To me the original anime movie, Ghost in the Shell from 1995 was a life changing experience. If you like anime and didn't see it, what the hell is wrong with you? If you don't like anime, go see it, and you will after.
But before you think this preface makes me too partial, first let me follow up with the other series titled simply Stand Alone Complex, that came out in 2002. Which I have tried to watch multiple times, but had to tap out of after a few episodes every time. So don't presume I'll praise this out of name recognition alone.
This Stand Alone Complex is entirely another thing, I was very skeptical of it, partly due to it being a Netflix product, and my previous bad experience. But it easily makes my cut for being worth watching. By the end of the first episode I was absolutely hooked.
Despite being made with Netflix money, for Netflix, this is still a very Japanese product. Made in Japan, by Japanese creators, with Japanese speaking voice actors. While it has English dubbing available, I recommend watching it with the original Japanese voices.
At first I thought it will just be a fun action flick with not much of a story, but I was wrong, the story really gets intriguing. And I really didn't think it possible for me to dread a small screen villain, yet the main villains of this show made my blood freeze. I don't like memes, but this one sums up what I was thinking when they introduced the bad guys:
They put a lot of effort into the action as well, there is lots of it, and it's immersive, and it always has stakes. You never feel that the heroes are invincible, or infallible.
The animation quality is absolutely brilliant, fluid, has a flow to it, feels like it was made using mocap technology.
However they say the higher they climb the bigger the fall. Unfortunately the pace seems to hit a brick wall after the first 6 episodes. I'm not saying the rest are outright bad, but the show does loose direction and flutters. Episode 7, was a filler episode so I didn't think much of it, but in hindsight it was a sign of things to come. Episodes 8-9 were still half decent, albeit a little slow paced and less action heavy compared to how fast things were progressing in the first half of the season.
But episodes 10-12 were a bit too much like the dreaded old SAC series: Incoherent, confusing, going nowhere fast. It felt like as if the original order was for 6 episodes and the writers were scrambling to fill up the other 6 episodes with content. And this is what they were able to come up with on short notice. Of course this is total speculation on my part, it is entirely possible that there were always supposed to be 12 episodes, and this was their master plan all along.
Regardless I'm still looking forward to season 2 in hopes that they can get back on track. There was no official announcement, but a second season is being produced, according to news sources. Which is just as well as this one ends on a cliffhanger. That news however is over 14 months old now, with no word since on when can we expect a season 2. I hope it was not jeopardized by the pandemic.
A lot of hate was thrown around for using computer animated 3D instead of regular animation. I could not disagree with that more, that's just get off my lawn type nonsense. I think it looks great, especially the backgrounds. If there is something that can be criticized is that the female characters look like 10-12 year old girls. I know that's typical of anime, but here it is even more pronounced than I'd expect.
All things considered I rate the season 7 / 10. Had it kept the pace it has set with the first 6 episodes, it would've had a straight shoot to 10 / 10.