I watched Solid State Society (SSS) immediately after I wrote my Innocence article. If you haven’t seen GITS2 Innocence yet, I might spoil part of the movie, so be forewarned.
When we arrive in 2034 for SSS, we see how disjointed Section 9 has become without her. Batou is colder, more distant. Togusa has inherited the Major’s position and is struggling with all that entails. Aramaki has hired several new recruits so Section 9 no longer has to resort to solving one case at a time using 100% of their effort, rather focusing on solving three with 80% effort. Section 9 understands they can’t simply replace Motoko and instead have to figure out how to move forward without her.
I don’t know who decided to leave Motoko out of Innocence or why the decision was made, but it was brilliant. SSS takes place in 2034, two years after Motoko goes off the grid and the events of Innocence take place. In the span of these two movies, you really see how hard Section 9 is hurting—not only from losing their commander, but a dear friend. Her fleeting appearances in Innocence aren’t so much to show the audience the return of Motoko, but the impact of her return.
In SSS, Section 9 is investigating a string of terrorists who have started killing themselves, all with a tie to someone named “The Puppeteer.” As the investigation advances, Section 9 discovers that over 20,000 children have gone missing, but have not been reported as such. When Batou runs into Motoko at a place of interest, suspicion arises that she may be the Puppeteer.
This is by far the darkest entry into the Ghost in the Shell canon. The questions it poses to its audience aren’t philosophical, but moral and ethical. You know a movie has flipped you on your head when you’re asking, “Wow, was it actually good that these kids were kidnapped?”
I’m not sure if this movie was intended to bring closure to this series. It was made in 2006 and was the last entry until Arise released in 2013. But even then, Arise is a prequel to the entire Ghost in the Shell catalog. It vaguely felt like closure to me, and I wish there was more.
That being said, SSS is absolutely worthy of your time and a fine entry in Ghost in the Shell lore.
The live-action version of Ghost in the Shell comes out on March 31. Save me a seat!