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 although this mature anime series is a fairly intelligent example of what science fiction is capable of, it's not for those who take their sci-fi lightly. It's extremely dense and complicated -- following the plot requires lots of effort -- which means it's likely to appeal most to teens and adults who are already deeply committed to the genre. Those who watch can expect frequent violence (including suicide bombings and terrorists) and some language.
What's the story?
GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX 2ND GIG is the follow-up to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex -- which was based on a 1995 theatrical film that was inspired by a popular manga that ran from 1989 til 1991. The 2nd Gig story takes place after world wars three and four (one of which was nuclear) in a Japan that survived thanks to its advanced technological capability. As the world's leading power, this future-Japan passed the Refugee Special Action Policy, which enabled immigrants from all of Asia's decimated countries to enter Japan as a low-wage workforce. As their identities are stripped away, the refugees become more and more disenchanted. 2nd Gig's plot centers on a group of terrorists called the "Individual Eleven" who demand release from the policy and the Japanese special forces unit ("Section 9") tasked with taking them down.
Is it any good?
Stand Alone Complex featured two types of episodes: "Standalone (SA)" episodes, and "Complex (C)" episodes. Episodes designated "SA" were self contained, while those designated "C" were tied in with the ongoing storyline. 2nd Gig is a 26-episode arc with three further episode designations: "IN" episodes are part of the "Individual Eleven" storyline (the overall arc of the season), "DU" (for "dual") episodes are tied with the Cabinet Intelligence Service storyline and the main storyline, and "DI" episodes are stand-alone installments that aren't strongly tied to the other storylines.
If all of this sounds incredibly confusing, 2nd Gig probably isn't the show for you. But if you've got a 15-year old who enjoys films like Akira and series like Naruto and Paranoia Agent, this could be just the ticket. Tweens might be drawn in by 2nd Gig's cool spider robots, but the philosophical discussions (in one episode, the cool spider robots spend the entire show discussing individuality, identity, and conformism and its sociological ramifications, at one point waving around copies of James Lovelock's Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth and Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene) will likely leave them cold.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about anime. What are the distinguishing characteristics of the genre? Why do you think anime series are so popular? What sets adult shows like this one apart from those meant for younger children (like Pokemon)? Do those series even "count" as anime? Why or why not?