In the year 2045, after global capitalism has defaulted, Japan's elite Section 9 begins conducting covert cyber operations.
In short, this is the weakest installment of the Ghost in the Shell Anime Franchise, perhaps even weaker and having the same issues as the Hollywood Movie. Directed by Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed, Harlock: Space Pirate), and Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Eden of the East & Moribito). The 3d Animation was just awful. I'm not against 3d, I actually love the work director Shinji Aramaki has done in the past: With Appleseed 2004, the character's movements were just awesome, they look alive and the battles are well choreographed with fluid movements and engaging action scenes. This is not the case in SAC_2045, one of the first things you'll notice is the awkward movements of the characters, lip-syncing is way off (perhaps they planned it for the dub? but with subs looks completely off), and even car collisions and such look awkward. Just compare SAC_2045 Episode 1 to the first scene in the Appleseed movie and you'll see what I mean and realize that these have 16 years in between of advancement in 3d technology, so there is really no excuse for the bad animation. Regarding "the look & style", there are things that 3d does really well like cars, buildings, mecha, cities, etc, but even these look way off from time to time. The Tachikomas were prime candidates for a great look in 3d, but they ended up being average at best. The Major looks like it came out of from Toy Story, which is great if she was in a Pixar movie, but it's not the look you'll expect for a GitS installment. Batou looks like a Barbie Ken with prosthetic eyes, and the rest of the cast looks like it was based on a video game of Grand Theft Auto, specially Togusa, which is at least a better look for the show. Compare that to the work Shinji did in Harlock: Space Pirate 2013 which has an awesome look for both characters and especially the mecha and their world; that even in 3d has stood the test of time. I know I'm comparing Movies with a TV Series, but Ghost in the Shell has always been a franchise that has had the best animation at their time of release through all their instances. This really needed to be on par with the work that has been done in the past. This sort of 3d doesn't even compare with what's considered average right now, not even with the technology of 15+ years ago. The story is set in the Stand Alone Complex (SAC) sub-continuity in the year 2045 (For reference, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society was set in 2034, which was set two years after the events of 2nd GIG; so SAC_2045 picks up the story in 2045, 11 years later). In regard to the story, that may be the best part of this show, but doesn't even come close to the stories in other installments of the series. At least for this first season of SAC_2045, the philosophical & sociological themes that have made this franchise stand out as a "different & intelligent series", as well as any references to "real-life"; are almost non-existent or not given enough focus. Questions like "What makes us human?", "the pitfalls of technology advancement", and sociology concepts like the "Stand Alone Complex (SAC)" (from which this installment takes its name) are nowhere to be found. Instead, we get references to the 10% of people that control the wealth (which is now 1% in 2045) and the economy of war; but these are merely references as nothing is really explored in depth. There are other minor ideas at the end that were not fully explored either. All the philosophy that makes this series stand out from the crowd was removed in lieu of dialog to try really hard to make the characters sound "cool" and the focus is on the action. The plot seems too convenient with the characters being at the right place & time all the time. I wouldn't say that the plot is predictable, but it's not engaging either. There is some political intrigue, but it doesn't bring anything new that we haven't seen before. It doesn't help that the plot ends in a cliffhanger for a 2nd season, maybe the creators will make the plot more interesting by then, but I'm not holding my breath, nor I'm that interested or excited to see the 2nd season. I'm someone who doesn't really care about the animation if the story is good enough. To be honest, this is not the worst animation that I have seen. I think Berserk 2016 & Kingdom Season 1 are far worst than this type of 3d, but at some point, I stopped focusing on the bad animation of those shows because their story was very engaging and they still rank among my favorite animes. This is not the case for SAC_2045, I only finish this series because I wanted to write this review, otherwise, I would have dropped it on the first episodes as it was not engaging enough to let me forgot the bad animation and make it worth my time. Regarding Sound & Music, the GitS franchise has always brought us strange but awesome music in the intros/outros of each show. Now we get a more commercial rap as the intro for SAC_2045, letting us know that this installment will be very different from the past. The Outro is more in tune with what the franchise has done in the past. The sound effects are average. The dub has not been released at the time of this review. The Characters' personalities overall are pretty much the same as in SAC, except for Togusa who seems to have had a regression compared to what we seen before as the leader of Section 9 in Solid State Society. It seems the creators of SAC_2045 wanted to reset the team dynamics as it was at the beginning of SAC. They added new characters for comic relief perhaps, that have the type of personalities we often see in Hollywood action movies. Overall, given that this new installment is being created by the same team that brings us the masterpieces of the past, even minimal expectations were realistically high, that even if the 3d animation will not work, the story was going to be something good to watch, but it doesn't help the story ended up in a cliffhanger for this season and it ended up removing the philosophy that sets this franchise apart in lieu for a Hollywood type of approach. At least for myself, I move away from Hollywood