Hello, and welcome back to my review of the Ghost in the Shell, Stand Alone Complex. I feel like I am starting to move into a deeper storyline with this series now. Maybe I should have realised what a stand-alone and complex episode meant a little earlier! It’s also the first time I have heard about the Glico Morinaga case and how some of the Laughing Man’s techniques are based on one of Japan’s greatest unsolved mysteries. To be honest, I only watched a YouTube video about the case, but it left me feeling a little uneasy all day. It’s intriguing but is not a rabbit-hole I can afford to fall down at this moment in time. I just thought I would mention it now, so I don’t need to discuss it in the future and I can simply enjoy the series for what it is.
As the rain pours at night, Police Detective Yamaguchi is working on the Laughing Man case and is suddenly alerted to something. Supervisor Nibu enters the office, soaked to the bone and looking dubious. Nibu asks Yamaguchi if he would like to go for a drink, but he declines and decides to call it a night. As Yamaguchi drives along the highway, he calls his old friend Togusa to arrange a meeting to discuss some of the suspicious internal activity he has found. After the call, he lets out a scream as his car drifts off the road and bursts into a ball of flames.
Togusa waited all night for Yamaguchi’s arrival, but he never made it. Togusa soon learns about the “highway accident” and informs Aramaki and Motoko about the incident, and he is given three days to work on the case. Togusa attends the funeral of his old friend and is approached by Yamaguchi’s wife. After some discussion, she hands him an envelope, expressing that her late husband told her to trust him with it. The envelope contains some photographs that Togusa struggles to understand. Late in the night and after all seems lost, Togusa finally realises that none of the pictures have been taken with a camera.
Togusa arranges a meeting with another detective on the Laughing Man task force, who reveals that they already have a suspect and are ready to bug him with a cybernetic surveillance device called an interceptor. Togusa soon realises that most of the task force have been fitted with these interceptors, without their consent and leaving them constantly under surveillance around the clock. The Major has a plan that will shake this case up a bit, and soon enough, news of the interceptors becomes public, and a scandal occurs.
Shortly after the damaging information is leaked, the Police Commissioner is forced to call a press conference. It’s very much business as usual, as the Commissioner tries to deflect any wrongdoing by him or any possible involvement of higher officials, instead he blames Kunihiko Nibu, the head of The Laughing Man task force. The interrogation continues as the press ask the Commissioner about his involvement with Serona Genomics Incorporated, the company who designed and manufactured the interceptors, but he still denies any corruption.
Another guest attends the stage. The Laughing Man returns after he hacks the cyberbrain of a police official. He announces that due to the police’s effort to cover up the truth, he will challenge them again. The news feed becomes chaotic, and the Laughing Man logo takes over the screens. In a final threat, he warns the Commissioner that he will remove him; if the truth is not revealed.
Well, this show has definitely changed direction now and I’m loving it. The quality of the show is something that still stands out to me, as every scene is as important as the next. Togusa is a character that I really enjoy learning more about, so I was appreciative of this episode, so I can watch his story develop. There is a Blade Runner vibe to this episode, especially with the image enhancement scene and the rainfall, as a fan of that franchise, I applaud this.
I had to go back and watch this episode a few times before I really understood what was happening. There is a scene between the Major and Aramaki that is barely a minute long but holds so much information about the case.
Aramaki: “So, we are back on the Laughing Man case.”
Motoko: “I almost forgot about it, six years and the task force are still working on the case.”
Aramaki: “A lot of companies were blackmailed and it all has to be covered. It’s the largest act of corporate terrorism since the war. Police Headquarters can’t back out now, because of public opinion.”
Motoko: “They are taking their time.”
Aramaki: “You have a point; even top executives can’t agree on the culprit of the crime. Some say it’s politically motivated extremists who hate prosthetics and all forms of cyber technology. Others think it’s standard corporate warfare, competitors trying to get an edge on the market. Some say it’s just about the ransom money. All theories and no facts. They don’t know the suspects nationality, age or sex. They all agree the suspect is a super class A hacker.”
Major: “He was class A when he started this thing but he couldn’t sustain it, and his work turned mediocre.”
It finishes with the Major saying she doesn’t like the case, but Aramaki says they need to check Police Headquarters and they may need to step in. I really can’t wait to see where this story leads me. As for the Laughing Man, I’m intrigued and the ending was exhilarating, raising the intensity of the show to another level. It reminds me of one of my favourite series, Mr. Robot (TV Series 2015–2019). If you haven’t watched that before, I would highly recommend it.
I enjoyed the scene when the Major goes into the bar and asks the barman to leak the story to some of his punters, and it’s picked up by the press. Its moments like that, that make me smile and know I’m on the right path with this series. However, I was a little surprised that the Major is seen watching Togusa at work without him knowing? I think I may learn more about that moment in the future!!
Well, there we go, episode four going into the archives, and I can’t wait to get started with the next one. I’m enjoying this franchise and have just picked up Ghost in the Shell and Innocence on Blu-ray to watch over the weekend. I have to say, I do enjoy these reviews, but these are only my first impressions of them. I really can’t wait to watch those two films again, without worrying about taking notes and just enjoy being a fan.
Thank you for visiting today, it’s appreciated. What did you think about this episode? As always, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Ghost in the Shell Anthology.