Ghost in the Shell: ARISE – Alternative Architecture – 03


The second arc of ARISE takes us back to before Kusanagi Motoko joined Section 9, when she was still in the 501 Organization. It’s another tautly-produced episode packed with richly-detailed environments, slick action, a dope score, and good old-fashioned police work, performed with the aid of cyber-technology.


That police work surrounds the recent murder of a Colonel Mamuro, a soldier with a reputation for integrity being smeared by allegations of corruption surrounding the circumstances of his demise. Mamuro also happens to be Kusanagi’s mentor and de facto benefactor. With him gone and new rules in place, what remnants of her physical and financial freedom remain are in jeopardy. Even more so, now that he’s suspected of corruption. Talk about crap luck.


Her fortunes marginally improve when Aramaki, the head of the investigation, brings Kusanagi on as a consultant, familiar and clearly impressed with her bona fides, even if he doesn’t know her personal stake in Mamuro’s murder. She immediately gets to work, diving deep into the cybernetic aether, finding dots, and connecting them.


That night, as Kusanagi gets in touch with Togusa, the civilian detective following Mamuro’s case, and his involvement with a prostitute, she is infiltrated, and runs out into the night in her underwear, only to be ambushed by her bitter 501 colleagues. Like Togusa’s boss, they want her to quit digging into the case, lest it cause trouble for all of them. Something tells me she won’t be so easily intimidated.


The next morning, Kusanagi first meets Logicoma, a primitive but plucky assistant mecha to whom she literally gives a voice (Sawashiro Miyuki laying on the cute, if you were wondering), whom Aramaki assigns to Kusanagi for the duration of her consultation. The suggestion is that this will only be a temporary arrangement, but I one gets the feeling this is a trial run to determine of she’s right for Section 9.


Kusanagi traces Mamuro’s last steps and gets jumped by an apparent n’er-do-well. Like the gymnast-like mobile mine, the combat is quick and frenetic, but also smooth and deliberate; not so chaotic we don’t know what’s going on. It’s neat then, that this isn’t just some random enemy going after Motoko, but Pazu, a cop who just happens to be working undercover with the outfit that was hired to take Mamuro out with mobile mines.


After Pazu offers her useful info that propels her investigation further, he expresses his envy for her “freedom of movement”, unaware that her freedom is by no means a sure thing. At the facility where the mines came from, Kusaragi not only bumps into Togusa, who is looking for two military officers who match the description of the figures who followed Mamuro on security video.


In that same warehouse, Kusanagi finally gets a good look at the guy who infiltrated her and has been tailing her ever since she took on the case. Anyone even casually familiar with the franchise knows him as Batou, Kusanagi’s beady-eyed second-in-command, but here, in the past, he’s pointing a gun at her. It’s amusing that Kusanagi first met almost every future member of Section 9 at gunpoint.


Gunslinger Stratos – 03


Gunslinger Stratos is not a terrible show, but does seem a bit lazy at times, and doesn’t sweat the details when it comes to, say the clunky interior of a limo that doesn’t conform in size or shape to the exterior. After watching something with such precise animation as, say, Sidonia, such flaws stick out, and add up quickly.


I’m glad I was wrong about Kyouka not opening her case though. She’s actually the one reason I continue watching this show, for no other reason than she’s got the strongest personality, doesn’t overly rely on the guys, and is a genuinely good fighter, if a bit reckless at times.


For all of the under-designed elements in this show, the gunslingers sport over-designed, impractical uniforms that are both fussy and not particularly cool-looking. Kyouma’s bellbottoms and awkward giant gun, Kyouka’s earmuffs, Rindo’s baggy sleeves and Tooru’s stiff scarf all strike me as unnecessary, distracting details.


The actual combat, with the gunslingers flying all over 2015 Shibuya emptying clips, isn’t the worst, but it’s also awfully random. For a show with so much uninteresting technobabble in the dialogue, there isn’t a whole lot of rhyme or reason to the operation beyond “show up in the general vicinity of the enemy and have at it.”


Most distressing, in the middle of battle Kyouma allows Tooru to leave the combat area and chase after the purple-haired ghost, which puts their team a man down, in addition to two of them being in their first real battle (Tooru and Kyouka) Tooru loses the ghost when she disappears, and his team loses Rindo when she takes a bullet (a big one) for Kyouka, fired by Tooru’s double.

Rindo’s death wasn’t entirely expected, but from her death flags to the whimsical, shlipshod tactics employed by her team, it wasn’t a huge surprise someone ended up KIA. We’ll see how the rookie Tooru deals with this early loss.