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Stream It Or Skip It: 'Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045: Sustainable War' on Netflix, The Uninspired Refresher No One Needed – Decider

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Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Sustainable War is actually a two-hour supercut of the first season of Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045, a series that launched two years ago on Netflix as part of the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex timeline. It’s meant to condense an entire season of a series into a recap of sorts.
That means you could feasibly view the movie instead of the original show to get caught up before starting a new season. Or you could just watch it to relive your favorite moments from the past season. It does its job on that front, but it begs the question: why does this need to exist, and why does it occasionally reorder the series of events introduced in the series? It’s a baffling release that doesn’t make much sense to debut at this time, and while it serves its purpose, it doesn’t really need to exist.
And yet, it does – in all its awful CG glory, with the very same unattractive character designs we saw when the show made its debut. That hasn’t changed (luckily the voice cast returns), but who exactly was this made for?

The Gist: The film, which is an amalgamation of the first season of the Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 anime series, takes place 11 years after Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society. In the year 2045, the world as we know it has been placed in a state of “sustained war”, with the threat of AI finally wiping out all of humanity remaining on the periphery of public consciousness.
What does that mean? Essentially, after an economic disaster known only as the “Simultaneous Global Default” destroys the value of all forms of currency the way we know it, the “Big 4” nations of the world simply remain locked in a neverending state of war at all times. That, in turn, keeps the economy chugging along the best that it can.
Major Motoko Kusanagi (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn), Batou (Richard Epcar), Togusa (Crispin Freeman), Ishikawa (Michael McCarty), and the rest of Public Security Section 9 are now mercenaries who work as contractors under the group “GHOST”. But when a bizarre series of beings called “Post Humans” start popping up all over the globe, former Chief Daisuke Aramaki (William Knight) has to get the gang back together for a Section 9 reunion that will have to figure out the conspiracy behind all of the Post Humans emerging to cause destruction across the globe.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Despite its jarring art style and strange character design choices, Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Sustainable War is part of the greater Ghost in the Shell universe. So there’s no doubt it will conjure the better, more cinematic pieces of the GITS puzzle, such as the original film or Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. But more so than films, it’s reminiscent of the much better Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, crafted with traditional animation and retaining the classic character designs for Major Kusanagi, Batou, Togusa, Ishikawa, and the rest of the gang.
Performance Worth Watching:: Richard Epcar reprises his role as Batou, one of Section 9’s best and brightest. He’s been giving Batou his gruff yet relatable personality for years, and he returns with the same zest for voicing the character in this film. Not only does he make Batou sound like the older partner anyone would want to work alongside, but he does an excellent job injecting life into a character that’s been a mainstay of the Ghost in the Shell narrative for some time. Given his extensive list of voice credits, it’s great to see he’s still every bit as capable now as he was years ago when he got his start. It’s just so pleasant to hear him back again with the rest of the crew.
Memorable Dialogue: “The way I see it, the more party people out here sustain-eering, the merrier.” During a firefight, Batou lets this priceless one-liner slip. It’s a lot more wordplay than he’d normally be keen to use, and that’s why his clever phrasing sticks with you. He’s unusually cheery in this moment, but you can probably chalk that up to being reunited with Section 9 and the people he loves to work with after such a long time.
Sex and Skin: While Major Kusanagi’s original costume as seen in Stand Alone Complex was a bit revealing, her new look leaves a lot more to the imagination. As such, there’s less skin, and no real sex to be seen here.
Our Take: There’s nothing inherently bad about this movie, but there’s no real reason for it to exist. It’s mediocre at best. While it does a good enough job condensing the anime series into one cohesive whole, it also takes liberties with the source material that don’t often make sense. The way it rearranges events that took place in the series make little sense, and trying to water down hours of content into two seems like a fool’s errand.
The result is a CGI vision of what could have easily been a traditional animated entry in the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex continuity. It feels similar to what’s been created in the past, but just like with the show on Netflix, it’s more like a cheaply-made, watered-down version of what we’ve seen in the past. The new character designs aren’t conducive to giving us the versions of Section 9 we know and love, the animation is choppy, and while the voices are fantastic, the script leaves a lot to be desired.
There’s not a new season of the series just yet, and Ghost in the Shell is a nuanced property that you really want to spend as much time as possible learning about its characters and world without skipping over all of the references and callbacks.
Our Call: SKIP IT. Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Sustainable War is a retread of content you’ve likely already seen if you’re a fan of the Ghost in the Shell series as it is. It doesn’t add anything to the story that you haven’t already seen in the show, and in fact subtracts some of the more intimate character-building segments, such as those seen with Togusa and other members of Section 9. If you want to see the story in its entirety, just go watch Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 and you’ll be more fulfilled in the end. And if you need something to tide you over until the next season, just go back and rewatch the original Ghost in the Shell films. You’ll end up being more fulfilled that way.
Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over a decade for publications like G4, Popular Science, Playboy, Variety, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, GameSpot, and more. When she’s not writing or gaming, she’s collecting retro consoles and tech. Follow her on Twitter: @MolotovCupcake.
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