Fargo's Japanimation Fun Time! Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society

Heed these warnings those who venture forth: This review contains spoilers for Ghost in the Shell: 2nd GiG

It's time to wrap this up. Having reviewed every entry into the Ghost in the Shell anime series thus far, the only piece for us left to look at is Solid State Society, the third and thus far final movie in the series. So without further ado, let us team up once more with Section 9 and dive straight into the net, with..

Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society


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Following on from the second season of Stand Alone Complex, Solid State Society was released in September of 2006 in Japan. The film takes place two years after the events of 2nd GiG, with Major Kusanagi being absent from Section 9 for the same amount of time. The team still functions, although Batou has drawn within himself, while Togusa has been promoted to 'team leader'. The whole team seems disorganized, and when a cyber hacker known as the Puppeteer begins forcing certain individuals to commit suicide, Section 9 is faced with a sinister conspiracy involving abducted children, right-wing politics and the realisation that Kusanagi and Section 9 may no longer be batting for the same side.

While the story quite nimbly follows on from 2nd GiG, the main reference point for the film seems to come more from the two original films than the television series, which is quite bizarre given the two universes never seemed linked before. While the film doesn't make any direct references to the original films, placing the two seasons of Stand Alone Complex at the beginning and Solid State Society at the end, the two original films seem to slot almost perfectly in place between the two, to the point where everything wraps itself up in a nice little ball. Of course, neither Shirow Masamune nor Oshii Mamoru has confirmed this, but it does make logical sense. Solid State Society still functions as simply an extension of Stand Alone Complex, but I still find it interesting, especially when parallels are made in Solid State Society to the original film, and Baotou's characterization follows suit from Innocence.

Major Kusanagi returns, with a snazzy new coat
Major Kusanagi returns, with a snazzy new coat

Taking the story on its own merits, outside of the collective universe, it isn't overly impressive. Out of Stand Alone Complex and the other films, it probably has the weakest overall story. There are only a few really standout character moments, but those that are there are generally quite good. The film certainly develops Togusa more than anyone else, with particular attention to his relationship with his family, and the ever increasing toll the Puppeteer case takes on them, with a great climactic sequence in a hospital resulting from this. Apart from that, there is some subtle development used with Major Kusanagi and Batou, and specifically their relationship, but I feel this was far better handled in the closing episodes of 2nd GiG, and Solid State Society doesn't really make a strong effort to build up the relationship, which is a shame as I consider the interaction between the pair incredibly interesting and absorbing when it is focused upon. It is a very subdued relationship, with actions normally speaking louder than words.

That's really the core problem with Solid State Society's narrative; there is too much of a focus on presumption rather than actual concrete story. In fact, by the time the concluding moments roll around, not much has actually been resolved. Things are almost exactly as they were at the end of 2nd GiG. In reality, very little has been achieved. Is the trip worth taking simply for the twists and turns that lead right back around? To an extent, yes, but the film loses coherency when it begins to lose sight of an antagonist. When things become more metaphorical, the narrative becomes more flimsy and less tangible. Couple that with a lacklustre ending and the story isn't as strong as one expects from a Ghost in the Shell film.

Stand Alone Complex was known for being more of an action series than the philosophical pieces that the films of Ghost in the Shell intended to be, and Solid State Society conforms more to that tradition. Leaving behind the majority of philosophical discussion, with the exception of the twist
at the end, Solid State Society successfully pulls itself of as a cyber thriller, with action set-pieces that match. While the stakes aren't quite as high as the conclusions to either series of Stand Alone Complex, the action scenes benefit from the obviously higher budget the film-makers were given. The film looks far more smooth and crisp than the series, which is quite an accomplishment given that, for a film at least, the budget was on the lower end of the scale.

Along with other characters, who do not have anywhere near as snazzy coats.
Along with other characters, who do not have anywhere near as snazzy coats.

The sound design is a letdown, however. Yoko Konno returns to compose, but the soundtrack simply isn't as strong as 2nd GiG, or even the first season of Stand Alone Complex. Apart from the song 'Replica', the rest of the pieces are actually very unmemorable, and kind of boring. This is a huge step backwards from the fantastic work Yoko Konno has done before, and whether it's so bad simply because of lack of time or money is unclear. It's hard to imagine she simply put together a 'meh' soundtrack through lack of effort.

