• OVERALL
    3.5
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE FEATURE
I wouldn't call myself an anime fan. Of course, I have not seen very much of it. In the past I have observed it from a distance and shied away from getting into the form of Japanese animation. The feature length films that I have seen were, unfortunately, short of being spectacular.

I believe my distaste for anime does not stem from not liking the genre in general, but from not being given the proper material. The primacy effect says that first impressions always count in the human mind, and I couldn't agree more. After all, it changed my outlook on anime.

What I needed to see in the first place was a critically acclaimed anime film hailed by audiences and critics. These titles include Ghost in the Shell, Spirited Away, or Metropolis. While none of these titles had the chance to wow my introduction to anime film, I did get to play catch up late in the game. I just watched Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence on DVD, and now realize the magnificent side of Japanese animation that I've been missing.

Set in the year 2032 following the events of the original Ghost in the Shell, a cyborg named Bato works as a detective for a unit called Public Security Section 9. Bato's partner, The Major, has gone missing since the first film and his new partner is Togusa, a human detective with the unit. The duo investigates a series of murders where robots are killing their owners. The robots, known as Gynoids, are specifically designed to perform sexual favors. Bato and Togusa follow clues into a world of technology and philosophy and try to bring down the murderous Gynoid robots.

The basic premise is not what makes Innocence unique. What we have here is a cross between The Matrix, I, Robot, and A.I. If this were a standard film with Hollywood actors, then this title would be in trouble for recycling material. The animation is what makes Innocence worth the viewing time. The picture combines elements of two-dimensional anime (used mostly with characters) along with three-dimensional, computer-generated animation (used primarily on long, establishing shots).

It is not that often that adult animation hits the big screen. With a couple of rare exceptions, Japanese anime seems to be the only outlet for animation that incorporates strictly adult themes. I found Innocence enjoyable because it demonstrates the boundaries that can be crossed when keeping mature audiences in mind. How often does America come out with action cartoons such as this? The flick includes a battle between Bato and a pack of angry, nude Gynoid robots while a powerful score booms from a non-diegetic source.

Some have labeled this anime feature as boring or slow, and I have to disagree. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is ninety minutes of magnificent animated eye candy that kept my eyes wide open. I had no idea what was going on half the time, but I still didn't care. This is some very impressive visual work.

THE EXTRAS
The Making of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

I felt satisfied with this featurette that covers a little bit of everything. Voice actors talk about getting into their characters, the director discusses story development, and various animators show examples of creating the wonderful visuals. One example I found fascinating was the construction of CG environments for two-dimensional characters to exist in.

Commentary

Director Mamoru Oshii and animation director Toshihiko Nishikubo provide a track in Japanese. They speak in Japanese making their own subtitles replace the dialogue subtitles in the film itself. I was actually able to absorb more information from reading it as opposed to passively listening. In my personal opinion, a subtitles commentary track is not so bad here.

Japanese Trailer

Previews

THE VIDEO
1.85:1 Widescreen Format. The picture quality is the best thing about this picture. I give high props to the appearance of this DVD picture. The animation is crisp and very well done.
THE AUDIO
Japanese with English subtitles, Dolby Surround 5.1. This will really get the house shaking with plenty of action sequences and a dramatic musical score. Very good stuff.
THE PACKAGE
Standard DVD keep case. The cover displays a picture of Bato staring at the viewer with his stone cold eyes. Next to Bato is a Gynoid robot hooked up to a bunch of cables.
THE FINAL WORD
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is, of course, a must buy for fans of anime since the series is renowned in the genre. However, non-fans may want to stick to a test rental. Perhaps they should also rent the original Ghost in the Shell to gain a better understanding for the sequel. With a good featurette and commentary track to boot, this is a pretty impressive DVD.

Questions? Comments? Drop me a line at dodd@movieweb.com

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