J’emmerde Facebook

Sommet-des-dieux-animeLe 20 juin j’ai republié un message d’Animeland qui annonçait la bande-annonce d’un film d’animation adaptant un excellent manga d’un de mes auteurs préférés, Jiro Taniguchi. Le 26 juin j’ai reçu un message de Facebook qui disait “Your post goes against our Community Standards [on SPAM] so only you can see it.” J’ai donc contesté la décision et FB a fermé le dossier mais j’ignore toujours si mon billet original est toujours visible… alors je l’ai re-publié (mais il ne semble toujours pas visible!)…

 La bande-annonce en question (sur Vimeo)

Je suis outragé! Facebook trouve correct que Trump mente sur leur page, que Trump fasse de la désinformation et de la propagande haineuse, que Trump incite à la violence [WaPoNYT] mais je republie simplement un post qui parle d’une animation basé sur un beau manga de mon auteur préféré et c’est du SPAM ???? F**k you FB, je commence sérieusement à penser à te laisser tomber !

Ne vous gênez pas pour commenter et laisser FB savoir quelle petite merde ils sont!

* * *

F**k Facebook !

On June 20 I republished a message from Animeland announcing the trailer for an animated film adapting an excellent manga from one of my favorite authors, Jiro Taniguchi [same news on Anime News Network]. On June 26 I received a message from Facebook saying “Your post goes against our Community Standards [on SPAM] so only you can see it.” So I contested the decision and FB closed the file but I still don’t know if my original post is still visible … So I re-posted it (but I’m still not sure it is visible…) !

I am outraged ! Facebook finds it okay that Trump lies on their page, that Trump does disinformation and propaganda, that Trump uses hate-speech and incites to violence [WaPoNYT] but when I simply republish a post that talks about an animation based on a beautiful manga by my favorite author it is SPAM ???? F ** k you FB, I’m seriously starting to think about dumping you !

Please feel free to comment and tell FB how shitty they are !

 

Entrevue capsule: Yves Meynard

Voici la dernière des trois entrevues-capsules que j’ai réalisé avec des auteurs de SFFQ au Salon du Livre de Montréal en novembre 2019. (J’espérais en faire plus à Boréal mais la convention a été reporté due à la COVID-19; je me reprendrai peut-être au prochain Salon du Livre de Montréal, si il a lieu…). Je suis désolé que cela m’est pris si longtemps avant de mettre cette entrevue en ligne…

Les entrevues-capsules sont de mini-entrevues avec des auteurs (surtout de science-fiction) de chez nous. Le principe de ces entrevue est de s’en tenir à deux ou trois questions de base (qui êtes-vous, que faites-vous, etc.) et que l’entrevue ne dure pas plus que deux à cinq minutes. Cela doit être compacte et bien se digérer!

Yves Meynard est maintenant un vétéran de la SFFQ. Il est un auteur versatile car il écrit tant en français qu’en anglais, et est à l’aise dans plusieurs genres littéraires dont la science-fiction et la fantasy.  Il a été membre de la rédaction de Samizdat et Solaris, dont il a été directeur littéraire de 1994 à 2002. Il a été co-anthologiste pour Sous des soleils étrangers, Orbite d’approche, Tesseracts 5 et Escales sur Solaris. Il commence à écrire en 1986 et, depuis lors, a publié plus de cinquante nouvelles, dix-neuf livres en français (dont neuf romans pour la jeunesse) et deux romans en anglais (The Book of Knights et Chrysanthe). Il est également lauréat de nombreux prix littéraires.  (Sources: Alire, Biblio, DALIAF,  Goodreads, Page officielle, Wikipedia).

( voir la version 4K de la vidéo disponible sur Vimeo )

Autres entrevues-capsules disponibles: Catherine Sylvestre / Francine Pelletier, Sébastien Chartrand et Jonathan Reynolds.

