Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

Upon its initial release nearly ten years ago, Ghost in the Shell changed the way Americans looked at Japanese animation. It helped spark the craze in anime that continues today, bringing over more Japanese movies and anime series and influenced the way that American companies designed their own animation. Anime fans nearly deified writer/director Mamoru Oshii (Avalon, Ghost in the Shell). Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence arrives with huge expectations that will undoubtedly not be met after viewing. Worse, for people who have not seen the first one will have no idea why it was such a big deal.

The world of Innocence is a dirty, dystopian urban nightmare where humanity ponders what is left of its soul. It only takes place thirty years from now, but technology is so advanced that people can transfer their 'spirits' into machines, and in essence become cyborgs. Other, less sophisticated robots exist for all sorts of purposes, including sexual pleasure. The philosophical question that Oshii asks is how human can a person be, if that person is nearly all mechanical? What does it mean to be human? Innocence endlessly asks these questions and delves so far into them that sometimes it feels more like a discussion in a college philosophy course rather than a movie.

In this sense, Oshii creates an interesting meditation on what it means to be human. However, it does get pretty dull quickly. While it can be fascinating material to go through, it is very dense, and Oshii doesn't do anything to make it easy to sit through. Unfortunately, Innocence take a funereal pace as Batou (voiced by Akio Otsuka, Tokyo Godfathers, The Animatrix) ponders his very existence. Batou is investigating a series of murders. Gynoids are killing their owners, then self-destructing. Even stranger is that when he hunts one down, it whispers "help me" just before it explodes.

The story is purely secondary. It doesn't really matter what happens, and if one really does care, then they will forget it because the story is so slow. The animation is the reason to watch Innocence. This is a beautifully rendered movie, combining hand drawn animation with CGI. And on this point, it combines the two really well. There are many shots with backgrounds in CGI and moving characters drawn traditionally, and it is not as awkward and obvious as before. The animation is so good that it does make up for the pacing of the rest of the film.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 39 minutes, Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, and brief language.

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