The first Ghost In The Shell (1995) I remember was a magnificent treat for the eyes, but I saw it decades ago and have very little memory of its plot, so I won’t be talking too much about it here. Besides if all goes well I’ll be reviewing a blu-ray re-release of it next month. What I do remember about the movie in general was it centered on a woman, Motoko Kusanagi, who was entirely a synthetic being, with only her “ghost,” (aka soul) being the only human part of her remaining, and her partner, Batou, who was only partially cybernetic. Both belonged to Section 9, a police-type special unit. I can also remember something happening to her in the end where she ends up moving herself onto the net, leaving behind her robotic body.
The entire world of Ghost In The Shell feels like Blade Runner on steroids, which in this case is a good thing. In Ghost’s world every human has some kind of brain implant that allows them to share thoughts and ideas, so there are times in the movie where you’ll be watching characters “converse” without actually speaking. This also poses a bit of a problem if someone had the ability to hack you brain and implant a new idea or skew your perception of reality, which then begs the question what exactly is “reality” when you have a cybernetic brain? This pops up at one point in the movie, but it’s not a major plot point, it’s just something that happens from time-to-time if a bad guy gets the drop on you “cybernetcially speaking”. For a second I actually thought my disc had skipped back a scene and was repeating.
Once the movie revealed what was really going on I thought, maybe, they should have subtitled this sequel, Do Androids Dream Of Human Children. This high tech company called Locus Solus is known for making high end sex robots called gynoids, but in the last few years some of them having been “going rogue” and killing their owners in gruesome ways. Without Kusanagi in the picture, Batou is partnered with mostly human detective (save for that upgraded brain), Togusa. This leads them to a forensic specialist who tells them these specific androids may have some level of sentience within them, for the one Batou killed in the beginning tried to commit suicide before he filled it full of holes. It also spoke before it “died,” uttering “save us.” It’s eventually clear that Locus is doing something sinister with these new models. But how and why?
Before we answer that their leads bring them to the Yakuza and one of hell of an out-of-the-blue shootout instigated by Batou where everyone is pretty much killed. They are then led to a mysterious hacker who has deliberately shoved his mind inside a doll-like robot, During their interrogation Togusa is “hacked” and we get several Groundhog Day do-overs of their entrance and discovery of this hacker’s building and body.
Whatever’s happening is taking place in an underwater lab Locus uses to create their dolls, and no one has ever gotten in and out alive. Locus doesn’t mind doing business with people on “the other side of the law.” This is where Kusanagi comes back into the picture, uploading herself into one of the dolls in the just the nick of time as they all go loco and kill anyone in their vicinity. Being an “entity on the Net” she’s aware of a lot of things, like what Batou has been investigating. They have a “heartfelt” reunion, well, as heartfelt as Batou can get that is. He’s not an emotional person. But here’s the kicker. Locus has been using children, kidnapping them, putting them in these machines, duplicating their ghosts and shoving them into their sex dolls so as to give them a more lifelike countenance, but the process eventually kills the kids. So why were these gynoids killing their owners? A scientist in Locus’ employ didn’t like what they were doing so he skewed their programming so they would deliberately become homicidal, figuring the only way to get Locus busted would be to draw attention to the company. Not the best way to go about it, but you know what they say, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’
Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence has some truly great animation, there is, however, some CGI-ish augmentation, but I see that a lot in anime over years. Action animation is stellar as well, and I also loved the story.
This movie has had several DVD and blu-ray releases over the years and I suspect this new re-release was triggered by Hollywood’s big budget live action version, with Scarlett Johansson in the lead as Kusanagi, that’s set to come out next month. Back on February 7th Funimation released Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence in two versions: a DVD/Blu-ray combo and a stand alone DVD. Both can be bought here on Amazon!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—5.1 English Dolby TrueHD, 5.1 Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1—English subs only
Extras included . . .
- Audio Commentary With Director Mamoru Oshii & Animation Director Toshihiko Nishikubo (In Japanese with English subtitles)
- The Making Of Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence (16:00)
- Japanese Trailer