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DVD Review

Ghost in the Shell
Stand Alone Complex
The Laughing Man (OVA)


Starring (voice): Akio Ohtsuka, Atsuko Tanaka, Kouichi Yamadera and Osamu Saka
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 31 March 2008

Alerted to a possible conspiracy amongst the highest levels of government, female cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi and her fellow police officers in the Section 9 anti-terrorism team discovers that a previously inactive but elite hacker may be involved in the blackmailing of several key business and government leaders. As the conspiracy starts to affect all levels of society, time is running out for the Major and her team to uncover the truth and capture the elusive Laughing Man...

The Laughing Man (OVA) is a remixed and re-edited version of the Laughing Man story arc from the first series of Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Featuring new animation footage (upgraded to theatrical film quality) and a completely new audio dub, this DVD presents the Laughing Man story as a self-contained two-and-a-half hour movie. Sadly though, the DTS soundtrack from the original cut is missing - instead we are offered Japanese 2.0 or an English 5.1 soundtrack.

The Laughing Man is the ultimate hacker who can manipulate numerous video feeds, hack cybertron brains and eyes so that while people see him they don't remember his face, which is replaced by a bizarre logo. Section 9 operatives are on the case and even track him down to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare's Rehabilitation Center where he is posing as a wheelchair bound deaf-mute. But he always manages to stay one step ahead of Section 9.

As his activity escalates, Section 9 are coming under increasing pressure to bring this fugitive to justice.

Extras include: Tachikomatic Days (2 min, 43 sec animated comedy that sees the Tachikomatics attempting to dub some of the soundtrack themselves; Stand Alone Complex Archives (32 min, 18 sec interview with the director on the series and the reason for this new version. It also features behind the scenes footage of cast recordings and rough sketches); and a selection of trailers for other Manga Entertainment releases.

This is an entertaining release that pulls all of the previous Laughing Man plot strands together to produce an edge-of-the-seat feature length gem.


Ray Thompson

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