Ghost In The Shell: SAC_2045 (Japan 2020)

Rating: **
Review Date: 12/19/20
Directed By: Kenji Kamiyama, Shinji Aramaki
Cast: Atsuko Tanaka

Season 1: 12 episodes
Following the collapse of the global economy, Major Motoko Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka) and the remnants of Section 9 (minus Togusa) formed a mercenary group called GHOST, which operates in the economy of "sustainable war." After being coerced into a suicide mission by the NSA, the team is rescued by Togusa and Chief Aramaki, and Section 9 is reformed in order to deal with the growing threat of "post-humans," which are a new cybernetic lifeform. Season 1 ends on an infuriating cliffhanger that leaves Togusa's fate a mystery.

Unfortunately, similar to "Appleseed XIII" (2011), the show's main disappointment is its clunky and uneven CGI presentation. The Tachikomas look fantastic and most of the mecha and vehicles look pretty good, but the environments are overly flat and look like a video game from ten years ago. The characters look even worse and are rendered with a strange and unattractive combination of cel shading and texture mapping. Even though a lot of the character movement appears to use motion capture technology, it still looks stiff and awkward. The action scenes are nicely scripted and choreographed, but the movements lack power, weight, and impact. Togusa emulates Bruce Lee at one point, which made me wince in disapproval. Major Kusanagi is a bad-ass throughout, but the toxically masculine egos and attitudes of the rest of the team put me off. On top of all that, the music is awful, which spoils the mood and sets an abrasive tone.

Russian illustrator Ilya Kushinov was responsible for the character designs in the series, and while I generally like his work, it feels at odds with the "Ghost In The Shell" universe. Even though she's a full-body cyborg and can choose whatever body she wants, Major Kusanagi looks a little too soft, cute, frail, and girlie for her character, and still wears her pants WAY too low. The whole pants thing really bothers me, and if it weren't for those, I'd actually find her quite attractive and endearing. However, the one thing this show does better than any other in the series is that it actually gets her hair right. None of the other "Ghost In The Shell" shows could pull that off, so maybe that's one benefit of using CGI? The other characters look bland and uninteresting, and Aramaki's hair looks downright embarrassing. Paz and Borma are introduced mid-season, but literally have nothing to do. There's also a new character at Section 9 named Purin, who is definitely a product of Kushinov's stylistic sensibilities and is unfortunately extremely annoying. She's mostly used for unnecessary comic relief and the show really goes downhill after she shows up.