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Ktulu’s Fourth Annual Awards & Shaming Ceremony

For those of you who haven’t been following my blog for as long, allow me to explain. This is the time of year where I take every single series I’ve reviewed from February 15th of 2016 to the very last review I did, in this case Natsume Yuujinchou, and I praise the best while demeaning the worst. With every positive reward having a negative counterpart. Like last year I’m not going to bother giving you nominees. It’s not like I’m going to break for adverts and reveal the winners after the breaks or like I’m going to rent a stadium and invite all the nominees to wear fancy dress and accept trophies. Even if I had the euros to waste, I guarantee all those people have better things to do. So, let’s keep things to the point. I also won’t be including the bonus reviews. Maybe next year when I have more than five I’ll give them their own awards. Like last year, I’ll list off the eligible series in alphabetical order first.

This year the anime reviewed were:

91 Days, Ajin, Binbougami Ga, Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon S, Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan series 2, Brain Powerd, Byston Well Monogatari: Garzey no Tsubasa, Charlotte, Code Geass R2, Coppelion, Dance in the Vampire Bund, Danganronpa 3: Mirai Hen, Danganronpa 3: Zetsubou Hen, El Cazador de la Bruja, El Hazard: The Magnificent World, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Gangsta, Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig, Ginga Ojou-sama Densetsu Yuna Shin’en no Fairy, Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka series 2, Golgo 13, Gravitation, Gunsmith Cats, Haibane Renmei, Hanare Toride no Yonna, Ixion Saga DT, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Stardust Crusaders, Kagewani, Kara no Kyoukai: Mirai Fukuin, Kashimashi, Komori-san wa Kotowarenai, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, Kuuchuu Buranko, Love Live: The School Idol Film, Magic Tree House, Mononoke Hime, Mouryou no Hako, Natsume Yuujinchou, Noir, Non Non Biyori, One Punch Man, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry, Rokka no Yuusha, Rurouni Kenshin: Meji Kenkaku Romantan- Tsuiokuhen, Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin, Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata, Sansha Sanyou, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, SKET Dance, Sword Art Online II, Terra Formars, Terra Formars Revenge, Toradora, Totsuzen Neko no Kuni Banipal, Triangle Heart Sweet Songs Forever, Upotte, & Yuri Kuma Arashi

So, with our contestants firmly established let’s begin announcing the winners.

The Moffat award for unbearably awful writing in a mostly serious anime or OVA. Our previous winners were Dansi Bunri no Crime Edge, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Madhouse’s take on one of my absolute favourite super hero teams, the X-men. This year we had some stiff competition. The big contenders were Garzey no Tsubasa, Kagewani & Brain Powerd. In the end the winner is Brain Powerd.

brain-powerd

Here’s the thing that sets this one apart from the other two. The other two are unintentionally kind of enjoyable. While Brain Powerd also has some moments that are funny in their incompetence, it’s also much longer and those moments are farther between.

The Simone award for stellar writing in a mostly serious series or OVA. Previous winners were Psycho Pass, Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex & Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. While I did watch several fantastic series this year, the winner probably won’t surprise anyone since I only gave one series a ten and the rest of the really strong ones got eights and nines. The winner is El Cazador de la Bruja.

cazador

A fantastically written story about two ladies on a journey, meeting interesting characters and strengthening their bond. I absolutely adored this series.

The Abrams award for worst writing in a film. The prior winners were End of Evangelion, Metropolis & Hetalia: Paint it White. This year we had a very clear winner and that film was: Hanare Toride no Yonna.

Yonna1

Yes, it was an ugly film with a nonsensical narrative and the best thing I could say about it was that it was over quickly.

The Miyazaki award for best writing in a film. Our previous winners were Nausicaa, Kara no Kyoukai 4 & Spirited Away. This year’s winner is probably kind of obvious. The award goes to Mononoke Hime.

Mononoke1

One of Ghibli’s finest and definitely a worthy winner.

The Macfarlane award for worst attempt at comedy. Our previous winners were OreImo, Kill la Kill & Sunabouzu. This year was a bit difficult since I watched two really horrendous comedies that were roughly on par but this year’s recipient is Kashimashi.

Kashimashi2

While Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan series 2 was a real contender, Kashimashi featured “jokes” about the main lead’s father acting like an incestuous pervert.Which is worse than anything from Bokusatsu Tenshi.

