September 17, 2004 by W. Blaine Dowler
This sequel to an anime classic is finally out on
this side of the pond.
September 17, 2004 @ 7:14 am
but WHERE IS IT ?
Yahoo! Movies, which is usually pretty comprehensive, can’t find a showing of this movie anywhere within about a hundred miles of me. I’ve checked all the major and even minor cities, including Saint Louis (not a great big city, but just diverse enough that they usually get just about everything, somewhere), and nothin’.
Okay, on the official-ish distributor site they have a list. It’s not coming anywhere near me for another two weeks. Spammit.
September 17, 2004 @ 11:53 am
Re: but WHERE IS IT ?
It is here in Nashville, TN! We have been getting the last few major Anime openings. It seems I no longer need to drive the four hours to Atlanta! Now the question is do I go see it tonight, or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow! Choices, choices.
September 17, 2004 @ 2:34 pm
Re: but WHERE IS IT ?
If you live within 100 miles of Saint Louis, I cannot imagine considering it a “minor city.” There is NOTHING in Illinois, Iowa, or Missouri as far as cities larger than Saint Louis within 3 hours of the bi-state area.
But, at any rate, I would check the Tivoli Theatre in Saint Louis (It’s on Delmar in the Loop). They quite often have the more ecclectic films. They show foreign films, anime, indie, etc. Worth looking up at any rate.
September 20, 2004 @ 7:10 pm
Re: but WHERE IS IT ?
I’m well aware of the Tivoli. I hate the neighbourhood (waaaaaaay too pretentious for my taste) but I accept it. GitS2 is supposed to be there in another two weeks.
September 20, 2004 @ 8:04 am
A review I posted to Everything2
Blatant plug: For lotsa reviews etc, see E2 itself!
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is a direct sequel to Mamaru Oshii’s
Ghost in the Shell. Like the original, it is a screen adaptation of the
manga by Masamune Shirow. It was released in the U.S. by Production I.G. on
Friday, September 17th, 2004 in ‘select cities’ – and since mine was one of
those, off I went with cash in my hot li’l hands.
The film clocks in at 99 minutes, which feels just about right. I’ll offer some
general impressions first, followed by some more detailed observations – so
if at any point you think I’m telling you things you’d rather not know yet, stop
reading and go see it. I’ll wait. I’ll try not to offer true spoilers, but one man’s
spoiler is another man’s context, so YMMV. I do assume you’ve seen the first
As I mentioned, the film is a true sequel. The action takes place some time
after the original film leaves off, and is mostly concerned with Agents Bateau
and Togusa of Section 9. Their enigmatic Chief Aramaki makes appearances,
as does their colleague Ishikawa. As we are told early on in the film through
dialogue, The Major is listed as ‘missing’ on official records. Bateau is still
apparently the only one who knows the whole story on her disappearance.
This movie follows the same sort of pattern as the first – there is a general
plot, concerning a crime or series of crimes committed by a shadowy
adversary. On top of that, there is a fairly deep philosophical question that is
explored somewhat obsessively. The dialogue is rife with quotations from
various writers and philosophers, ranging from Descartes to Confucious to
Shakespeare and the Old Testament, with all manner of uncredited proverbs
and others thrown in. The characters spend entire conversations just tossing
quotes at each other. This makes the actual progress of the movie somewhat
difficult to follow on the first sitting, especially if you are viewing the dialogue
as subtitles (as I was). I still prefer subtitling to dubbing, however; the native
(original) voice talent is noticeably superior to the English voice talent used
for the dubbed versions of the first film.
The animation is fascinating. There is an enormous quantity of CGI
the film, but very little of it is whole-scene; in most cases, the hand-drawn
characters move through obsessively photorealistic CGI-rendered scenery,
looking eerily out of place, almost like the Ghosts the title invokes. Their
muted tones and simple shading differentiates them from their surroundings,
which are sometimes so sharp-edged as to be almost painful (to wit: the
convenience store). Vehicles are a mix; there are anonymous non-central cars
which dart in and out of darkness and rain, but there are also the main
characters’ vehicles, which inexplicably have become almost fetishistic.
Bateau drives what appears to be a replica of a 1950s Chevrolet, as near as I
can tell. Ishikawa drives a Duesenberg J replica. Even Togusa’s drab sedan is a
classic car rather than the blandly ultramodern conveyances preferred by
Section 9 in the original film and in the TV series. Besides being sometimes
CGI and sometimes obviously hand-drawn, some of the cars sport mirrored
surfaces, further confusing the world they zip through.
Around two-thirds of the way through the film, just as in the first, there is an
‘intermission’ of sorts which is devoted to pure eye-candy – an aerial and
street-level tour of the ‘northern frontier’ region, a lawless extra-sovereign
data haven which happens to be sporting a mammoth festival as our
protagonists pass through. Gigantic puppets and false ships pass through
classically anime streets lined with impossibly tall and somehow gothic
skyscrapers, people observing from Gernsbackian balconies and skyways
along the route as Blade Runner-esque displays on every flat surface trumpet
not only the action on the floats but the latest pills and gadgets. The sensory
overload is palpable, driving even the characters on screen underground to
escape the clamor.
After this point, the philosophical angle of the plot picks up. Deliberate
blurring of reality and hacked memories implanted directly into the ‘e-brain’
of various characters, confusion between people and robots (“gynoids”) – all
fairly familiar to any aficionado of the genre, but handled with care and
reverence by Oshii and company. The film raises some questions that will stay
with you after you leave – not about what happened, which is fairly well
wrapped up, but about what didn’t happen. Or, if you prefer, about what may
or may not have happened. The games start there, and I suspect will only get
worse until I can get my hands on a DVD copy and watch it enough times to
be able to ignore the subtitling and pick up on the many important bits that
Oshii likes to drop in around the periphery of the visual field.
None of this is to say the film stints on action. While there is less humor than
in the first, perhaps, there is a goodly quantity of familiar combat sequences,
well done and tightly choreographed, interspersed with the virtual combat of
computer network intrusion that anyone who saw the first film will be familiar
with. Bateau has certainly not lost his taste for obscenely large weaponry;
Togusa still has his old-fashioned revolver (despite what the Major told him
in the first movie) and is still ‘mostly human.’ Folks that have watched the TV
series will perhaps feel more at home, as the plotline seems to feel more like
an expanded episode of the series than a continuation of the first movie;
however, when paired together, the two make a satisfying match.
The Major? Well, you’ll have to see it. I did say it was about Bateau, after all.
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Story: Masamune Shirow (manga) and Mamoru Oshii
Runtime: 99 mins
Released: 2004 (Japan, US)
Sound mix: DTS / Dolby EX 6.1 Languages: Japanese, Cantonese
(English Subtitle) MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence
(Thanks to IMDB for the technicals)
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