***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Ghost Stands Alone. Reader discretion is advised.***
Major Motoko Kusanagi (voiced by Maaya Sakamoto) is whipping her newly formed team into shape. They are finally tasked with their first mission, preventing a possible terrorist attack. Although they have the area locked down, a threat appears from a place no one could have predicted.
The Major and her squad take into custody a full cyborg girl who was possibly the one responsible for orchestrating a bloody massacre. However, no one is sure if the girl is the real mastermind or just another victim. To find the answers, Motoko searches the girl’s Ghost.
Upon doing so, though, Motoko discovers an identity lost in crisis, as well as signs of a much more massive attack on the horizon.
It is fitting this post would come out on Christmas Eve. It is also wholly coincidental that this is the situation; nevertheless, I can’t help appreciate the neatness of it all.
(Ghost Stands Alone’s story takes place during Christmastime, for those who don’t know)
Putting that aside, I think its time I come to a long-overdue realization. This is the fourth entry in this Ghost in the Shell Arise overlook, and up to this point, I have been waiting for the moment when this version of Section 9 would turn into the team we saw back in Stand Alone Complex. I convinced myself of something that was never promised.
Under these circumstances, I want to ensure that whenever I let my unfounded expectations run wild, I need to always call myself out. Especially when what I suspect might take place never comes to fruition.
When this happens, it should never be the gut reaction to blame the story. We cannot expect a narrative, any narrative to be beholden to what we, the audience, believe should occur.
This is sort of the reason why I chose to look at Arise through my Impressions series and not through a standard critique. I wanted to enjoy and talk about this adaptation of Ghost in the Shell more as a fan and less as a reviewer.
I’m saying all this because looking over the four Arise installments, there was almost a single coherent story; the framework for one, at least, existed. Although this series has followed a base plotline and the events of one chapter did affect the events of the next, large gaps are still missing.
For example, back in Ghost Tears, the story introduced the character Emma Tsuda (voiced by Ai Kayano) in a brief, almost throwaway scene. Except it wasn’t that. This scene’s importance grew much more significant when Emma lingered on answering whether she could take on the Major in a hacker-battle.
Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear something like that, I immediately think that this Emma person is going to become important later on, and whatever team she is apart of should remain on my radar. Now, cut to Ghost Stands Alone and, sure enough, Emma showed back up. However, I am incapable of explaining what the hell she was doing in this story.
This has been an issue with the entire Ghost in the Shell franchise. A ton of names are thrown around, and unless they are members of Section 9, the likelihood of anyone standing out has been slim. In the case of Ghost Stands Alone, I have no idea who Emma was; I have no idea what she was trying to do; I have no idea who she was working with; I have no idea why some people wanted her dead; I really didn’t have a damn clue about what was going on.
I have been hesitant to make this a point in the other Arise posts, but this series has definitely lived up to the name Ghost in the Shell. There were a lot of cool things happening, but almost none of it made sense.
With that being said, what of Ghost Stands Alone itself?
Well, like the other entries in this series, it looked amazing, the main cast was great, the action was exciting, and I would be lying if I said I was ever bored. I did like it, that much is sure, but this wasn’t my favorite chapter of Arise.
The first two installments, Ghost Pain and Ghost Whispers (especially Ghost Pain), had, in their favor, the idea that Arise was going to be a sort of prequel to the rest of Ghost in the Shell. That novelty has long since run its course. Ghost Stands Alone, albeit enjoyable, did fall a bit flat.
There is one more entry in the Arise series (with complications, and I will discuss what those are in the next post). I am looking forward to it, and that by itself is enough for me to say Ghost Stands Alone was worth watching.
But seeing how I have hardly talked about anything that happened during this chapter, let that be my way of saying how much (or how little) impact this installment had.
I don’t want to use the word “disappointed.” To do so would be unfair.
After all, I did enjoy myself with this story. There was entertainment value. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it was fun to watch, regardless.
Although I was always going to finish the Arise series, I do take comfort in having left all the previous installments satisfied as I go into the last.
To that, Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Ghost Stands Alone is worth a look.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Ghost Stands Alone? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and be sure to come back December 26th as Ghost in the Shell Month continues with Anime Hajime Impressions: Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Pyrophoric Cult.