Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence Mamoru Oshii

Mamoru Oshii exploded onto the international scene in 1995 when he released Ghost in the Shell, the most important and popular anime movie since Akira in 1988, and also a major influence on The Matrix. An artful combination of CGI and traditional animation based on the manga by Masamune Shirow, GITS was a futuristic tale that dared to question the human element (or soul) within a people moving more and more towards the machine. Ten years later, Oshii finally follows up with the sequel. GITC2: Innocence picks up not long after the original left off. The central figures are Bateau (voice of Akio Otsuka), a cyborg investigator for Section 9's Crime and Terror Unit, and his new partner, ex-cop Togusa (voice of Kouichi Yamadera), who is barely capable of keeping up with his partner's excessive ways. The plot is simpler in Innocence than in the original Ghost in the Shell: a humanoid doll has murdered her owner and slaughtered a number of policemen, and a virus might just be the cause. Bateau is on the case, and along the path of discovery there's plenty of philosophising on where humanity ends, or begins, as things unfold in a world where human and machine are often indistinguishable. Innocence is a visually stunning film with a retro private dick feel. The mix of CGI and traditional animation is much improved, and Oshii's attention to detail makes a huge difference. On the filmmaker's commentary track and during the "making of" featurette, the animators discuss and complain about the amount of work that went into getting the level of detail the film possesses, even to the extent that some scenes had to be completely redone to get the right effect, but they always agree the effort was worth it. One of the most noticeable details is Bateau's basset hound, which is given more life than any other character in the film, and acts as a great signifier for Bateau's inner humanity. The commentary also breaks down scene after scene, with complaints and praise from the artists, as well as revealing what Oshii wanted to accomplish throughout. For fans of cyberpunk and animation, this is an extraordinary film that shouldn't be missed, although it must be stressed that the English subtitles are actually titles for the hearing impaired and therefore contain all sound effects. Plus: trailer (Dreamworks/Universal)