Film Review Ghost in the Shell Series

Anime Eiga Review: Ghost in the Shell – Solid State Society

Original Release Date: September 1, 2006
Directed By: Kenji Kamiyama
Genre: Action, Military, Science Fiction
Based on the Series Created By: Masamune Shirow

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society. Reader discretion is advised.***

Film Synopsis

It has been two years since the refugee crisis that almost brought Japan to nuclear destruction. In that time, Major Motoko Kusanagi (voiced by Atsuko Tanaka) has resigned from her post as leader of the elite counter-terrorist task force Section 9. Although the team has needed to move forward with their tasks, the loss of the Major has been significant, and the hole she left behind is sorely felt when the case of the mysterious Puppeteer reaches their attention.

Section 9 is shocked to discover that a massive streak of abducted children has gone unnoticed. Along with that, many high profile assassinations have been carried out, most of which have been disguised as suicides.

Section 9 is up against its biggest threat, and this new enemy will even bring the legendary Major back from her self-imposed exile.

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Film Positives

At the time of writing this review, I have yet to watch the remaining entries in the Ghost in the Shell franchise. Therefore, what I am about to say may prove to be incorrect, but nevertheless, I have confidence it’s not.

The best quality to come out of Solid State Society was it being a satisfying endcap to the Stand Alone Complex series. Unlike the original Ghost in the Shell film and its sequel, Innocence, Solid State Society’s story focused on the characters we followed throughout the two seasons of the first Ghost in the Shell anime, Stand Alone Complex and Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG.

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When ranking the three Stand Alone Complex entries, Solid State Society would be the one at the bottom, but remember, something has to be. This movie was quite good. But even if it were only so-so, my hands would have been tied. Supposing you are someone who sat through and enjoyed the anime’s two twenty-six-episode seasons, why wouldn’t you give the finale film a shot if you had the opportunity?

The only reason I would have felt compelled to try to convince you from pursuing that inevitability was if Solid State Society was an utter train wreck of a movie. Since it was nowhere close to that, most everything I can say positively about this film has already been discussed in the two Stand Alone Complex reviews.

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The only element of note which separated Solid State Society from its anime counterparts was an upgrade of the visuals. This film was definitely working on a film’s budget. Stand Alone Complex has never looked better, and that is saying something since the series was already exceedingly well animated.

Plus, Solid State Society continued the tradition of a Ghost in the Shell film having a truly outstanding soundtrack.

Now, I imagine some of you might be wondering if Solid State Society is worth watching on its own. How is it if we were to take away the name Stand Alone Complex? Under those circumstances, then I suppose this film would have fallen flat on its face. After all, it didn’t take the time to introduce who the main players were, it didn’t give any background details on how this story’s world operated, and it was more a-narrative-in-progress than it was its own separate thing.

But then again, all that would and should make sense.

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This wasn’t just a Ghost in the Shell film. This was not the third entry in a cinematic trilogy. This was a Stand Alone Complex movie, and on that end, it had all it needed to succeed as one.

If it sounds like I am struggling to keep this section going, it’s because I am. I wish I could talk about certain aspects of the story or cool moments with the characters. I wish I could do that. Although I didn’t want you to think Solid State Society was bad because it was the weakest in the Stand Alone Complex franchise, there is a reason why it is sitting at the bottom.

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Film Negatives

If you have seen it, I want you to picture the original Ghost in the Shell. Regardless of whether you liked it or not, I think we can all agree that it looked and felt like a film. To that same extent, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, also felt like it was meant to be watched on the big screen.

I am a firm believer that film and television, although similar, are two completely separate mediums. They both have their strengths and each have points to which only they can accomplish. There is a reason why some stories are made for cinemas and others are made for TV.

And Solid State Society felt as though it was made for TV.

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Yeah, this movie had the animation and soundtrack fit for the big screen, but there was nothing about the story that separated it from either Stand Alone Complex or 2nd GIG. In fact, Solid State Society may have actually benefited if it had just been the anime’s third season.

It may not have been the confusing mess Innocence was, but Solid State Society had the same level of complexity seen in the anime. However, that was a problem because the anime had twenty-six episodes, a little more than eight hours to thoroughly explain every detail and organize everything that was going on. And still, both Stand Alone Complex and 2nd GIG had moments that were hard to follow.

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Solid State Society was only about a hundred minutes, and that limited time was not taken into account when expressing this particular narrative.

If you asked me who the Puppeteer was, then I know I can, at least, give you that answer. And yet, if you were to press me with, “Why was that person the Puppeteer,” then you would have had me.

I wouldn’t argue with anyone if they told it would be to my benefit to give this film another look (much like I did with the original Ghost in the Shell). Perhaps one day I will, but unlike the first movie, there simply wasn’t the wow-factor that would make such a re-viewing a priority.

Once was good enough. Emphasis on the word “good.”

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Final Thoughts

I actually ran into this situation.

As soon as I was done with this film, someone asked what I thought of it. My simple, honest answer was, “I liked it.” Thankfully, the conversation stopped there, and I didn’t have to continue with why.

After some thought, I have concluded that this film worked because it befitted the name Stand Alone Complex.

The animation was beautiful, the music was terrific, and we got a proper send-off of the characters we have gotten to know for fifty-two episodes.

For that reason, even if it was a bit hard to follow, I will be giving Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society a recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this film? How would you advise Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and be sure to come back December 18th as Ghost in the Shell Month continues with Anime Hajime Impressions: Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Ghost Pain.

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