The last thing we watched, cartoon/animu edition

meiam

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Chimpzy watches Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex (Part 5)

Season 1, Episode 5: DECOY & 6: MEME

Episode 5 directly leads into 6, so I’m just gonna do them both together. After Section 9 caused the story of illegal police surveillance to break in the previous episode, and the Laughing Man ,in an impressive display of hacking, subsequently handed his ultimatum to bring out the full truth or the bigwig superintendent dies. The hunt is now on to find whoever issued the threat before they can act on it. The cops are investigating a man named Nanao, but Section 9 suspect he’s just a stool pigeon. So Batou and Togusa stake out both Nanao and the cops already surveilling him. The Major visits some friends and recounts the events of the original Laughing Man incident. I very much like this scene even though it is largely just exposition of info we’ve kind of already gotten in the last episode. It’s not explicitly stated, but perhaps in a nod the manga Major’s bisexuality, these women are friends with benefits. Or at least in my headcanon they are.

Well, Nanao is indeed a decoy, a hacker convinced to play the role of Laughing Man because he wants to be famous. I’d call that dumb, but I’ve been on the internet long enough to know about way dumber people doing way more pathetic stuff for their 15 minutes of fleeting fame. Nanao uploads a virus, causing one of the police bigwigs bodyguards to go haywire and attack him. Honestly, that’s probably the most frightening aspect of the setting: that someone can just reprogram you against your will, and while seemingly fully conscious of it too, you just can’t do anything about it. At least Nanao got rewarded for his efforts. Boom, headshot, you glory seeking simpleton.

Meanwhile, suddenly a regular cop tries to kill the superintendent. And some random other people. All in all, dozens of people, completely unrelated to either Nanao, the virus or Laughing Man try to get at the superintendent. All inspired by the Laughing Man’s threat, imitating his style and behavior. Guess he struck a nerve, becoming a cultural phenomenon, a meme, in the true original meaning of the word. Section 9 wonders why, and they’re going to find out, starting an independent investigation, musically accompanied by “Velveteen”, my favorite track on the already seriously good soundtrack.

Thus ends a solid two-parter. Despite the two episode length, not that much actually happens, but a lot of important information is divulged and a number of hooks are set up like who killed Nanao, and exactly why. To shut him up? But he was already so keen and willing to play the decoy role, and didn’t strike me as enough in the loop to actually be dangerous. Or who was keeping tabs on Section 9 during the assassination attempts. Laughing Man? Someone else. And of course, what’s up with the meme situation. And a few more subplots. I mean, I actually sort of know the answers, but on rewatching the series I’m a bit impressed by how early some breadcrumbs are being laid out, some of which won’t pay off until near the very end.
I like the way the movie handled the "hacking people" aspect better. In the movie hacking someone require creating fake memory and convincing the person to do something, but they're still themselves.
 

TheMysteriousGX

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Looks like they're going to be putting G-Witch directly on youtube through official channels*


*offer not available in certain countries, goddamit
 
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Chimpzy

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Chimpzy watches Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex (Part 6)

Season 1, Episode 7: IDOLATOR

The dead walk! We’re taking a breather from the Laughing Man storyline for a couple of stand-alone episodes. Marcelo Jarti, a South American drug lord and Che Guevara expy revolutionary is killed, but somehow is still spotted in Japan after his presumed death. A profiler confirms he might be the real thing. So Section 9 investigates, tracking him to a hotel rendez-vous with some Yakuza. The Major takes over a robot maid to spy on the meeting, but some narcotics investigators crash the party. Everything goes tits up and it turns into a multi-way action scene between the cops, Section 9 and the yakuza. Jarti escapes, but is tracked down to a warehouse, where the crew encounters multiple Jartis. Dude was long dead, his original body and brain artificially kept going so it could be copied into cloned or prosthetic bodies using a technique called ghost dubbing. But since revealing Jarti’s death would cause major strife in his home country, Section 9 decides to keep it all a secret.