The Pratchett award for best comedic elements. The prior winners were Bottle Fairy, Doki Doki Precure & Yuru Yuri San Hai. This year it goes to Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka series 2.

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It’s a cutesy, endearing series and the funniest I’ve watched this year.

The Meyer award for the worst romantic elements. Our previous winners were OreImo, Mawaru Penguindrum & Love Hina Again. This year’s anime that gave love a bad name is Dance in the Vampire Bund.

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It was pretty difficult to choose between this and Kashimashi, the supposedly yuri (but not really) series that goes to absurd extremes to try and justify two girls liking one another. In the end, though, the series where both the major and secondary romance have paedophilic aspects has to be worse.

The Kanemaki award for best romantic elements. Our previous winners were Btooom (for the Himiko/ Ryouta romance), Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha & Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS With both of those winning for the NanoFate. This year’s winner is probably obvious. The winner is El Cazador de la Bruja.

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Ellis and Nadie are such a superb couple. If Bee Train made an anime that was just the two of them doing mundane things like going to the cinema, grocery shopping, buying a chihuahua & getting married in their matching gowns, I’d watch it. As long as they were in character I’d absolutely love it too. Because when you’ve got a couple this superb, even the mundane things they do are compelling.

The Anno award for the worst cast of characters. Previous winners were End of Evangelion, Neon Genesis Evangelion & Love Hina Again. Joining them this year is Kashimashi.

Kashimashi

Yes, Kashimashi. It has some bland side characters and a whole lot of annoying ones. Notably the main cast.

The Moore award for best cast of characters. Our previous winners were Sailor Moon, Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin & Death Parade. This year it goes to Sailor Moon S.

Sailor MoonS9

This was one of the hardest picks of the year. There were seven other anime that I really considered giving it to. In the end, however, I chose S just because it wins in terms of sheer numbers. In the end, it has more characters that I have a deep fondness for than any of the other series I considered. With most of them having three or four and S having close to ten.

The Bendis award for worst major conflict. The previous sultans of suckage were From Up on Poppy Hill, Sword Art Online & Ice. This year they’re going to be joined by Sword Art Online II.

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While there were some other series with lousy conflicts, Sword Art Online II surpassed them by having three. The plot hole riddled conflict where Blandon has more trouble cleaning up after the incompetence of the authorities than actually dealing with the threat. The whole thing where they’re just doing a lousy quest in an online game and there are no stakes and Blanda being a whiny, obnoxious pile of shite because her mum is slightly domineering.

The Claremont award for most compelling conflict. Previous winners were Psycho Pass, Shingeki no Kyojin & Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha As. This year it’s going to Haibane Renmei.

haibane-renmei

With a heavily psychological conflict where the stakes boil down to the life of a character we’ve gotten to know and love. It really is masterful.

The Liefeld award for worst visuals. Previous winners were Aku no Hana, Amada anime series: Super Mario Brothers & last year I did something different by giving out two categories of this award. One for films and the other for series. The winners were Dragonball Z: Fusion Reborn & Corpse Party: Tortured Souls. This year I’ll be giving out two again, but this time we have a film that truly has awful art instead of passable art that suffers from weak action scenes. The awards go to Hanare Toride noYonna in the film category and Byston Well Monogatari: Garzey no Tsubasa in the series category.

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Both of these were outright ugly with bizarre proportions. Garzey no Tsubasa may, at least, have unintentionally hilarious art but that’s only because it’s so incompetent.

The Urbino award for excellent visuals. This is another one where I started giving out two last year, but I didn’t in the prior years. With that in mind the winners have been Nausicaa, Tokyo Godfathers, Spirited Away & Mushishi. This year the winner for the film category is Mononoke Hime. The winner for the series category is Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig.

Mononoke22nd gig7

These ones were very difficult. For films it came down to Mononoke Hime and Advent Children, both of which have stunning visuals. For the series category, it was even harder. There were a good number of series I watched this year that just had superb artwork with really unique aesthetics. But, in the end, these two came out on top.

The Spencer award for acting incompetence. Our previous winners were the English dub of Sailor Moon (which will be the only dub I ever review), Neon Genesis Evangelion & Ice. This year it has to go to Kashimashi.

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Yes, Kashimashi. A series that took talented actors and made them sound like they don’t give a shit, except in a few notable cases where they sounded downright dreadful.

