Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

I knew the film more than the series, and a lot of what I was expecting is colored by that lens. The first season in particular was less cerebral and more, uh, traditional — not in a bad sense, but besides the subplot of the Tachikomae slowly becoming supercomputers (which I loved, and every character beat was pleasant and earned!) it felt something like more of a low-rent CBS drama. NCIS: Cyberpunk Japan.

The second season was much better in almost every realm. The standalone episodes were less “The Major Goes On An Adventure” and more focused on fleshing out the rest of Section 9; even truly one-off episodes, like the Taxi Driver pastiche, were finely crafted. I cared less about Individual Eleven / Kuze than I did Laughing Man, but the general plot and atmosphere felt like a step up.

It’s not as good as the film, but that’s a high bar to reach. It is good cyberpunk anime that didn’t always nail the landing (the finale of both seasons was less gripping than the actual lead-up and middle plot), but was worth watching.

(Also, the music was uniformly great. Yoko Kanno at her peak.)

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