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Capsules

Vendredi nature [002.020.122]

Thamnophis sauritus

J’adore me promener dans le Parc Frédéric-Back car tous les jours on y découvre différents aspects de la nature, surtout au printemps. Samedi dernier, j’y ai vu plus d’une dizaines d’espèces d’oiseaux différentes en moins d’une heure. Mardi, j’y ai vu trois marmottes (il semble qu’il y ait un terrier de marmottes à peu près tout les soixante-quinze pieds dans la butte qui longe le sentier polyvalent). Aujourd’hui, j’y ai vu un couple de cardinals. Toutefois, une grande rareté, mercredi j’y ai vu une… couleuvre !

[ iPhone 11 Pro, Parc Frédéric-Back, 2020/04/29 ]

Il s’agit probablement d’une jeune couleuvre mince (Thamnophis sauritus / ribbon snake en anglais) ou possiblement d’une jeune couleuvre rayée (Thamnophis sirtalis / simplement “common garter snake” en anglais). Elle était encore assez petite (une trentaine de centimètres). Je me souviens que dans ma jeunesse on en trouvait beaucoup dans notre cour ou dans les champs mais l’utilisation de pesticides et la disparition de leur habitat les a rendu beaucoup plus rare. La couleuvre (Garter snake en anglais) est une espèce de serpents, un sous-ordre de l’ordre des Squamata, de la classe des reptilia. Elle appartient à la famille des Natricidae et au genre des Thamnophis (qui regroupe une trentaine d’espèces de serpents de plus petites tailles et généralement non-venimeuses). (Source: Wikipedia)

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Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran

MonsieurIbrahim-covA Paris, dans les années soixante, Momo, un garçon de treize ans, se retrouve livré à lui-même. Il a un seul ami, Monsieur Ibrahim, l’épicier arabe et philosophe de la rue Bleue. Celui-ci va lui faire découvrir la vie, les femmes, l’amour et quelques grands principes.

[Texte de la jaquette du DVD]

(Attention, lire l’avertissement de possible divulgacheurs)

Monsieur Ibrahim est un vieux film de 2003 réalisé par François Dupeyron, avec Omar Sharif et basé sur un roman de Éric-Émmanuel Schmitt. C’est une histoire simple et méditative où un jeune adolescent juif (joué par Pierre Boulanger), un peu laissé à lui-même par un père dépressif, découvre la vie et prend un peu de maturité grâce au soutien de l’épicier d’en face d’origine turque. Étrangement cela me rappel un peu la BD Le chat du rabbin de Joann Sfar. 

L’histoire, d’abord écrite pour le théâtre, est inspirée de l’enfance à Paris de Bruno Abraham Kremer (et sa relation avec son grand-père), un ami de Éric-Émmanuel Schmitt. On y retrouve aussi plusieurs similitudes avec le roman “La Vie devant soi  de Romain Gary. Schmitt en a réécrit l’histoire en 2001 sous forme d’un court roman qui constitue la deuxième partie de son “Cycle de l’Invisible” où il consacre chacun des huit romans à une croyance différente. Ainsi Schmitt nous fait un peu découvrir le soufisme au travers du personnage d’Ibrahim. L’existence transcende les religions et il faut vivre en se foutant un peu des règles mais tout en restant fidèle à soi-même.

C’est un film lent et un peu morne — mais plutôt beau — et qui montre malheu­­reuse­­ment son âge par la qualité de l’image très moyenne (la version que j’ai vu sur TFO n’était pas restaurée). C’est toutefois un film qui a été apprécié du public (coté 7.3 sur IMDb et 85% / 86% sur Rotten Tomatoes) et qui vaut la peine d’être vu surtout pour la prestation d’Omar Sharif. stars-3-0

Vous trouverez plus d’information sur les sites suivants:

[ AmazonBiblioGoogleIMDbWikipedia ]

Vous pouvez aussi regarder la bande-annonce sur Youtube:

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Vendredi nature [002.020.101]

Ménage du printemps ?