The voice acting is once again, great. As I've said before, I prefer the English dub of Ghost in the Shell, and it delivers once more. Mary Elizabeth McGlynn is still fantastic as Major Kusanagi, and Crispin Freeman adds some more depth to Togusa, with a performance that stands out more than his previous work on Stand Alone Complex. All other voice actors fill their roles admirably, even those with small parts. The Japanese original track is still as good however, so those who are purists have nothing to fear.

You know, I find it hard to assimilate my thoughts on Solid State Society. There really is nothing wholly bad about it, it just happens to be the weakest entry in an excellent franchise. For those who are great fans of the universe, then you'll want to check it out as it's still entertaining and enjoyable. Those who aren't quite so much into it may want to side-step it for now, as it really doesn't add enough to the series to warrant a full look, when there are far better anime out there.

I sincerely hope this does not end up being the final piece in the Ghost in the Shell universe. It's the worst of the series, and having it end on such a low note with so little explored is a great shame. Just like the net, the Ghost in the Shell universe is deep and infinite, and sometimes I feel, despite it's accomplishments, only the surface has been scratched.

Where do the other two movies fit within the Ghost in the Shell chronology? I know that this takes place after 2nd Gig.

EDIT: I can't read the review yet until I finish the last episode of 2nd Gig. :/

EDITEDIT: Alright, finished 2nd Gig,[1] so now I can read the review. //_^

So, should I watch the original films before Solid State Society?

[1] Which the ending was fantastic

Scde2:
Where do the other two movies fit within the Ghost in the Shell chronology? I know that this takes place after 2nd Gig.

EDIT: I can't read the review yet until I finish the last episode of 2nd Gig. :/

EDITEDIT: Alright, finished 2nd Gig,[1] so now I can read the review. //_^

So, should I watch the original films before Solid State Society?

It's not necessary, but the films are certainly worth watching anyway. I would say yes.

[1] Which the ending was fantastic

FargoDog:
Stand Alone Complex was known for being more of an action series than the philosophical pieces that the films of Ghost in the Shell intended to be, and Solid State Society conforms more to that tradition. Leaving behind the majority of philosophical discussion, with the exception of the twist
at the end, Solid State Society successfully pulls itself of as a cyber thriller, with action set-pieces that match. While the stakes aren't quite as high as the conclusions to either series of Stand Alone Complex, the action scenes benefit from the obviously higher budget the film-makers were given. The film looks far more smooth and crisp than the series, which is quite an accomplishment given that, for a film at least, the budget was on the lower end of the scale.

Something looks off. Why is there a line break after the word "twist"?

Anyway, I haven't seen the previous things, so I won't read this in detail. Just thought I'd point that out.

And not totally bump this or anything...

Marter:

FargoDog:
Stand Alone Complex was known for being more of an action series than the philosophical pieces that the films of Ghost in the Shell intended to be, and Solid State Society conforms more to that tradition. Leaving behind the majority of philosophical discussion, with the exception of the twist
at the end, Solid State Society successfully pulls itself of as a cyber thriller, with action set-pieces that match. While the stakes aren't quite as high as the conclusions to either series of Stand Alone Complex, the action scenes benefit from the obviously higher budget the film-makers were given. The film looks far more smooth and crisp than the series, which is quite an accomplishment given that, for a film at least, the budget was on the lower end of the scale.

Something looks off. Why is there a line break after the word "twist"?

Anyway, I haven't seen the previous things, so I won't read this in detail. Just thought I'd point that out.

And not totally bump this or anything...

Because of the cyber goblins. Damn them and their goblin-esque activities. Or maybe it's that I messed up the formatting.. Cyber goblins is clearly the logical answer though.

Nice review though I don't get what you mean by saying it is the weakest in the series. Maybe it has been too long since I watched any Ghost material but I didn't think it was that much less than any of the other movies or series. *shrugs*

Damn it!

I want to read this but I've yet to see the movie so I don't want to spoil anything.

Still, I'm sure it's a wonderful review as always ^-^

Julianking93:
Damn it!

I want to read this but I've yet to see the movie so I don't want to spoil anything.

Still, I'm sure it's a wonderful review as always ^-^

Wait, you haven't seen the original Ghost in the Shell? O.O

Get. Out.

FargoDog:

Julianking93:
Damn it!

I want to read this but I've yet to see the movie so I don't want to spoil anything.

Still, I'm sure it's a wonderful review as always ^-^

Wait, you haven't seen the original Ghost in the Shell? O.O

Get. Out.

