Posted by psgels on 19 August 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews

I’m not sure exactly what happened, but Ghost in the Shell took me much, much longer to finish than usual. That’s not a bad sign by the way, I have this with some series that I really like, that I don’t want them to end, but this still was really extreme. It took me exactly half a year to finish a measly 26 episodes and I still have a second season to go. My life habits have really changed…

But Ghost in the Shell remains a series that is very tough to digest. It is a series that you constantly need to pay attention for, and it’s full of complex dialogues that are a trademark for its director Kenji Kamiyama. And it’s not just the numerous philosophical debates in this series, but the main plot itself is also mind-bogglingly complex. It involves modern politics, has a huge focus on the mass media. The way in which it fleshes itself out is through long discussions and debates, full of speculation and theories. Yes, you will have to work if you want to enjoy this series, and yes: it delivers.

It was hard work to get through this series, but it does feel like an accomplishment to be able to finish it. Seriously, there are very few series that go even further with their dialogue and exposition than this series. The only that I can recall out of the top of my head are Mouryou no Hako and various Mamoru Oshii’s work, and perhaps Ergo Proxy. If you’re looking for something intelligent, make sure NOT TO SKIP THIS SERIES.

What holds this one back is a bit of a mis-managed cast. I assume that this will be fixed in the Second Gig, but the half of the main cast gets surprisingly little depth, even though the cast of side-characters get a ton of this. I feel like this series could have used its episodes better to flesh them out, because with the way this series is, we always see them in perfect control and we hardly see different sides of them as well. The main storyline around the Laughing Man is fantastic, though I did notice that at this point I can hardly remember the rest of the stories that took place in this series.

Storytelling: 10/10 – That dialogue. It’s great to see another series that takes its audience as seriously as with this series.
Characters: 8,5/10 – Half of the cast really is great. Others are completely one-dimensional though.
Production-Values: 8.5/10 – Here is a tough one: back when it first aired, the graphics were revolutionary. And subsequently it inspired everyone to try harder and surpass the animation here, making it feel rather dated at this point. Yoko Kanno still is godly, though.
Setting: 9/10 – Excellent science fiction, innovative concepts and really makes you think about both technology and politics. Although the standalone episodes could perhaps have been better used.

Ergo Proxy
Seirei no Moribito
Mouryou no Hako

23 Responses

  1. Avatar S-R says:

    I am glad you enjoyed this. SAC is definitely a great series. I still think 2nd Gig managed to improve upon a lot of what made SAC so great.
    I felt that the whole story worked better, the stand-alone episodes were more interesting and the greater development of much of the rest of the cast completed it. You should definitely get on to that soon. :p

    But as for S1, I found that the Togusa or Batou episodes were by far my favourites.
    The Batou undercover, boxing episode in particular, still stands up as one of my all time favourites from any series.
    And the Tachikoma stuff at the very end, powerful indeed. :p

    Definitely a shame that there aren’t more series’ of this caliber around

  2. Avatar Firechick says:

    I was wondering when you’d get back to finishing the shows on your to-watch list! Now all that’s left is the second season of this, Planetes, and Twin Spica!

  3. Avatar Hades says:

    GITS SAC is too damn awesome. And Planetes is just as amazing as this one.

  4. Avatar Loz says:

    It took you half a year? Great series though. Expect the same quality from second gig.

    Totally unrelated, but I met the guy who designed the laughing man emblem.

  5. Avatar kero says:

    Makes me want to go back and watch this series again

    viva cyberpunk

  6. Avatar Blue Bomber says:

    1 ep per week of 26 ep series = half a year. :D

    Yeah, this show is great (2nd Gig is even better). Even the English dub is perfectly acceptable. I watch reruns on Adult Swim/Toonami, whenever it comes into rotation, as much as I can. Never gets repetitive.

  7. Avatar Patrick says:

    Glad you finished the first half. I’m hoping you will enjoy the second half too, I think it’s better than the 1st season, the finishing movie though is not that great.

  8. Avatar Patrick says:

    If you have time read the original manga “Ghost in the Shell” almost nothing in common with the anime (only the charactgers) but you will probably like it too.

  9. Avatar Commenter says:

    I barely remember the plot of this series beyond a couple of bits of the laughing man and this one stand alone episode about the guy who plants his brain in a futuristic tank. And the first episode as well.

    I don’t think this series is as good as many perceive it, though it is a blast to watch. The complexity of the story is to its detriment. I think this series should have done the witch hunter robin approach to storytelling of having all the standalones in the beginning with a couple of important details for later on. And the second half would be a less dense telling of the laughing man story.

    The characters are pretty much going to stay the same. Lots of attention to the major and little to the others, though I do think each member will get an episode dedicated to them. Only the one on the sniper is really good.

