So, as some of you know, I'm extremely picky with dubbed animes. But I found this one to be a must to watch in English mainly because Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, an exceptional voice actress did the voice of Motoko Kusanagi, the protagonist of the series. Not only that...but the entire main cast was exceptional which you don't see very often in dubbed animes.
The series revolves around Section 9, a secret intelligence department under the Japanese Ministry of Home Affairs. Section 9 is investigating a case on a corporate terrorist attack and an Elite hacker known as "The Laughing Man".
Six years after a huge act of corporate terrorism known as the "Laughing Man" incident, a detective still working on the case discovers evidence that the government has illegally planted spy technology, known as interceptors, in its workers. Shortly after the man alerts Section 9, he is killed in a road accident. Later, during a press conference which Section 9 use to expose the corrupt government officials to the media, the brain of one of the accused is hacked and forced to deliver a message: the Laughing Man has returned. Section 9 immediately turns its attention to uncovering the identity and motives of the Laughing Man.
It's a freaky logo!!
The Laughing Man is later revealed to be a computer hacker named Aoi. Six years ago, he had obtained a corporate memo revealing that a tuberculosis vaccine is more effective than cybernetic "micro-machine" therapy at treating the prevalent cybernetic disease cyberbrain sclerosis; however, both the Japanese government and cybernetics industry suppressed the memo in order to profit from micro-machine development. Outraged, Aoi decided to kidnap the CEO of Serano, a prominent manufacturer of micro-machines and tried to convince him, at gunpoint, to reveal the truth on live television. When the CEO refused, Aoi fled the scene, simultaneously hacking every TV camera in the vicinity and replacing his face with the logo that would give him his name. His actions turned the Laughing Man into a folk hero.
In the course of its investigations, Section 9 discovers evidence that suggests corporations and politicians faked acts of corporate terrorism in order to profit while using the Laughing Man as a scapegoat. These discoveries put Section 9 in the cross-hairs of those implicated. The Section was therefor declared a "rogue element" and its members were hunted down. Forced to fake their deaths, the Section's operatives went into hiding and leaked the incriminating memo to the media. In the ensuing public scandal, the government fell, taking several corporations down with it. As the high of the scandal begins to die down, Section 9 is unofficially reinstated and, goes back to work...While something unexpected happens to the CEO of Serano.
The characters in the anime had little development. If what I heard was correct, season 2 has more development. However, do not let this put you off of the anime. Now...There IS development however some of the main characters like Ishikawa, Saito, Pazu and Borma is non exsistant. It's not like they're forgotten, since they are always there are put into good use, but aside from that you don't find out anything about them. Batou, Togusa and Mokoto (the Major) are the main stars of the show and have the most development. Specially the first two where they moments in the series where they get caught up in their cases so much that you end up empathizing with their emotional outbursts.
Now a quick run down of the 8 main characaters.
Motoko Kusanagi "Major" : Almost nothing is known about her including her origin and birthdate. She could not be older than 60 or so, since the widespread use of full-cyborgization was not in use until then. She was fully cyborged at a very young age and as she "grew" she went through a series of artificial bodies. More mysterious is her incredible ability as a "hacker". She is equally at ease in a body as she is without one in cyberspace, her ability to think in three dimensions, perhaps even in four certainly contributing to her abilities. She has no romantic relations in the series that would include men, since the only time her love life was referred to was in an episode where she is in her bedroom with two other girls, who are, by what was shown, her lovers; that assumes she is lesbian.Whatever her age, Major Kusanagi now prefers the body of a 20ish woman.
Batou: The second-in-command of Section 9. Little is known about him. He has been with the Major for some years. He was once American and served in the Special Forces. His amount of cyborg-ization is variable according to the storyline, from his limbs only up to most of his body, second only to the Major herself. Despite the availability of superior eyes, he grew superstitious about his old-style eye replacements, popular with many high-level military operatives. He also retains some residual body-image issues, causing him to constantly purchase workout equipment even when he obviously does not need it.
Togusa: The newest member of Section 9. Recruited from the regular police forces, Detective Togusa has only the most basic of augmentation and no cyberization outside of his cyberbrain. The Major wanted him for his perspective as a real policeman and as an outside opinion so as to avoid intellectual incest within Section 9. Togusa mostly feels inferior to the rest of the team, forgetting to recognize the reason for his inclusion in the group. He is the only member of Section 9 with a spouse and child.
Daisuke Aramaki: The Head of Section 9, Aramaki relies upon his many international and corporate contacts to supply his team with all the info they need to solve their cases. Seldom directly involved in police actions, he is nonetheless constantly working behind the scenes to coordinate the efforts of his agents, making quick and authoritative decisions and maintaining tight control of Kusanagi.
Pazu : A member of Section 9. Before joining Public Security Section 9, Pazu was rumored by various police circles to have been a gangster in several yakuza groups in Japan. Pazu is also a known chain smoker within the unit. He uses a folding knife in combat.
Saito: Another member of Section 9. He is one of the least cyberized of the bunch. He can handle any automatic firearm with deadly accuracy and precision, but his main role is that of a sniper. His left eye was replaced with the "Hawkeye", a prosthetic eye that interfaces with satellites to allow for shots of incredible accuracy. He is also valued for his ability to think like enemy snipers; on two separate occasions his ability at determining sniping locations impacted Section 9's actions immensely.
Ishikawa: The information warfare/technology specialist of Section 9. His appearance is characterized by a large beard and perpetually unkempt hair, and he is the oldest of Section 9's field operatives. He was one of the earliest members recruited to be in Section 9 and seems to know the Major and her dislikes quite well. He is shown as being in charge of a gambling parlor called Parlor Ishikawa, and on occasion uses the cyberbrains of the old men who play there to complete particularly heavy data gathering, though it seems the men suffer no ill effects or are even aware of their situation.
Boma: Boma is Section 9's explosives specialist. He is the only Section 9 operative with similar height and enhanced strength to Batou, though his optics are clearly a different color and might therefore be another model with different capabilities. Both his eyes and his baldness are his trademark features.
|My Robotic Girlfriend!|
|Super Robotic Dude!|
|The "normal" one|
|Smart old Geezer|
|He does look like a Yakuza...|
Well....I havent watched such an incredible anime in a LONG time. The animation is top notch, the English voice acting is just fantastic, and it has such an interesting plot that it instantly grasps you. There was not a single moment where I was bored and hoping the episode would end faster. The OP and ED were fantastic songs as well that I ended up downloading once I finished the anime. Ghost in the Shell : Stand Alone Complex is a MUST watch even for those not into Mecha or Sci-Fi like me. It was an overall fantastic anime that I recommend to everyone!
Hmmm.....I wonder what I should watch next.