May 19, 2009
DarkGyraen (All reviews)
With any entry into the solid franchise that is “Ghost in the Shell” each new product is compared to all of those that have come before it. Thus, with Solid State Society, this movie has to be compared not only to the shows that came before it, but the two movies as well. Every entry into this franchise has to continue to try and meet the bar set by those earlier entries, and I think that in this case, Solid State Society just falls a bit short of that bar.

Story – 7/10: The story for Solid State Society starts off some two years after the end of 2nd GIG, with the Major having taken her leave of Section 9, thus the movie leans heavily on Togusa in the beginning. As with the second Ghost in the Shell movie Innocence, we learned that both Togusa and Batou can carry a movie. The problem here is that the Major has really become the soul of the Stand Alone Complex universe, and without her, you always feel that something is missing. Beyond that, the story for Solid State Society is all around pretty decent, but it feels like this should have been the third season, and not a movie. Everything feels rather rushed, and while the story isn’t bad, you can’t help but wonder how much better this could have been if it had been stretched out over a 26 episode season. This movie is better off than the compilation “Laughing Man” and “Individual Eleven” movies, but it just doesn’t live up to the shows, and as a standalone movie, it’s not even in the same ball park as the original movies. It does tie into 2nd GIG and if you felt that the end of that season left you with some questions or wanting more, then SSS is likely to work well for you.

Characters – 9/10: If there’s anything that this movie really has going for it, that would be the way we get to see some of the characters a bit farther down the road. Of the most important is the change to Togusa, who’s stepped up to be the leader of Section 9 now that the Major is gone. It’s good to see him undergo the changes to become a stronger person, as he was always a likable character. On the other side, the Major and Batou generally ponder the meaning of life, having a soul and what their purpose is, much as they always do while being overly badass as they do in generally all Ghost in the Shell products. Much of the side cast is relegated to minor duties again, although there is an awesome scene with Saito. As this is just a movie, you don’t get a lot of character growth in the relatively short span of the film, but there is some and that’s refreshing. These are ultimately characters that are well established though, after two full seasons of SAC, you either love or hate the characters of Section 9 by now. The only real disappointment here is that they didn’t utilize the Prime Minister character as much as one might have hoped. She proved to be a strong character in the second season, and while you see her, she’s pretty much just a cameo. It feels like a slightly missed opportunity, but again that all goes back to the idea that they can’t do as much in a movie as they can in a full blown season.

Presentation – 8/10: There’s certainly nothing wrong with the way SSS is presented, and in many cases, it really shows a lot of visual and audio prowess. The animation is sharp and crisp, and it has all the things going for it that the show had. The downside here is that this is a movie, and you’d expect that the visual production level would be higher. But in the end, it again seems to simply be a long episode. The bar for the animation levels in this franchise were set impossibly high by the simply stunning beauty of Innocence, and SSS doesn’t come close as a movie to reaching that. While its visuals match the show, but don’t surpass it, I actually felt the music took a slight step back. I love pretty much all work by Yoko Kanno, and while I felt that 2nd GIG was among her better sound tracks, I thought that SSS was somewhat lacking. There are a few really enjoyable songs, but they don’t seem to stick in your head as much as some of her previous works. And there are even a few pieces that I simply felt were out of place or jarring. The music isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but once again, it simply fails to live up to what has come before.

Overall Enjoyment – 7/10: Solid State Society is good for giving you some continuation after the events of 2nd GIG ended, and it’s always fun to come back to the enjoyable members of Section 9. But this outing just seemed a bit lackadaisical in comparison to everything before it. Solid State really feels like more of an extended episode than a movie, and with a couple of exceptions, it seemed like it failed to draw me in as much as I’d hoped. I’d say that part of the problem is the lack of a solid antagonist. With the previous two seasons, this team has been tested against fantastic enemies who were brilliant. In this movie, you just never get the sense that the enemy is as strong, and thus it seems to lack overall for that. In the end, it’s enjoyable as a standalone episode, but only if you’re already a fan of the show.

I did enjoy Solid State Society, but that’s likely due to the fact that I’m a fan of the Stand Alone Complex series. As a standalone movie, I don’t know that I’d suggest it to people, as it’s not as strong. It certainly seems to fall well short of the other movies in this franchise, but at the same time, it adds more to those that are fans of the shows. Ultimately, that’s who this is aimed at, so if you enjoyed the GITS:SAC shows, then you should definitely check out this movie. If you’ve never watched the shows, this movie probably isn’t for you.