[ iPhone 11 Pro, Parc Frédéric-Back, 2020/04/03 ]

Ce clip de cinq secondes nous montre une marmotte (Marmota monax / groundhog) ramassant des feuilles mortes pour les amener dans son terrier, sans doute pour rafraîchir son nid. Un ménage du printemps en quelque sorte ! À moins, bien sûr, que ce soit pour se faire une réserve de nourriture (ou de papier de toilette?!). Dans tous les cas, cela me semble un terrier bien confortable pour ce confinement printanier — ce qui n’est pas un problème pour cette espèce (du genre Marmota, de la famille des Sciuridae et de l’ordre Rodentia) puisqu’elle est plutôt solitaire…    [Translate]

Alpha

Alpha-dvd-covAlpha is an epic adventure set in the last Ice Age. While on his first hunt with his tribe’s most elite group, a young man is injured and left for dead. Awakening to find himself broken and alone, he must learn to survive and navigate the harsh and unforgiving wilderness. Reluctantly taming a lone wolf abandoned by its pack, the pair learns to rely on each other and become unlikely allies, enduring countless dangers and overwhelming odds in order to find their way home before the deadly winter arrives.” [Promotional text]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

This is an interesting action movie which is not only entertaining but can also be educational. Through its storytelling it tries to teach us two concepts: first, how our distant ancestors were living and also how the domestication of the wolf might have happened. It is a nice movie with a beautiful photography (and lots of CGI!) and a very simple story: boy gets hurt and left for dead, boy make friend with a companion of misfortune, and boy tries to survive and come back home. Unfortunately some scenes lack realism and are rather unbelievable. 

The movie did well at the box-office (doubling the production cost) and was relatively well received by the critics (with ratings of 6.7 on IMDb and of 80% / 71% on Rotten Tomatoes). It was slightly less appreciated by the audience and what might have hurt it was probably that the viewers had to suffer not only through the “fake” language spoken by the protagonist and his family (we have no idea what kind of language those people were really using) but also the necessary subtitles (the American audience tends to dislike having to “read” a movie).

The people portrayed in this movie are “the solutreans” (which was originally supposed to be the title of the movie). They were early modern humans (Homo sapiens also called “Cro-Magnon”) living in Europe during the Upper Paleolithic (c. 20,000 years ago) and using a sophisticated flint tool-makingindustry”. The movie certainly took some artistic license but it looks rather accurate to me.

The movie is quite loveable and entertaining but, personally, it is above all this effort to depict a prehistoric culture that made it interesting. It is worth seeing, mostly for dog lovers and if you are curious about the solutreans. stars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoogleIMDbOfficialWikipedia ]

Also, you can check the official trailer on Youtube:

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Capsules

Anime & manga news

Self-isolating has given me more time to pay attention to what’s happening in the anime and manga world. Therefore, here are a few news that I have noticed recently and that might interest you (if you are a fan):

Kodansha and Production I.G. have announced a new Stand Alone Complex anime series titled Ghost in the shell: Stand Alone Complex_2045. Directed by Kenji Kamiyama and Shinji Aramaki, the series will have two 12-episode seasons (each director overseeing one season) starting on Netflix worldwide on April 23. The anime will be a 3D CG animation and the character designs are by Russian illustrator Ilya Kushinov. (Source: ANN’s “Ghost in the Shell- SAC_2045 Anime Reveals Trailer, New Cast, April 23 Debut“).

There will be another Gundam movie titled Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway (Kidō Senshi Gundam: Senkō no Hathaway). Due to open in Japanese theatres on July 23rd, the movie is based on a novel series by Yoshiyuki Tomino. It deals with the aftermath of Char’s Counterattack‘s climatic finale and is centred around Hathaway Noa, the son of captain Bright Noa. The project is directed by Shukou Murase, with a script by Yasuyuki Mutou, character designs by Pablo Uchida, Naoyuki Onda, and Shigeki Kuhara, and mechanical designs by Hajime Katoki, Kimitoshi Yamane, Seiichi Nakatani, and Nobuhiko Genba. (Source: ANN’s “Gundam- Hathaway Anime Film Teased With New Visual”).

