Koukaku Kidoutai: SAC_2045 (Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045) Review – The Return of an Icon


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The Return of an Icon

  • Episodes : 12
  • Genre : Action, Military, Sci-Fi, Police, Mecha, Seinen
  • Airing Date : Dates: April 23, 2020
  • Producers : Production IG, Sola Digital Arts
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Koukaku Kidoutai: SAC_2045 (Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045) Intro

The year is 2045 after big businesses manipulate and ruin the value of both physical and cryptocurrencies, numerous economies collapse and war has erupted around the world just to keep their economies going as big businesses reap in the rewards. Section 9 has since disbanded and its former members now work as mercenaries in war-torn Los Angeles. Regardless, Aramaki, their former commander, steps in to once again seek the help of our heroes to not only fight in the proxy battles of the Sustainable War, but the growing threat of post-humans, cyborgs with abilities that are beyond comprehension.

Why You Should Watch Koukaku Kidoutai: SAC_2045 (Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045)
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1. Original Seiyuu Cast

While Arise, the previous Ghost in the Shell installment uses new voice talent, SAC_2045 brings back the original cast from both the 1995 movie and Stand Alone Complex. In other words, Atsuko Tanaka is back as Motoko, Akio Ohtsuka is back as Batou, Koichi Yamadera is back as Togusa, and everybody else you can think of. Their individual performances and their chemistry are just as good as ever. Considering they’ve been playing these roles for the last 25 years, it really shows in the first episode that the characters have a history and that they trust each other.

2. Awesome Opening Theme

The closest thing to praise we can give to the CG is certainly in the sequence of the opening theme. Granted, its imagery has been done before, but it still gets the job done in appealing to viewers who are new and familiar with the GITS franchise. As for Fly With Me, the opening theme itself, it does an excellent job of getting to the point on what SAC_2045 is about, and the lyrics—singing it’s about money and how the 1% is ruining the world—givee an effective preview to what the series is about. The instruments are extravagant and in your face in a manner that perfectly captures the themes and atmosphere of SAC_2045.

3. Team Chemistry

What this series does best is show why Section 9 is such a great team. You see that they always have each other’s backs. While the team is initially a bit reluctant to officially work for the Japanese government again, they know their duty as law enforcement officers is what helps them pull through to get down to the bottom of the conspiracy. Not only is the team’s unity excellently emphasized through their dialog, but also through the action sequences on how they respond to each other’s needs.

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Why You Should Skip Koukaku Kidoutai: SAC_2045 (Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045)

1. Bad CG

The CG of SAC_2045 suffers in the same way as Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac, everything looks bland and lifeless. The hair might as well be a lego stick-on! Was the entire CG budget concentrated on the intro? The intro showing how the major is created looks really cool and it makes you excited that this is what the series could look like. However, it’s about as misleading as the old Atari 2600 game box covers. Granted, the characters are recognizable and true to the original designs, but the quality of the CG is just awful. The quality probably equals that of Beast Wars, a show from 25 years ago! As a 2020 release, it deserves the same level as, let’s say, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

2. Shaky Cam/Close-Ups

Bad CG is one thing, but what’s inexcusable is the use of shaky cams in action scenes, especially hand-to-hand! For live-action, we get that, but for something that is animated whether it’s 2D or 3D, that’s just unnecessary! It makes the action difficult to follow and can probably be headache-inducing. When doing animation, action should stick to keeping the frames still and have the range far enough for the audience to see. Shaky cams and close-ups are qualities that should NEVER be applied to animation, especially in action. It goes against what animation is supposed to represent, and that is how it captures the imagination in a way other forms of entertainment can’t! Plus, the framing is just way too close to the characters to the point that you can’t see a technique fully executed properly. After watching SAC_2045, we feel the animators should research pro wrestling to know how to shoot and frame fight scenes.

3. Lack of Individual Development

While this installment of Ghost in the Shell is very team-oriented, individual development isn’t much of a priority considering how previous versions have done an excellent job in that sense. Considering the pace and nature of SAC_2045, it still does a good job of showing that character development isn’t a high priority, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. SAC_2045 pretty much uses the tabula rasa approach in justifying a lack of character development. While Togusa and Batou get their own individual episodes, the episodes mostly just show new and old audiences who they are, not how they become better people.


Final Thoughts

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We feel the lack of character development is excusable considering the length and pace of the series. After many installments, perhaps it isn’t necessary, and that’s fine. What’s inexcusable is the quality of the CG. When looking at the ending credits with the characters in traditional 2D, they look amazing! We feel that 2D still has a place in the world of anime. We get it because of how the GITS franchise has always been about cyberpunk, but this is a case of don’t fix or add to anything that isn’t broken. What do you readers say? Please leave a comment!

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