Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex’s “2nd Gig” comes to a close and manages to pull off a great ending to a both their leading (and intersecting) storylines. Unlike the previous season finale being all talk, this was very nearly all action, though it still made sure to have some of that GITS “makes you think” social issues in it. So let’s have a closer look!
After a group calling themselves the Individual Eleven committed mass suicide on a building, the tension between the group of refugees and their Japanese protectors reaches an all time high. Can Kuze grant them freedom, or is his just a puppet created to lead them to war?
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
The Major and Batou, about to kill a little girl in a wheelchair… Nah, just kidding. It’s a boy…?
Major Makoto Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka / Mary McGlynn) – Often called only by her rank, The Major is a full cyborg who is respected for her ability in tactics and combat. Though her past in not known to even herself, she concentrates on the job at hand, rather than looking backwards, even when it seems her past might be catching up with her…
Batou (Akio Otsuka / Richard Epcar) – A former army ranger and third in command behind the Major and Lt. Col. Aramaki. He has cybernetic eyes, arms and legs to better help him in combat situations, and also has a sense of humour about himself, despite appearances.
Togusa (Kouichi Yamadera / Chrispin Freeman) – A former police officer who is the only member of Section 9 to not have any cybernetic enhancements. He still carries his old six-chambered revolver with him, despite better technology being available.
Lt. Col. Daisuke Aramaki (Osamu Saka / William Knight) – Aramaki is in charge of Section 9 and although he’s all business and quite strict, he is also very protective of his team, and is willing to work with questionable politicians if it means getting them back to work.
Ishikawa (Yutaka Nakano / Michael McCarty) – Ishikawa is the lead investigator and technology expert in Section 9. Although he is rarely on the field, his tactics and expert hacking skills are often vital for successful missions.
Saito (Toru Okawa / Dave Wittenburg) – Saito is the sniper of Section 9. His left arm and eye are the only parts of him that are cybernetic, allowing him to hold heavy sniper cannons and aim with incredible accuracy, respectively.
Borma (Taro Yamaguchi / Dean Wein) – Borma is an expert with explosives and bomb disposal, as well as technological viruses. He can also lend a hand on the field, using heavy weaponry if needed.
The Tachikoma (Sakiko Tamagawa / Melissa Fahn and others) – Spider-like robots that once helped Section 9, but were decommissioned due to gaining sentience. After two returned to help Batou and The Major during the previous crisis, they have been reinstated to Section 9.
Kazundo Goda (Ken Nishida / John Snyder) – The head of the Cabinet Intelligence Service, a man who once strived to make it to the top, only to not like the view, he wishes to create war and destruction between the refugees and their Japanese masters.
Hideo Kuze (Rikiya Koyama / Kirk Thornton) – Kuze was corrupted by the horrors of war, he now only exists to help those who need him, like the struggling refugees in Japan.
It’s funny how they both ended back together…
Unlike the first season (first gig?), this time round Episodes 19 – 26 are pretty solidly linked and finish up the main arc that has ran through the season, or this case the two strongly connected arcs, one more episode than the first season. For starters, we find out Kuze was a regular soldier until he saw innocents being massacred by a local militia and took his men down to stop them, the resulting in an even greater massacre that ends up driving him and his buddies quite mad, even more so when the media spins it in a different direction. Eventually he found solace in helping the downtrodden, up to and including the refugees that have been poorly treated by the Japanese government, leading to him staging an uprising in an attempt to gain them their independence and freedom. During this we see the other major antagonist, or really the only antagonist (Kuze is far more of a tragic anti-hero type) Kazundo Goda, who is manipulating the whole affair from afar, wishing to create war and tragedy between the refugees and Japan before defecting to America. As I said in Part 1 of this review, Goda is the most straight forward looking and acting villain the whole Stand Alone Complex saga, and it does make him stand out, though I’m not sure if it’s in a good way or not.
It all ends up with the refugees’ island being cut off and under attack by Japan, and Section 9 barrelling in to expose Goda as the mastermind before a catastrophe happens. I won’t go into too much detail, as I’d be here forever, but Kuze not only shows his softer side and reveals his strange plan to upload himself and the refugees to the web as data like some sort of weird after-life, but is also clearly revealed to be the boy who was critically injured alongside the Major in the stand-out episode 11, which even though neither of them straight out say it, was a nice touch. In the end Kuze is captured, but killed in captivity, the refugees are spared nuclear annihilation thanks to the sacrifice of the Tachikomas, and Goda is shot to literal pieces by The Major before he can defect to the US. It’s a fine ending, and more action packed than Season 1, but I think Goda should have got more punishment than that. Not very satisfying that he never knew what hit him!
The Major goes through some actual emotion during these episodes as well, beginning to empathise with Kuze and even thinking his plan involving uploading the collection refugee consciousness was a good one. It was nice to see a more human side to her, even if her defining character trait is that he fully artificial body has left her cold-hearted. Batou also has plenty to do, including a great hand-to-hand fight with Kuze, and a dramatic show of affection towards the Major.
As for the other episodes? Well, Episode 14 was great, it was a flashback told by barely used Section 9 sniper Saito, as he tells of his first encounter with The Major back when they were on opposite sides of a struggle. It concludes with a tense showdown between the two that shows how he lost his eye, and then got recruited by the purple-haired warrior. It also has a younger Ishikawa and a wet-behind-the-ears Batou, making for a fun and well told flashback episode.
Episode 17 sees The Major befriend a street orphan named Chai who ends up trying to enter the drugs trade, but nearly dies… twice, getting saved by the Major each time. He was personally inspired by Kuze, so there was still some connection to the overall arc in it. It was a fine little bottle episode. Likewise, Episode 18 focuses mainly on Batou developing sympathy for a little girl in a wheelchair who he observes during a stakeout in Berlin he and the Major were recruited to. It turns out she was the daughter of the criminal they were there to capture, but it eventually comes down to whether Batou has the heart to let her find out the truth about her father. She’s also blind, as it turns out, making a scene at the end where she stumbles about scared as the Major has her father pinned down all the more sad… right before the end credits Batou pretends to be her father, showing his soft side just in time for a… I won’t say happy ending, but a happier ending, I guess.
What are you on about? Surely you’d trust him with your government division!
Boy, Togusa got screwed this time. After having such a heavy role in the main plot of Season 1, he is nothing more than a bodyguard for Aramaki and the Japanese Prime Minister during the big events at the end of the season. It’s a shame, because he’s a good character.
Episode 15 was another one of those Tachikoma heavy episodes that drive you crazy by the end of it. No matter which language, their voices aren’t meant for long conversations with each other! It did end up tying nicely into how they drove their own A.I.-carrying satellite in the path of the nuke in the end episode, but it was still annoying going through.
As I mentioned it would have been better it Goda lived long enough to know he hadn’t successfully outplayed everyone, rather than getting shot to shreds instantly. Still, that’s better than him getting away with it, I guess?
This is Togusa’s role in the whole end of the season story arc.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – 2nd Gig ends in a satisfactory and often thrilling manor. The Major and Batou are developed along nicely, Kuze is a sympathetic anti-hero, and Goda is a straight up “evil villain”, leading to a nice twisty turny end. Not perfect, but a very fun watch.