Original Release Date: April 23, 2020
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Action, Military, Science Fiction
Based on the Series Created By: Masamune Shirow
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Ghost in the Shell – Stand Alone Complex 2045. Reader discretion is advised.***
The year is 2045. The world order has completely shifted following the economic disaster known as the Synchronized Global Default, and A.I. technology leaves many societies in a perpetual state of Sustainable War. Digitization has become standard, and hardly anyone left has not undergone some sort of enhancement. However, what most don’t realize is how close the human race is to meeting its demise.
A new strain of cybernetics and biological evolution has created beings known as posthumans. These entities can manipulate the digital landscape at will and are capable of throwing an entire government into chaos singlehandedly. The danger is unprecedented, and there is only one team that might be able to fight this threat: The legendary Section 9, led by the famed Major Motoko Kusanagi (voiced by Atsuko Tanaka).
Ugh, a revamp of a classic anime series starring the same version of characters who were last seen nearly fifteen years ago. That automatically means this is going to suck, and it will do nothing except dishonor the name Stand Alone Complex. Nothing new can ever be added to anything nostalgic. I am going to go into this show, knowing it will be dumb and terrible. Therefore, there is not a single reason why I should even give it a chance.
Sarcasm aside, please don’t do any of that.
It is fine if you say you didn’t like this series, to each their own. If you are one such person, I invite you to list your reasons why this latest entry to the Stand Alone Complex saga didn’t measure up to its predecessors (assuming you enjoyed them in the first place). However, don’t hate on Stand Alone Complex 2045 (SAC_2045) just because it is new and/or has a different animation style.
Concerning the Stand Alone Complex storyline – which includes season one, 2nd Gig, and Solid State Society – SAC_2045 was a very competent and well-met addition to the narrative. It was far more straightforward and fun than the entire Ghost in the Shell Arise series. It was also vastly more exciting, not to mention, much more engaging than the second movie, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Besides, if you want to watch a genuine trainwreck of a Ghost in the Shell project, by all means, check out the 2017 live-action film.
Let’s just put it out there. Visually, SAC_2045 wasn’t what we have come to expect from the Ghost in the Shell franchise. This animation was…a thing we will get to later. Nevertheless:
This series sounded like Stand Alone Complex.
It was written like Stand Alone Complex.
It felt very much like Stand Alone Complex.
Easily the greatest selling point of this series is the fact that much of the original cast and crew from the original Stand Alone Complex run (many of whom were also apart of the first two Ghost in the Shell films) made a return. Some of the most notable returnees were the voice actors of Section 9, which included its leading trio, Motoko Kusanagi, Batou, and Togusa, portrayed respectively once again by Ms. Atsuko Tanaka, Mr. Akio Ootsuka, and Mr. Kouichi Yamadera. To that end, it wasn’t so much that these actors killed it in these roles. It was more like they never left them.
Additionally, SAC_2045 retained a Ghost in the Shell staple. This series’ music was excellent, and it helped add to its overall enjoyment. The action scenes, in particular – substance-wise that is – were pretty kick-ass. There were some cool fights in this show.
Still, the most redeeming aspect of this series was its story. Perhaps more than anything, it was extremely simple to follow – by Ghost in the Shell standards, that is. After that, this show had one of the best threats of the entire franchise. Although SAC_2045’s posthumans were no Laughing Man, they were a unique challenge for Section 9.
Think about it. Section 9 has always been a team of highly skilled warrior hackers. They could locate and uncover the details of whatever enemy they faced within the digital world. Once they did that, they would then head off to kick the ass of their target in the real world. This strategy has proven to be quite effective. This time, though, this method wasn’t going to be as cut and dry. Section 9 was up against a foe that could challenge them not only cybernetically, but also physically.
That made for a pretty memorable antagonist.
Keep in mind, SAC_2045 didn’t tell the story of a Section 9 out of its element. It focused on an actual obstacle that put all the team’s skills and experience to the test.
I will admit, I am not sure how well I am going to remember the details of this story when season two of SAC_2045 comes out. What I can promise you is that I am highly anticipating the next chapter.
After all, this was Stand Alone Complex through and through. This series’ story put it on par with its predecessors, which was a f@#$ing outstanding achievement seeing how this show looked the way it did.
If you want to point out how SAC_2045 occasionally broke off to tell unrelated side stories, introduced weird online avatars, and insisted on including the annoying Tachikoma robots on every mission, feel free to do so. After all, they are valid complaints. The first broke up the flow of the narrative; the second was undoubtedly strange and out of place; the third was often downright irritating.
However, bear this in mind. If you wish to hit this show with those aspects, I ask you to do the same with the rest of the Stand Alone Complex series. They all did the same damn thing.
With that said, let us begin the rant.
What the hell was up with this show’s animation?
In so many words, it just wasn’t good. Why all the CGI?
Now don’t get me wrong; I didn’t hate this series’ visuals because they were CGI. No, I hated this series’ visuals because they were bad CGI.
Okay, “bad” is a bit strong. You see, SAC_2045 would have fit right in, if, you know, it was 2005, and we were watching it on the Nintendo GameCube. The problem is, welcome to the year 2020.
To give this animation some slack, the settings in this show looked quite lovely. I especially thought this series’ depiction of Palm Desert right outside Los Angeles was rather dead-on accurate – I say that because L.A. is where I grew up. Also, the character designs weren’t awful. To me, they seemed like a mix between what was seen in the original Stand Alone Complex and Ghost in the Shell Arise.
No, the real issues began whenever anyone had to use their mouth to speak. If you want to talk about lifeless dolls, look no further. The lip-syncing was off, and no one seemed capable of effectively expressing any sort of emotion.
Seeing this, you would think SAC_2045 was a fan-made project trying to give homage to something iconic. You definitely wouldn’t associate this with the same team that gave us the first Stand Alone Complex series, whose animation, by the way, still holds up nearly two decades later. As an extension of that, from looks alone, it was a bit hard to believe that this show was from the same franchise that began with one of the most visually masterful anime films ever released.
I am not going to lie to you. This animation is jarring at first, and the unfortunate thing is, it doesn’t get better. But thanks to a great story, phenomenal characters, and fun action, SAC_2045’s visuals do become tolerable.
This was one of my most anticipated series of 2020, and with a second season still to come, I am, so far, not disappointed.
This story was more than a match for its predecessors, and I am happy to consider it apart of the Stand Alone Complex narrative. Visually it looks like utter crap, but for me, I always prefer substance over style. And in this instance, this show’s substance outshone its flaws.
Ghost in the Shell – Stand Alone Complex 2045 has earned a recommendation.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Ghost in the Shell – Stand Alone Complex 2045? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.