GitS:SAC – More Thoughts

After several episodes of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, I have a few other quick thoughts:

  • In my last post, I whined about how the plot of the GitS being too obtuse. However, after watching several episodes, I think my fears were unwarranted. There is still a tendency for the plot to occassion a quick info-dump which can sometimes be overwhelming, but for the most part, each episode is relatively easy to understand. The potential exceptions are the “laughing man” episodes, but I’m guessing they’re a bit confusing because the story is still in progress and so there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
  • Also in my last post, I noted that the series seems to have a lighter tone than the films, and I think that’s definitely true. For instance, Major Kusanagi is definitely displaying more of a light-hearted attitude than she does in the movies, where she has a much more earnest style. She even smiles a lot. She’s still a badass though, and a very likeable character. The one thing that bothers me is her uniform, which seems to consist of a one-piece bathing suit, thigh-high stockings, and a jacket.

    Major Kusanagi's uniform
    All female cops wear this stuff, right?

    There was some low level nudity in the movies, but there was at least a partial explanation for that (she was wearing one of those invisibility suits). I know there’s a time-honored tradition of something called fan service in anime, and if this qualifies, then it’s actually pretty tame when compared to series that are actually fan service vehicles, but still. Every time I see the major wearing that outfit, my immersion (or “transport”, if you prefer) in the story momentarily snaps, and I have to wonder why this woman is wearing what amounts to lingerie while conducting her police work. It’s not like we ever see Batou walking around in a speedo, vest, and combat boots. Of course, this is a total nitpick and when she gets sent into a battle situation, she wears more reasonable attire, so it’s not a complete disconnect.

    Thats better!

  • The movies tend to be more philosophically inclined than the series, which seems content to let the philosophical implications of their universe simmer beneath the surface of a straightforward police procedural. This is probably why the plot of the series is a little easier to follow than the films, and it actually works pretty well because it’s not like any other police procedural on TV. Such shows are a dime a dozen. I could probably turn on my TV and have my choice between 3 different episodes of Law & Order right now. But GitS:SAC is a police procedural that focuses on hacking, and it’s surprisingly effective at taking the usually dull or fake-sounding hacking tropes and turning them into something more compelling to watch. I think a large part of this is that it’s not just computer hacking here, but rather “ghost hacking” (i.e. hacking people’s brains). Ghost hacking is inherently disturbing, and so these stories carry more weight than, say, a typical episode of 24 (which has such laughable techno-babble as to be actually entertaining, but that’s a different story). Anyway, I think this style suits the series well, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the episodes.

That’s all for now. More as the series progresses.

4 thoughts on “GitS:SAC – More Thoughts”

  1. I mentioned in my last post on GitS that the animation was notably inferior to the movies. It’s much less detailed and the movements are less fluid, but at the same time, it’s something I got used to pretty quickly. If I had more problems with the story or the characters, I’m sure the animation would bother me more. As it is, I kinda like this universe…

    I’m not that far into the series, so the Tachikoma have not played much of a role yet. Right now, they seem kinda like comic relief. I’m assuming from your tone that they’ll play a larger role later in the series…

  2. I think you’re right that “immersion” is a better label than “transport”.

    As to why Kusanagi wears lingerie a lot of the time, that might well be explainable in character terms. Remember that she’s a full-replacement cyborg. The only “original equipment” left is her brain. All the rest is mechanism.

    At least based on the movie, it’s apparent that some full-replacement cyborgs have doubts about just how human they really are. The body is arbitrary; it can easily be changed. Kusanagi’s brain could have been put into a male-form body, or into something that didn’t look human at all.

    Having a sexy form (e.g. with entirely cosmetic breasts) and emphasizing that sexiness with skimpy clothing might be part of her psychological need to reassure herself that she’s still a woman, and not just a machine with a human brain inside it.

  3. That’s an interesting conjecture. The full replacement cyborgs definitely have doubts about who and what they are, and there are often things they do that seem to indicate that they’re trying to retain their humanity. For instance, in GitS2: Innocence, it’s revealed that Batou keeps a basset hound, and it’s clearly something that keeps him in touch with his human identity.

    I was going to say that the Major is much less angsty in the series than in the first movie, but then I just watched episode 8, and there was something that happened there that hit close to home for her (I still think she’s less angsty here). She wears a watch that’s been shown a few times. They haven’t explained it, but I’m thinking it’s something from her old, non-cyborg life and I assume it’s something that reminds her of her humanity. The series also shows a couple of friends (roommates? I don’t know if the cyborgs sleep, so the actual relationship that the Major has with these other two girls is a little strange) that the Major sometimes (er, rarely) hangs out with. I don’t think they’re cyborgs, and I know one is a nurse.

    Anyway, if she’s wearing the lingerie outfit to reassure herself that she’s a woman, I think that may be a bit of a stretch. Still, it’s an interesting idea. Then again, episode 8 ends with Batou teasing the Major that she should just cut to the chase and “upgrade” to a male model body, so maybe you’re on to something there.

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