The Sir Stewart award for acting excellence. Our past winners were Black Rock Shooter (OVA), Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha & Glass no Kamen. This one is always harder to decide than the Spencer award, since even bad anime tend to have passable performances. So, the really wretched ones stand out. But this year the title of best goes to Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.

Rakugo3

This was a series with a lot of drama, but also a lot of heart. It’s a series where the performances were subtle, nuanced and brilliant. Out of all the fantastic vocal performances I’ve heard this year, it definitely stands out.

The Perry award for worst music in a series. Previous winners were the English dub of Sailor Moon, Street Fighter II & Mars of Destruction. This year it goes to Kagewani.

kagewani2

While not terrible, the music in it is really weak.

The Kloss award for best music. Our previous winners were Slayers Perfect, K-on the movie & Love Live series 2. This year it’s going to go to Love Live: The School Idol Film.

Love Live film2

This film has phenomenal music. The singing was superb. The composition was excellent. All in all, it’s a film where they needed good music for the premise and they nailed it.

That’s it for this year’s awards. Who knows what awaits us this year in terms of what’s going to be reviewed. This upcoming weekend I’ll post February’s bonus review. It’s covering the graphic novel DC Versus Marvel Comics. So, there’s that to look forward to. Tomorrow I’ll post my review of Love Stage and a special thanks to all of you who have been reading my reviews throughout the year and also those of you who started reading at some point during the year. I always love reading your comments and hearing what you thought of the various series I’ve reviewed. You’re all fantastic. Feel free to leave a comment telling me which of the eligible series you thought should have been shamed or awarded.

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Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig- A Worthy Successor

A couple years back I reviewed Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, and it was fantastic with complex characters and compelling writing. It’s one of the few things I’ve given a “10” rating. There’s a sequel to the series, 2nd GIG, that came out not long after the first. So, will it be up to the same standard? Let’s delve in and see.

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Story:

We open with Section 9 on standby, waiting for the official order that will allow them to go back into action. A group calling themselves the Individual Eleven has stormed the Chinese embassy and taken hostages. Aramaki manages to get the Prime Minister’s approval and the group moves in, cementing their resurrection. Shortly thereafter, the refugee issue begins becoming more and more of a problem and the Individual Eleven name seems to keep popping up in disparate incidents relating to the refugees in some way, along with a strange mark that only a select few know about. Section 9 sets out to discover the truth behind these incidents and try to assuage the tensions with the refugees, before they turn into a full scale war.

I have two issues with the narrative here. The first, and lesser of the two, is that its big climax retreads one of the big tragic moments from the first series. The execution is different and the moment is still good but it is a bit cheapened as a consequence of being a variation of something we saw in the last series. Then we have the implied history betwixt the Major and one of the major antagonists, Kuze. Narratively, there’s not much reason for this to be there. It barely comes into play within the story. It feels like a thinly veiled excuse to have Motoko be distracted and even that is only important for one major scene. Overall, that element is just a bit sloppy and mostly pointless.

Aside from those aspects, the story in this is really strong. It emphasises a more cohesive narrative in contrast to the first series’ more stand alone, largely episodic missions where the main plot came into play for some episodes and not for others. This does have the benefit of letting the situation develop and worsen a lot more noticeably while building on the pre-established tensions. It takes quite a few twists and turns that keep you really invested. The pacing is actually really good too. The series never feels like it’s dragging or like it’s overly hectic. It’s also really compelling to see Section 9 struggle to try and gain the upper hand against our main antagonist.

Characters:

The series retains a strong cast. The more minor characters from Section 9 get to develop a bit more. The major characters are still really compelling and well developed. The various minor characters that get added to the roster have verisimilitude. Honestly, the biggest problem is with the major antagonists. While they do feel like actual people, they’re also a bit under-developed. Especially when you compare them to the Laughing Man from the first series. Which is odd since he got significantly less screen time.

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Art:

The artwork and animation are amazing. The visual effects are stellar. The action sequences are intense and really radical. Even the hacking sequences are really visually intense. The various set pieces, futuristic tech and the like are all really well designed. The character designs are good and the Major’s absurd one piece bathing suit/ leather jacket combination has been banished to the Gamindustri Graveyard, or wherever it is stupid outfits go when they stop getting used.

Sound:

The actors do a fantastic job. Saka Osamu, Ootsuka Akio, Tanaka Atsuko, Yamadera Kouichi and the various other actors all give superb performances. The music is great, adding to the atmosphere for the series.

