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Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. — The Laughing Man Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Subtitles: English (Full Dialogue; Text Only)
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio:  Manga
  • Blu-ray Release Date: June 21, 2011
  • List Price: $34.98

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BestBuy.com:
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - The Laughing Man -

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Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C.– The Laughing Man is an original OVA that reworks events from the original Stand Alone Complex anime series, extending the events related to The Laughing Man incident that takes place therein. Most of the content is taken from the first season, but there are a few newly animated sequences as well. The original Japanese cast is used for the Japanese track, but an all-new English voice cast is used for the English track.

The story follows the characters of Public Safety Section 9 as they uncover a conspiracy involving the so-called Laughing Man incident. The Laughing Man is a computer hacker who supposedly unleashed a micro-machine virus onto the worldwide network, taking control of cyberized individuals to do his bidding. Anyone who saw the real Laughing Man, or any broadcasts of his face would only reveal an icon resembling a laughing face, hence his name.

However, through the course of their investigation, Section 9 uncovered that members of the government conspired with huge corporations to use the image of the Laughing Man to propagate a false blackmail scheme by the Laughing Man in an effort to cover up what one hacker had discovered, that a memo revealing a tuberculosis vaccine was more effective in treating a form of sclerosis called cyberbrain sclerosis than the micro-machine treatment and this was covered up in order to profit from the costly, but much less effective micro-machine treatment. Their uncovering of the conspiracy and the efforts by the government and big industry puts Section 9 in jeopardy, making them a target of a false campaign of propaganda and violent retribution in this action and intrigue-filled OVA.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The Laughing Man has a 1080i/60 AVC encodement. This added to the generally veiled appearance of Ghost in the Shell means that this transfer doesn’t exactly look the sharpest and most detailed of the animated releases that we’ve seen. There are some slight instances of motion judder and a bit of color banding as well. Still, This S.A.C looks  pleasing overall, but not up to the same level of reference as some of the best hand-drawn content on Blu-ray.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mixes in Japanese and English are both engulfing and very aggressive as is typical for Ghost in the Shell. This particular one seems to be slightly tamer in the high frequencies than the previous Solid State Society I’d reviewed, but it can still get a bit shrill. Dialogue is clean and clear, although the English mix seems to sound a little more open in this regard than the Japanese mix. I’d still recommend sticking with the Japanese language track and engaging the Full Dialogue English subtitles for purists, however.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

There aren’t a lot of extras on disc here, but what is offered is well worth watching, especially the thirty-minute “making of” Stand Alone Complex Archive.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Stand Alone Complex Archive (1.33:1; 1080i/60; 0:32.07)
  • Tachikomatic Days (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:02.44)
  • Trailers
  • English End Credits
  • BD Credits

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]

The Laughing Man may be retreading old ground for the Ghost in the Shell universe, but it is still an interesting way to experience the first Stand Alone Complex season from a different perspective. Is it worth shelling out an additional $35? I’ll leave that up to your judgement. It does offer up another two-hours-and-forty-minutes of content, so for the most rabid of GitS fans, it may very well be worth the ducats.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B004VDL7JK[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - The Laughing Man -

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

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