This third book in the trilogy didn't quite feel as pacy as the previous two, but it managed to be an intriguing adventure nevertheless. Whereas volum...moreThis third book in the trilogy didn't quite feel as pacy as the previous two, but it managed to be an intriguing adventure nevertheless. Whereas volume two felt like three episodes of the TV show, this felt more like a feature-length adventure in which Kusanagi weaves through friends and foes old and new, ducking through the anti-China factions and refugee activities book two had left behind.(less)
I do love this book, but it's a short story which sits as prequel to the Mamoru Oshii film, rather than a story in its own right; similar in tone to t...moreI do love this book, but it's a short story which sits as prequel to the Mamoru Oshii film, rather than a story in its own right; similar in tone to those which formed Junichi Fujisaku's Stand Alone Complex books.
After the Long Goodbye places us directly inside Batou's head, offering a uniquely detailed description of life as a cyborg. There are technical details, philosophies on man vs. machine, and some tender moments rummaging in Batou's thoughts. All of this enriched the film and its protagonist for me, but I understand it could put some people off.
There is not, for example, a great amount of action. It can also be a challenge to stay fixed upon the narrative, with all its illusions and mysteries, as we swirl around Batou's own perspective. The Breeder and Ando are both quite enigmatic characters, typical of the series as a whole, but their place feels incidental. I feel that this too is in keeping with the film, Innocence, but that it feels more poignant there. In a short story with no real equivalent to Oshii's signature 'mood scenes', such as the Etorofu parade or Ishikawa's classic car driving smoothly through the streets, it can simply feel like a bit of a let-down.(less)
This and the other books in the series stand out amongst other licensed novels for being brilliantly true to the TV show from which they're derived. T...moreThis and the other books in the series stand out amongst other licensed novels for being brilliantly true to the TV show from which they're derived. This is no massive stretch of the imagination, considering that Fujisaku has written and/or directed many of Production IG's works.
Revenge of the Cold Machines is a crime novel, explored in three segments just as the Stand Alone Complex animé might bunch three episodes together. Though entertaining chapters in their own right, these three parts form a meta-plot with the usual blend of hacking, identity theft and delightful think-tank antics. It is a fast read, but feels perfectly paced when we keep the TV show in mind.
That's not to say it is light though, as the plot features as many twists as an episode of SAC might too. Indeed, it's as guilty as some of Shirow's manga too, of assuming we can keep tabs of all the various political goings-on and the transient names of characters who may not even be who we think they are. That's easily remedied by a few subsequent read-throughs though, and I found the book just deep enough to keep the surprises and intrigue fresh.(less)