The Ill Communication

As a way of indicating they are ending the Stand Alone Complex series for the Ghost in the Shell franchise, they finished it with a bang by making a feature length film out of it where they pulled out all the stops to make it a tour de force presentation for fans of the TV show.  Although, some sacrifices were made so it can be converted into a film adaptation.

Probably the biggest reason why the TV show was so good was that it allowed the cases time to develop across a 26 episode season; slowly expanding upon the team's effort in cracking the case as we progress forward with each episode.  Cop dramas are made for this slow progression as it gives long dialog scenes center stage for advancing the story.  With Solid State Society, the story is accelerated more faster than what you're used to when going through a SAC case, moving you from scene to scene pretty quickly so the next development in the case can show itself so we can get to the next clue that ultimately leads us to the mastermind behind the crime.  That is what SSS was like: a season condensed into a two hour movie.

Similar to the Oshii films, this movie borrows a lot from the manga, pulling bits and pieces from different chapters to help become the foundation to the larger parts of the story, but then to modify those borrowed segments so to fit the story they want to tell.  Returning is the oh-so familiar concept of the super elite hacker known as the Puppeteer to keep the team guessing what his motivations are for causing ruckus that requires Section 9 to get involved; although this time it's different since Kusanagi has left the group.

In her absence, Togusa has been promoted to team leader in order to keep the organization operating as an anti-terrorist unit.  It's been two years since the events that went down during the second season titled 2nd GIG that dealt with a refugee crisis that almost saw a civil war break out within this first world nation.  Not too long after that is when Major Kusanagi left Section 9 to go do her own thing, disappearing without letting her former colleagues know what she is doing or where she went to.  In order to meet the new requirements of his new role, Togusa has added new prosthetic parts to his body, making him more in line with cybernetic body augmentations like the others on the team have, although we don't know how much or where it's been added.

Within this two year timeframe is when S9 expanded greatly by bringing in about a dozen more recruits like Azuma to assist in detective and tactical situations for the team's core members.  The way S9 gets involved with the Puppeteer is when they take charge in resolving a terrorist hostage situation at an international airport.  There they see the kidnapper commit suicide, but spouted "the Puppeteer" just before he killed himself.  Being part of a group from a former failed government, they trace his partners in crime to see where it will lead them next to solving the case.

Art style wise, it looks like the TV show, but with a bigger budget for adding in more details.  There are a ton of swinging camera angles, so there are many scenes where the camera is rotating around a character and environment, allowing for some beautiful shots and adding to the action and drama scenes.  Detail like shadows and glowing lights give the film depth, and overall just looks gorgeous.  Not Mamoru Oshii good, but good for the SAC series.  The music is done by Yoko Kanno where we can hear some tracks borrowed from the TV show (I think I heard two of them), but the majority were original for the movie.  And in her style she's outdone herself by creating some great music to match with the scenes; whether it was a an action packed chase or where the team has gathered to piece together the clues to a puzzle in the case they are attempting to solve.

While there's focus on the team as a whole, a lot of attention is given to both Togusa and Batou, although this time they are not together as detective partners like they were in Innocense.  For Togusa, we see his struggles of being a family man, but at the same time trying to fill the void that the Major left when she disappeared.  If anything, it's like Togusa has it rougher as his yet to be developed skills in being leader for an agency such as Section 9 and of having a family life shows how one world has to be sacrificed in order to meet the needs of the other.

Batou on the other hand acts like the conduit for the missing Kusanagi.  He goes solo and sort of does his own thing to see if he can find the whereabouts of where she may have gone to, with the hopes of one day meeting her while out in the field.  It's hinted that Aramaki picked him first to take over as team leader, but he passed up on the offer, allowing for Togusa to get the position.

There is a message in this movie, but it doesn't hit you over the head with it like the two Oshii movies did.  Because of this, the film stays pretty grounded and that is a good thing as it doesn't have any preachy, thought-provoking message that it wants you to think about after the film ends.  It's just a great action flick that extends SAC just a little bit more.  Solid State Society was written and directed by Masamune Shirow, so the dialog matches in line with TV show perfectly.  And with borrowing materials from the manga, I think this was the best adaptation of that content.  If you read the books, you'll definitely catch those parts, but they were retooled in such a way that it doesn't look like they were lazy and copied them to make it easier on them.  They meld well into this story.

So going with the old cliché: fans of the series will love this one!

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society

Production: Production I.G
Film's Original Broadcast: September 2006
Run Time: 108 minutes

US DVD Release: July 2007 (special edition)
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Posted on: March 8, 2017