Ghost in the shell follows section 9, led by the cyborg major Kusanagi as they investigate a very interesting case. The story plays out well, and at no point leaves you bored, although perhaps a little confused, though it is not trippy or intentionally ambiguous like some other anime. The story takes place in a believeable(although perhaps not in the given timeline) scifi world. We see the new technologies and how humans have 'evolved' in the time, and how criminals operate, including new ways crimes can even be comitted. It is worth it to note that the catcher in the rye is referenced quite frequently, and being slightly familiar with it might help enjoyment.
An interesting plot that breaks many cliches fits nicely within this enviornment. So with such a intruiging story, why are points taken off? The disgusting answer is filler. If you purchased the season box set, nearly half of it is filled with horrible, inexusably irrelevant filler. Heck, one FULL disc is even filler. The filler is bad on so many fronts. First of all it's placement is inappropriate, after the story picks up, we are plunged into filler, and to my horror, the producers decided to have the series go between story, and filler(sadly more filler) for the middle portion, before finally returning to just the 'complex' story episodes. I watched it all, regardless, and can safely say only the second episode was a worthwhile filler to watch, simply to acquaint yourself with the characters and on the merit it's not bad. Second the quality of the filler is trash, no development, or really any decent themes are brought to the table. In cowboy bebop the filler which existed throughout the majority of the series was implemented well, however here, they stick out awkwardly and wholly uselessly, like a bad CSI episode. And lastly it breaks up what little character development is taking place, and the story. In other words skip the filler, and get the 8.5 story this should have gotten.
The animation is perfectly suitable, done with the quality of some good movies. Action scenes are handled well, and the new world is etched out in a realistic well illustrated way. It may have been just me, but animation of Complex Episodes did seem better than the standalone, though.
Great opening, ending, and soundtrack. The voice actors of both english and japanese versions are good as well, and they all combine for an overall good experience.
The characters and their development aren't great. For starters, half the main team are not developed AT ALL and are barely in the series except when just standing around to show they exist, and in random scenes where they are doing a generic activity. Even the Main characters aren't touched on much until the end. The antagonists situation is unique, and definetley better than most the other characters. This is probably primarily the fault of all the filler, seeing as there are so few episodes to develop. Either way by the end we do see some emotion, development, and some interesting characters emerge. It's a shame it;s so hit and miss.
Ghost in the shell is an ok anime, and if you skip the filler, a good one. I can't stress it enough, my second time watching it I skipped the filler and it was alot more cohesive and enjoyable. Though nothing profound or particularly impactful is delivered, the series brings forward many good and cool concepts. Even through mostly mediocre characters, Ghost manages to still pull through to a degree in every front, and won't soon be forgotten. If you like Scifi anime, and don't mind a relaxed feel that still is riddled with action, you need to check GIS S.A.C. out!