Rent Ghost in the Shell: SAC: The Laughing Man (2005)

4.0 of 5 from 56 ratings
2h 34min
Rent Ghost in the Shell: SAC: The Laughing Man (aka Kôkaku kidôtai: Stand alone complex - The laughing ma) Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Synopsis:
The year is 2030 and six years have passed since a criminal known only as 'The Laughing Man' swept through top medical nanotechnology firms committing acts of cyber-terrorism, kidnapping, extortion, and corporate espionage leaving no known suspects. New information is revealed to Japan's top homeland security force, drawing Major Kusanagi and Section 9 into the hunt for a suspect capable of hacking the eyes of every operative, obscuring all details of his appearance and leaving behind a trail of copycats and hacked cyborg citizens.
Who is The Laughing Man? What are his motives? And how do you catch a criminal that you cannot see? Join the beautiful cyborg Motoko Kusanagi in a world of high technology and deadly conspiracies as she searches for the answers to these questions and more!
Directors:
Producers:
Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, Shigeru Watanabe
Voiced By:
Alison Matthews, Russell Roberts, David Kaye, Trevor Devall, Michael Adamthwaite, Nicole Bouma, Ross Douglas, Brian Drummond, Mark Gibbon, Janyse Jaud, Kelly Metzger, John Murphy, Yutaka Nakano, Tôru Ôkawa, Takashi Onozuka, John Payne, Dave Pettitt, Osamu Saka, Jason Simpson, Tabitha St. Germain
Writers:
Kenji Kamiyama
Aka:
Kôkaku kidôtai: Stand alone complex - The laughing ma
Studio:
Manga Entertainment
Genres:
Anime & Animation
Countries:
Japan, Anime & Animation
BBFC:
Release Date:
20/03/2017
Run Time:
154 minutes
Languages:
English, Japanese
Subtitles:
English
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.78:1 / 16:9
Colour:
Colour
Bonus:
  • Tachikomatic Days
  • Trailers
  • Stand Alone Complex Archive
BBFC:
Release Date:
29/05/2017
Run Time:
154 minutes
Languages:
English, Japanese
Subtitles:
English
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.78:1 / 16:9
Colour:
Colour
BLU-RAY Regions:
B
Bonus:
  • Tachikomatic Days
  • Trailers
  • Stand Alone Complex Archive

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Critic review

Ghost in the Shell: SAC: The Laughing Man (aka Kôkaku kidôtai: Stand alone complex - The laughing ma) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso

Ghost in the Shell is one of the most detailed and thoughtful of anime sci-fi worlds. Whereas most anime of the future is a mess of holograms, robots, and starships littering the screen, there's an eerie believability to this speculative fiction where smartphone technology comes standard in your brain. Naturally, such dangerous additions to human culture can lead to more frightening hackers and that's where the special task force of Section 9 comes into play. Their priorities range from stationary code hacking to mobile chases through city streets of tech-based terrorists. Unlike the films, Stand Alone Complex explores more of the characters and this world.

This movie, unfortunately, rushes its central arc of the show into a stuffed package. The format of the show was to be that of a shifting focus, sometimes dealing with individual cases, other times the overarching plotline of the infamous Laughing Man hacker. This movie keeps the focus on The Laughing Man, trimming and skimming through most of the material into an abridged version. The hacker that Section 9 seeks is one that is targeting the government to reveal a suppressed cure. His tactics include hacking into certain influential figures to hold an audience and hacking into everyone else's vision to obscure his identity. The more Section 9 digs into this case, the more corruption they uncover that turns them into much bigger targets for other terrorists and the Japanese government.

This is an incredibly dense story and it doesn't bode well for a shortened movie version. Because the movie version moves at an erratic pace to cram in all the essential plot points of the case, we lose a bit of the character in the process. It's rather a shame considering how unique our procedural posse happens to be. Major Motoko has an interesting past and a complex mental connection to The Laughing Man's plight. Batou is the tough-as-nails brute of the group with a love of guns and dogs, not afraid to have a modicum of fun on the job. Ishikawa is literally the most human of the group, acting more as a traditional detective of sorts with the least amount of cybernetic attachments, as well as a strong family life at home. And there's a host of other characters in Section 9 that this first season, unfortunately, doesn't have as much time for, so you can imagine how much time they're given in this mad-dash of a film.

The animation is some of Production IG's best for television. I knew they could do stellar work for their films, as seen in the Ghost in the Shell movies, but this production simply stellar for the small HD screen. The characters are well-drawn and have great color, but just take a moment to marvel at the astonishing backgrounds. Most anime I've seen tends to wash out cityscapes, but not this show. I found myself in awe just staring at the office buildings in the background during the night scenes where you clearly see desks and lights turned on in the smallest corners of the screen. It's those little details, along with the thoughtful design of everything from the food to the cars, that makes me love Ghost in the Shell all the more.

It's tough to recommend The Laughing Man, as with most compilation films. If you've seen the show, there's no reason to see this. If you haven't, I'm a hesitant to recommend it as the movie skips over some of the finer details and characters that ease the viewer into the world. Let's put it this way: If you're not willing to take a 26-episode plunge into the best cyberpunk anime TV series ever made, you may as well spare two hours for this abridged version. I know that's not much of a recommendation, but what can I tell you? It's an engrossing story with some of the best television animation of the 2000s, but it's better seen in its complete form rather than this quick cash-grab of a clip show.

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