By Dave B.
Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 (Netflix), finds most of Major Kusanagi’s team working in the United States as mercenaries. When they are absconded by a secretive branch of the American government, they discover the emergence of the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced. At the behest of their American allies, Japan reconstitutes Section 9 the team is all that stands between the world and utter ruin.
I was a big fan of the original Ghost in the Shell series “Stand Alone Complex”. It combined unique tech-philosophies with solid animation and slick action. As a sequel, SAC_2045 utterly fails to match it’s predecessor in any way. The overriding problem with SAC_2045 is the character animation. Frankly, it’s awful. Just awful. It’s so bad that I nearly refused to watch any further than the first episode. The background animation is solid, but that’s little comfort when most of the characters’ faces have the emotional range of mannequins.
The plot is also problematic. What made “Stand Alone Complex” so compelling is it’s intellectual and philosophical depth. That’s largely missing in SAC_2045, at least through the first half of the season. Once the existential threat is introduced, the plot’s pace picks up and there’s a greater examination of the societal impact of the world’s pervasive (and invasive) technology. But frankly, the story takes much too long to develop.
On the positive side, most of the action sequences are good. The English dub voice cast from “Stand Alone Complex” is back and remains top-notch. And once the threat is finally revealed, it’s powerful enough, and interesting enough, to have been worth the wait for the reveal (almost). Those without any prior exposure the Ghost in the Shell universe may have some initial trouble understanding who is who and what is going on, but for the most part, the show is written well enough that new viewers should catch on to the broad strokes pretty quickly.
Overall, SAC_2045 is a huge disappointment, but it’s rarely actively bad. The animation style is not something I will ever like, but I can tolerate it when a show is good enough and SAC_2045 is (just barely and due to a strong second half). There will certainly be a second season of this show (with that kind of cliffhanger ending, there damn well better be!), and I’ll give it a chance. This season of SAC_2045 doesn’t stand alone well, but it’s clear that the show is trending in the right direction and season two could be closer to standards of high-quality storytelling and engaging philosophy that fans of the Ghost in the Shell are accustomed to.
Approx. Episode Length: 24 Minutes
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.