Ho-yay:

Motoko’s girlfriend from the first series doesn’t really show up in this. Nor do they give us any other type of ho-yay. So, we don’t get any.

Final Thoughts:

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig is not quite as good as the first series. It suffers from some relatively minor narrative problems and some slightly under-developed antagonists. That being said, it’s still a fantastic series. My final rating is going to be a 9/10. Next week I’ll continue looking at requests with One Punch Man.

Reviews of yesteryear: Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell is a franchise that needs no introduction. Shirow Masamune’s work has been adapted into several movies, video games, anime and even a line of toys. It’s been one of the most influential cyberpunk franchises out there. Whether you like or dislike it, you have to respect how much it’s influenced the genre. I remember liking this film okay when I first saw it. However, it has been quite a while since then. So it’s time to re-watch the movie and see how it holds up.

The story opens in a futuristic city with an attempted defection being thwarted by a group of largely cybernetic federal agents known as section 9. Section 9 is quickly charged with bringing in a hacker known as the puppet master who’s trying to hack the brain of a secretary who works for an important official. Now, these events are related, but I won’t spoil how they’re linked in case someone reading this hasn’t seen the film yet. The story here is really well constructed. Virtually every scene proves to be important. All the major plot points are introduced before they become important. Which isn’t easy given how much hinges on futuristic technology. The plot initially seems rather disparate, but as it advances you realise that it’s all very intricately put together with all of the events coming together to make the story a cohesive whole. It does raise some interesting questions about the future and the implications of technology, but I can’t give it too much credit there since the implications it deals with are nothing new to sci-fi. Still, the world is very creative and the questions aren’t handled badly by any means. The only real issue with the story is that there are some substantial stretches where nothing happens. Although, to be fair, these scenes do serve to immerse you in the world which does lead to a really strong atmosphere. Still, some of them do go on too long.

The characters aren’t as strong as the story. That isn’t to say they’re badly done, though. They all feel fairly well fleshed out and three dimensional. That being said, there’s a lot about them that isn’t explained very well. For instance, Mokoto becomes obsessive about the case for no adequately explained reason. We might be able to say it’s just who she is, but several other characters comment on how strangely she’s been acting. Which the audience can’t really recognise since we haven’t seen her behaviour outside of this case. In all fairness, there’s enough information provided at the end that you can make a decent guess, but there’s no way to verify it meaning it’s just going to be speculation.

The art in this is amazing. The environments are rich with good texture. The technology is really impressive. The climactic fight scene is spectacular. My only issue with the art is that Mokoto randomly takes off her clothes in order to use the camouflage technology they have. Now, before anyone tries to say “that’s just how the tech works” allow me to point out that another character is shown using the same technology and he does it with a fully covering suit. Mokoto’s only works differently because someone wanted to draw boobs. Which would also explains the opening credit sequence. It’s just ruddy fan-service. Which does detract from the film a bit, albeit not too much.

The voice acting is well done. Sakamoto Maaya, Kayumi Iemasa, Yamadera Kouichi, and Ootsuka Akio all do well in their roles. Really, there aren’t any weak performances in this. The music is really well used. The only real issue with it is that it plays the same song during every atmospheric scene and the song ends up kind of over-played.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. There’s really only one female character in this and she can’t exactly be homo-erotic towards herself. And no, the Puppet master doesn’t count even if he does use a female body for part of it.

Ghost in the Shell holds up surprisingly well. The world is immersive with a great sense of atmosphere. The story is excellent and the art and voice acting both hold up really well, even after nearly two decades. Sure, it has some issues, but there’s nothing that should detract from the experience too much. Unless you just hate cyberpunk you’ll probably find it an enjoyable experience. I give it a 9/10. I initially thoght I’d end up giving it a 6 when I was going from memory, but it’s actually quite a bit better than I remembered.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Cyberpunk at its finest

I’ve talked about Ghost in the Shell before. Both the first and second films. Now, it’s time to look at the television installments, or at least one of them. Stand Alone Complex ran for a full year, from October 2002 to October 2003. So, it was released after the first film but before the second. Like the films, it was handled by Production I.G. It was written and directed by Kamiyama Kenji, who was not involved with either the first film or Innocence. What’s his take on the material? Let’s take a look and find out.

