Ghost In The Shell 3: Solid State Society

Ghost In The Shell 3: Solid State Society


Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

Having near-defined the genre with Mamoru Oshii’s seminal film back in 1995, one of the best-known anime franchises delivers its third feature-length instalment. Adapted first from Shirow Masamuno’s manga comic and followed by one acclaimed sequel and two subsequent TV series, what has the Ghost In The Shell got to offer now?

More of the same, of course – making for delight and disappointment in equal measure.

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The main protagonists are present and correct, now inhabiting the dystopian future world of 2034, with society further integrated and controlled by super-advanced information networks. Artificial enhancements or prosthetics in people’s bodies are commonplace and cyberbrain technology lets people interface directly with those external networks and systems, by porting in physically or wirelessly. Still central to this William Gibson-esque concept of G.I.T.S. is the understanding of the infinite amount of information that such networking throws out there, how it can be used and travelled and how people, not just their computers, can be hacked and manipulated.

Implant-eyed noirish ‘tec monolith Batou again scowls about the futurist cityscapes, looking a little older and wearier. He’s still plugging away with Public Security Section 9, the counter-terrorism and cyber warfare unit guised as an international rescue organisation. Togusa is back, too, this time wiser, and more stressed, heading up Section 9 and responsible for keeping Batou in line rather than just partnering him. Togusa has since taken the decision to also have implants, moving him closer to the cyborg sensibilities of his team. The assorted dramatis personae that make up his team are also prominent, their numbers swollen, providing plenty of continuity for the faithful fanbase. Of course, they pale rather in the face of the return of Major Motoko.

Made up almost entirely of prosthetics, Motoko has been surfing the real and cyberspaces as a much-advanced prototype for The Matrix's Neo, conducting her own investigations since resigning from Section 9 during the TV series. Since melding with the Net’s consciousness in the first film, her character embodies the conceptualised reality of man and machine, the reliance and control each exerts over the other and of artificial and real consciousness in an evolving society. When her path crosses Batou’s again, she’s the one person to bring a smile to his face.

Motoko’s and Sector 9’s investigations into a series of suicides point to the emergence of ‘The Puppeteer’, an awesomely powerful hacker who may also be responsible for a harrowing string of child abductions. At the same time, family man Togusa is learning more about the new bedside cyber systems that autonomously support the country’s ageing population. Gradually the convoluted plot strands begin to weave into a shocking revelation that finally reveals what the so-called Solid State Society really is.

G.I.T.S.3 once again merits its sci-fi credentials by being punchingly relevant to today in its view of tomorrow. With increasing resonance, the film relates not only to the continued evolution of digital technology institutionally, but also to modern-day Japan’s population problems. At a time when there are reverberating concerns regarding the widening gap between birth rates and the youth group and the wizening, now frail older generation, Solid State Society’s answers are perhaps as satirical and foreboding as the franchise has dared be yet.

While the infighting and double-crossing of factioned government agencies also has a contemporary ring, sadly the story is still less intelligent and esoteric than G.I.T.S. 2: Innocence. It is with this unavoidable comparison that Kenji Kamiyama’s effort comes up short. Moreover, the animation for the characters’ third outing, although accomplished and highly serviceable, just cannot match the complex, cerebral and visual majesty of its predecessor. There are no Cannes’ Palme d’Or nominations this time around. As a stand alone film, G.I.T.S. 3 remains strong in the now crowded anime field, but as an instalment it bows with the franchise’s expectations bearing down on it. “The net truly is vast and infinite”, says Motoko. Perhaps so is the weight of G.I.T.S’s own invention.

That said, following the finale it’s clear that the franchise has every intention of running and running. Indeed, the next sequel is probably assembling its consciousness throughout the ethernet right now.

Reviewed on: 22 Aug 2007
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Ghost In The Shell 3: Solid State Society packshot
The latest feature length instalment of the renowned anime series.
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Director: Kenji Kamiyama

Writer: Kenji Kamiyama, Shotaro, Yoshiki Sakurai

Starring: Atsuko Tanaka, Osamu Saka, Akio Ohtsuka, Kohichi Yamadera, Yutaka Nakano, Toru Okawa, Takashi Onozuka, Taro Yamaguchi, Sakiko Tamagawa

Year: 2007

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Japan


CFF 2007

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