Guess Who's Back
My knowledge with Ghost in the Shell stopped with the Mamoru Oshii films, so I was honestly a little bit lost with all the background that the television series Stand Alone Complex had produced, that had spun off a television movie directed by Kenji Kamiyama. Solid State Society was released in 2006 as a television movie, but I suppose with 3D technology it was hard to pass up the chance to convert this into a 3D film meant for the commercial cinema. And to experience that (hey, it's Ghost in the Shell after all!) knowing the chances of getting lost in all references to its television series.
So to enjoy this fully, you can't back away from watching Stand Alone Complex, but that's my opinion anyway. Like me, I got away with sticking to known characters such as Major Motoko Kusanagi and Batou, and granted that they're in a new mission after someone, or something, known as the Puppeteer. We get reintroduced to the familiar Section 9 counter-terrorism task force, and begin with a suicide from a terrorist attempt at an airport, which follows more strange suicides, politics, kidnapping of thousands of children, and yes, a cybernetic network has got to be featured somewhere in a Ghost in the Shell story, this time involving elderly citizens and the systems used to monitor their needs.
As with all of the Ghost in the Shell movies, this one also had its own philosophical leanings, except that it failed somewhat in translating its discourse on screen, relying on plenty of talk, and more talk to bring ideas across. For the non-Japanese speaking like myself, this meant rows after rows of subtitles to read, and taking the eyes off the visuals for longer than comfortably necessary. What I thought was interesting was its square aim at aging population issues, and the state's interference in trying to control succession and wealth, which for anyone in this country would see the uncanny parallels between the reel world, and the real one indeed.
Animation wise there are no complaints, since it's work done by Production IG, which means meeting the bar set by earlier Ghost in the Shell films, and then some. For the 3D translation, it does take a while to get used to the depth of field presented, because this is frankly, animation done 2D style, so having that additional depth was jarring at first, before you'd soon disregard these changes once the story gets into the full swing of things, with characters investigating and getting down to the truth, which story-wise, was a bit of a challenge to overcome the constant drone of their discussions.
That, and probably it's way better to have started this off with background knowledge from the Stand Alone Complex series.