Ghost in the Shell II Innocence is the sequel to the classic Ghost in the Shell movie created by Masamune Shirow. Continuing shortly after where the first left off, the focus of this movie has shifted a bit from the first. This is mainly due to the fact that the Major has been missing since the events that transpired at the end of the previous film, leaving Batou, her old partner, in charge in lieu of her absence. Continuing his detective work for section 9, Batou teams up with Togusa to work on a new case, one not very fitting of their anti-terrorism title. A couple of sex dolls have gone haywire and killed their masters, and subsequently themselves. This is nothing all that important looking from the outside, but as they delve deeper into why this is happening, they end up uncovering much more than they bargained for.
Innocence is one of the best animated and most mind numbing anime features I have watched. Removing most of the comedy that fills the previous movie and the subsequent series, Innocence ends up as a very serious and rather pretentious movie. What makes this movie pretentious is a combination of too much complex dialogue along with a never ending stream of “quotes.” These conversations usually touch on the usual GitS questions concerning dolls, their ghosts, whether they are really alive, what makes a person alive, what makes them real, at what point does a person lose their humanity, etcetra. I think you get the picture. Now, exploring this fascinating world that Masamune Shirow has created is one of the most intriguing parts of the GitS franchise. Except when a 90 minute movie is almost entirely taken up with these long dialogues and quote battles, which makes it all just seem rather tiresome. That isn’t to say the conversations aren’t interesting, they are thought provoking and well thought-out as one would expect, but one can only take so much.
This time around, with the Major MIA, the story focuses on the newly formed partnership between Batou and Togusa, the problems they face as a team, and their mission to figure out why sexaroids are killing their masters. The actual storyline is not that complex; it just seems complex due to the psychobabble being spewed almost continuously. It almost seems like the storyline took a backseat to having philosophical conversations about the storyline, if that makes any sense. Though I may make it seem like there is nothing but talking that wouldn’t be wholly correct. Action, while spare, is present throughout the movie, but is never really long enough or engaging enough to satisfy action junkies like myself, and with such stunning animation, those fights could have been such a beautiful thing.
Considering that Innocence was released in 2004, one can only be thoroughly impressed with the quality of its animation. It achieves a very dark and intense look and feel missing from the other GitS incarnations. Maybe they wanted to match the more serious tone of the movie with its animation, but the effect is quite apparent. However, with such beautiful animation it would have been nice if they would have used it to do more action scenes, rather than wasting it on watching people as they talk to one another.
Sadly, for whatever reason, Innocence did not receive an English dub in the United States. It did get an English dub in the United Kingdom, so I really don’t know what the problem was. Supposedly they are going to release a version with an English dub at some point, but I do not know when. On a happier note, the old Japanese dub crew is back to reprise their roles from the original movie and they are more than adequate for their respective parts.
Also reprising his role is Kenji Kawai, who did the music for the first movie and now Innocence. Using a number of chorus scores with the haunting melody of children singing to the backdrop of such a serious feature is quite a combination that I found worked very well together. In addition to these haunting melodies, we have a number of songs sung in English with a jazz vibe to them for the slower, more relaxed moments in the film.
Ghost in the Shell 2 Innocence is a fine follow-up to the classic Ghost in the Shell movie, with spectacular animation and a wonderful music score. However, while the technical merits shine, Innocence suffers from a lack of action and an overall feeling that the movie finds itself a little too important for its own good.
The US release does not include an English Dub, but might be released with one in the future.