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Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

From Academic Kids

Batou and a Tachikoma
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Batou and a Tachikoma

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is also titled Kōkaku Kidōtai: Stand Alone Complex (攻殻機動隊, Mobile Armoured Riot Police: STAND ALONE COMPLEX) in Japan, and is often referred to by its acronym GitS:SAC. GitS:SAC is a Japanese anime TV series set in the Ghost in the Shell universe created by Masamune Shirow.

Production of the show was undertaken by Production I.G. headed by director Kenji Kamiyama. The overarching series was sketched by original creator Masamune Shirow, unifying the standalone 26 episodes in a larger encompassing plot.

The series receives its subtitle from the structure of each episode. Each episode can be viewed independently of each other. It also alludes to the independence this series has in comparison to both the movie and manga. The individual episodes are discreetely marked 'Complex' or 'A standalone episode' in the title screen. The 'complex' episodes are closer entwined with this encompassing plot, and the 'standalone' less so.

The series also had a series of comedic shorts, Ghost in the Shell: Tachikoma Days attached to the episodes featuring the antics of the Tachikoma mini-tanks of Section 9, involving plot points from the episode it accompanies.

While finishing its run in 2003, there is currently a second season by the title of Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG currently broadcasting in Japan. The "Second GIG" has been rough sketched by director Mamoru Oshii leading to a markedly different, decidedly "Oshii" taste in the second season.

In the United States, the series is licensed by Bandai Entertainment with the English dub produced by Animaze. The English version of the series began airing on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim on November 6, 2004.

Contents

Story

While various networks have become deeply rooted,
and thoughts have been sent out as light
and electrons in a singular direction,
this era has yet to digitize/computerize to the degree necessary
for individuals to become a single complex entity.

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Taking place in a fictional city of Japan called "Shinhama" in the year 2030. This tells the story of a special operations task-force chartered as Public Peace Section Nine, or simply "Section Nine". The series follows the exploits of Section Nine's agents who range from ex-military to ex-police as they address each case and how it affects them on a personal level, eventually leading to the mysterious figure known as "The Laughing Man".

Public Peace Section Nine is an elite domestic anti-crime unit tasked with the charge of preemptive prevention of technology-related acts of terrorism and crime. Directly under the control of the Ministry of the Interior, they are called the "Koukaku Kidoutai" (攻殻機動隊), or Mobile Armored Riot Police (e.g. the series title) in English. Their duties include response to serious cyber crimes (i.e. Cyberbrain hacking, cyber-terrorism), investigation of unlawful acts of those in public office and of high profile murder cases. From time-to-time they also serve as protection to foreign VIPs.

While the characters themselves are carryovers, this is a re-telling of the popular manga. In this telling of the story, the character of Major Motoko Kusanagi (草薙素子 Kusanagi Motoko) has not met the net-lifeform called Puppet Master, or Project 2501, as detailed in the movie adaptation. Literary references include Flowers for Algernon and, more importantly, The Catcher in the Rye.

Comparison with the Cinema Adaptation

The TV series differs from the cinema adaptation in its focus upon issues brought upon by the advance of technology. Instead of the intensely focused and personal look upon technology, presented is a look at society and technology as a larger whole. The series of 26 half-hour TV episodes has a larger budget of time to explore the concepts and ideas found in the original manga. In comparison to the film version, the series is considered by many to be easier to understand.

Stand Alone Complex exhibits the accumulated experience and expertise of Production I.G. in their application of computer generated imagery. This is evident in their digital color grading, environmental effects, and cell-shaded computer models. Their work has been highly praised for its subtle contribution to a scene, which adds greatly to the atmosphere.

Technology

Stand Alone Complex tries to depict the near future convincingly, extending trends from the current day into the future. Often a viewer can even speculate which current-day factory or design firm would be responsible for the future machines and buildings.

