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]
>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<
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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New characters (from official website)
Purin Esaki: A new member of the Shinsei Public Safety Section 9, she is in charge of the Tachikoma maintenance and various other tasks (like research). She’s a prodigy who obtained a doctorate at the MIT. She has a special feeling for Batou.
Standard: A new members of GHOST, the mercenary unit led by Kusanagi. He is American. Although of a cheerful nature, he is a capable soldier.
John Smith: He is an agent of the US National Security Agency and the head of the Post Human Affairs Bureau. He kidnaped the GHOST team to use them in an operation and considered them as expendable. Later, he serves as an adviser to the new Public Safety Section 9. He’s definitely inspired by the character of Agent Smith in The Matrix !
Prime Minister Kurisu Otomo Teito: The first non-Japanese to become Prime Minister of Japan. Sachio Otomo, the chairman of the Tokyo Reconstruction Committee, is his father-in-law. At the request of the United States, he asks Aramaki to reorganize Section 9.
Takashi Shimamura: A 14 year-old junior high school student who is one of the three people who have become post-humans in Japan.
Episode list (from Netflix)
1. NO NOISE NO LIFE – Sustainable War
2. AT YOUR OWN RISK – Divided by a Wall
3. MAVERICK – MIA
4. SACRIFICIAL PAWN – Emissary from the Divide
5. PATRICK HUGE – Gift from God
6. DISCLOSURE – Quantized Gospel
7. PIE IN THE SKY – First Bank Robbery
8. ASSEMBLE – What Came About as a Result of Togusa’s Death
9. IDENTITY THEFT – The Lonely Struggle
10. NET PEOPLE – Reasons Leading to Flameout
11. EDGELORD – The Revolution of the 14-year-olds
12. NOSTALGIA – All Will Become N
Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 (攻殻機動隊 SAC_2045 / Kōkaku Kidōtai SAC_2045) : Japan / USA, 2020, 3D CG Original Net anime, 12 x 24 min.; Dir.: Kenji Kamiyama (1st season) & Shinji Aramaki (2nd season); Scr.: Kenji Kamiyama with Ryo Higaki, Sunayama Kurasumi, Harumi Doki, Dai Sato, Daisuke Ohigashi (Based on the manga by Shirow Masamune); Char. Des.: Ilya Kuvshinov; 3D Char. Supervisor: Hiromi Matsushige; Prod. Des.: Shinji Usui, Kenji Teraoka, Daisuke Matsuda; Ed.: Go Sadamatsu; Music: Nobuko Toda & Kazuma Jinnouchi; Studio: Production I.G & SOLA Digital Arts; Prod.: Ghost In The Shell: SAC_2045 Production Committee; Cast: Atsuko Tanaka (Kusanagi), Osamu Saka (Aramaki), Akio Otsuka (Batou), Koichi Yamadera (Togusa), Yutaka Nakano (Ishikawa), Toru Okawa (Saito), Takashi Onozuka (Paz), Taro Yamaguchi (Borma), Sakiko Tamagawa (Tachikoma), Megumi Han (Purin), Kenjiro Tsuda (Standard), Kaiji Soze (John Smith), Shigeo Kiyama (PM Kurisu Otomo Teito), Megumi Hayashibara (Takashi Shimamura). Exclusively streamed as Video On Demand by Netflix starting March 23, 2020.
For more information you can consult the following web sites:
Also, you can check the official trailer on Youtube:
©士郎正宗・Production I.G/講談社・攻殻機動隊2045製作委員会 | ©Shirow Masamune, Production I.G/KODANSHA/GITS2045
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