The second in the series is featuring Shotaro Suga, already known as one of the main scriptwriters for the S.A.C. series. Suga wrote scripts for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society (S.S.S.) along with the director Kenji Kamiyama and Yoshiki Sakurai. "For S.S.S., we had put more emphasis on drama," he told us, looking back at the production. We asked him to tell us some behind-the-scenes stories while he was working on the script.
Part 2: Shotaro Suga (Scriptwriter)
"I always think of Kamiyama-san when I hear the title S.A.C. It started with Kamiyama-san and ends with Kamiyama-san."
Born in Tokyo on December 31, 1972. Scriptwriter. For Production I.G, he wrote in the S.A.C. series, Blood+ and Le Chevalier D'Eon. He also worked extensively for TV drama productions and feature films, including Kazuaki Kiriya's Casshern. He is an acclaimed scriptwriters for both live action films and anime.
"When I was first contacted about S.S.S., I thought, are those guys really going to do that again?"
"Don't take me wrong. I was delighted, but I also knew how tough it was going to be. At the same time, it was a project I couldn't pass up, so I was 50% thrilled with joy and 50% anxious."
Suga is quite frank about telling this. He has a look of someone content with a job well done and also proud of S.S.S., which emerged as an intricate and multifaceted anime.
"S.S.S. starts where S.A.C. 2nd Gig ended. From the very beginning we never took in consideration the option of making a side episode that could be set somewhere in the timeline between the first and the second season. We did not want to elude the fact that Motoko was no longer part of Section 9."
Instead of looking for easy compromises, the staff bravely picked up the on-going story of the S.A.C. series and built up an entirely new chapter from the continuity of that context. According to Suga, creating Kusanagi's character was the most challenging part of the scriptwriting.
"This might be misleading to some extent, but men are easy to understand. For instance, take Batou. For him, Section 9 only exists with Motoko. But is he so very innocent and simple as to run up to support Motoko? Sadly, he is. (lol) On the other hand, he quite understands his role in the present Section 9 and knows what he has to do. He sort of sways between the two values."
"Togusa leans more towards his responsibility than his own ideal. This is partly because of Aramaki's command. Togusa was in the past series portrayed as a rather excitable novice with a strong sense of justice. Instead, Togusa is now closer to Aramaki's position: crimes have not diminished, so they can't concentrate on searching for Major Kusanagi. In this sense, Togusa is more determined than Batou."
"But Motoko is different. This might sound cheesy, but she stepped out of Section 9 to search for herself. The meeting with Kuze had a decisive influence upon her. What Kuze intended to do was not totally dismissible to her and she had personal feelings for him too. As she became doubtful of what she was doing and lost her clear sense of purpose, she left Section 9. Does Motoko have a reason for coming into contact again with the members of Section 9? How do we pick up the psychological state of Motoko Kusanagi at the end of 2nd Gig and make her do a safe landing here? This was the most difficult part."
Amazingly, the director Kamiyama pointed out that one of the main themes for S.S.S. was the 'rebirth of Motoko Kusanagi.' That was to bring Kusanagi at the end of 2nd Gig back to the Kusanagi seen at the beginning of Shirow Masamune's original comic book. Coincidentally, Suga had the most grueling time with such 'rebirth.'
"If Motoko's values and ideals had drastically changed and left Section 9, she would have acted differently. Sort of like 'I am going this way and you will do whatever you want to do.' In fact, she is stronger than any of the members in that sense. But this movie has shown Motoko getting back to her original self again rather than showing that kind of strength. She is looking for a clue that would show her the path she has to take in the future."
We asked Suga what it was like to be working on the S.A.C. universe over the period of five years.
"For us, it's like playing tennis against a wall. Basically, the incidents that we put in the story are transmitted out of Kamiyama-san. He gives us topics. We start discussions on his basic ideas. Then we would just chat and chat, talk a lot of gibberish and at the end go back to the start. This is how the Kamiyama team works. As Blood+ was none other than the director Fujisaku, S.A.C. is all Kamiyama. I can't find other ways to express this."
(from 2nd Gig Episode 26: Endless Gig)
Where is Kusanagi going after leaving Section 9 in 2nd Gig? This is the must-see part of S.S.S.
"I think S.S.S. will be interesting for those who have watched the entire series behind this movie. I have talked with the director Kamiyama about how we could make it appealing for those who haven't. In the Kamiyama team, we talk about a sense of "contiguousness" that connects the present world with the S.A.C. world. We hope you will look at the issues that are portrayed in the series with that in mind. Of course you don't necessary have to be too serious, but these are not just somebody else's problems. It's an SF story, but we are raising points to consider in modern society. I think you will enjoy it more if you pay attention to these things."