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Cyberbrains
Of the many futuristic technologies, the cyberbrain or neural computer augmentation technology is discussed and convincingly portrayed. This is the implantation of powerful computers directly in to the brain, greatly increasing certain mental capacities such as memory. Coupled with ubiquitous access to the informational net, this is shown as a fundamental technology integral to the future Japanese society. Applications include wireless communication just by "thinking" it, massive informational recall capabilities, and digitization of printed media and the encryption thereof. The series is notable for portraying a comprehensive and believable user interface to this technology. At the same time time is spent discussing the potential drawbacks in the form of "Closed Shell Syndrome" or cyberbrain autism and "Cyberbrain Sclerosis". This technology is in many ways the crux of the series.

Nanotechnology and its medical, as well as less benign applications also figure heavily within the futurescape depicted within the show. In the fictional future date of 2030, nanotechnology and its applications are still considered to be experimental only reaching the first stages of practical usage.

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Major Kusanagi with an active thermo-optical camouflage
An important technology used in the series is thermo-optical camouflage. Members of Section 9 as well as their Tachikoma tanks have the ability to activate a special camouflage technology which enables them to blend in with the environment, making them near-invisible to the naked eye, radar and infrared sensors. It is an active stealth system which projects ambient conditions of the opposing side, and thus rendering the masked object transparent by transmission. The system is not shown to be perfect, as it seems unable to compensate for sudden changes and physical impacts nor impervious to close observation. A faint translucent distortion is shown as the limitations of the technology. In the legal landscape of the series, usage of the technology without a warrant is heavily restricted. The use of this technology by Section 9 is the exception, and not the norm - further highlighting their extraordinary legal standing.

Surprisingly, there is present day research into the active optic camouflage inspired by the fictional portrayal of it by the University of Tokyo (http://projects.star.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp/projects/MEDIA/xv/oc.html).


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Tachikoma
The use of Light Autonomous Tanks which sadly had to be left out of the GitS movie by time constraints come to their full right in Stand Alone Complex. Called Tachikoma, they are four-legged light tanks with two forearms and adhesive wire shooters. Armed with a small calibre machine gun in their right arm and a interchangeable weapons mount at their "mouth", they provide Section Nine with a quick and highly mobile weapons platform. The weapons mount is often a equipped with a grenade launcher or a chaingun. The body design and movement of the Tachikoma appear to be modelled after jumping spiders.

With very advanced AI, they act as the comedic relief of Section Nine, as they are endlessly curious and innocent. As such they provide a counterpoint to the cynical and hardened humans of the force. Two episodes are dedicated to their exploits; episode 12, "Escape From," and episode 15, "Machine Desirantes." In the later episodes, the curious nature of the Tachikoma result in instabilities in their artificial intelligence fatal to operation as weapons, leading to their disarmament and decommission from service with Section Nine. At the beginning of 2nd GIG, the tachikomas are reassembled and taken back into service.

The  aircraft from the series.
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The tiltwing aircraft from the series.

The series feature Section Nine using a tiltwing aircraft very similar to the American-designed V-22 Osprey tiltrotor. The aircraft depicted within the show has the capacity to carry six tachikoma and a complement of personnel. Thus allowing for Section Nine to rapidly deploy a highly mobile and well armored force anywhere in Japan.

The ECHELON wiretap system makes an appearance in a later episode. While under the command of the United States CIA, the system is borrowed by Section Nine for a short time. The system depicted within is a more powerful and more pervasive communications monitoring system capable of real-time interception of all phone, Internet, cyberbrain communication of Japan. The limitation of this system were shown to be the computational power to process the flow of information.

The subtitle "Stand Alone Complex" refers to the phenomena of emergent behavior catalyzed by parallelization of the human psyche through the cyberbrain networks on a societal level. There is no original, there is no leader. What ties together the diseparate and unrelated individuals into the event called the "laughing man" case is the systematic motive encoded into the basic informational flow itself. This concept of an ever normalized ego into the fabric of society recall the writings of Philip K. Dick, among others.