And that’s it, a very simple and straightforward episode. Heavy on action, but light on themes. Maybe a very minor nod to the ties of Latin American leadership and criminal organizations, but that’s probably just me reading subtext that isn’t there. The ghost dubbing is probably the biggest. It reminds a little of the controversy of when Hollywood uses cgi to ‘resurrect’ dead actors without their consent, but this show far predates that, so that’s obviously a stretch. Though I can think of some very big consequences of ghost dubbing when applied to the rich and powerful, and while it is lightly hinted at in Section 9’s final decision on the case, there’s not much exploration of the in-universe societal impact of ghost dubbing.

The action however, that’s that good shit. Particular highlights are the yakuza berserker vs the cops, the Major’s fighting two scantily dressed bodyguard babes in hand to hand in a scene that is reminiscent of the opening to the 1995 movie. Obviously not as well animated on a tv-series budget that had to last 26 episodes, but some snappy pacing and choice of background track (Run Rabbit Junk makes pretty much any scene hype) make up for it. And finally, yet another melee against the Jarti clones. Though I also quite liked Batou ambushing the yakuza leader taking a piss. GitS is (honestly justifiedly) not known for its humor, but that huge shit eating grin and follow-up quip hit just right.
 

meiam

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Chimpzy watches Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex (Part 6)

Season 1, Episode 7: IDOLATOR

The dead walk! We’re taking a breather from the Laughing Man storyline for a couple of stand-alone episodes. Marcelo Jarti, a South American drug lord and Che Guevara expy revolutionary is killed, but somehow is still spotted in Japan after his presumed death. A profiler confirms he might be the real thing. So Section 9 investigates, tracking him to a hotel rendez-vous with some Yakuza. The Major takes over a robot maid to spy on the meeting, but some narcotics investigators crash the party. Everything goes tits up and it turns into a multi-way action scene between the cops, Section 9 and the yakuza. Jarti escapes, but is tracked down to a warehouse, where the crew encounters multiple Jartis. Dude was long dead, his original body and brain artificially kept going so it could be copied into cloned or prosthetic bodies using a technique called ghost dubbing. But since revealing Jarti’s death would cause major strife in his home country, Section 9 decides to keep it all a secret.

And that’s it, a very simple and straightforward episode. Heavy on action, but light on themes. Maybe a very minor nod to the ties of Latin American leadership and criminal organizations, but that’s probably just me reading subtext that isn’t there. The ghost dubbing is probably the biggest. It reminds a little of the controversy of when Hollywood uses cgi to ‘resurrect’ dead actors without their consent, but this show far predates that, so that’s obviously a stretch. Though I can think of some very big consequences of ghost dubbing when applied to the rich and powerful, and while it is lightly hinted at in Section 9’s final decision on the case, there’s not much exploration of the in-universe societal impact of ghost dubbing.

The action however, that’s that good shit. Particular highlights are the yakuza berserker vs the cops, the Major’s fighting two scantily dressed bodyguard babes in hand to hand in a scene that is reminiscent of the opening to the 1995 movie. Obviously not as well animated on a tv-series budget that had to last 26 episodes, but some snappy pacing and choice of background track (Run Rabbit Junk makes pretty much any scene hype) make up for it. And finally, yet another melee against the Jarti clones. Though I also quite liked Batou ambushing the yakuza leader taking a piss. GitS is (honestly justifiedly) not known for its humor, but that huge shit eating grin and follow-up quip hit just right.
It was a bit weird how that technology is used for something so mundane as keeping one guy alive/cloned that's, in the gran scheme of things, really not that important. Just seemed weird that this is how the show decided to use "make clone of people forever" instead of integrating it into a bigger storyline.
 

Chimpzy

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It was a bit weird how that technology is used for something so mundane as keeping one guy alive/cloned that's, in the gran scheme of things, really not that important. Just seemed weird that this is how the show decided to use "make clone of people forever" instead of integrating it into a bigger storyline.
My understanding is the yakuza were partners in Jarti's drug network, and it's implied he first died while in Japan i.e. on the yakuza's watch. Hence why they also had his original body. So to save face, prevent retaliation from Jarti's cartel and/or to keep the drug money train going, they set up the ghost dubbing/cloning thing. It is also hinted at that normal drugs as we know them aren't that big a thing anymore in this setting, replaced by cyber drugs. That's probably part of why they just let him go at the end. He's wanted by western anti-terrorism agencies, but his crimes in Japan are all in all pretty small time and he is a national hero back home. Not worth burning your hands over and potentially destabilizing a country.
 

