GHOST IN THE
SHELL 2

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GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE - 2004
USA Release: Sept. 24, 2004
Bandai Visual Company, Kodansha, Manga Video, Production I.G.
Rated: Argentina, Germany: 16 / Australia: M / Brazil: 14 / Canada: 14+ / Finland: K-11 / France: -12 / Italy: VM14 / Japan: PG-12 / Netherlands, South Korea, Switzerland: 12 / Singapore: M18 / Spain: 18 / Sweden, UK: 15

With GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE, Director and screenwriter, Mamoru Oshii (TALKING HEAD, GHOST IN THE SHELL, AVALON, ASSAULT GIRLS) continues to work off of Masamune Shirow's 1991 groundbreaking comic, KOUKAKU-KIDOUTAI aka GHOST IN THE SHELL.

There were many stories in that 300 plus page tome and even with a second movie, Oshii has only scratched the surface. This is mainly because Mamoru uses Masamune's stories as a launch pad to leap into realms Shirow never went.

For GHOST IN THE SHELL 2, Mamoru goes after the Hanka story. In this case, the company, Hanka Precision Instruments becomes Locus Solus, but the story is essentially the same. Pleasure bot "Gynoids" are attacking their owners. There has been death and substantial injury, yet surprisingly, none of the families are suing the company. What makes this more surprising is that a politician was killed. This alerts the attention of the secretive Section 9, under the lead of Chief Aramaki (Tamio Ôki: APPLESEED, GHOST IN THE SHELL). Aramaki assigns his toughest agent, Batô (Akio Ohtsuka: 3X3 EYES, DARKSIDE BLUES,GHOST IN THE SHELL, THE ANIMATRIX) a new partner, Togusa (Kôichi Yamadera: DARKSIDE BLUES, GHOST IN THE SHELL, COWBOY BEBOP, VAMPIRE HUNTER D: BLOODLUST, GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS, GODZILLA, MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK , GODZILLA: FINAL WARS, PAPRIKA, DEADBALL). In a world where there are very few un-enhanced humans, Togusa is mostly human whereas Batô is so artificial that even he isn't sure how much of the original him is left.

Questioning what's left of their humanity is a worry for some cyborgs like Batô, who attempt to stitch the philosophies of real ancient humans into their actions ranging from the mundane to the dangerous. Batô is well read and often quotes those philosophers who questioned what it means to be human. Is being human nothing more than being born of flesh? Togusa tries to keep up, but his life philosophy mainly focuses on his daughter. It is his child that keeps him connected to his own humanity and unlike Batô, Togusa does not welcome further enhancements.

Speaking of those artificial enhancements: In this future world of 2023, even factory re-created cyborgs have their mechanical parts re-constructed from their own DNA.

Togusa openly worries that he only isn't the kind of experienced fighter that Major Motoko Kusanagi was (from the first movie), but even if there never was a Major, he simply isn't physically equipped to fight alongside a powerful armored war machine like Batô.

For his part, Batô revels in his superhuman strength and reflexes. He's unafraid to attack a heavily guarded Yakuza house alone, facing a barrage of small arms fire, or stand in the direct blast of an explosion. At the same time, the single, childless Batô forces himself to not surrender his grip on humanity and become just another robot (a cross-over that happens with some frequency in this world). To this end, he maintains a largely realistic human physique (except for his eyes) and owns a high-maintenance bassett hound. Batô frets over the animal's care and emotional well being. In fact, he spends so much of his miniscule free time concerned over his dog (which is a metaphor for his own humanity and compassion), that he becomes a creature of habit. That's something extremely dangerous for a cyborg whose largely artificial brain can be hacked into and controlled with the right series of words.

While GHOST IN THE SHELL 2 is more visually sumptuous than its predecessor, it also bogs itself even further into long moments of an animated character utterly still, as if pondering the great questions. The thing about this is, while a really good actor could pull this off, 10 or more seconds of a still frame of animation doesn't.

There is extraordinary artwork, beauty, and visuals to be had in GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE. At first look it is stunning, but upon second and third viewings, it collapses under the weight of a very short 15 minute story stretched out far beyond its run time.

Three Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2011 E.C.McMullen Jr.

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004) on IMDb
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