Episodes

The first season had two types of episodes with standalone episodes and complex episodes with a binary genetic substructure ( Episode 11 (one one) is the central key of the complex picture ). Each episode has two names, a proper title and a subtitle. The SA/C nomenclature denotes SA=Stand Alone and C=Complex (episodes designated SA are 'Stand alone' episodes, whilst those designated C are tied in with the Laughing Man storyline):

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SECTION 9
1. SA : Public Peace -- SECTION 9: Major Kusanagi and Section 9 are called in to resolve a hostage crisis at a Geisha house staffed by android geisha. While the crisis is averted there is more to it.
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Sac2x08.jpg
TESTATION


2. SA : Proof of Recklessness – TESTATION: In a plot-device similar to Mamoru Oshii's Patlabor 1: The Movie, a heavy-assault Tachikoma tank runs amuck under the control of an unknown hijacker. After going on a destructive spree at a Kenbishi Industries testing facility, the Tachikoma takes off towards a remote village. Kusanagi briefs her squad at Section 9 HQ, explaining that the Tachikoma's designer, Takeshi Kamo, died a week before, and that no terrorist organization has claimed credit for the heist. Since the military refuses to get involved (for whatever reason) unless terrorism is involved, Section 9 is called in to stop the tank.

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ANDROID AND I
3. SA : A Small Rebellion -- ANDROID AND I: A series of android suicides prompts Section 9 to investigate the manufacturer. While Section Head Daisuke Aramaki (荒巻大介 Aramaki Daisuke) questions the plant manager, Kusanagi and a tachikoma covertly hack into the plant's database to try and uncover any possible wrongdoings by the manufacturer. As it turns out, all the androids were of the same model, an obsolete product known as the GA07-JL android, dubbed the Jerry by its small but loyal fanbase. The Genesis Jerry-model android was so popular because of the ease with which an end-user could modify it to their own specifications, not unlike the Sony AIBO. While the plant manager half-jokingly comments that the Jerry's have grown despondent because of their obsolete status, Kusanagi discovers that a virus has been inserted into the mainframe, probably by an end-user who had sent his Jerry back to Genesis for refurbishing.
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INTERCEPTER


4. C : The Visual Device Laughs – INTERCEPTER: An old friend of Togusa's named Yamaguchi is murdered after sending him pictures concerning an unsolved case involving a hacker known as "The Laughing Man". His investigation leads to the discovery that the members of the Laughing Man task force have all been implanted with cybernetic surveillance devices called 'interceptors', which reside in the subject's eye, recording everything they do.


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DECOY
5. C : The Inviting Bird will Chant – DECOY: During a press conference called by the Police to announce their 'findings' regarding the interceptor devices, the mysterious hacker known as the Laughing Man returns, hijacking one of the official's brain-cores and delivering a threat to the Superintendent General. Section 9 suspects that the Police Investigators handling the Laughing Man case are using their primary suspect, a former Serrano Genomics, Inc. programmer with a shady anti-Corporate past named Nanao, as a decoy to hide some form of higher-level corruption.
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MEME


6. C : The Copycat Dances – MEME: Things go fairly haywire as Kusanagi and Paz suspect that the Laughing Man has inserted a virus into the police units guarding the Superintendent General. Aramaki orders Section 9 to open their own investigation into the Laughing Man case.


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IDOLATER
7. SA : Idolatry – IDOLATER: Jenoman revolutionary leader Marcelo Jarti has been visiting Japan regulary every five months. Section 9 wants to know why.
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MISSING HEARTS


8. SA : The Fortunate Ones -- MISSING HEARTS: A nurse (who seems to have some acquaintance with Kusanagi) calls the Major in to look into the source of a young girl's heart transplant. It seems that the heart she received was given without consent of the owner's parents. The girl's doctors feared she might have had to be given a full-cyborg conversion, a thought that stirs painful memories for Kusanagi.


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CHAT!CHAT!CHAT!
9. C : The man That Lurks in the Darkness of the Net -- CHAT!CHAT!CHAT!: Kusanagi enters a chat room dedicated to the Laughing Man. Various crackpot theories are passed around JFK-style as the chatroom members view various bits of evidence from the Laughing Man case.
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JUNGLE CRUISE


10. SA : A Perfect Day for a Jungle Cruise -- JUNGLE CRUISE: An American serial killer with an unusual (and brutal) methodology haunts Batou, who is haunted by a dark chapter of his life.


