Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 – Season 2 Review

After being less than impressed over Season 1 of this CG addition to the Stand Alone Complex series I wasn’t in a hurry to get round to Season 2, released nearly two years later. Still, looking back at the old review one of the things I did say was that the plot did pick up towards the end and I was interested in seeing where it was going, so did it end up going anywhere interesting? Let’s find out!

The end of the previous season saw new child foe Takashi Shimamura reveal his tragic backstory to Togusa, who then vanished from fellow PSS9 member Batou’s sight. It was an interesting cliffhanger and Takashi made for a good “villain” in that his motives clearly came from good intentions and I’m happy to say he continued to be a good central antagonist throughout this season too, creating more “Post Humans” and creating an overall master plan that, without going too deeply in the non-spoiler section, would actually potentially benefit all of mankind, though remove a part of their free-will. It’s a classic dilemma that’s well explored in the final few episodes.

Takashi is the emo savour we’ve all been looking for!

That was a definite highlight and given it’s the central plot that’s a good thing, but I will say that while improved I still don’t like the CG animation, especially on characters like the Major and Batou, they end up looking too smooth and undetailed which is really distracting against an often well-rendered backdrop of concrete or a cityscape. The animation was at least more on point than not, though any time anyone fired a machine gun the framerate dropped like a computer game or something, it was very odd.

Somewhere in the middle is the rest of the central characters. I was worried about new character Purin and her generic genius fangirl personality last time but I’m happy to say that after a couple of more obnoxious episodes (especially one where she’s talking to an A.I. named 1A84…) but she settles down and plays a big role in the story and is actually entertaining. Sadly the generic comedy prat-falling black guy “Standard” returns halfway through and is just as generic and personality-less as he was in the Season 1. Togusa’s really interesting storyline continues to be interesting… for an episode or two, then ends with very little impact to his or any other character and is generally never brought up again, which was REALLY disappointing.

I was so relieved to find Purin actually a good character by the end, she was set to be obnoxious as hell at the end of Season 1…

Finally the last few episodes do have some good action and twists, so it is worth sticking with if you manage to get used to the animation / art style. Unlike most TV shows I actually watched this on my PC every morning with my breakfast, showing how I was pretty disconnected with the show as normally anything worth watching I save for the end of the day on my proper sized TV. At least the English voice cast is the same as the old Stand Alone Complex series, so that added some needed nostalgia to add a bit more interest for me (plus allowed me to watch it without having to pay too close attention…)

Overall Thoughts:

Well, just because we’ve had two pictures of new characters: here’s a picture of the Major and Batou!

GITS: SAC_2045’s second season is an improvement over the first, though only because all the restablishing has been done and we’re into the meat of the new core story. If I looked at the series overall I’d still say it’s easily skippable, especially given the rough-looking animation. Still, get to the end and there’s some good to be found, but unlike most other Ghost in the Shell properties I can’t see myself watching it a second time…

While I don’t feel like spending multiple-paragraphs writing out the plot, a quick sum up is that Takashi’s plan was to create a new race of human he called “N”, a new evolution whose body continued to function on a higher plain with greater strength, agility etc. (a.k.a. the “Post Humans”) while their actual headspace was locked in a dream world of their choosing, a double consciousness. He achieves this new world order (thanks in part to the US government trying to wipe him and his Ns out with a viral attack allowing him to hack them, and Purin, who shares his dream of a new humankind) but the Major wakes up after her latest near death experience and finds Takashi wired up, where she’s given a choice to wake everyone from their dream and return reality back to the way it was, or allow the human race to evolve into this new being.

All that crazy technology and it’s still connected via wires… where have blue tooth connections gone in 2045?

She considers both sides but in the end pulls the plug on Takashi’s plans. It was a good scene, though I will say it felt unearned: Major had very little involvement in the key plot this time, with Batou being revealed as an old acquaintance of Purin and Togusa’s connection to Takashi, as under used as it was, all put the Major on the sidelines. Plus I have to mention that they teased the deaths of several core Ghost in the Shell characters but I knew full well this small Netflix show wouldn’t dare to do that and I was right! The show ends with the Major leaving PSS9, saying to Batou she’ll be in a new body next time, the jumping off the building: a.k.a. the pretty standard ending to a Ghost in the Shell property, though again her motivation for leaving didn’t really track here, it was like the creators felt it was something they had to do, rather than something that made sense to do…

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