Surprisingly, I discovered that 70 year-old mangaka Moto Hagio is still quite active. The fourth arc of her series Poe no Ichizoku (The Poe Clan), Himitsu no Hanazono (The Secret Garden), was put on hiatus last May but will resume in the August issue of Shogakukan‘s Monthly Flowers magazine on June 27. The original story, Poe no Ichizoku was first published in Japan in 1972–1976, with a sequel, Poe no Ichizoku: Haru no Yume, published in 2016–2017 and a third arc, Poe no Ichizoku: Unicorn, was published in 2018–2019. Fantagraphics Books (which has already released several of her titles: The Heart of Thomas (1973–1975), Otherworld Barbara (2002–2005), A Drunken Dream and Other Stories (2010)) is releasing the manga in English as a two-volume omnibus. (Source: ANN’s “Moto Hagio’s Latest The Poe Clan Manga Resumes in June”).

NHK announced that it is producing a live-action series adaptation of Jiro Taniguchi‘s The Walking Man (Aruku Hito) manga to premiere on NHK BS4K channel on April 5, with new episodes coming on the first Sunday of every month. The unnamed protagonist will be played by actor Arata Iura. (Source: ANN’s “Jiro Taniguchi’s The Walking Man Manga Gets Live-Action Series”).

My friend Frederik L. Schodt has been interviewed by the Cartoonist Kayfabe (Ed Piskor & Jim Rugg). It is available on their Youtube channel: “Frederik L. Schodt, The Man Who Introduced Manga To America, Shoot Interview!”. Have a look:

If you are bored because of self-isolation you can now watch lots of classic anime on this new streaming service called RetroCrush ! A parent to AsianCrush, this video-on-demand service is free (but ad-supported) and is available only through apps (on iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and smart TVs).(Source: ANN’s “Digital Media Rights’ RetroCrush Anime Streaming Service Launches With Classic Anime Titles”). 

Here is the list of titles available so far (either Sub and/or Dub): 8 Man After, A Wind Named Amnesia, A.D. Police, Adieu Galaxy Express, Angel Cop, Area 88, Black Jack, Blue Seed, Blue Submarine No 6, Bubblegum Crash!, Bubblegum Crisis, Card Captor Sakura, Ceres Celestial Legend, Chargeman Ken!, Cosmos Warrior Zero, Creamy Mami, Cromartie High School, CyBuster, DNA2, Dagger of Kamui, Dallos, DearS, Demon City Shinjuku, Demon Lord Dante, Devil Lady, DieBuster, Eat-Man, Eat-Man ’98, Fighting Foodons, Flame of Recca, Fuse: Memoirs of the Hunter Girl, Fushigi Yuugi, Gakuen Heaven, Galaxy Express, Giant Gorg, GoShogun, GodMars, Goku Midnight Eye, Gokudo, Golko 13: The Professional, GTO, Hells, Iria: Zeiram The Bounty Hunter, Jin-Roh, Jungle Emperor Leo, Kaiba, Key: The Metal Idol, Kyousougiga, Library War, Like the Clouds Like the Wind, Lily CAT, Mononoke, Nagasarete Airanto, Night on the Galactic Railroad, Otaku no Video, Pilot Candidate, Pop Team Epic, The Princess and the Pilot, Project A-ko, Riding Bean, Robot Carnival, Samurai Pizza Cats, Samurai Troopers, Sea Prince and Fire Child, Shining Tears x Wind, Space Adventure Cobra, Space Warrior Baldios, Street Fighter II, Tenjho Tenge, Thermae Romae, Toriko: Special Recipe of Gourmet God, Twelve Kingdoms, Twilight of the Cockroaches, Ultra Maniac, Urusei Yatsura Beautiful Dreamer, Vampire Princess Miyu, Virtua Fighter, Wicked City, Zombie Loan.

And here are a few more news:

[ Traduire ]

GITS SAC: Solid State Society

Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C.—Solid State Society is the third movie since 1995’s Ghost in the Shell anime adaptation. This feature-length TV movie was broadcast on Skyperfect! in September 2006 and released on DVD by Bandai Visual in November of the same year. Fantasia 2007 treated the fans by screening this excellent cyberpunk anime on the big screen! Directed by Production I.G.’s Kenji Kamiyama, fans can enjoy yet another high-tech sci-fi story, which is set in 2034, Tokyo. The timeline is two years after the last TV series (2nd GIG), as Japan is still dealing with the Asian refugee problems. 