movies and into anime exactly because they offer a more intelligent & different plot, in fact, it was Ghost in the Shell 1995, which made me an anime addict, a masterpiece that has served as inspiration for some of the best Hollywood movies. So I have to ask myself, am I ok with Ghost in the Shell being just average? Should the franchise be ok with producing a mediocre installment for a new generation? NO, every fan wants more Ghost in the Shell, but something equal or that even attempt surpass what has already been done in the past and that contains the philosophy and soul of the original Masamune Shirow's story. This new installment comes to me as a failure that will quickly be forgotten. I hope to see something new in the future that will challenge what has done in the past. "And where does the newborn go from here? The net is vast and infinite." -Major Motoko Kusanagi/Puppet Master (Ghost in the Shell 1995) Ghost in the Shell - Watching Guide
This is my newest example of a story falling apart as it flies off a cliff into a burning lava pit. Sigh. Never has an anime that had such flowing animation and fun music had such a spiraling and ramshackle story. I tried hard to follow what was going on, but the story became so stupid that me and my friend were actively mocking it as we watched it. Never have I seen such horrible tackling of current issues in modern society. A small group of chimps could write a better representation of the terrors of social media! The story starts off on a bad note: something about 'sustainable war', global financial collapse and the rise of the military industry. I didn't know why any of this was happening, but I could follow the action scenes. About five episodes in, I lost all respect for this story. You'll know the exact point I lost respect, it involves backflips. The stories in Ghost always have problems with pacing and using the characters well, but this one drains all the likability from these characters! I don't like any of them! Anyone who enjoyed the characters from the original movie should stay away. I should have been holding my breath, because the story after episode 7 loses all sense of pacing. Things happen, people are introduced, schemers scheme, but everything feels forced and listless. I felt like an entire series was compressed into five episodes. I don't know what happened behind the scenes, but this lack of restraint screams of poor planning and rushed production. Then came the horrible metaphors on modern social problems like bullying, the financial crisis in Japan and the percieved weakness of Japanese politics according to the USA. As an American, I can watch media from other countries that criticize American culture, politics, etc. What I don't want to watch is a horribly written series that takes an issue like international politics and makes it much more shallow than it is. With all of these problems, what broke my trust in this anime? It was the horrible handling of sexual assault by a high school teacher. After seeing how horribly this anime handles any issue, I knew that this was going to end badly and turned off the anime. I apologized to my friend for watching this with me. We agreed to watch something else and forget that this ever happened. I appreciate that my friend, who was watching this after becoming curious about anime, can see that this is a bad anime, not an average anime. I feel bad for Ilya Kuvshinov, a talented artist who I follow. He deserves to have his amazing character designs used in a better anime. For any fan of Ghost, this will probably be the weakest installment in the franchise. For anyone not familiar with Ghost, this is probably the worst place to start. AVOID IF YOU CAN.
Warning: I kind of hate this and there are going to be some out of context spoilers. Another warning: If you're not comfortable with blood and gunshots, skip this. It's far more violent than GitS has been in a way. With that out of the way, let me say that I didn't hate it enough to drop it. As a huge fan of the movie and both SAC seasons, this one has left a bittersweet taste for me. The dogshit CG ruins what I consider to be a good plot. It's offensively full of trash Hollywood tier fight scenes with equally trash fight sound effects that actually hurt the show more than the CG does. The lip syncing is so terrible, pretty sure GTA VC did a better job. If you're a fan of the OG movie and the main SAC installments but were indifferent to the Arise franchise, this will surely feel like more than a slap in the face. My other gripe is the anti one-percenter commie Larping bullshit they showed in episodes 2 and 3. You couldn't make a more obvious and weaker straw man criticism of leftists even if you tried. The show also utterly destroys the franchise's reputation of exploring philosophical and political themes with surface level action aimed for quick consumption. 1984 by George Orwell being one of the main factors in the story is actually so cringe. I'm thinking this show is aimed more towards teenagers who have newly discovered the horrors of what a "State" is, than the core fan base or the general audience for that matter. Oh, and "that" death in the last episode was utterly predictable and also felt very forced at the same time. Now about the somewhat "good" stuff, I guess. The plot seems to be actually going somewhere. The series ends on a cliffhanger so waiting for S2 is going to suck. The subplots that bring together the whole picture were decent. Togusa dealing with the two spies was excellent. John Smith's entire character was bullshit. Takashi's back-story was good but you can't help but feel that this is just going to rehash the Laughing Man Arc, only this time, there are going to be some superhuman/computers who have been stripped of their humanity taking matters into their hands. Despite all these stupid flaws in this very obvious cash grab of a project, it still makes you want to look forward to what happens next. At the end of the day I think a good story, above all, matters the most for most of us. I really hope the CG in S2 gets better. Oh wait, that was supposed to highlight the good stuff. Guess that's all the good there is to say about SAC_2045.
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