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Star Trek Lower Decks - Season 3 Episode 7

The show is great overall but this last episode was awesome and hilarious. It was an episode that basically featured none of the main characters and was just about a small robot AI Peanut Hamper and her adventure after leaving the ship because she declined to go on a dangerous mission (cuz Peanut Hamper gives no fucks). She ends up landing on some primitive planet and has to make due and comes up with a plan to get back to the federation, and saying any more would spoil the episode.
 

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The first episode of the new Bleach anime. Was fun enough I suppose, but man the art style has gotten a lot more gaudy. Ichigo's new look gives off deviantart OC vibes.
 
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TheMysteriousGX

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Episode 2 of The Witch From Mercury and we have our Char clone! Introducing Lady Prospera:
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Just brazenly Gaslight, Gatekeep, Girlbossing her way through the corporate legislature. It's aww inspiring, really. Quattro Bajeena would be proud.

Episode itself is a little slower, dealing with the ramifications of Episode 1 in very logical ways and showcasing Miorine, which I figure is important as she *isn't* the Gundam drone operator pilot of the series.
 
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meiam

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Star Trek Lower Decks - Season 3 Episode 7

The show is great overall but this last episode was awesome and hilarious. It was an episode that basically featured none of the main characters and was just about a small robot AI Peanut Hamper and her adventure after leaving the ship because she declined to go on a dangerous mission (cuz Peanut Hamper gives no fucks). She ends up landing on some primitive planet and has to make due and comes up with a plan to get back to the federation, and saying any more would spoil the episode.
I like the show, but I though it was the weakest episode to date.

Bird person feel in love with her because she has technology... but they have access to that technology and just chose not to use it, so why love her? Especially considering she was just a jerk the entire time. Then she called the scavenger to leave, but she could have just used the ship herself seeing as they were in perfect working conditions... It also felt really rushed so it had to rely on the cliche to hurry the story along, which made it feel like "been there seen that". The joke overall were just okay, the best one was her leaving them and not sacrificing herself, but that wasn't even from the story.
 

Phoenixmgs

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I like the show, but I though it was the weakest episode to date.

Bird person feel in love with her because she has technology... but they have access to that technology and just chose not to use it, so why love her? Especially considering she was just a jerk the entire time. Then she called the scavenger to leave, but she could have just used the ship herself seeing as they were in perfect working conditions... It also felt really rushed so it had to rely on the cliche to hurry the story along, which made it feel like "been there seen that". The joke overall were just okay, the best one was her leaving them and not sacrificing herself, but that wasn't even from the story.
I'm assuming they know about technology and were told it's bad but never really experienced the technology. She also wanted to get back with the Federation vs just leaving the planet, plus it might've been tech she couldn't really use since it was quite different. I also loved how they did the u-turn on the standard redemption arc.
 
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Chimpzy

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Chimpzy watches Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex (Part 7)

Season 1, Episode 8: MISSING HEARTS

Not going to lie, I didn’t really feel the story in this one. Kuratan, the friend the Major visited a couple episodes before (who is apparently a nurse but can afford that big apartment? Side hustle must pay well), asks her to look into a little girl who got a heart transplant without the parents permission. At first they suspect the involvement of a kidnapping ring, but the case is quickly tracked to a bunch of med students playing good Samaritan by swapping labels. Batou and the Major chase them down, do a yakuza enforcer bit, scare the shit out of them. And done. It’s kind of meh in my opinion.

But … it kind of makes up for it with a bunch of interesting world building and little character moments. For example, despite the availability of cybernetic prosthetics for basically any part of the body, there is still a market for regular flesh and blood donor organs and, even though they can relatively easily be grown on demand using pigs, replacement organs are still costly. No numbers are mentioned, but that girl’s aforementioned heart transplant would cost somewhere between 80 to 200 million Yen in current day Japan. That is a pretty penny, and judging by the Jameson cyborg CEO, organs growing is very good business. I’m also suddenly glad I live in a country with extensive socialized health care.

