Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Volume 7

Starring (voice): Atsuko Tanaka, Osamu Saka and Akio Ôtsuka
Manga Entertainment UK
RRP: £19.99
MANG 2036
Certificate: 15
Available 14 November 2005

Japan 2030 and female cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi operates as a key agent of Section 9 of internal security under Chief Aramaki. Together with her support crew she must tackle the numerous threats facing Japan...

This release contains the final three episodes in the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series.

In Annihilation, the government orders Section 9 to be disbanded; Aramaki is taken away and Togusa is arrested. Motoko assembles the remaining team at headquarters for one final mission. They prepare for a full-scale assault while the Elite troopers and Armed Suits descend on Section 9 Headquarters; events are about to take a deadly turn for the worse!

Barrage: Following the raid on their headquarters, the remaining members of Section 9 are rounded up one by one by the government forces. The last two survivors, Batou and Motoko are separated. Batou goes in search of the Major and heads to her apartment even though he's sure it's under surveillance. Once inside, he realises he has fallen into a trap. Is this the end for Batou or will help arrive in the nick of time?

Stand Alone Complex: All hope is lost. Following the aftermath of the Section 9 purge, Togusa is released from jail, but his badge and gun are confiscated and he is given papers confirming the dissolution of Section 9. Out of work and depressed, he tries to find information on the others, but turns up nothing. Grief stricken and thinking that he has nothing left to lose, he attempts to seek vengeance on those he believes are responsible for the deaths of his friends. What has happened to Section 9 and where is the Major?

Extras include a 16 minute interview with director Kenji Kamiyama (I say interview, but it also features interesting clips of production meetings), 13 minute interview with Paul Nicholson, designer of the Laughing Man logon and an interactive quiz which is incredibly difficult (er... I managed to get three out of ten right on my first go). But I'm sure the really observant will easily beat that pathetic attempt.

I've moaned before, but I'm going to moan again. I'm at a loss as to why this DVD (as all other releases in this series) is put out as a 2-disc set. The episodes are repeated on both discs. Disc one has both Japanese and English stereo and 5.1 soundtracks, and disc two has a Japanese and English DTS mix. With only one hour of actual episode time I can't work out why this needs to be spread across two discs. They managed to include the same number of audio tracks (including DTS) as well as a 40 minute 'making of' featurette on the recent release of Millennium Actress, so why couldn't they manage to do the same here?

Ghost in the Shell fans won't be disappointed, but if you're new to this series you'd be off your head to start here. I say "won't be disappointed" but Manga is also releasing a box set that contains all seven volumes for less than the price of buying two single releases. While this collection won't feature DTS sound, I think fans who have spent £140 to collect this series will be a little annoyed that they could have waited and picked it up for £40.

Ray Thompson

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