WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1 of Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045, now streaming on Netflix.
Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 wades deeper than ever into the franchise’s mediations on cyber-terrorism. More specifically, how viruses affect the cyber brains of humans in robotic bodies. In the past Stand Alone Complex continuity, we’ve seen the Puppet Master and hacktivists such as the Laughing Man — along with so many others — using corrupt bits of micromachine software to kill off kids and curb the population; to put it simply: for war purposes.
However, while these could have been fixed by Sector 9, this new story kicks it up a notch by introducing the series’ deadliest and most unstoppable program ever. And it’s all courtesy of a deadly social justice app named Think Pol, created by a 14-year-old student named Takashi.
Major, Batou, Togusa and the rest of Sector 9 are tracking post-humans when they come across a string of aberrant murders in the country. People are being attacked by some invisible force, giving the impression they’re insane or seeing ghosts. Their cyber brains get fried as a result, and Sector 9 wonders if this is some side effect of the post-human virus that is making some of these human/machine hybrids more advanced.
However, when they discover the Peep Hole app, a trail of breadcrumbs leads back to Takashi. Peep Hole was made by impostors, which provides users online with a first-person perspective on Think Pol. The latter allows users to vote online via polls on which corrupt government officials they want dead. People vote in the millions and once the poll’s done, Think Pol allows each voter to send an invisible digital avatar to attack the target when, in reality, it’s viruses and malware attacking the cyber brain, killing the person. Peep Hole was made after students found Think Pol’s main code in a high-school, and these newbies are simply trying to gain cred for the Think Pol app by attaching their extension to it.
But Major’s team knows all about cyber-warfare and they eventually track Think Pol to Takashi’s home. In flashbacks, we see how he was bullied at school for being a nerd, and he sought solace in playing Airborne Fighters, a game about old-school Japanese bombers. However, Takashi was secretly building Think Pol all along. During his childhood, an actual Airborne Fighter he met gave him a copy of George Orwell’s 1984. This planted seeds of revolution in the kid’s mind and he fully turned against society when government assassins killed his little cousin, Yuzu, in a hit gone bad.
Since then, Takashi’s been perfecting the app because contracts are being given out to corrupt ministers, as well as their friends and family. Even Japan’s Prime Minister Tate (an ally of Sector 9) is targeted because Think Pol (a play on Orwell’s Thought Police) wants the public to think for themselves and hold the powers that be accountable. In fact, contractors who faked citizenship so they could use illegal immigrants as cheap labor in the Tokyo rebuild project are killed in violent fashion, while a pedophile teacher who preyed on Takashi’s crush, Kanami, is also slaughtered after the girl commits suicide following an affair with the teacher.
All of these things convince Takashi that he has to burn the old world down to build a new one. And just like V for Vendetta, he places power in the hands of the people. Even as Season 1 ends, Sector 9 can’t shut Think Pol down, they just know it exists. And the scary thing is their biggest asset, Togusa, while investigating, begins to sympathize with the cause as he too has become disenfranchised with the state of the nation. This shows how much insurrection is fomenting in Japan and Major knows an inexorable civil war is on their doorsteps. But, unfortunately, they’re no closer to finding a cure.
Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 is directed by Kenji Kamiyama and Shinji Aramaki. Season 1 is currently streaming on Netflix.
KEEP READING: How Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Sets Up Season 2
Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 reveals the franchise's deadliest program in the form of Think Pol, a brutal social justice app meant to fix Japan.