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GHOST IN THE SHELL: SOLID STATE...
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Reviewed by: Ammon Gilbert

Directed by: Kenji Kamiyama

Starring:
Atsuko Tanaka
Osamu Saka
Akio Ohtsuka

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
In 2034, some 4 years after THE LAUGHING MAN incident and the disembarkment, then re-embarkment, of Section 9 (the cybernetic anit-terrorist unit), a new case is at the forefront: children are being stolen to help the older generation survive. Linked to a new cyber-terrorist known as The Puppeteer, a series of unexplainable suicides, and the return of Section 9ís General, the trail of government conspiracies goes deeper than ever before.
Is it good movie?
Iím not much of an Anime fan but found myself immersed in GHOST IN THE SHELL: THE LAUGHING MAN, so was somewhat eager to take on THE LAUGHING MANís sequel, SOLID STATE SOCIETY. The world of cyber-terrorism, mind-links and micromachines, and the ability to stay connected mentally (if not physically) is interesting and in terms of the cinematic, makes for a good sci-fi movie. But was SOLID STATE SOCIETY as entertaining and engrossing as THE LAUGHING MAN? Letís dig in to find out.

The obvious answer for me is No, SOLID STATE SOCIETY isnít as good as THE LAUGHING MAN. Whether itís because the conspiracy didnít run as deep or because the storyline of stolen children wasnít as entertaining as a serial killer on a warpathóeither way, this entry in the GHOST IN THE SHELL series didnít do it for meóat least, not all the way. Yes, the animation is still splendid, the action is still pretty hardcore, and thereís plenty of cool sci-fi elements at play here, but there was something lacking. The story? The depths of the conspiracy? The case they decided to take on this time, or the relationship between those in Section 9? Itís hard to put an exact finger on, but the film teetered on the edge of mediocrity for me, saved only because of the level of animation at work.

This is not to say that itís not an entertaining ride (which it is), but not as much as the others in the series. Although with a run-time of under 2 hours, it was tighter than THE LAUGHING MAN, and when the story kicks off, the events unfolding isnít nearly as confusing as the previous film, leaving less WTF moments to a level of understanding. Then again, I think this has to do with already having one film under my belt. Taking this flick on by itself, it suffers from the same problem THE LAUGHING MAN had, which was throwing the audience into the middle of something that requires them to have seen the previous entry in order to get whatís going on and to have a good time. For fans of the series, this should be no big deal and probably welcomed on some level, but for the casual Anime watcher, this has cause for larger issues, making it harder and harder for each entry to be a standalone film and just a continuation of the previous movie.

Video / Audio
Video: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer in 1080p looks amazing on Blu-ray and your HD TV, with the animated colors popping with every chance they get, and the action moving as quickly and fluidly off the screen at full throttle. As usual, the power of Blu-ray will not let you down!

Audio: Surprisingly enough, the 5.1 Dolby Surround mix may be one of the most detail-orientated sound-design that Iíve ever heard, picking up everything from the buzzing of flies to the insanely annoying Japanese pop music. Regardless of whatís on screen, the audio steps up to plate and knocks it out of the park.

The Extras
World Work File: Get a closer look at the characters and the storyline within the world of GHOST IN THE SHELL up to this point in the series, as well as a breakdown of SOLID STATE SOCIETY in terms of story and where the advancements of technology have taken society. Throw in a few interviews with the animators and the creative team who brought this flick to life and you have yourself a hybrid of both a ĎMaking ofí and an ĎHBO First Lookí type of featurette.

Making of Tachikoma Robot: As a promotional item when the film was released on DVD, they hired a robot maker to build a scale-model, real-life working robot of one of the Tachikoma Robotís as seen in the series. This featurette chats to the real-life robotís designer / inventor as well as the other robots created at the Robo Garage. Cool feature, shitty use of white subtitles over other white Japanese text / white foreground, making most of what theyíre saying impossible to read.

Anime + Car Design = Designing the Future: The Nissan Motor Company played a big part in the car designs featured in the film, so much so they made real-life cars based on the design of the cars of the future as seen in SOLID STATE SOCIETY. This feature explores the car design, and the display as seen at a Nissan floor show, chatting with filmmakers and Nissan car designers, and how Anime plays a big influence on car designers. If youíre into cars, especially the ones seen in the film, youíll probably get a boner checkiní this featurette out and seeing the Anime cars made into real-life cars.

English Production Interview: Itís a behind the scenes look of the cast and crew of the English speaking team who brought the film to life for American audiences. Interviews with the voice actors behind the English version, of which you wonít recognize because theyíre voice actors and not screen actorsóbut itís still a cool little feature to check out, especially the difference between the Japanese voice actors and the American voice actors. Oh, and itís all subtitled in English in case you want to read it as well as hear it.

Mitsihisa Ishikawa (Production I.G.) Interview: A conversation with Mitishisa Ishikawa and the development of the GHOST IN THE SHELL series and how it all came to light. An interesting feature, but probably more-so if you know who this dude is and if youíre big fans of the series.

Uchikomatic Days: a short animated movie featuring those Tachikomoa robots that everyone seems to love. This one has a mother robot hatching a bunch of eggs with will robots in them. All of the little robots are blue and one is greenóitís the ugly ducklingÖ with robots. Honestly, itís quite bizarre, but if you think these Tachikoma robots are awesome, youíll probably dig thisóI personally find them pretty lame, but maybe thatís just me.

Trailers: Check out the filmís trailer in English and in Japanese, as well as a buttload of other trailers from the GHOST IN THE SHELL series. Itís trailer madness around here!

Last Call
While not as engrossing in its conspiracies or as engaging in the Section 9 dynamics as its previous entry (THE LAUGHING MAN), SOLID STATE SOCIETY still manages to be a fairly solid romp into Anime sci-fi, with plenty of action, slick animation, and a storyline thatís more complicated and intricate than most. The special features on the Blu-ray are pretty solid and thereís plenty to check out, and (of course) the audio and visual aspects are phenomenal, making this a solid buy for fans of the seriesÖ but nothing Iíd suggest casual Anime fans should dive into just yet.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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