Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Season 1 and 2 Review
When I was younger I passed up on watching Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex when it originally aired in the early 2000s. I had preconceived notions about the show without having seen it. Things like “The anime movie was perfect why watch the show?” type of things. So I never ended up watching it even years after having known it was actually well received.
Fast forward several years to 2020 and Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 is released on Netflix. This one caught my eye because the character designs were done by Ilya Kuvshinov. If you’re unfamiliar with him he’s a Russian artist who has a very distinct anime style, so I was very excited to see his design on the show. My excitement was dampened, however, once I saw the teaser trailer that showed it was going to be computer generated rather than hand drawn. So I dismissed the show for a second time just based on the trailer that I thought was ugly thinking the rest of the show was going to be bad as well.
May 2022 rolls around and it turns out the show received a second season which was a surprise since it’s a Netflix show and the lukewarm reception from the audience. But I decided to take the plunge. I’m glad I did because I think the show is actually pretty awesome.
The show takes place in 2045, three years after a global economic collapse bought upon an idea thought up by an AI called “The Sustainable War.” The Sustainable War is a concept of war as an industry, keeping a perpetual war between nations to make the economy boom but of course the opposite happened and instead paved the way to human extinction. Major Kusanagi and section 9 members are introduced as mercenaries taking out insurgent hot spots, byproducts of the sustainable war. They are later introduced to a bigger threat to society, post-humans, humans who’ve had their cyberbrains infected and now have abilities beyond advanced artificial intelligence.
The show seemingly starts off on an awkward foot but most of the first season is a setup to show you what Major Kusanagi is up to and then the main meat of the story about trying to stop the post humans from wiping out humanity. The show reminds me of something like a Matrix meets Blade Runner or Terminator Salvation (but in a good way) type of thing. The further you get along in the series, such as the second season, the show really takes off into something special.
As for the animation and look of the show that had initially repelled me, I think it works well. I think the early episodes are a bit off-putting at first but as the show progresses the more you can see that what they’ve achieved could probably only be done with computer graphics. So while it might be a bummer at first to not see this animated in a traditional 2D way I think that feeling subsides rather quickly. The illustrated character artwork translates fairly well to 3D. It’s not completely CG (like a Pixar style) and has a cell shaded look to the character faces to retain a somewhat anime appearance in a 3D environment. In any case just like the story of the show, the animation only gets better in the second season.
It’s probably important to view this series with an open mind. Prejudice can blind you from what is a quality show. In the end not only did Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 have an interesting story but Ilya Kuvshinov’s character art was able to shine through the translation to the 3D medium. I cannot speak to how it stacks up against previous shows but I was entertained by what we were given and I would be willing to watch more if they plan to continue the show.