However, it’s implied the girl would otherwise need a fully prosthetic body (like the Major or Batou), which is stated in various points throughout the franchise to be even more prohibitively expensive, both to obtain, and maintain. Explains why most full cyborgs tend to be either rich, elite mercenaries, or tied to some organization that can afford it like militaries. The latter arrangement sometimes comes across as uncomfortably close to indentured servitude in some versions of the setting. Guess that would make old fashioned donor organs much more appealing for less affluent people, keeping demand high, as well as provide an incentive to keep prices high as well.

The Major in particular got her prosthetic body at a very young age, like 9-is, and had trouble adjusting, leaving her with some bad memories about it. Which makes it sort of weird that she seemed to take the case pretty personally, since the med students spared the little girl (where the fuck were her parents in all this anyway?) a similar fate. Tho I suppose their essentially altruistic if really stupid and immoral motivations are probably also why she and Batou opted to scare them straight instead of hitting them hard. At least I think so, it’s not very well explained why the med students acted as they did.

On the more fun side of things: Batou tends to splurge on exercise equipment, which is just why? Like, what’s the point for a full borg? Does he just do it for fun? These are questions that demand answers, dammit! And for full borgs changing ones physical sex is apparently as easy as just getting a different body. I wonder if that would make going full prosthetic appealing to transgender people? There’s not enough info to go on for how that would work, but maybe? With the caveat that you kinda need to be able to afford it of course. Though the body doesn’t even need to be humanoid, as shown earlier in the episode, and there's technically no reason why it should be.
 
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meiam

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On the more fun side of things: Batou tends to splurge on exercise equipment, which is just why? Like, what’s the point for a full borg? Does he just do it for fun? These are questions that demand answers, dammit! And for full borgs changing ones physical sex is apparently as easy as just getting a different body. I wonder if that would make going full prosthetic appealing to transgender people? There’s not enough info to go on for how that would work, but maybe? With the caveat that you kinda need to be able to afford it of course. Though the body doesn’t even need to be humanoid, as shown earlier in the episode, and there's technically no reason why it should be.
There's a longstanding fan theory that the major was actually born male and switched to female body.

For the exercise stuff, they kinda touch on it but it basically boil down to habit and maybe just enjoying it, like people having a vegetable garden even if they can just buy stuff from the store.

As far as transplant, I think if we could grow organ these would probably be fairly cheap, but in the same way that making a cancer drug is actually quite cheap, the price would mostly come from the research that went into making it in the first place rather than the actual cost of growing the replacement organ.
 

Chimpzy

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There's a longstanding fan theory that the major was actually born male and switched to female body.
Possibly, and the Major does aptly demonstrate the strength advantage of a male cyborg body doesn't mean much when you can just take over your opponent's and use it against them.
For the exercise stuff, they kinda touch on it but it basically boil down to habit and maybe just enjoying it, like people having a vegetable garden even if they can just buy stuff from the store.
Probably, yes. Batou was already shown fond of an obsolete old sports car, and has a bit of macho streak to him, so it would be in character for him to into 'manly' activities.
As far as transplant, I think if we could grow organ these would probably be fairly cheap, but in the same way that making a cancer drug is actually quite cheap, the price would mostly come from the research that went into making it in the first place rather than the actual cost of growing the replacement organ.
I don't know, the show makes growing replacement organs to be a solved problem i.e. the research cost has already been paid. Maybe taking care of the pigs requires extensive and by extension expensive monitoring? Tho it is implied that the reason why organs are still expensive is simply capitalism is gonna capitalism.
 

Chimpzy

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Chimpzy watches Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex (Part 8)

Season 1, Episode 9: CHAT! CHAT! CHAT!