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PORTRAITZ
11. C : Inside the Forest of the Sub-Imagoes – PORTRAITZ: Togusa is sent to investigate a mysterious government facility of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare following a hacking assault which originated from the social welfare facility in question; resulting in the theft of sensitive data.
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ESCAPE FROM


12. SA : Tachikoma Runaway; A movie Director's Dream -- ESCAPE FROM: Batou's Tachikoma goes AWOL and encounters a young girl searching for her lost dog; a discarded cyber-brain leads Kusanagi on a soul-searching ghost dive.


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NOT EQUAL
13. SA : Not Equal Terrorist -- NOT EQUAL: When Section 9 attempts to extract a young girl kidnapped by an anti-cybertech militant group 16 years earlier, things take a turn for the weird.
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¥€$

14. SA : Automated Capitalism -- ¥$: When Section 9 breaks up a cabal of thieves hell bent on wrecking a number of Japanese corporations, they are led into an assassination attempt by Chinese Socialists on a prominent, yet reclusive, Japanese multi-millionaire.


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MACHINES DÉSIRANTES
15. SA : Time of the Machines -- MACHINES DÉSIRANTES: Kusanagi's reservations regarding Section 9's Tachikoma units comes to a head. The Tachikomas, vaguely aware of Kusanagi's concerns, hatch a bizarre, but ultimately futile scheme to appeal to Kusanagi and prevent their deactivation.
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Ag2O


16. SA : Chinks in the Armor of the Heart -- Ag2O: Batou is ordered to investigate a possible information leak being perpetrated by a semi-retired professional fighter. The assignment calls into question Batou's attitudes towards his duty towards Section 9 and the decisions it forces him to make.


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ANGELS' SHARE
17. SA: The True Reason For The Unfinished Love Affair -- ANGELS' SHARE: While Section Head Aramaki is visiting London for an anti-terrorism conference, an old friend of his asks for his help in dealing with her company’s corruption.
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LOST HERITAGE


18. SA: Assassination Duet -- LOST HERITAGE: An investigation into an alleged assassination plot against a Korean dignitary brings Aramaki and Section 9 face to face with a very unlikely suspect.


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CAPTIVATED
19. SA: Embraced by a Disguised Net -- CAPTIVATED: Section 9 is called in to investigate the disappearance of the Prime Minister's daughter, who has been kidnapped for unknown reasons, revealing deep strands of political corruption. This is the last Stand Alone episode in the series.
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RE-VIEW


20. C : Vanished Medication -- RE-VIEW: The Laughing Man case gains prominence when a new lead surfaces: a list of cyber-brain sclerosis patients treated by a secret vaccine which disappears from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. Togusa picks up the trail, with deadly results.


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ERASER
21. C : Left-Behind Trace -- ERASER: Section 9 follows up on Togusa's investigation, leading them to a government official in hiding who may hold a clue to unraveling the entire Laughing Man case -- if they can get to him before the enemy.
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SCANDAL


22. C : Corporate Graft -- SCANDAL: Section 9 is thrown into crisis. The Secretary General sends Narcotics Department troops after Chief Aramaki and Kusanagi. Aramaki is framed with drug trafficking, but Batou rescues him before he is found. Kusanagi’s assassin strikes while she’s getting her new body, but the Laughing Man saves her.


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EQUINOX
23. C : The Other End of Good and Evil -- EQUINOX: The Laughing Man returns to again kidnap the CEO of Serrano Genomics, just as he did six years before. The Laughing Man asks him why he never fulfilled his promise to tell the truth. He informs the Laughing Man that the whole time, the Secretary General had him under arrest.
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ANNIHILATION


24. C : Sunset in the Lonely City -- ANNIHILATION: Section 9 is disbanded to prevent the arrest of the Secretary General. Headquarters is attacked by an elite military unit that captures Boma, Paz, and Togusa.


25. C : Rain of Bullets – BARRAGE: Ishikawa and Saito are caught in another attack, but Batou manages to escape when the Tachikoma units sacrifice themselves to save him.


26. C : Security Police Section 9 Once Again -- STAND ALONE COMPLEX: As the Laughing Man wanted, the truth comes to light. Section 9 is reinstated.

External links

See also

ja:攻殻機動隊 STAND ALONE COMPLEX

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