A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this futuristic series is very popular with teen and adult anime fans. Based on the manga by Masamune Shirow, the show is centered on the merging of man and machine and what that merge entails for technology -- the good of mankind, or a new breed of highly advanced criminal? The dialogue can get pretty profane for basic cable, characters are constantly afraid for their lives, and the main female character is usually busting out of her shirt with cleavage. Because of its intricate storyline and its connection to a line of films, books, and videogames, the show's popularity is only growing for older audiences. Parents, meanwhile, should beware of language and violence.
What's the story?
GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX follows the characters of Public Security Section 9, a special task force determined to solve high crimes committed against the Japanese people. Most of the team members are human-machine hybrids, and each brings their own skill and history to the group. The year is 2030, and humanity has been redefined thanks to technology that can blend man and machine, but innovations like the cyberbrain -- which enables the hacking of a person's mind -- crime has become more sophisticated. Law enforcement must evolve, too, which leads to the creation of Section 9 -- an advanced team made up of former cops, military personnel, and criminals. Squad leader Major Motoko Kusanagi (voiced by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) is a clever cyborg who's troubled by her past and (as mentioned) sports huge cleavage; other characters include second-in-command Buttetsu Batou (Richard Epcar); Togusa (Crispin Freeman), who doesn't have any cybernetic advancement; and Daisuke Aramake (William Frederick Knight), the strict chief of police who's fiercely loyal to his team.
Is it any good?
The appeal of this dark, intricate anime series is its highly complex use of technology-focused content interwoven with the plot, characters, and visuals. For the novice anime fan, it will likely be hard to follow for the first few episodes. And if you have young anime fans in the house, know that the show is part of the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim line up for good reason -- profanity and violence are both frequent, and the central female character has a propensity for busting out all over (pun intended).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of humans enhanced by machinery. What kind of support could that kind of technology provide for humans? What do you think people's potential ethical or moral concerns about something like that might be? Parents can also address the show's strong language. How does that add to or detract from the show? And what message does it send to have a strong female character who's so scantily clad? For teens interested in anime, parents could discuss its origins and other programs worth pursuing.