Wait, this is for the original Ghost in the Shell? I thought it was for the second one >>

Yes, I've seen the original and I was about to do a review of it -_-

Julianking93:

FargoDog:

Julianking93:
Damn it!

I want to read this but I've yet to see the movie so I don't want to spoil anything.

Still, I'm sure it's a wonderful review as always ^-^

Wait, you haven't seen the original Ghost in the Shell? O.O

Get. Out.

Wait, this is for the original Ghost in the Shell? I thought it was for the second one >>

Yes, I've seen the original and I was about to do a review of it -_-

I don't have any spoilers for the second film in my review, just for the second season of the TV show, and they're very minor spoilers. I just like being cautious :P And this review is the third film, not the second.

FargoDog:

Julianking93:

FargoDog:

Julianking93:
Damn it!

I want to read this but I've yet to see the movie so I don't want to spoil anything.

Still, I'm sure it's a wonderful review as always ^-^

Wait, you haven't seen the original Ghost in the Shell? O.O

Get. Out.

Wait, this is for the original Ghost in the Shell? I thought it was for the second one >>

Yes, I've seen the original and I was about to do a review of it -_-

I don't have any spoilers for the second film in my review, just for the second season of the TV show, and they're very minor spoilers. I just like being cautious :P And this review is the third film, not the second.

Never saw the show either, but I think I'll read it now :P

Julianking93:
Never saw the show either, but I think I'll read it now :P

Excellent! You should also get round to watching the show at some point. It is also very good. Now if you'll excuse me, I must return to Neon Genesis Evangelion!.. Of which there will be a review in the coming week. :P

FargoDog:

Julianking93:
Never saw the show either, but I think I'll read it now :P

Excellent! You should also get round to watching the show at some point. It is also very good. Now if you'll excuse me, I must return to Neon Genesis Evangelion!.. Of which there will be a review in the coming week. :P

I still have yet to watch that series despite Aby_Z's attempts at getting me to see it >>

Julianking93:

FargoDog:

Julianking93:
Never saw the show either, but I think I'll read it now :P

Excellent! You should also get round to watching the show at some point. It is also very good. Now if you'll excuse me, I must return to Neon Genesis Evangelion!.. Of which there will be a review in the coming week. :P

I still have yet to watch that series despite Aby_Z's attempts at getting me to see it >>

So far, it's been pretty good. I'm thinking of doing a series of reviews where I do the actual original series, the movie that followed that, and the two more recent movies. It's dependant on how much time I have though.

FargoDog:

Julianking93:
Never saw the show either, but I think I'll read it now :P

Excellent! You should also get round to watching the show at some point. It is also very good. Now if you'll excuse me, I must return to Neon Genesis Evangelion!.. Of which there will be a review in the coming week. :P

Are you fucking kidding me? I just started watching that today for the first time. (Well, yesterday technically :P)

Scde2:

FargoDog:

Julianking93:
Never saw the show either, but I think I'll read it now :P

Excellent! You should also get round to watching the show at some point. It is also very good. Now if you'll excuse me, I must return to Neon Genesis Evangelion!.. Of which there will be a review in the coming week. :P

Are you fucking kidding me? I just started watching that today for the first time. (Well, yesterday technically :P)

Seriously? That was well-timed :P

It's been quite a while since I've watched Ghost in the Shell, and come to think of it, I'd never gotten round to watching all the movies(though I did watch the first two seasons of the anime, meaning I could read this review with impunity! :D). Thank goodness I found this review then (which is really well done, by the way!).

Though the point you made about it being the weakest of the series by far has discouraged me somewhat-despite the flaws you mentioned (soundtrack certainly being a shame), would you still recommend my seeing this film in the hope that I may still enjoy it, if not for the sake of watching all of the films?

Snowden's Secret:
It's been quite a while since I've watched Ghost in the Shell, and come to think of it, I'd never gotten round to watching all the movies(though I did watch the first two seasons of the anime, meaning I could read this review with impunity! :D). Thank goodness I found this review then (which is really well done, by the way!).

Though the point you made about it being the weakest of the series by far has discouraged me somewhat-despite the flaws you mentioned (soundtrack certainly being a shame), would you still recommend my seeing this film in the hope that I may still enjoy it, if not for the sake of watching all of the films?

You'll most likely enjoy it, as it's still a fundamentally good film, just not as good as the others. So, yes you should check it out if you get the chance :)

 

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