Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society Review

GITS SAC SSS

My stroll down memory lane with Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex comes to an end as we reach Solid State Society, the final chapter in this version of the GITS world. Given it’s a film with a sub-two-hour runtime, it obviously lacks the depth and slow burn nature of the big cases from the two TV series, but it still has its moments, both with plot and some tense action scenes as well. Let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

2034, two years after the events surrounding Kuze and the Individual Elven, Togusa is now the team leader of Public Security Section 9, which has increased considerably in size, while the Major has gone off grid. When a series of suicides begins to coincide with virus warfare and children vanishing, Section 9 and indeed the former Major end up caught in a case bigger than either realise…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

GITS SAC SSS 4

Here are (mostly side) characters featured in the film!

Major Makoto Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka / Mary McGlynn) – Technically not a major any more, Makoto Kusanagi left Section 9 after the corruption and her meeting with Kuze disillusioned her. She has spent nearly two years delving deep into the net and investigating whatever suits her…

Batou (Akio Otsuka / Richard Epcar) – Batou is still loyal to Aramaki and Section 9, but without the Major around he’s finding it harder to concentrate of the job at hand, seemingly losing his passion for the business…

Togusa (Kouichi Yamadera / Chrispin Freeman) – Togusa is now the new Major, so to speak, as he is now team leader of Section 9. Along with his new role he has finally gone under the knife and gotten several cyber implants, much to his family’s displeasure. This new case though, it might be more than he can handle…

Lt. Col. Daisuke Aramaki (Osamu Saka / William Knight) – Aramaki is in charge of Section 9 and although he’s all business and quite strict, he is also very protective of his team.

Ishikawa (Yutaka Nakano / Michael McCarty) – Ishikawa is the lead investigator and technology expert in Section 9. Although he is rarely on the field, his tactics and expert hacking skills are often vital for successful missions.

Saito (Toru Okawa / Dave Wittenburg) – Saito is the sniper of Section 9. His left arm and eye used to be the only parts of him that were cybernetic, allowing him to hold heavy sniper cannons and aim with incredible accuracy respectively, but recently he has had some internal organs like the lungs cyberized as well.

Borma (Taro Yamaguchi / Dean Wein) – Borma is an expert with explosives and bomb disposal, as well as technological viruses. He can also lend a hand on the field, using heavy weaponry if needed.

The Puppeteer – A mysterious entity that seems to have its hands in everything from assassination to child kidnapping…

Plus More!

The Good:

GITS SAC SSS 2

The Major, looking a bit more older and mature, though given her bodies are fakes, that’s just a coincidence, I guess?

Although it’s kind of annoying how open it’s all left by the end, I do enjoy the main plot and all its twists. It starts off very similar of the Individual Eleven, with people committing suicide based off of a strange entity or belief, but soon turns to cyber-viruses in children, then to out-right child kidnapping. In the end its left to some interpretation, “The Puppeteer” (vastly different from the original version!) is either an A.I. entity created by the will of the old people hooked up to an old people’s net world that was leaving their actual bodies to wither away, or alternatively it’s also heavily implied that its partly Makoto’s consciousness that somehow separated and became its own being during the former Major’s long stay in the cyber world. Either way, it’s still at large by the end of the film, and we’ll now never know for sure. I did like that the children that were taken were all from abusive families, and by tying them to the dying old people would mean their inherit their fortune, so… it was sort of a nice thing the Puppeteer was doing… at least until he gathered them all up in his building to do work, anyway…

Three scenes stayed in my head all these years in between watches of this film. The first was Batou and the Major fighting a weird drilling robot at a hospital, which is still a fun fight, though the CG looked more obvious that it normally does (I think it’s the smooth textures on the machine…). The second is a sniper battle between Saito and an assassin across two large towers a crazy distance away from each other, that was still really exciting and well done, and finally the nearly heartbreaking scene where Togusa’s cyber-brain is hacked and his walks his daughter to the facility where the children go missing and is given the option of blowing his own brains out or letting his daughter be kidnapped. He is literally milliseconds away from killing himself, saved only by a suddenly appearing Major, with Batou falling to his knees and grabbing Togusa’s daughter in shock making you think he might have just done it. Great stuff, though that’s pretty much talking about all the action in the film!

The Bad:

GITS SAC SSS 3

That was my face upon remembering Togusa getting cyberised in the film…

Togusa getting cyber-implants just goes against everything the character stood for. His whole unique aspect was that he was the only member not to be enhanced and yet to was good and well respected enough to hang with Section 9. It didn’t even have any effect on the plot, beyond making him susceptible to cyber-brain hacking leading to the scene with his daughter mentioned above, and if that’s the only reason they completely changed his character than… what the hell? There are many other ways to put him in that kind of situation!

Another annoying thing was the Major having some Tachikoma A.I.s helping her, with an off-handed remark about how she found them on the net… I mean, it’s great they got to cameo in the big movie, but it also completely undermines their sacrifice from the end of the show…

In the end Makoto claims she’s going to rejoin Section 9 permanently, which is odd… It’s like the creators put her on this new and interesting journey, only to just go for the “everything is back how it was, their adventures continue!” ending. It’s a shame, really.

Overall Thoughts:

GITS SAC SSS 1

Batou and the far less annoying Fuchikoma machines.

GITS SAC SSS (that’s a lot of capitals!) is a bit of a mess. It has a good and interesting core story, and three really good scenes, but otherwise a lot of character assassination and little things written in to please fans of the show rather than stay true to it. Still worth a watch and still enjoyable, but I feel it ends the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex story on a flat note where it feels like nothing has changed over the course of the show…

3 Star Watch

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