My fandom of (slash obsession with) Mamoru Oshii's adaptation of Ghost in the Shell
is not exactly a secret here at Screen Anarchy (cough), so it will probably not come as a surprise when I say that I like Kamiyama Kenji's anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex
a lot, both seasons of it. Scripted for a large part by Oshii himself, the series was a more action driven take on the source material, while its length as a series allowed for more character development in the supporting roles.
The series ran from 2002 till 2005 and can STILL be considered one of the best anime ever released, and still far ahead of most recent output.
As such, you might expect this title to be easy to score on Blu-ray, but there you would be wrong. While it is easily available on DVD everywhere in the world, legal HD discs with English subtitles are conspicuous in their absence. Apparently the rights to release this in HD to English-speaking markets are still exorbitant.
That doesn't bother France of course, so the French part of distributor All The Anime released a killer Blu-ray boxset edition last week. No trinkets: it's just a slipcase with a digipack and a book. But... well, judge for yourself: size does matter.
Do know that this one is French/Japanese only, so no English subs or dubs are on it. But... well, I know enough French (and, ahem, know the series well enough by now) to be able to make do with the "sous-titres" offered.
Here is a gallery of shots. Click on the edge of the pictures to scroll through them, or at the center of each to see a bigger version!
Here it is: a box consisting of a hard cardboard slipcase. This is a big one though, easily coffee-table-book-sized.
Nice and shiny, the whole package has a metallic sheen. To show the size I've put a regular Blu-ray next to it, so you can see just how big this baby is.
Inside the slipcase reside a BIG digipack and a BIG book.
The digipack stacks twelve discs in three layers of four, each "page" accompanied by some damn fine artwork.
Included are both series (Stand-Alone Complex and Second Gig) and the two film version edits made of them.
Note: the stand-alone film Solid State Society is not in this set, but that one has been easily available in all languages for years already.
Here is the book. Normally I'd say "booklet", but this one is the size of a coffee-table book and is 144 pages thick, so...
In it, there are some big articles including an interview with Kamiyama Kenji, episode overviews, designs, backgrounds, big glossy page-size versions of all the DVD artwork, a look at manga creator Masamune Shirow's impact on film and anime (including an impressive overview of all the titles he's been associated with), and a "universe" timeline which shows when all the different adaptations of Ghost in the Shelltake place, including Oshii's films and the Arise series.
In short: it's a stellar companion piece to the series. I'm impressed.
The (back)end of another great release by distributor All The Anime.
And if they ever get their hands on Oshii's films (hey, stranger things have happened...) they'll probably drive me mad.