This weekend I review Mamoru Oshii’s second outing on Ghost In The Shell. Fizko reviewed the first movie, now it’s my turn with the second. Does this one address some of the problems with the characterization, if not the pacing of the first (though, I liked the pacing of the first, particularly some of the Blade Runner-esque shots of the city, but I digress). On with the review!

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Akio Ohtsuka as Batou
Atsuko Tanaka as Motoko Kusanagi
Kouichi Yamadera as Togusa
Tamio Ohki as Aramaki
Yutaka Nakano as Ishikawa
Hiroaki Hirata as Koga
Masaki Terasoma as Azuma
Naoto Takenaka as Kim
Sumi Mutoh as Girl
Yoshiko Sakakibara as Harraway

Written and Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Animated & Produced by Production I.G & Studio Ghibli.

Premise

After a series of brutal murders by gynoids – androids created as robotic prostitutes, leaves two politicians dead, Batou and Togusa are assigned to investigate the murders to determine if they may have been an act of terrorism. Batou’s mind though is still on the disappearance of The Major (from the previous movie).

High Point

This film is absolutely gorgeous, and particularly with some of the CGI here. It’s noticeable, and can kick me out of the film at times. It works though, and the 3D elements allow for some very nice camera work. There’s also a lot more character development here than from the first movie, though some of it’s a matter of the philosophy being spouted defining the character – though I could argue that spouting philosophy != character depth, but that’s a different matter.

Also, the Ghost Hack scene is fantastically done. It also entirely sold me off getting a cyberbrain.

Low Point

The philosophical points of the movie can grate a bit. Having seen Oshii do humor in Patlabor, having the film be this gorram serious and laying on the philosophical discussion of what it means to be human, and so forth is actually rather annoying. It actually gets to the point where we get one of the characters (Togusa) all but saying, “Hey, look, can we get back to the plot now!”

The first movie felt like it was set, not 30 minutes in the future, but perhaps an hour or two in the future. It was different, but recognizable. None of that recognizability is there here. It could be set 100 years in the future, 200 years in the future, or even on Mars. There’s nothing to anchor to and say “That’s Earth.”

Also, a bit of a nitpick – Togusa’s kid looks like she’s 50.

Nudity and Violence

There’s a fair amount of nudity, but as in the first movie, it’s not done to arouse as much as draw attention to the fact that the figures in question don’t have a human body as we’d think of them. There is also a lot of violence here. Not for the kiddies.

The Scores

Originality: It’s a sequel, but it’s stepping well outside of the lines drawn by the original work, both in terms of atmosphere, tone, and even the setting (the city of Ghost in the Shell 2 is unrecognizable from the city from the first movie in almost every way). 4 out of 6

Animation: As I mentioned under my high point, this is a beautiful film. I wouldn’t say that it’s Oshii’s best film in terms of animation (thus far I’d have to go with either Patlabor 1 or the first Ghost In The Shell) but it is a great film. 5 out of 6

Story: It’s a good story, there are some leaps to the detective work that I’d define as “thin”, but otherwise the detective elements are good, the character-driven parts of the plot are good, and it does this fairly well without any of the political stuff from the first movie (not that there’s anything wrong with political stuff), focusing instead on the philosophy. 4 out of 6

Voice Acting: The voice acting is very nicely done, and I can reasonably say that none of the characters performances are bad, nobody over-acts too much. 4 out of 6

Emotional Response: Most of my concerns were for Togusa more than any other character – Batou’s the main character so he can’t die until the end, if they’re going to kill him. Even then, they cut back on some of the jeopardy by giving him cyberware, though nothing as fantastic as Batous. The film also did a excellent job selling me off of Transhumanism, just with the Ghost Hack sequence, though I don’t know if that was intentional or not. 4 out of 6

Production: Overall, aside from the animation and voice acting, the sound design is great, and the music is top notch, with some new themes in particular, as well as an entirely new jazz piece. 4 out of 6

Overall: It’s different from the first movie. It’s about twice as long as the first movie, the environment is very different, and the way the film is told through visuals is extremely different, though in part due to technological developments in animation. I still liked it. 4 out of 6

In total, Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence receives a 29 out of 42.