Ghost In The Shell: Arise 2 (Japan 2013)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 3/2/14

Very impressive! Someone is trying to crack into a top secret military archive and has hacked into the country's traffic control system for leverage. A Logicoma at Public Security has also been hacked, and Major Kusanagi is assigned to investigate. She's still working solo and Aramaki is pushing her to form a team, but finding the right teammates is problematic for her. She's forced to go up against Batou and Ishikawa in a series of increasingly tense encounters, and eventually manages to win them over. This episode bypasses the fan service and convoluted plot of the previous episode, and focuses heavily on high tech action, with spectacular results. Studio I.G.'s animation is superb and the CGI action scenes are seamless and exciting to watch. The mecha designs are excellent, and even though the Logicoma is annoying, it's beautiful to watch in motion. The fight choreography is excellent and cyborg combat is shockingly brutal. Great stuff all around, with a smart and engaging story that's pretty easy to follow. Again, it borrows heavily from the original movie, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Definitely a step up for the series as the characters are finding their grooves and settling into place. I'm anxiously looking forward to the next installment.

Similar to "Standalone Complex", this episode features a humorous Logicoma special where one of the robots is put on trial and sentenced to be dismantled. It's very cute and silly. But the most mind blowing extra on the disc is a "special mission" that's an advertisement for Microsoft Surface! Kusanagi and her team use a Surface tablet to download some secret data and spy on some bad guys. Saito even uses his to aid in sniping! It's a completely bizarre and totally fascinating piece of marketing propaganda for the Japanese market.