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Published October 28th, 2005 | by Michelle Thomas

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence Review

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Inosensu: Kôkaku kidôtai) is the sequel to one of the most successful and innovative anime films of all time. Credited with influencing Cameron, Tarantino and the Wachowski Brothers, among others, Ghost in the Shell’s innovative technical and visual achievement and intelligent plot won a devoted fanbase.

Its 2032 and the few human beings remaining on Earth co-exist with cyborgs, human spirits inhabiting mechanical bodies, and dolls. Our hero, Batou (Otsuka), a cyborg detective for the government’s covert anti-terrorist unit, is charged with investigating the case of a malfunctioning ‘gynoid’ (a female sexbot) responsible for slaughtering its owner.

So far, so ‘I, Robot’ – and indeed Oshii’s script does owe something to Asimov’s three laws of robotics and to Philip K. Dick’s philosophical musings on the concept of robots having feelings, as well as conventional detective stories, but where it differs from your typical live action sci-fi thriller is in the sheer scope of its inventiveness, only achievable in animated form.

It looks absolutely sensational. Even the title sequence is amazing and memorable, womb-like and nightmarish (dolls are scary). The design throughout is incredible and is well-matched by the ideas that drive the provocative story – about what it means to be human when humans are a minority surrounded by equally human robots, cyborgs, and ‘ghosts’ – human spirits in artificial bodies, or seeming to exist only in cyberspace. Is the mind the only thing that makes a human being – what about the body? And would humans continue to be privileged over other life forms if they were no longer unique?

Batou has almost become a robot; his body has been mechanised, he shows no emotion except an extraordinary affection for his pet Basset Hound, and a longing for his former partner, the Major, who has chosen to become a ghost. The dog, which is fabulously real, helps to keep Batou in touch with that tiny core of humanity that he has almost lost. Working with him is a new partner, Togusa (Yamadera), who is mostly human, and has a family. The film also poses questions about humanity’s need for immortality, either through conventional methods of reproduction, or through the creation of dolls, with Togusa acting as the audience’s guide into this unfamiliar world.

The film is rich with cultural and philosophical references and, Matrix-like, leads us into a erudite wonderland, referencing Descartes, the Brothers Grimm, and Buddhism among others. If there was one criticism it’s the slightly portentous dialogue, though this may be the fault of translation. The voice work, by the original Japanese cast, is all fine, and the barks, slobbers and whimpers of Ruby, a real Basset Hound, particularly convincing. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence proves that its not only Studio Ghibli producing wonders in animated form.

Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence (2 Discs)

Both disks contain the movie however disk 2 only works on DTS capable system. Playback of both sound and video was stunning however you will only truly appreciate the improved DTS quality by using hi-end equipment rather than small lifestyle speakers that come with many 5.1 systems.

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