When Manga Entertainment said they were removing themselves from the forefront of anime and shifting into World Cinema, the emphasis was clearly to direct the company to quality over quantity. The release of Read or Die proved they could find the quality, and with Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, they've done it again.
The story is based on the manga by Masamune Shirow, something of a legend in anime circles. Set in a futuristic Tokyo, we're introduced to the secret organisation, Section 9, which deals with high-end terrorist activity. Head of this unit is Major Motoko Kusanagi, who, due to an accident as a child, now exists in an entirely cyborg body. Other members of her elite unit have some cybernetic enhancements, but her status as almost entirely inorganic makes her unique.
The first disc contains 4 missions, all of which showcase Shirow's vision of technology and it's applications within society. The series always excels when showboating the online world that ordinary people can acess via ports in their neck, and the real-world military hardware/fracas are entertaining too.
GitS manages to create a totally immersive world, aided and abetted by a superior soundtrack and excellent animation, and for the duration of the disc you'll find yourself presented with thought provoking drama as well as some rather splendid action sequences.
If Manga Entertainment were looking to demonstrate a keen eye for the best in the market, they can rest easy. Mission: accomplished.