Story:

Our tale opens with a hostage situation in an android geisha house. The Japanese foreign minister is among the hostages, because of course that’s the most likely place to find a politician. That isn’t even me being facetious. Show me a high class sex work establishment and you can bet that it has several politicians among its clientele. Since the foreign minister is in danger, a covert anti-crime unit made up of cyborgs, Public Security Section 9, is called in to handle the situation. These will be our heroes of the series. Section 9 carries out a smooth operation but they notice something strange when going over the footage, testimonies and other evidence. To make matters worse, there’s something odd about the foreign minister. Now, that is just a basic summary of the first episode. There is an underlying story within the series about a genius hacker called the “laughing man” but most episodes have their own stand alone cases that may or may not be related to the laughing man case.

I really only have one issue with the story. It has events that are set too soon. I’ve talked about this in my review of Blue Gender and on some other occasions but let’s go into it a bit. The problem with setting sci-fi films, TV shows and so on in a future for the real world and giving that future a specific date that isn’t far off, is that it quickly dates that piece of media and jolts the audience out of the story for a moment. According to Stand Alone Complex, 2019 will be the time when cyberbrain implantation becomes common and then there will be a great and deadly disease that affects the cyberbrain. That’s all of five years away and we barely have functional cybernetic limbs and even those are in the very early stages. Sure, it was a bit farther away when the series started airing in 2002, but it still makes no sense to set a major event for your super advanced future in less than two decades from the time it’s written. It would be a lot better to set it at some undetermined future date. Still, it is a pretty minor problem even if it is a head scratching one.

As to the positives, there are a lot of them. The scenarios they bring up for the individual episodes are very compelling. They take real world types of crimes, usually violent but occasionally not, and examine what they would look like in their futuristic setting. Tying into that, the world building is excellent. The society itself is really well thought out with a great attention to detail. The laughing man story line is brilliantly handled, being introduced early and with consistent hints and allusions throughout the series to keep you interested. The series also has some great emotional moments. Some heart-warming, some triumphant, some depressing and some tragic. In the last couple episodes they will make you cry over the fate of AI. Everyone who’s seen the series knows which scene I’m talking about too. The tension is superb and the pacing is flawless. It has a lot of really well done action scenes, but it also has a lot of really good quiet moments, character moments, and investigative scenes. It takes a very nuanced approach.

Characters:

Stand Alone Complex has quite a few characters. There are the eight major members of Section 9, plus the laughing man and various side characters who mostly only show up in one episode. So, that’s a weakness, right? With that many characters there’s no way they can handle all of them really well, right?

Actually, they do. There are certainly characters who get more focus and development, but every single character in this is complex and comes across as an actual person. There’s not a single character you ever encounter who strikes you as unrealistic, one-dimensional or exaggerated. Not even the people who show up for all of five minutes. The antagonists for various cases all have verisimilitude in their methods and motivations. I also appreciate that the conflicts are between competent parties and no one ever has to do something unbelievably stupid for a plot point. It makes the conflicts a lot more interesting. About the worst you can say about any character in the series is that they’re less well developed than other characters and that’s not a fault. It’s a natural consequence of having an ensemble cast where some characters play a more prominent role than others.

Art:

The visuals in this are about what you’d expect based on the film. They’re fantastic. The character designs are varied and interesting. The backgrounds are really well detailed. The futuristic technology is really interesting and looks great. The action sequences are engaging and intense with effects that are used perfectly. The one complaint I have about the art is that Motoko spends a good portion of the series in a ridiculous outfit, a one piece swimsuit with a belt, because you need one of those when you don’t wear pants, high boots and jacket, because as the main female character she has to wear something that shows cleavage and her bum otherwise the horny straight guys might have to resort to browsing the Internet for porn and we all know that the Internet is strictly for educational purposes and reading the anime related rants of a bald Deutsch guy. In all fairness, Stand Alone Complex is better about keeping the fan-service to a minimum than the film since she doesn’t strip to use the optical camouflage. The camera angles also don’t deliberately focus on her T&A, instead being content with the silly outfit, but that could be less about keeping things classy and more about broadcasting standards.

