Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

Cast:
Akio Ôtsuka as Bateau
Atsuko Tanaka as Major Motoko Kusanagi
Kôichi Yamadera as Togusa
Tamio Ôki as Section 9 Department Chief Aramaki
Yutaka Nakano as Ishikawa
Naoto Takenaka as Kim
Hiroaki Hirata as Koga
Sumi Mutoh as Girl
Yoshiko Sakakibara as Haraway
Masaki Terasoma as Azuma

Critique:
The original Ghost in the Shell was the first anime to have international backing and was the first major attempt to bring the genre to a larger US market. It failed in the theater but was a big hit on video and DVD paving the way for the second installment eight years later.

Innocence starts a short time after the first film ends. Bateau is still in Section 9 and he is now partnered with Togusa and there is still no sign of Major Kusanagi. A line of high end robots rebel against their owners and Bateau is tasked to find out what the problem is.

Director Mamoru Oshii has created another visually stunning film. Many of the computer generated sequences are state of the art, and the entire movie is very artistically crafted. The problem is that the film requires a fair amount of knowledge of cyber-punk in order to follow along. It assumes that the background of the world is known by the viewer and it could leave many people confused.

In addition to the lack of explanation of the environment, the main characters lack emotion. Bateau is portrayed very well as a cyborg that is more machine than man, but that also makes it hard to have any empathy with him. The dialog of the film is filled with quotes from philosophers ranging from Buddha to Nietzsche, all delivered in a flat monotone. It works for fans of the genre, but it probably will not grow that fan base any. The final stumbling block for most people is that the movie is in Japanese with English subtitles. Most anime fans will not be phased by this at all, but it is a major problem for many viewers.

Who should see this movie? If you liked the first movie, there is a very good chance that you will also enjoy the sequel. The graphics have been improved, the visual imagery is intricate, and Bateau is a fun character to follow. The references and links back to the original film are also a nice tip of the hat to the fans, but that also makes the movie even harder to understand for the uninitiated. There is no romance and minimal comedy. This is a dark future dominated by violence and action, interspersed with sweeping scenes of futuristic skylines and close in zooms of the mundane. Most people will either love the movie or hate it – it does not leave much room for middle ground. As a work of art that takes a hard look at Man’s interaction with the machines that he creates, it is a great film; as a casual movie to pass the time of day, it is a violent mess filled with incomprehensible psycho-babble. Just be ready for what you are getting into before you walk into the theater and you should not be disappointed.

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