Tuesday, June 12, 2007

GitS: Solid State Society

Anime Monday on SciFi Channel delivered a movie I have been waiting to be released on DVD. Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society. This is the third movie based off of Masamune Shirow's, at the time ground breaking, cyber-political manga that dealt with technology and the question of what it truly means to be 'human'.

Note: A ghost is what makes a human a human in the age of fully cyberized bodies. Each ghost is different and unique, nor did it seem could an artificial ghost come into existence.

The path to this latest movie can be traced back to that original manga. Why do I say this? It is very simple. In the manga, one of the adversaries Section 9 faced in the eight US issues was called the Puppeteer. The first movie directed by Mamoru Oshii dealt with the Pupepeteer, an artificial ghost that was created by a Japanese ministry for data mining and information manipulaton, who seeks asylum inside Section 9. At then end of this movie, we are treated to seeing Major Kusanagi in the cyberized body of a child and telling Batou that the 'Net is wide.' Then we are treated to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex TV series in which we encounter another iteration called the Laughing Man, a ghost who seemingly walks through barriers and possesses people to carry out his cause. We were next treated with a second movie called Innocence which lifted one story thread from the original manga about multiple dubbing of ghosts from children into gynoids who go beserk killing their masters while dealing with the vanishing of the character Major Motoko Kusanagi from the manga and the first movie. For season two of Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii takes up the baton in shaping this story arc that centers around refugees, terrorism, and political corruption.

Now we get to the third movie which is called Solid State Society. Unlike the previous two movies, the character designs stem from the TV series. The plot is also woven from the threads of the TV series with the refugee problem, political empire building, and seperatists. But the woof of this loom though comes directly from the original manga. Major Kusanagi has made herself a free-lance agent because she thinks she can better solve crimes that way, so she is missing from Section 9. Again Section 9 finds itself with a mystery dealing with missing children. A mysterious Puppeteer is seemingly manipulating everything that Section 9 finds. And what of the climatic ending in which Major Kusanagi comes out of the shadows in the nick of time to save Togusa and face down the Puppeteer, the climatic scene is lifted almost perfectly from the first movie and the manga.
  • Kusanagi diving into a dieing brain to wrest the last secrets out, Batou trying to help her, and using a Smart-Tank's AI for cyber back-up.
  • In the manga, Motoko dives into the shattered cybernetic body of the Puppeteer in the rain assisted by Batou and Aramaki.
This time there is no dark rainy night on a remote location for the battle as in the first movie, this one is fought on a floor in which hundreds of children are being brainwashed to become productive citizens. And at the end of this the third movie, we see an adult Kusanagi staring pensively out at a night-time city scape saying the the 'Net is wide' before Batou puts an arm around her shoulder. Then the movie ends as Batou updates Kusanagi on the identity of the Puppeteer. For fairness here is someone who liked Solid State Society.

In other words, Oshii and those who wrote this movie have plowed the same ground again and frankly this is getting boring. There is so much more to Ghost in the Shell than the Puppeteer case, but it seems some are fixated on it. Which is a shame since Shirow has written Ghost in the Shell 2:Man-Machine Interface which covers some of Kusanagi's free-lance work after she split from Section 9 at the end of the first manga. Then there is Ghost in the Shell 1.5:Human Processor Error which follows Section 9 as it handles cases like walking corpses with cyber implants without the leadership of Major Kusanagi.

After finally watching this movie, I have serious doubts I will purchase the DVD. Which is saying something since I do like Shirow's body of work, though sometimes his art can be a bit too 'wet' for many people's tastes. Or trying to read the footnotes he puts on pages of the manga to explain things.

One final quibble aimed purely at SciFi. This movie came on at 11PM Eastern and ended at 1:30AM Eastern. Which should be way past any child's bedtime and Ghost in the Shell has never been aimed for children. So why in one scene showing one of the politicians laying in bed being serviced by a bevy of cute teen-age gynoid girls in skimpy attire did SciFi blur one of their derrieres? It makes no sense, especially when at the end we see the Puppeteer shoot his own brains out and we get to see up close and personal his left eye hanging out its socket while also viewing the ruin of his jaw from the self-inflicted gunshot wound?
Updates: I added a lot of links for those who are like Kusanagi and like to dive the 'Net which indeed is vast and wide. Plus rewrote some areas. Still not sure if I cleared things up or mucked them up even further. Also added at the top a picture of someone dressed up as Major Motoko Kusanagi - the brain in a very nice tin can.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The stuff we miss here in the states unless we look for it