Written and Directed by Mamoru Oshii
March 6, 2004 (Japan)
Voice Cast (Depending on Version)
- Batou-Richard Epcar
- Motoko Kusanagi-Mary Elizabeth McGlynn
- Togusa-Crispin Freeman
- Daisuke Aramaki-William Frederick Knight
- Ishikawa-Michael McCarty
- Kim-Joey D’Auria / Travis Willingham
- Haraway-Ellyn Stern / Barbara Goodson
- Koga-Robert Axelrod / Fred Sanders
- Azuma-Erik Davies
- Forensics Chief-Terrence Stone / Loy Edge
- Lin-Robert Axelrod / Doug Stone
- Rescued Girl-Sherry Lynn / Laura Bailey
- Katsunari Wakabayashi-Richard Cansino / Steve Kramer
In 2032 a series of deaths involving gynoids-doll-like sex robots-with no clear cause is believed to be murder and Batou and his new partner Togusa are tasked with investigating.
The story kicks off because of murderous sex robots. Yes. Definitely a different type of story starter but then again Japanese animation tends to tackle more adult or unique things than the vast majority of Western film in general does. It gets a little weird and a little disturbing perhaps during the course of the film.
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (simply Innocence in Japan) is much heavier on the talking than its predecessor. Not that the original was light on conversation, but the action kept moving in that one when they talked. When discussions break out here the story just stops. It does not blend in as well.
Heavy discussion and deep philosophy are not bad things and an animated film with such things is always welcome, but the story just stops when the characters are talking. They just yammer away and it does not necessarily serve to move the story forward. The philosophy of the moment gets framed though. You are left with something to think about at times but not necessarily in direct connection to the film.
Innocence touches on Zen philosophy, elements of fantasy and morality. There are quotations sprinkled throughout the film from the likes of Buddha, Confucius, Descartes, the Old Testament, Richard Dawkins, Plato, John Milton, and so many more. Name another animated (or even live action) film like that?
Much like the first Ghost in the Shell this movie is a visual feast. This feels like they are replicating a real world. There is an unusual level of detail down to the minutia. There is a distinct sense of realism to the weapons as well as the movement of the characters. That is certainly something they did well in the first film, and they do so again here. It helps the viewer when it comes to buying in to the story.
The Major is largely missing from the narrative with the character of Batou taking center stage. He steps into the role filled by the Major with Togusa becoming more prominent as Batou’s new partner. Batou gets humanized a little with a pet dog-an aspect of the character that was folded into the live action adaption of the first film. There is a lot of time spent on this dog and the discussion of its food. Seriously. Nobody focuses this much time on dogfood ever.
While largely missing from the narrative the Major does show up in the finale to aid her old partner Batou. At that point it becomes a bit of a shoot ‘em up.
It is implied at various points to one extent or another in Innocence that Togusa’s family may be a work of fiction by this film’s hacker. At least that was what I came away with. This bit does not get built up too much which is unfortunate. I would have liked to see it played with during the film with no clear answer one way or another. At the end we do get an answer.
You know, I just realized we know very little about Batou before the events of either film. His life is largely a mystery yet there is no need created by the narrative to give us information. The character and story in both cases is crafted in such a way that his past really does not matter to the story. No mentions of wives or girlfriends or much of anything.
Ultimately though Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is a good story that it is also visually stunning. While not as good as the first film it does tackle deep issues and significant portions of philosophy. This is a watch it!