows the true potential of a cyberpunk story handled by a competent production team.
The story is concise and breathtaking, with influences of a real case that has happened in Japan a few years ago.
But let's start with the first episode, aptly named "Section 9".
This first episode functions as an introduction and if you have never seen both movies or read the mangas, don't worry.
SAC setting is in a alternate reality, where the first movie events never happened.
The characters personality are a bit different as well, so the series is a fine introduction to GitS world.
The episode begins with the following:
Therefore, individuals still aren't not converted to data, to the point that they're able to form compenents of a larger complex. Tricky, huh? Not so much, if you've seen the first movie, which has the following introduction:
"The advance of computerisation, however, has not yet wiped out nations and ethnic groups."
The difference here, the way I see it, is exactly what happens in the first GitS movie: Motoko Kusanagi merges with the Puppet Master, giving birth to a whole complete new being. As if trying to distance itself from the movie and give personality and a new setting to the series, this merging still does not happen. Score!
To sum up the episode's story:
Yes, that's right. Robot geishas.
Doing justice to the episode's name, it does not take much to Section 9 being called to solve the situation:
|Motoko wearing thermoptical camouflage. AKA Predator camo.|
With the hostage situation solved, we're soon taken to the case investigation. And this might be the best part here. Political scandals, body and cyberbrains exchanges, future geishas, future hackers, whatever: in less than half hour, we're taken in the best possible manner into the SAC world. Despite a solid script, not all questions raised are answered, but that's not the case. The thing is Stand Alone Complex has the visuals and themes good enough to let itself indulge in the questions, not the answers and head to the next episode.
Before I forget, soundtrack composer is Yoko Kanno. Pay attention to the song during the geisha house raid, it's worth the episode by itself.