The Major joins a VR chat room run by Laughing Man fans dedicated to analyzing the Laughing Man’s actions and speculating on his identity. Was it all the same man, or multiple people copycatting the original? What was the involvement of several corporations? How does Nanao, the scapegoat hacker from the assassination plot in episode 5-6 fit into the puzzle? There’s a bit of foreshadowing, but pretty much all of the information is stuff we’ve already seen, save for one piece obtained by hacking one of the participants. Then the Major is hacked herself, seemingly by the original Laughing Man.

And that’s it.I’ll admit framing it as an online discussion is pretty clever, but that imo does not mitigate the fact that this is a recap episode. And I very much don’t like those. I can understand wanting to provide viewers a refresher on the Laughing Man storyline, but c’mon, it’s really only been 3 episodes worth, and it’s really not that complex. Though maybe that’s just the benefit of hindsight from being older and hopefully a little wiser than the target audience for this show, and living in an era of prestige tv with often convoluted plotlines.

Maybe it would’ve worked better if instead of bit characters that don’t even really get names, it’s the Section 9 team talking about the case, perhaps flesh out their personalities a bit. What they think of the Laughing Man’s actions, the level of (dis)approval, and such. Paz, Borma and Saito in particular, since they got basically zilch so far. That would still be a recap episode, but the added character building would give it that little more on top of regurgitating info we already know. Iirc, a future recap episode has the Tachikomas theorize amongst themselves, showing their developing individuality.

There were a couple tidbits I liked though, like the mention of a food company that put Laughing Man logos in their bags of snacks, and got a big boost to their stock value from it. A reminder of the cultural impact of the Laughing Man, while also so bemusingly late stage capitalism. Also, that the Major got hacked, showing that for all her skills, she is not the only big fish in the ocean. And that she was diving the net while driving, a nice callback to her reckless driving trait.
 
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meiam

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I don't think its fair to call it a recap episode, most of the visual were new and it mostly served as world building and laying the ground work for the next portion.

I did like the joke that Togusa was talking to the major the entire time and she was just ignoring him.
 

Chimpzy

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Chimpzy watches Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex (Part 9)

Season 1, Episode 10: JUNGLE CRUISE

Guess what, Batou episode. Amoretti, a former American spec ops soldier turned serial killer comes to Japan, and wastes no time claiming victims, skinning women alive in the shape of a t-shirt and forcing them to watch it through the killer’s eyes. The CIA asks Section 9 for help, sending in a couple of smug asshole agents to “assist”, but this is just a ruse, as Amoretti is a monster they created when they dispatched him to South America to conduct terror tactics. Their real objective is tying up loose ends by having Batou, who witnessed Amoretti’s atrocities, kill the latter. However, their plan fails when Batou remembers he is law enforcement, arrests Amoretti, forcing the CIA to bring him home.

Apparently this episode was not aired in some regions because of its content, and yeah, there’s some pretty graphic stuff here. While there’s plenty of violence in the show, it’s generally fairly realistic and matter of fact. Which makes the gore stand out more, and careful attention is made to framing Amoretti’s crimes, and the suffering of his victims, as horrifying and disturbing as possible. If just the idea of being forced to watch yourself be skinned doesn’t do it, the screams of agony probably will. Makes the condescending and vaguely racist attitude of the CIA “helpers” come off even more insufferable.

Speaking of the CIA, those secret operations in South America, am I right? Not really going to go into that, cuz I’d be writing all month. Also not quite sure if this is supposed to be commentary or not, because criticism of a major power doing fucked up things in their back yard can be a little iffy coming from Japanese. But maybe I’m just reading into it too much. Though it does absolutely touch on the issue of soldier’s mental health, making them do horrific shit, then abandoning them to their fate. Amoretti is a terrible man, but obviously suffers from severe PTSD, while the people who made him that way were fine with it until it risked becoming an embarrassment, and even then they’re only interested in containing the problem, not actually fixing it.

But maybe Amoretti is not the only one. Batou’s shown to have seen some shit, as evidenced by the flashbacks he experiences while chasing down Amoretti. As a former commando himself, it’s quite possible he’s got some skeletons in his closet too, and unresolved issues. That goes for most of Section 9, as most have pretty checkered backgrounds, iirc, save for Togusa. Of course, why should anyone expect an elite squad that often gets called in to handle morally gray jobs to be made up of boy scouts?

