Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society Blu-ray Review
The last Complex Stand Alone chapter
Solid State Society, whilst a compelling addition to the Ghost in the Shell series, remains a slightly disappointing way to end it.Beyond the groundbreaking, classic first movie, Ghost in the Shell spawned a direct sequel, Innocence, as well as two seasons of an excellent TV series: Stand Alone Complex. Rather than a third season, the SAC saga concluded with a single, 100 minute feature-length chapter called Solid State Society. Whilst the franchise has since been rebooted in the form of a relatively recent series called Arise (which itself has had its own feature length movie conclusion) and is on the eve of being adapted for the Big Screen with Scarlett Johansson in the lead as the iconic Major Motoko Kusinagi, Solid State Society remains, chronologically, the final entry in the long-running saga.Two years after the climactic events that caused the Major to leave Section 9, a new master hacker is on the scene, called The Puppeteer, who appears to be the mastermind behind a series of forced 'suicides'. Tying into a case involving thousands of missing children, and a machine virus, the newly expanded Section 9 finds that their investigation leads them in the direction of The Major herself. Solid State Society, if a story-arc set across the TV series, would have been highly regarded, but as a 'standalone' film it has far too much ground to cover, with a suitably complex and philosophically dense, but ultimately slightly weak, narrative that remains a decent chapter, but a disappointing bookend.
Picture QualitySolid State Society gets a re-issue on UK Blu-ray in a package which is, ultimately identical to its 2012 release, sporting the same very good video presentation, housed on a Region B-locked disc courtesy of Manga Home Entertainment. Framed in the film's original widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition rendition supports the 11-year old animation very well.
This version is identical to its 2012 release
Line detail is strong, leaving a fine focus on the nuances despite an overall fluid, warm style in-line with the format of the SAC series. The colour scheme is suitably drab, popping with some nice lighting, but otherwise fairly restrained in its use of more vibrant tones. Black levels are strong and, whilst its not quite demo material by today's standards, it's a very good video presentation nonetheless, with really very little to complain about.
Sound QualityThe accompanying Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks are also identical, coming in the expected two flavours - the original Japanese audio and the English dub. Fans who have been following the series for its entire course in this format are probably quite used to the US voice actors picked for the parts.
The audio tracks are also identical
Whichever you choose, the dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the frontal array, coming through clearly and coherently and supported by excellent subtitles, whilst the score and effects tracks are tremendous. The score is unsurprisingly superb, giving the sporadic action sequences some real highs, and delivering a very engulfing background element that supports the feature. Effects are both punchy and precise, delivered across a well-designed soundscape to craft a highly immersive experience that remains a franchise high.
ExtrasSadly nothing new here
In case you're not familiar with the pattern, there's nothing new here either, with a half-hour Work World File headlining the supplements, that both recaps a lot of the key events from the series, and also bridges the gap between it and this feature. There's a Making of Tachikoma Robot, and some Uchikomatic Days clips, for those fond of these high-pitched comedy characters, and a Designing the Future Car featurette that looks at the collaboration with Nissan (which didn't actually yield any cars that went into mainstream production). There are also a couple of Production Interviews as well as a slew of Trailers.
Blu-ray VerdictA decent chapter, but a disappointing bookend
For those who want more Ghost in the Shell - particularly on the eve of the new movie adaptation - the correct order would be the original Ghost in the Shell movie; the sequel Ghost in the Shell: Innocence; the series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Season 1 and 2 (or, if you don't want to watch all 26 episodes of each, the feature-length movie 'edits' entitled The Laughing Man and The Individual Eleven) and then this, Solid State Society.
Despite this marking the first time that both The Laughing Man and The Individual Eleven have been released in the UK, the accompanying release of Solid State Society is just a re-release, right down to the artwork on the actual disc inside the case (which bears the same old art that was on the cover of the old release). So, literally, all they've done is changed the slipcover and casework art. Still, for those who haven't yet picked it up, it sits nicely in-line with the artwork for the other releases.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £10.99
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