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
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.
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"