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Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence
DVD disk
01.18.2005 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence order
Director:
Mamoru Oshii

Actors:
Akio Ôtsuka
Kôichi Yamadera
Atsuko Tanaka

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Years from today, Detective Batou (Akio Ôtsuka), a part human-part cyborg member of an elite anti-terrorism unit is assigned to investigate a string of gruesome murders committed by robots against their owners. Along with his new partner Togusa, Batou follows his leads all the way to an offshore robot manufacturing rig which is installing a very secret – and absolutely ghastly – component in their product.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?

Terrible memories… That’s all I could think of while removing the cellophane wrapping from this DVD: the terrible memories of my experience with GHOST IN THE SHELL’s first installment. I remembered pressing “play” on my DVD-player, watching twenty minutes of the flick then getting up, ejecting the disc and putting it away, taking care never to mention this again to anyone. That was over a year ago and time had healed my wound. I wasn’t too eager to watch INNOCENCE after that but I did, figuring I would repeat the experience and be ready in time for dinner which – naturally – was only twenty minutes away. It didn’t really work out that way though and to my great surprise, I liked it.

Now I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to animé, japanimation and stuff like that and I certainly didn’t have any prior knowledge of the manga books which inspired the films. I’m not sure just how close they’re related so all I could do was take a look at this from a stand-alone movie sort of way. From that point of view, INNOCENCE was more of an experiment than a story. For starters, I really liked the animation style that blended different methods together. I’m no expert but from what I could tell, I spotted some standard 2D cell animation, CGI and live action, all mixed together in the same frame in varying proportions, well used to emphasize certain parts of the movie and to change the place when necessary. Even if I didn’t really latch on to many of the subtleties in the plot, I at least always had something cool to see on the screen. The two scenes that really stood out for me were the shoot-out in the yakuza hangout and the heroes’ arrival by plane near the robot manufacturing rig. Simply amazing.

Story wise, INNOCENCE was pretty well laid out in the first few minutes. At least I got to figure out who the main characters were and what their general role was which something is I never even saw hope for in the first movie. There was a lot of techno-chatter which lent the film some geeky mystique but which shouldn’t scare you away. It was mostly garnish, meaning you’ll be able to follow even if you’re one of those simpletons who don’t understand the fine workings of the electrical nanocurrents circulating within the core of an e-brain. I know the Japanese have been doing this for years but I still get amazed at how gutsy they are in using animation for really complex plots. I heard an animator say once that unlike Europe and North America, animation isn’t really considered a separate medium than live action in Japan but rather simply another category of movies, much like we would distinguish between comedies and action movies. That makes a lot of sense considering the subject matter that’s usually involved, which definitely doesn’t target the SHREK crowd.

Some will also be able to draw a number of parallels to Isaac Asimov's gloomy I, Robot during which a robot, having become sentient, disobeys its programming and commits murder, a tale which explored the blurring of lines between man and machine as man relies more and more on computers. INNOCENCE, in that aspect is even more thought provoking than the recent I, ROBOT film which dealt with a similar topic. The main difference being that while Asimov maintained a clear line between humans and robots, INNOCENCE sees a mixture of humans and robots within one body. If anything, this movie at least leaves you with something to think about. If you don't feel like thinking, then at least you'll be able to take comfort in having seen some cutting edge animation serving as a vehicle for what is a pretty darn good story.

THE EXTRAS

There's not much but what's there is decent. TO begin with, you have a Full Length Commentary Track by Writer/Director Mamoru Oshii and Animation Director Toshihiro Nishikuro. It's a Japanese audio / English text track that goes non-stop from beginning to end and if you can keep up with the text, you'll find lots of information about the film and the story. I remembered the commentary track from FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN while I was listening to this because It had given me the same impression: Japanese filmmakers are nuts and I want to hang out with them for an evening and hit the first sake bar! After the commentary track, you can watch (and read!) The Making of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, a 15-minute long documentary including commentary from the filmmakers and stars. It's standard and the most noticeable fact I drew from it was that Akio Ôtsuka, the man who voices Batou looks just about as badass as Batou himself! Lastly, you'll get the Japanese Theatrical Trailer in which you'll be able to hear a sample of "Follow Me" , a great song written for the movie and performed by Kimiko Itou.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I didn't think anything would ever happen that would make me want to revisit the first GHOST IN THE SHELL but it looks like INNOCENCE helped me "get it" a bit more. I'm quite certain hardcore animé fans won't wait for my recommendation to stock up on multiple copies of this but for the average "man on the street", I'd like to suggest a purchase simply because a couple of viewings might be required to really grasp the whole meaning of the movie. It's not for everyone though so if you're usually more conservative in your tastes, give it a rental shot first.
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