Sound:

The cast is largely reprising their roles from the film. We’ve still got Tanaka Atsuko, Yamadera Kouichi, Otsuka Akio and Nakano Yutaka as Motoko, Togusa, Batou and Ishikawa and they all continue to do excellently in those roles. Yamadera even plays another important character and makes them both sound distinctive. Really, the entire cast is phenomenal. The music is great, being utilised to enhance the atmosphere and it’s just really well composed. Kanno Yoko, the same composer behind the music of Cowboy Bebop, Wolf’s Rain and Escaflowne, deserves a lot of praise for her work on this.

Ho-yay:

There is a little les-yay in this series. Motoko has a girlfriend, or possibly a friend with benefits it’s never made entirely clear, who appears in three episodes and is pretty definitively shown to be a sexual partner of hers. She doesn’t play a huge role, but at the same time it’s sometimes nice to have a gay relationship in the background. So, the series is going to get a ho-yay factor of a 3/10 for those few scenes.

Final Thoughts:

Stand Alone Complex is a brilliant anime. Virtually everything about it is done so well that it’s close to perfect. The story is compelling. The characters are really well developed. The art and acting are both fantastic. The few issues with it are very minuscule when compared to everything that it does right. All in all, it is easily among the best in terms of cyberpunk stories. My final rating for it is going to be a 10/10. Next week, something not as good. Did you know that there’s a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles OVA?

Film Festival Week: Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

Welcome, my Friends, to the last film festival week review of the year. We’ve looked at a lot of films. Some well known. Some more obscure. Some tied to popular franchises, some stand alone adaptations. We started the week with a call back to last year’s film festival and we’re going to end the same way. So, let’s take another look at Production I.G’s Ghost in the Shell franchise. Last year, I took a look at the first film, which was excellent. This year it’s time to look at the second film. Co-produced by Studio Ghibli, this is Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.

Story:

The Major has gone missing. Our hero in this installment is Batou. The story opens with Batou being called to the scene of a crime to investigate a murder committed by a prototype sex robot. It seems like a job for the regular police, but Aramaki is concerned by the fact that there are several such murders, all by the same line and that some of them have been against people in powerful positions. As such, he sends Batou and Togusa to investigate the incidents and the company behind them.

Let’s start with the positive aspects of the story. It does do a really good job of converging its plot points in a way that makes sense and is largely compelling. It also does a good job of establishing everything that factors into the climax well before the actual climax. Everything is foreshadowed handily without spoiling what’s actually going to happen. The twists make sense and do help keep things interesting. The film, however, is not without story problems.

The pacing of the film is pretty bad. There are some pretty long stretches that serve no purpose other than to pad things out and show off the artwork. The investigation itself suffers from the effects of this with some scenes being far shorter than they should and others dragging a bit. It’s not so bad that you’ll lose track of what’s happening but it’s bad enough that it’s jarring.

Characters:

Our major characters in this one are Togusa and Batou. The film does do a really good job of giving them both character arcs that develop them and give them complexity. They also exchange some really good banter. The weak link is the antagonist. There really isn’t much of one aside from a vague corporate entity motivated by profit. They barely even show people who work for this company Yeah, real companies do make decisions that emphasise profits over people and there are cases where those decisions are unethical or even illegal, but it still feels weak and kind of cliché given how many works use the amoral corporation in the exact same role.

Art:

The art in this is gorgeous. There’s a lot of detail and the futuristic technology looks really cool. The character designs are unique and combined with the technology in a way that gives the film a unique aesthetic. Batou’s dog is also adorable. The action scenes flow really strongly and I have no complaints about the art whatsoever.

Sound:

Yamadera Kouichi and Otsuka Akio both reprise their roles as Togusa and Batou to great effect. Tanaka Atsuko also successfully reprises her role, albeit very briefly. All of the actors in this give great performances. As for the music, it is very good but I have the same criticism I had with the music of the first film. The same bloody song gets used throughout the movie during atmospheric scenes and it ends up really over-used.

Ho-yay:

Another film without any. 1/10.

Final Thoughts:

Ghost in the Shell 2 is not as strong as the first film. Don’t misunderstand, it’s still a good cyberpunk work with strong protagonists, excellent artwork, great acting and a good narrative. What really hurts it is the pacing and the antagonist being really weak. Still, if you’re into cyberpunk narratives, give it a watch. My final rating is a 7/10. Next week we’ll be back to our regular schedule and looking at Tales of Symphonia the OVA. Wait… there are three of those, not counting the specials. We’ll look at the first Tales of Symphonia OVA, The Sylvarant Chapter.