SolidStateSociety-image2Major Motoko Kusanagi left Section 9 — Japan’s elite anti-terrorist unit — and was missing for over two years. She left because she felt that by acting alone she could investigate more discreetly (using multiple cyber bodies), more freely (without the irritating political oversight) and therefore more efficiently. For Batou, the absence of Motoko leaves his work meaningless and he picks & chooses the case he’s working on, taking assignments only when he thinks it might bring him closer to her. With the Major’s departure and Batou refusing assignments, Togusa was forced to become the leader of the team as her successor. Togusa is, as usual, a man of justice. Married and having two children, he’s different from the other team members who are all single — including the aging Chief Aramaki who has been struggling to deal with the fact that Section 9 has to move on without the Major. Other members such as Saito and Ishikawa keep their positions as network expert or sniper. All Section 9’s characters are extremely honest and act with a sense of justice and responsibility. They’re all faithful to their convictions as they were in the TV series. 

SolidStateSociety-image1Section 9 hired 20 rookies, and their latest mission is to solve a case involving politically charged hostages. Somehow, one of the terrorist suspects committed suicide on the spot, leaving a strange message: “The Puppeteer is coming”. At the same time, many other mysterious cases keep taking place, including one where a huge amount of abused children seem to have been kidnapped by an organization of ultranationalist retirees. What links all those cases together? It seems to be the work of a super-intelligent hacker who has been manipulating all this, but to do what exactly, no one knows… 

SolidStateSociety-image4This movie is first class entertainment. Like the previous movies, it offers great music and superb animation. It has all the complex socio-political background of the previous TV series and maintains the series’ trademark cyberpunk feeling, but Director Kamiyama injected the storyline with so many themes — such as mass suicide, terrorism, biochemical weapons, kidnapping, old folks’ problems and child abuse — and subplots that the story gets confusing. It’s not easy to follow what’s happening in this extremely intricate movie. After the screening I was not quite sure of what I had just watched and who the Puppeteer really was! It’s one of those cases where you really need to purchase the DVD and watch the key scenes several time in order to be able to really enjoy the complexity of the movie. 

SolidStateSociety-image3In my humble opinion, I think that Director Kamiyama should have simplified and streamlined the storyline, maybe sticking with Togusa’s plot-line. I bet the viewers could have felt more empathy towards the movie if it was a little less complex. The animation itself has an overwhelming beauty, but, using all the great animation technology and talent of Production I.G., I think Director Kamiyama could have created a masterpiece, if he had just come up with a more coherent story. In the end, the true identity of the Puppeteer is still not very clear — but maybe Director Kamiyama kept it mysterious on purpose? 

—miyako

Kôkaku Kidôtai: Stand Alone Complex — Solid State Society. Japan, 2006, 109 min.; Dir.: Kenji Kamiyama; Scr.: Kenji Kamiyama, Shôtaro Suga, Yoshiki Sakurai; Phot.: Kôji Tanaka; Ed.: Junichi Uematsu; Art Dir.: Yusuke Takeda; Char. Des.: Hajime Shimomura, Takayuki Goto, Tetsuya Nishio; Mechan. Des.: Kenji Teraoka, Shinobu Tsuneki; Mus.: Yoko Kanno; Prod.: Production I.G.; Distr.: Bandai, Manga Entertainment; Cast: Atsuko Tanaka (Motoko Kusanagi), Akio Ohtsuka (Batou), Kouichi Yamadera (Togusa), Kazuya Tatekabe (Col. Tonoda), Masuo Amada (Col. Ka Gae-Ru), Osamu Saka (Daisuke Aramaki), Takashi Onozuka (Pazu), Tarô Yamaguchi (Boma), Toru Ohkawa (Saito), Yutaka Nakano (Ishikawa), Yuya Uchida (Takaaki Koshiki), Dai Sugiyama (Proto), Nana Yamauchi (Togusa’s daughter), Yoshiko Sakakibara (Prime Minister Kayabuki). Available on R2 Dvd in Japan (BCBA-2606, 109 min., ¥9800) and on R1 Dvd in North America (Bandai/Manga Entertainment, #25176, Bilingual Dvd, 109 min., $19.98 US [Limited edition: $39.98 US], rated 13+). stars-4-0

