“When sustainable war spawns a “post-human” threat, Major Kusanagi and her Section 9 team are called back into action.
In the year 2045, after an economic disaster known as the Synchronized Global Default, rapid developments in AI propelled the world to enter a state of “Sustainable War”. However, the public is not aware of the threat that AI has towards the human race.
Full-body cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi and her second-in-command Batou are former members of Public Security Section 9, who are now hired mercenaries traveling hot devastated American west coast. This land is full of opportunity for the major and her team, they utilize their enhanced cyberbrains and combat skills from their time working in Section 9. However, things get complicated with the emergence of “post humans,” who have extreme intelligence and physical powers. The members of Section 9 comeback together again in order to face this new threat.”
[Text from the official website]
At the end of the Stand Alone Complex TV series, Section 9 is disbanded. In this series, the team has become a mercenary unit named GHOST that operated outside Japan (mostly in the United States) for the last six years. The only former member that didn’t joined GHOST was Togusa. He hesitated because of his family and later regretted the decision. He eventually divorced and found a job at a private security company. The Prime Minister asks Aramaki to reform Section 9 and Togusa is put in charge of locating his former colleagues.
After a failed mission where they were defending a one-percenter against the attack of a group of outlaws, the GHOST team is kidnapped by the NSA who want to use them in a mission to capture Patrick Huge, the rich owner of a tech company. The target reveals itself as a formidable opponent that can anticipate their move and even hack their cyberbrains. As the Major is about to be taken over, Saito terminate Huge. Smith is furious because he wanted him taken alive in order to study him. He explains that Huge was what the NSA calls a “Post-Human.” So far, humans have improved themselves with cyberbrains and cyber-implants. However, the post-humans are the opposite: A.I. which somehow have succeeded in taking over the brain of humans and therefore represent an unprecedented threat to humanity. Unfortunately, Smith consider the GHOST team as a liability and want to eliminate them. He is stopped by Aramaki who arrives in extremis with new orders from the American President. The new Section 9 mission will be to hunt post-humans.
It’s episode 8 and the real story finally begins. The team is back in Japan after six years (Batou came back a few days earlier but got entangled in a bank robbery). There are three post-humans that have been identified in Japan. One is an ex-boxer who seems to have a grudge against corrupt politicians. He kills the Prime Minister’s father-in-law and then goes after Teito himself but stops short of killing him (maybe he felt that he was a good man?). The next post-humans to be identified is a teenager that wrote a program creating mob justice. As they are investigating his story, Togusa get infected by some of his code and disappears! Will he becomes a post-human too? To be continued… in the second season (another twelve episodes, directed this time by Shinji Aramaki, but no release date has been announced yet).
>> End of Warning <<
I’ve mentioned this series recently and was eager to have a look — although I was sure that I would totally dislike its 3D animation. Yes, a few aspects of the CGI are quite awkward — the movements of the characters seem sometimes odd despite that fact that it’s motion capture animation and some character’s hair, mostly Aramaki’s and Tokusa’s — but the 3D quickly grow on you and you eventually even forget that it’s there as you focus on the action and the story. The character designs (by a Russian artist) are faithful and pleasant (the Major sure looks like a doll!) and the storytelling is excellent: well paced and captivating. My favourite part is that, as usual with Ghost in the Shell, the cyberpunk background world (socio-political setting, technology, etc.) is quite superb.
Interestingly, the story seems inspired by the work of transhumanist Ray Kurzweils, who predicted that the A.I. singularity would occur in 2045. One element of the story that differ from the previous series, which are generally nippo-centric, is that the first half is set in the United States (which has experience some sort of civil war again). Also, when I watched the series on Netflix, no dubbed version was available yet because the coronavirus lock-down has delayed production (I am more of a subtitles guy anyway).
So far, this new Stand Alone Complex series seems not much appreciated by the critics, considering the very average ratings that it is receiving (6.0 on IMDb, 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, and C+ on ANN). Anime fans are probably irked by the 3D animation. Too bad for them. It is an excellent anime, well worth watching. It is entertaining, an appropriate continuation of the franchise and, despite my initial misgivings, quite beautiful. A must see for any anime, cyberpunk or Ghost in the Shell fans.
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