The follow-up to the classic anime Ghost in the Shell (Kôkaku kidôtai) has been a long time coming, but it is certainly worth the wait. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is a damn fine sequel. Mamoru Oshii, also director of the original, has crafted yet another beautiful, intelligent vision of the future.
The animation in Innocence is jaw dropping. Like its predecessor, the film often takes a moment to simply revel in the decaying magnificence of its futuristic vision. Some sequences featuring simply music and images are more powerful than any dialogue. The opening title sequence is effectively a remake of the first film, as we witness the creation of the robot alongside a brilliant soundtrack. Such stunning moments often lead to disappointment when the characters appear on the screen – simply drawn with very little detail and in fact inanimate for long periods of time. This anime tradition has often pissed me off, just cos I reckon the characters’ deadpan delivery of lines saves on animation costs. Innocence takes this a step further and features a lot of dialogue that’s transmitted directly between the characters’ minds, so their lips aren’t even moving!
This is intelligent sci-fi, with complex and inventive concepts rushing by at astonishing speed. It reminded me of reading William Gibson’s classic ‘Neuromancer’ – I had to really concentrate in order to keep up. The themes are similar to those of Ghost in the Shell, without simply being a regurgitation. There are also some fine action sequences to rival those arguably classic moments from the first film.
The major problem with Innocence is the tendency for the characters to randomly quote philosophical, theological and literary writers… every five minutes. It gets rather frustrating being subjected to lines like ‘How great is the sum of thy thoughts? If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand’ and ‘His legions, angel forms, who lay entranced. Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks’. Each time someone quotes a phrase, the other character retorts with another quote, and once or twice it goes back and forth several times. It’d be alright if it was meant to be comical, but apparently they’re deadly serious.
Other than this rather annoying inclination in the script, Innocence deserves to join the ranks of great sequels. It’s fresh and takes us somewhere new, but is still unmistakeably Ghost in the Shell.Rating: