Kôkaku kidôtai: Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society (2006)

Kôkaku kidôtai: Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society

Director: Kenji Kamiyama
I'm quite a big fan of Masamune Shirow, though I haven't seen much of his recent work. I was first exposed to his intelligent and mildly titillating style in 1994 with Dominion: Tank Police. What was great about that series was the comedy, aesthetic genius and hot chicks. Ghost in the Shell came out the following year and was incredible work. Though a bit complicated for the youngster I was at the time, there were at least loads of tits.

This latest and third movie is pretty damn slick. I haven't watched the Stand Alone Complex series', but the story was engaging and thought-provoking regardless.

I'm really interested in concepts of the cyborg, and visions of the future. I'm not convinced by the idea of downloading a personality into a computer, but most of Shirow's work makes interesting observations of the social problems which would accompany such a move.

The story in this installment is particularly interesting, and follows an attempt by a person or persons unknown to solve political and social problems by manipulating cyber-brains through the global network. Far too complex to waste time explaining, it makes for a great 100 minutes.

The animation is superb, on the most part. The characters and backdrops are awesome, yet occasionally suffer from blatant CGI-ness. Smooth and beautiful it may be, but like the second Appleseed film, it just doesn't look right. Animation is not live action or CGI or any combination of the two, and a degree of difference is what makes each media interesting and fluent. For me, that aspect of this feature was whack, and distracting. Also, CSI-style shaky-cam in anime?? Rubbish.

The music is very good, though not quite as good as the first film, and there is a diabolical song in the first 10 minutes that made my arsehole close-over. Otherwise, the awesome Yoko Kanno (Macross Plus) goes beyond mood-music and achieves an awesome synthesis.

There's a reasonable helping of Shirow sexiness, though not enough. Needs more greased up babes. His trademark cool style in mecha and costume design remains strong, without succumbing to Matrix-style pansy over-styling. The film could have done with more comic relief, however. Shirow is a very funny guy, and this series of films has never really allowed that to find a place. Shame.

The direction is good, though makes obvious what an influence Mamoru Oshii's (Patlabor, Jin-Roh) personal style had on the direction and attitude of the films. That's no bad thing, as he is one of the all-time great directors. It would, however, have been nice to have seen some more impressive personal touches from Kenji Kamiyama.

Essentially very good, though perhaps too engorged with the intellect of the last two films, and trying just that little bit too hard to be cool.

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