Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004) Review
Several months ago, I reviewed Ghost in the Shell (1995) and raved about its philosophical qualities and science fiction narrative. However, Ghost in the Shell: Innocence is no longer a personal story of existence. It is now part of a bigger narrative including humanity. What truly makes someone or something human? And ultimately, who decides? Innocence's plot goes beneath the cracks of society and uncovers the people blurring the lines between man and machine for their own personal desires.
Directed by Mamoru Oshii and produced by Production I.G. and co-produced by Studio Ghibli, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is a Japanese animated science fiction film. And the sequel to the highly-acclaimed Ghost in the Shell. Batou and Tagusa, agents from Section 9, are sent out to investigate a series of deaths due to the malfunctioning of sex dolls called gynoids. Soon, the investigation takes them down a rabbit hole of dolls and marionettes illegally outfitted with human consciences.
The atmosphere of the film is different. While Section 9 still investigates cybernetic cases, action scenes are seen less within the film. There are still moments of high-octane action, but it is in the context of drama and deep investigation. Better yet, two members of Section 9 (Batou and Togusa) are giving the limelight. One outfitted with many cybernetic upgrades and the other having very little. Their personalities are polar opposites which lead to a lot of intriguing moments.
Although a much different tone than the first, the director's style is very much intact. Scenes are giving great camera work. The animation is good with CGI complementing its science fiction elements. In addition, the existential talk and list-worthy quotes are jam packed in there. Some can be confusing, but all make sense if paid attention closely to the context of the scene. Nevertheless, I can't stress it any further that this is a more existential movie, more so than the original.
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is a "ghost in the shell" film from top to bottom. The existential and philosophical tones of the film is its best quality. And the discussion of humanity within machines is brought to the forefront and examined more closely. Kenji Kawai is back and the soundtrack is delightfully similar and nostalgic to the first. Furthermore, the story is allowed to branch out and cover other aspects of the G.I.T.S. universe.
Even though a sequel, this is a film that can definitely stand alone. And while the extra dialogue will make it seem slow, the film's payoff is way worth it. If you've never watched a Ghost in the Shell film, now is as good as any time to start.
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and available streaming platforms.