Ghost in the Shell
Stand Alone Complex
Solid State Society
Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society is the movie follow-up to the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex TV series. Both are based on the the manga by Masamune Shiro, which was also the inspiration two films, titled simply Ghost in the Shell. While taking place in the TV series continuity, Solid State Society owes a lot to the other Ghost in the Shell movies, most notably its penchant for philosophical dialog.
Ghost in the Shell takes place in a near future where the internet, and the inter-connectivity it imposes on all of us, is taken to its extreme. Advancements in cybernetics have allowed people to connect to a network and each other via brain implants, removing the need for a manual interface.
The downside of making your brain into a conduit is that it exposes you to the same security threats that are faced by any PC connected to the internet, namely, hacking.
The Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex explores the Gestalt of the internet. The idea that when millions of individuals connect, it creates a sort of entity, a ‘complex’ made up of ‘stand alones.’ Aside from the silly ‘inside the net’ visuals which show people flying around a void filled with computer icons, the technology of the series is very believable. For the most part, it seems a natural progression from where we are now. While connecting to the brain directly is probably more complicated than science fiction writers believe, having cybernetic eyes and ears that result in roughly the same effect aren’t that far off.
Enter Public Security, Section 9. A small, SWAT-like outfit that uses their hacking skills (and more than a few guns) to hunt down and stop ghost hackers (‘ghost’ being the series’ term for the ‘soul,’ the essence of a person’s character). Matoko, the hot, purple-haired woman is the best of the group. Her fully artificial body gives her superhuman strength, and her hacking skills are second to none. Unfortunately, dealing with corrupt politicians who stand in the way of justice has disillusioned her, and she has left Section 9 to pursue cyber-crimes on her own terms. That is, until a new case involving a rash of suicides and thousands of missing children pulls her back in.
Taken on its own, the characters are largely undefined tools of the plot. They aren’t overly complex, with just enough back story revealed to make us care if they die. Of course, this movie follows 52 episodes of the TV series, in which the characters were fleshed out quite well. So, if you watched the series, this movie will resonate with you on another level.
Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society offers the same complex (but well constructed) plot, flashy action, and insightful science fiction that the franchise is known for. The movie is better when viewed along with the TV series, but it stands alone as a well made, if somewhat cold, sci-fi- action film.
The video looks nice, though since it was digitally animated, it isn’t a drastic leap over the DVD. The credits and titles are left as they were in the Japanese release (the title was in English to begin with, the opening credits included English subtitles, and the closing credits are in Japanese only). Extras include some interviews from both the Japanese and English productions, and trailers.