• • •

SolidStateSociety-covIn 2034, two years after the departure of Major Motoko Kusanagi (after the events of the TV series, Stand Alone Complex, which starts in 2030 and before the second movie, Innocence, set in 2032), Togusa is now in charge of Section 9, which has been expanded with the addition of several new recruits. Batou, frustrated to have been left behind by the Major, is still looking for her and therefore picks & chooses only the cases that seem related to his quest. A string of strange incidents — starting with a series of suicides, followed by the kidnapping of many children, and an economical conspiracy plotted by a group of old ultra-nationalists — seem to lead to a mysterious super-hacker nicknamed the “puppeteer.” The Major is carrying her own parallel investigation — which leads Batou to suspect her of being the puppeteer. In the end, the real identity of the perpetrator is the most surprising revelation of all. 

This movie is directed by Kenji Kamiyama, the same person who directed the Stand Alone Complex TV series. It is therefore not surprising to find here the same excellent quality of production, as much in the design as in the animation. However, if the director succeeded to masterfully tie up all the elements of the story in the TV series, he seems to have difficulty to do the same in a movie format. Solid State Society feels like a long TV episode where he tries to compress the storyline of an entire series. There are too many sub-plots and the different elements of the story are mixed together in such a complex way that it sometimes lacks coherence and the viewers get confused (it took me at least two viewings to understand the complexity of the plot and even then I am not sure I understood everything correctly). 

The timeline of the various series and movies seems confusing as well. The first movie is supposed to be set in 2029, while Solid State Society is set in 2034. It is not clear exactly when Major Kusanagi left Section 9. Also, they should have encountered the Puppet Master / Puppeteer before (in the first movie), but no mention is made of a prior encounter as if the first movie never happened. In fact, it feels like Solid State Society is a retelling of the encounter between the Major and the Puppeteer. 

Despite the complex socio-political themes and the beautiful animation, Solid State Society does not have the same depth than the previous movies (directed by Mamoru Oshii) and it certainly doesn’t have the same contemplative beauty. It is a very nice movie, but it is much more demanding to the viewers than the TV series and even the previous movies — which you all need to have seen to really appreciate and understand this movie — so I would recommend it mainly to the die-hard Ghost In The Shell fans. Nevertheless, Solid State Society (and GITS in general) is the epitome of intelligent SolidStateSociety-Dvd-ratingscyberpunk anime (a genre that, unfortunately, we don’t see often). Finally, I must add that the Limited Steelbook case edition (which contains three discs: one disc with the main feature, one disc full of extras, and the Solid State Society soundtrack CD) is totally awesome. 

—clodjee

Bandai / Manga Entertainment, #25176 (ISBN 978-1-59409-831-4), Bilingual Dvd, 109 min., $19.98 US (Limited Edition: $39.98 US), rated 13+ (Violence). See back cover.

You can also check the trailer from Youtube:

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonANNBiblio • GoogleIMDbProduction I.G.Wikipedia ]

Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex—Solid State Society ©2006-2007 Shirow Masamune • Production I.G. / Kodansha. 

Those articles were first published respectively in PA #94: 76 (November-December 2007) and PA #93: 83 (September-October 2007).

Please also check the following Ghost in the shell articles:

[ Traduire ]

GITS: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG

Anime Story

2004 was a great year for theatrical anime releases in Japan. It brought us Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, Katsuhiro Otomo’s Steamboy and, of course, Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence. However, most of the Japanese anime industry’s production, and what really sustains it, remains the television series, like Gundam Seed, Fullmetal Alchemist, and yes, Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex. 

SAC-2gig-logoGhost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was a big hit in 2003 and Japanese DVD sales did great, so the creative team at Production I.G. decided to bring out a second season (titled “2nd Gig”). Now fans can look forward to another 26 episodes of cyber-political intrigue and action. 

Sac-2gig-illo11I can easily imagine that director Kenji Kamiyama was under a great deal of stress, with his work being compared with Mamoru Oshii’s Innocence, and to meet the fans’ expectations after the first season! Despite the high stakes, the young director was up to the task and I think he did a marvellous job. The “2nd Gig” is even better and more intriguing than the first season. He succeeded totally in creating his own world, telling the story in his own personal style, and we don’t even feel the need to compare his series with Oshii’s movie. Each has its own merit. 

