“Ghost in the Shell: SAC” Is The Anime Series Worth Watching?

It is based on one of the most classic anime movies and it is about to be adapted in a live-action movie in 2017. Is the series Stand Alone Complex worth watching?

I am Satoshi Furude from Anime Monogatari and this month we are going to talk about Mokoto Kusanagi and her team in the Ghost in the Shell series aired in 2002.

I believe that this series is one of the most classic and popular in the world of anime, so just from that I suggest that you should watch it. Another reason for that is that next year the live-action movie is coming out, but I have no idea if they are going to follow the plot line from the anime or if they are going to create an original plot story. Regarding the anime, it is a sci-fi action series, with deep and heavy philosophical themes. In particular, a big conversation on what Stand Alone Complex means exists, so don’t expect it to be an easy to watch anime. Finally, the series plot has nothing to do with the plot of the 1995 movie. The series serves as a separate parallel world to the movie.

Note: this review is about the first season (the 26 episodes) of Stand Alone Complex that aired between October 2002 and October 2003.

STORY

Rating: 7.0/10

We find ourselves in the year 2030, where humankind has the technology to replace any part of the human body, or even the whole human body with artificial robotic parts. The plot follows Mokoto Kusanagi, who has changed her whole body with robotic parts, and her team who are in charge of security in Sector 9.

The series has 26 episodes, most of them are independent from the main plot, but they serve so the viewer meets some of the secondary characters. The main plot is developed mostly in some of the first episodes and after episode 20, where Mokoto’s team is in charge to solve the Laughing Man incident, where a mysterious hacker kidnaps one of the owners of the Serano Genomics company. As you can easily guess, much more are hidden behind this kidnapping.

The main plot is very interesting, but it is very complicated and impossible to understand when you first watch it. Also, all the independent episodes that don’t develop the story are a bit tiring, as the viewer doesn’t know what exactly is going on right away.

The characters are very interesting and they appeal to the audience because of their art design and style, but not really for their background stories, as there are nearly no character development. As a result, the viewer is left wondering at the beginning of the series why he should be interested in everything going on in the story. It will eventually be worth it in the end.

SOUND

Rating: 7.5/10

Responsible for the music is Yoko Kanno. The music in the series doesn’t stand out very much. It consists of many different tracks. There are moments though when the music is fantastic and those moments are during the action scenes.

The OP and ED are also very nice. I am talking about the first songs of course, “Inner Universe” and “Lithium Flower”, but in the TV rebroadcasting those songs are replaced. The OP is a special song written and sang by Origa, with Russian, Latin and English lyrics, accompanied with amazing 3D graphics that reminds me very much of the graphics from Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children movie. The ED is a rhythmical song, with playful guitar and strong bass.

ANIMATION

Rating: 7.0/10

In general, the series has pretty good animation. The characters and the scenery are very good. The shadows and the lighting are also good, which is very important as the majority of the scenes take place in closed rooms with lights or during the night. As it is natural, the colors used are dark, earthy colors. The part where there’s a problem is with the character movement, especially where there are a lot of background characters.

What stood out about the animation, like in the OP, is the 3D element. It isn’t the best I have ever seen and compared with the rest of the environment design it oddly stands out.  Nonetheless, considering it was 2002 when it came out, the ending result is much more than satisfying.

ENJOYMENT

Rating: 6.5/10

I started to watch this series with high expectations, but things developed much different than expected. It is a really good series, with excellent action scenes and a lot, I’ll say it again, a lot of fantasy. It also has explores some important issues.

The biggest of them is that the main plot is difficult to understand. Although it doesn’t focus in the heavy philosophical subjects of the human soul and consciousness as I expected, many events don’t happen in front of the viewer, but he learns about them through explanations and conversations by the main characters.  As a result he has to concentrate and watch every second of the episode, which is very hard and tiring, especially when he is watching it with subs like I did.

The truth is that the plot is heavy and very complicated.  It deals with original and interesting subjects, but it is very good and everything binds together in the end. The problem is that you have to watch it two or three times and, after looking up for most of the stuff, you will understand what exactly is going on. Personally, I am confident that if I watched it so many times it would easily become one of my favorite series and the enjoyment rate would even reach 9. I may do it one day…


What do you think about the live-action adaptation that’s coming out? What other series that had very complicated plot have you watched?

Leave your like and comment and visit my personal page, Anime Monogatari, for more anime reviews, first reactions and discussions!

~Satoshi

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6 thoughts on ““Ghost in the Shell: SAC” Is The Anime Series Worth Watching?”

  1. To me SAC was very good! Though I will agree some eps. did little to advance the main plot. Can we say filler episodes? As for the upcoming movie, I’m with Arria, but know almost all Live Action adaptations are trash.

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  2. I watched the film as a kid and I remember being amazed by it. I love the heroine; she’s so bad-ass. I haven’t watched the series, but one day I will. I’m actually pretty excited about the live-action film, but like so many anime fans I don’t have high expectations of it. I watched too many disappointing live-action film adaptations. However, I’m still very curious about the upcoming live-action film. We’ll see how it goes.

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  3. It was better than a seven! It ranks high among classic anime back when anime was actually art and not this cutesy otaku nonsense.

    Hands down the opening theme is standard for Yoko Kanno’s brilliance. And it’s in Russian.
    Though classically trained her music ranges wide (Cowboy Bebob’s Jazz Funk, Escaflowne’s Orchestral Fantasy).

    The Laughing Man embodies all things wrongs with an Internet dependent society; malaise, corruption, anonymity, social justice. It’s more relevant now than it was in 2002. The theme is also spiritual, whereby in using the internet you might achieve God-hood and transcend all things human.

    I consider SAC the story before the heroine took that leap in the movie, how she came to make that choice. Her team is awesome. The tachikoma are awesome and hilarious in their own journey of independent AI. Very relevant even though robotics is in its infancy right now, but computer AI is developing quickly.

    I don’t agree. Maybe I’m biased because I’ve watched it when it was released and I’m looking through rose colored glasses but the themes aren’t that hard to understand.

    I have a laughing man keychain on my briefcase to remind me not to be complacent to what ails our Internet society

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  4. Nice post, I’ve been thinking of watching this again, especially since the new movie seems to follow this plot, as opposed to the 1995 film that started the franchise. And also because I never saw all the details the first time I saw SAC.

    How are these connected to the new new movie (Ghost in the Shell, the new Movie, from 2015), if at all?

    I don’t have very high expectations for the new film. I’ll come right out and say that I think it’s a whitewash, which isn’t a good start (look what happened to The Last Airbender….ew). And also that I like Scarlett Johanssen, but I’m getting tired of seeing her cast in every. Single. Thing. To be honest, she doesn’t exactly thrill me as Black Widow, either.

    Liked by 1 person

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