Oh, and I also watched couple eps of Revolutionary Gundam Suletta. I like it.
 
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Chimpzy watches Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex (Part 9)

Season 1, Episode 10: JUNGLE CRUISE

Guess what, Batou episode. Amoretti, a former American spec ops soldier turned serial killer comes to Japan, and wastes no time claiming victims, skinning women alive in the shape of a t-shirt and forcing them to watch it through the killer’s eyes. The CIA asks Section 9 for help, sending in a couple of smug asshole agents to “assist”, but this is just a ruse, as Amoretti is a monster they created when they dispatched him to South America to conduct terror tactics. Their real objective is tying up loose ends by having Batou, who witnessed Amoretti’s atrocities, kill the latter. However, their plan fails when Batou remembers he is law enforcement, arrests Amoretti, forcing the CIA to bring him home.

Apparently this episode was not aired in some regions because of its content, and yeah, there’s some pretty graphic stuff here. While there’s plenty of violence in the show, it’s generally fairly realistic and matter of fact. Which makes the gore stand out more, and careful attention is made to framing Amoretti’s crimes, and the suffering of his victims, as horrifying and disturbing as possible. If just the idea of being forced to watch yourself be skinned doesn’t do it, the screams of agony probably will. Makes the condescending and vaguely racist attitude of the CIA “helpers” come off even more insufferable.

Speaking of the CIA, those secret operations in South America, am I right? Not really going to go into that, cuz I’d be writing all month. Also not quite sure if this is supposed to be commentary or not, because criticism of a major power doing fucked up things in their back yard can be a little iffy coming from Japanese. But maybe I’m just reading into it too much. Though it does absolutely touch on the issue of soldier’s mental health, making them do horrific shit, then abandoning them to their fate. Amoretti is a terrible man, but obviously suffers from severe PTSD, while the people who made him that way were fine with it until it risked becoming an embarrassment, and even then they’re only interested in containing the problem, not actually fixing it.

But maybe Amoretti is not the only one. Batou’s shown to have seen some shit, as evidenced by the flashbacks he experiences while chasing down Amoretti. As a former commando himself, it’s quite possible he’s got some skeletons in his closet too, and unresolved issues. That goes for most of Section 9, as most have pretty checkered backgrounds, iirc, save for Togusa. Of course, why should anyone expect an elite squad that often gets called in to handle morally gray jobs to be made up of boy scouts?

Oh, and I also watched couple eps of Revolutionary Gundam Suletta. I like it.
Yeah, that whole using their cyber ware to make the victims watch their own skinning is one of the best-worst twists for a serial killer I’ve seen, matched perhaps only by that bit in Dredd when Ma-Ma has some rival dealers hit with slow-mo, then skinned AND then dosed again before tossing them off the top floor of Peach Trees.
 

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On the more fun side of things: Batou tends to splurge on exercise equipment, which is just why? Like, what’s the point for a full borg? Does he just do it for fun? These are questions that demand answers, dammit! And for full borgs changing ones physical sex is apparently as easy as just getting a different body. I wonder if that would make going full prosthetic appealing to transgender people? There’s not enough info to go on for how that would work, but maybe? With the caveat that you kinda need to be able to afford it of course. Though the body doesn’t even need to be humanoid, as shown earlier in the episode, and there's technically no reason why it should be.
For all that GiTS likes to name drop philosophies and philosophers, that right there is probably the real meat and potatoes of it being a more cerebral series: how humans are clinging onto their humanity even as they become increasingly cybernetic. They desperately cling to bits of their old life out of raw sentimentality even as it becomes pointless for them. Batou keeps his weights and exercise routine, Kusangi has her watch...heck, there's an entire cottage industry devoted to making food for cyborgs who can't gain any nutritional value from eating. These aren't things that are done because they provide a functional benefit for them here and now, they're done to anchor them to their past, to affirm that they are still human rather than automata.
 

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Gundam: The Witch From Mercury, Episode 3: Suletta builds a harem by being autistic
God, I love this show

 
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