Kamiyama not only respected Masamune Shirow’s original manga, but he gave it life by detailing, even more so than Oshii’s movies did, its near-futuristic setting defined by the interaction of humanity and technology in a complex Asian geo-political environment. His strong, captivating storytelling is very well supported by the superb animation, the beautiful and elaborate artwork and an enchanting soundtrack. It is so great to see that there is such a great new talent in Japan, able to create a serious and intelligent story that can both entertain our senses and stimulate our mind. It is not surprising that both seasons of the TV series have received a great deal of acclaim, not only from anime fans, but also from those who seek serious science fiction shows. 

SAC16-illoASAs the “2nd Gig” starts, Section 9, which had been dissolved at the end of the 1st season, is resuming its job as an anti-cyberterrorist mobile unit. Although the team has returned, their work isn’t easy, and many difficulties lie ahead of them. The Japanese political landscape is changing and the government is keeping a close eye on their special police. The “Laughing Man” case might be solved, but it doesn’t take long for another terrorist organization, “The Individual Eleven,” to show up. Who are they? Are they the result of another “Stand Alone Complex”? They seem to be stirring up an uprising against the Asian immigrants and refugees. Could it be that simple? But some other politically-motivated forces seem to be at work. Can Major Motoko Kusanagi and her team unravel the complex overlapping political plots before they affect the nature of the government? 

Technology might be omnipresent in Stand Alone Complex, but it is not overwhelming. In the “2nd Gig,” Director Kamiyama and Production I.G. keep an even greater focus on the human side of the story by exploring the characters’ hearts and emotions — even in the case of some of the terrorists. Each key member of Section 9 has a dedicated episode where we learn more about their past and personality. It is not done simply to paint a richer background; every single bit of information has its meaning. They also give a more humane face to the government (more likeable than the usual fat, corrupt, old minister) with the new Japanese prime minister, a young, good-looking lady who embodies the beauties (and sometime ineptitudes) of democracy. In contrast, there is the ugly face of Gohda, a shady character who embodies the threat of militarism. Also, the intelligent Tachikoma robots (their name means “standing, spinning top”) are back with a new, expanded sidekick role (definitely inspired by Motoko’s cute “helper” programs in the Man-Machine Interface manga). With their cute voices and comical comments, they give a human feel to the technology. 

SAC14-illoASThe terrorism and the Asian refugees’ problems seem to be an allusion to the Palestinian question and to some conspiracy theories that surfaced after 9/11 in Europe and in Japan (such as, American right wing groups being behind 9/11 in order to justify military action abroad and domestically limit civil liberties). But it is only used to emphasize the fact that, even in the future, terrorism — the favorite style of warfare of the 21st Century — is still omnipresent and we still haven’t found a way to deal with it. Despite all the advanced technology, humanity is still facing tremendous problems (war, pollution, corruption, poverty, overpopulation, crime). Nothing changes, and even the future’s future is still uncertain. Is there a solution to the crisis? Is there a possibility for us humans to be saved? The answer in “2nd Gig” might be in the origami cranes that appear in some episodes and that symbolize the prayers for peace and salvation. All we can do is, like Section 9, act with courage and determination (even if it means going against the rules sometimes), pray and hope for the best! 

In conclusion, “2nd GIG” is even better than the first season. While still very political, dealing with terrorism and immigration problems, it also elaborates on more of the personal history of each of the main characters, including Major Kusanagi. The cyberpunk political intrigue is at moments a little complex, but it is the most intelligent anime series I have ever seen and it is superbly animated. It’s not all action, there’s also drama — and I did cry a few times. A real masterpiece! Of course, such an exceptionally excellent anime series cannot be seen only on TV. SAC-2gig-ratingsYou have to purchase the DVD to watch it over and over again, to enjoy all the minute details of this superb animation and share the experience with your friends! And if after that you want more, the series was followed by a movie: Solid State Society. 

> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

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