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GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE

SYNOPSIS:
In a future where the line between man and machine has becomes blurred, the cyborg special agent Batou (Akio Ôtsuka), along with his largely human partner Togusa (Kôichi Yamadera), is assigned to investigate the "murder" of a gynoid (a robotic prostitute). As the murders continue, Batou and Togusa move through the future city in search of the "ghost hacker" behind the scenes, pausing along the way to ponder the nature of human - and cyborg - existence.

Review by Jake Wilson:
Not just a technical quantum leap beyond most animé, Mamoru Ishii's Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence feels like a preview of what the cinema of the future might look like, mixing traditional and computer animation in new and often beautiful ways. The 3D backdrops have a startling richness and detail; though the characters are the usual comic-book types, their lack of expression becomes a stylistic asset in shoot-outs where bodies shatter as easily as panes of glass. The city streets seem as unreal - or hyperreal - as the abstract patterns spinning in a void on official computers; out the window of Togusa and Batou's car, glowing skyscrapers cycle past monotonously as if on a reel of tape.

As a sensory experience the film can be recommended, but I wonder how far its stylistic innovations have given rise to genuinely new ideas. The city as externalised memory, the notion of brains as computer programs to be hacked, "nostalgia for the real" expressed as longing for home and family - these are all poetic conceits, but a bit shopworn two decades after Blade Runner. Despite this, Ishii is pompously overt about his philosophical ambitions, slowing down the police procedural plot in order to cite everyone from Descartes to Isaac Asimov; as self-conscious as a couple of Jean-Luc Godard heroes, Batou and Togusa even joke about their own tendency to spout "spontaneous exotic references".

In the face of these gestures towards significance, it might be argued that the science-fiction plot is little more than a machine for the production of troubling, often erotic images: at the climax, the slaughter of countless unclad robot dolls is more memorable than whatever the script has to say about "innocence". As often in animé, the effect is horrible yet peculiarly weightless. Amid all the games with virtual reality, viewers may experience their own feelings of disorientation, and long for the secure illusion of "humanity" provided by live-action cinema. On the other hand, maybe at this point the genre simply needs to overcome its nostalgia - and press on without regret into an artificial, post-human world.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE (M)
(Japan, 2004)

Inosensu: Kôkaku kidôtai

VOICES: Akio Ôtsuka, Atsuko Tanaka, Kôichi Yamadera, Tamio Ôki, Yutaka Nakano, Naoto Takenaka

PRODUCER: Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, Toshio Suzuki

DIRECTOR: Mamoru Oshii

SCRIPT: Shirow Masamune, Mamoru Oshii

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Miki Sakuma

EDITOR: Sachiko Miki, Chihiro Nakano, Junichi Uematsu

MUSIC: Kenji Kawai

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Yohei Taneda

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney: October 6 - 16, 2005; Melbourne: October 20 - 30, 2005; Brisbane: November 3 - 13, 2005; Adelaide: December 8 - 14, 2005; Perth: December 15 - 21, 2005. [Part of Reel Anime Showcase featuring Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence; Millennium Actress; Appleseed; Ghost in the Shell; Escaflowne.]







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