  10. Avatar Whisperer says:

    @Commenter – no. Togusa and Batou were much more developed than the Major (and, might I add, much more likeable). And yes, each of them gets an episode – Paz’s in s2 was the weirdest one. Also, some of the standalone episodes are classics – in s1 the only one that I disliked was the “hostage episode” with Aramaki. s2 generally had better pacing, BUT it also had that filler episode with the kid and the mafia :/

    @Patrick – yeah, Solid State Society gets points for the OST (“Replica” :X), but I didn’t really “get” the ending – it uses some terms taken from postmodern authors that I’m not very comfortable with. But apart from that, it’s still great.

    • Avatar Commenter says:

      Ah yes, I forgot about Togusa. They really developed him well over the first series. Though I don’t remember much about Batou except that he was always ready to snark.

    • Avatar DangerMouse says:

      Yeah I definitely liked Togusa and Batou’s eps they were often great. As for Aramaki’s hostage ep, really, you didn’t like that one?

      It was actually one of my favorite ones, Aramaki’s awesome and the way he completely took command of the two thief/hostage takers was priceless to watch IMO.

  11. Avatar Alec says:

    I’ve always thought Psgels had already watched GiTS

  12. Avatar Alec says:

    The second season was even better

  13. Avatar Puran says:

    Definitely watch 2nd Gig as well. It improves on a lot of the aspects of the 1st season and it really has quite a few standout episodes (the sniper one, and the background story one come to mind).

    And I haven’t re-watched it recently, but it looks much less dated than the 1st Gig.

  14. Avatar Pax says:

    The animation quality is still impressive even today, truly jaw dropping at times, even if it’s been years since I finished it, for example I still remember the amazing city shots, just superb, not too mention the fluidity of the action scenes. And then there’s Yoko Kanno with one of her best soundtracks. Maybe I am just incredibly subjective but 8,5 for Production-Values!? You gave Hajime no Ippo a 9 and that one had some pretty obvious problems at times and really there’s no point in comparing the soundtracks.

    Anyway, at least I agree that many of the main cast does not get enough development in this 1st season.

  15. Avatar starry says:

    Yay you finished it!

    I’m working my way through 2nd GIG myself, I couldn’t put the series once I started it. Sure the CGi is kind of dated at this point (especially the OP) but its a fun intelligent series

  16. Avatar Whisperer says:

    @Pax, you’re right, this anime is a 9.5/10 animation-wise even by today’s standards (they DID take some shortcuts and some of the early 3D is jarring). Of course, it’s no Innocence, but the OST makes up for that – 2nd gig was even better, with “Rise” and “Cyberbird” being top-quality tracks (there was, however, this “internet-scandal” about Yoko Kanno and plagiarism, and Cyberbird was one of the tracks mentioned, but I really didn’t care about it)

  17. Avatar Blue Bomber says:

    I actually agree with the 8.5 rating in Production Values, though I don’t mind the cel shaded look of the CG (I find fully textured vehicles/things with regular characters in them more odd looking). There are lots of scenes where characters are off model when they’re not closeup shots. 2nd Gig is much better about this, and the production values overall. Looks less like Naruto and more like the amazing show it is.

  18. Avatar theweirdone says:

    Kind of got what the author is telling about, I have started to watch Fairy Tail, but the first episode somehow didn’t give me that felling of action and drama wich I’m craving for, it somehow predictable, but I have only watched 9 or 10 episodes, and I saw that on youtube that real action will come.

    Back to topic, I haven’t really seen Ghost in the Shell, but from the review I can seen that it has that drama and that toughness that the series got, I can say I’ll give it a shot :)

  19. Avatar JohnB says:

    I think there were too many filler episodes before the conclusion. If you dont go through that series fast enough, you’ll have time to forget most of the plot (which is kinda complicated) by the final 3 or 4 episodes. I they fixed that in 2nd Gig though. 2nd gig is on a bigger, internationally expanded scale. It’s on my top 5 list for sure.

    For the 1st Gig, if I feel like watching it again, I’ll skip on the filler episodes for sure. An excellent series overall, but not as good as 2nd Gig.

  20. Avatar gandalf8 says:

    Glad you finally managed to finish this one. I’ve been wondering when a review of it would be coming up, I thought you’d dropped it because of your busy schedule and the glut of good shows in the summer season.

    I actually liked most of the fillers, especially Batou’s investigation of that former boxing champ, and Tachikoma’s day out. That scene in the penultimate episode, when the Tachikomas sacrificed themselves to save Batou, still brings tears to my eyes whenever I re-watch it. The soundtrack is definitely one of the most outstanding aspect the series, Yoko Kanno giving us a masterclass performance.

    Hope you can finish the second season in a shorter time frame.

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