Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society (UK - BD RB)
Marcus watches the feature length G.I.T.S. S.A.C. but this time in shiny HD
It's 2034, two years after the events of 2nd GIG, Section 9 field investigate several suicides by refugees from the Siak Republic. Claims that "The Puppeteer" is behind the attacks via hacks into the cybernetic brains of his victims, causing them to commit suicide makes this act of terrorism register on long departed from Section 9, Major Motoko Kusanagi who aids her old team in tracking down exactly what's going on and the infamous "Puppeteer".
Solid State Society came out, what seems like ages ago, 2006-2007 if I'm not mistaken, so to have an HD excuse to rewatch it here forced my hand a little. You see I love Ghost in The Shell: Stand Alone Complex a great deal, so much so I consider Major Motoko Kusanagi the greatest female character in all of sci-fi but Solid State Society never quite clicked with me. It felt slow, and way more talky than the TV series that came before it (and that is already a very talky show) and while I still liked it I was in no rush to go back to it.
Anyway, plugging in again here for this full HD experience, it took me a while to work out what my beef was with this feature length third entry into the S.A.C. TV series. The score keeps everything well paced, I love how the Major is reintroduced and despite the slower, talkier scenes in the middle, the pay off here is pretty, ahem, solid.
It reminded me just how much I love the world of Ghost in the Shell. Especially in S.A.C form. I can't think of many other future visions that are this well put together. The technology on show is mesmerising but always plausible and at the centre of it all the Section 9 are just great to investigate with, not to mention those super cool Tachikomas.
Production I.G. are just leaps and bounds ahead of anything that's made in the West. Their work in all of the Ghost in the Shell series is simply astonishing and to think it's all TV based for the most part is just amazing. This slow burning thriller is full of social, technological and everything in between views on how life would be given a cyber accepting future. I simply adore S.A.C. for all of that and the sooner Dreamworks get off their asses with the rights they acquired what seems like ages ago and we get a live action adaptation of this future sci-fi world, the better the world of sci-fi movies will be. Imagine live action Tachikoma... oh my.
This is not the slickest HD transfer. Images are sharp, well coloured and details in the artwork are shown off but the muted greys and blacks in the colour palette hold this back from really popping off the screen but with all that said this fits the mood of Ghost in the Shell perfectly really.
The image is a little softer than I expected if I'm honest. I'm used to seeing G.I.T.S. S.A.C. in standard definition (if not worse) and I half expected to be overcome with HD goodness here but this seems more like a simple upgrade that cleans up the already good looks of the largely TV based project. Plus G.I.T.S. S.A.C. is quite a hazy looking show anyway and that's a hard style to really show off when it comes to super sharp HD.
Highlights include some close ups on faces which are fantastically sharp and detailed. When Motoko is channelling the Puppeteer later in the film, the work on her frozen face, with her striking eyes and softly animated mouth fills the screen and it's hard not to be dazzled by it. Also some of the lighting in the night scenes is amazing to look at.
As I mentioned before, in this HD presentation it was the score that made this seem a more driven piece with quite a well moving pace. The punchy music delivers in both front and rear speakers to create a great atmosphere. Dialogue sits strongly in the front speakers and sound effects play in the left and rights very well. Clinking of guns and shuffling of feet all add a wide realistic feel to the audio mix and when all these elements are working together it's G.I.T.S. S.A.C. at its finest.
As the film gets more actiony towards the end, the wonderfully lively score gets even more impressive. The higher tones really do ring in the rear speakers and they seem to dance about quite effectively too. I never felt this on previous viewings like I did here and the audio mix is the real highlight in this upgrade.
'Work World File' (30:30 SD) is a making of as well as an overview of the entire world of G.I.T.S. S.A.C. This is a great overview of the characters and the situations in the series and just a great way to catch up and celebrate all that it's achieved.
The 'Making of Tachikoma Robot' (17:05 SD) is both amazing and depressing because the Tachikoma toys/robots on show here are amazing and I need one more than anything else in the world. In fact, it's not just the Tachikoma - every robot in this featurette, made in the Robot Garage, would be most welcome in my life.
'Anime + Car Design: Designing the Future Car' (24:09 SD). Features the Nissan as well as other cars in the feature, with the designers talking about what they aimed for.
'English Production Interviews' (09:03 SD) goes behind the scenes with the cast and crew for the American dub as well as asking them about their characters.
'Mitsuhisa Ishikawa (Production I.G) Interview' (08:43 SD) talks more about Production I.G.'s wonderful work on Ghost in the Shell
'Uchikomatic Days' (04:38 SD) is a fun littke Tachikoma animated short, highlighting the green versions in the show.
Lastly, there's the English trailer (01:54 SD), the Japanese trailer (02:50 SD), a trailer for The Girl That Leapt Through Time and Ghost in the Shell 2.0 as well as the BD Credits and English End Feature Credits.
Solid State Society isn't as strong as the first and second season of the anime show but being one feature length story as opposed to lots of very cool and largely great individual episodes offers a more in depth and focused story for the most part and a happy return to the world of Ghost in the Shell. The HD upgrade is totally worth it. It's a bit more subtle in the video department but the audio kicks ass. As for the features there's plenty but nothing new as far as I can tell.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 21st May 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Japanese
Subtitles: English Full Dialogue. English Text only.
Extras: Making of, Featurettes, Interviews, Trailers, Disc Credits
Easter Egg: No
Director: Kenji Kamiyama
Cast: Atsuko Tanaka, Osamu Saka, Akio Ohtsuka
Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi and Thriller
Length: 108 minutes
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