Koukaku Kidoutai 2: Innocence

Title:Koukaku Kidoutai 2: Innocence
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
イノセンス GHOST IN THE SHELL(仮題) (Japanese)
Keywords: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: OOKI Tamio
OSHII Mamoru
Original Concept - MASAMUNE Shirow
A sequel to the famous Puppet Master movie of 1995, Batou and Togusa now investigate the strange rebellious murders of sex robots against their masters. During their investigation, they encounter dangerous hackers, crazy Yakuza, and even bits of the Major materialized from the net. Batou is a living doll. His whole body, even his arms and legs are entirely man-made. What only remains are traces of his brain and memories of a woman named, Motoko. When the boundary between humans and machines has infinitely blurred, Humans have forgotten that they are humans. This is a promiscuous story of a lonesome "ghost" of a man, who nevertheless seeks to retain humanity.

Innocence... That's what life is.

[Movie, 2004, 99 min; Animation Production by Bandai & Production I.G.; Co-Production by Studio Ghibli; R1 License by Go Fish Pictures..]
1:13min Movie Trailer - YouTube Video
[edit] The ↗Ghost in the Shell franchise:
Episode Details 
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent 10 10 9 8 6 Ggultra2764 [series:848#1552]
(Rent-/ Watch+)

I only chose to watch this sequel to the first movie to kill some time as a rental. I can clearly see this movie as a mixed bag of a movie. On the positive end, the visuals are quite the treat featuring well-rendered and plenty of detailed CG-animated backgrounds and scenery with characters looking quite realistic even with its sci-fi setting. The slick presentation is also presented with very fluid action scenes and the use of virtual simulations that clash well with Section 9's job and the various criminals they confront in their investigation of Locus Solus. The soundtrack does a decent job of blending with the dark and edgy mood of this movie, though I did find it not on par with the quality of the visuals. In terms of the storyline, the best element of it would have to be Batou and Togusa's chemistry. With Motoko missing, the two are put together in investigating the gynoid murders and with Batou expecting Togusa to measure up to the Major's standards and the man's much more aggressive actions, there is a mix of strain and professionalism in their interactions which make for the best moments in this movie.

Unfortunately, character interaction and the action scenes appear to have been greater priority to this movie than the mystery surrounding the gyroid problems. Details on the cases are vague at most until later in the movie and even with the full picture unveiled, there aren't many reasons provided as to why everything took place. The movie also had a habit of characters spewing out random philosophical quotes that had little relevance to the movie and just made character interactions seem unnatural. And don't get me started on the deus ex machina ending as the appearance of a certain character felt way too convenient in resolving the main issues of the movie.

As it is, Ghost in the Shell 2 still seems to have more style than substance in my eyes. While a slight improvement over the first movie thanks to Togusa and Batou's character chemistry, I still can't favor recommending the movies equally or being better than the the two TV seasons in terms of plot quality.

Last updated Sunday, January 10 2010. Created Sunday, January 10 2010.
Rent 10 10 7 8 7 7 Devil Doll [series:848#752]
[Score: 78% = "Rent"]
  • Drama: Med (less story than Puppet Master, more depression of the characters)
  • Comedy: None (nothing worth mentioning, really)
  • Action: High (almost ultra-high during the massacres)
  • SciFi: High (cyber brains connected, and their philosophical implications)
  • Ecchi: Low (more from the story topics, no teasing for the audience)
For about 40 minutes, this movie begged me on its knees: "Hate me! Please!" And I hated it, from the depth of my heart. Watching this movie directly after Koukaku Kidoutai S.A.C. 2nd GIG, I was aghast. There's nothing I liked about it. (Not even the dog, by the way.)
  • The jazzy Music may be appropriate to the demimonde scenario but I disliked it nonetheless.
  • This movie showed off with its Animation to a degree where the remaining 2D animation appeared out of place - this isn't my kind of anime any more, it's more like competing with "The Matrix" in terms of CG effects.
  • The Art was weird as well: The visualization of all characters has changed significantly (Togusa and Aramaki appear much older despite this story playing at most two years after the 2nd Gig), except for Batou who looks exactly like before.
  • The Characters have radically changed as well. Batou (once a cynical but lawful policeman) has turned into chaotic evil, unnecessarily provoking a firefight with the Yakusa just to kill as many of them as possible (and that's after he promised his partner not to do exactly this!). Aramaki (once a wise leader who cared about his team) has turned into a tight-lipped bossy old man. Togusa has taken over the major's position but is completely over strained when trying to fill the gap she left. Ishikawa (once a philosopher and information specialist working in the background) now has a small role investigating the location of a crime. With Kusanagi being gone, none of the team is really likable any more.
  • And what's about this script, drowning in quotations from literature instead of telling a Story (Koukaku Kidoutai didn't need that to pose deep questions!), focusing on the gory details of a perverted killing (such as extracting distinct human organs from the dead corpse's body for no particular reason) and making fun of a young policeman vomiting at the site of crime? It looks like humaneness has completely been erased from this world - which wasn't the case two years earlier.
Don't get me wrong - I've seen Yakuza movies of that type before. But turning the great GitS into a mere orgy of slaughtering and scorn of human values was a shock to me, and I was about to give this movie an "Avoid" rating aimed at all who loved the original story and characters, while at the same time I was to recommend it to those who are looking for a "hard" action story with the latest CG effects but neither content nor characters.

And then, in a blink of the eye, a complete turnaround - started by explaining what actually happened during the first half of this show. Everything changed at this moment: The music, the behavior of the characters (and we get "2501" into the team, yay!), the colors of the scenery - and the actual story began (which isn't too deep but it's there at least). I got my old Koukaku Kidoutai back, and... well, look which ratings I give this movie as a whole: It misses a "Buy" by 5 points (i. e. both Characters and Story being just average), due to those 40 minutes of cruelty and torture at the start. The events at Kim's house were nothing but breathtaking, and the finale - well, I'm not spoiling the surprise for you.
Be sure to watch this movie with a sub that explains every last literature reference hidden in the dialogs, as well as the fortune-teller's messages.

Last updated Wednesday, August 10 2011. Created Sunday, September 02 2007.
Buy 10 10 10 10 0 0 aoneish [series:848#1615]
the thing that you notice first about this movie is the imagery and CGI. it's stunning. it's gorgeous. absolutely awe-inspiring. the landscape is real and surreal and just...beautiful. second to nothing.
the plot is mediocre, nothing too awe-inspiring, a couple little surprises but no major plot twists. the vigilante[s] vs the faceless mega-corporation. but the whole e-brain idea and external memory thing, haha, it brings the f*cked up-ness to a whole new level. and there's tons of layers of philosophies and metaphors and mysteries. it's mind-boggling and takes more than one sitting to understand any of it.
characters are interesting for the most part and interactions are intense. everyone has at least two layers to their personalities. the whole mood of the movie is intense. naturally the violence is intense. the fluidity almost rivals spriggan, but not quite. there are a couple scenes where the cutting actions makes it seem as thought we've missed something. soundtrack is unforgettable and beautiful and fits the cyber-noir theme perfectly. i only wish there had been more of the Major and not some ghost in a doll.
but all in all, even if you don't go for "thought-inspiring" anime, then this is at least worth it to see the graphics.

Last updated Friday, October 22 2004. Created Friday, October 22 2004.
Buy 10 10 10 10 8 8 DillonSOB [series:848#1352]
This film takes a lot of effort to watch, but it's worth it because the experience totally blows you away. You may have to see it a few times to catch the subtleties, but each viewing will be unique and things will gradually make more sense. Unlike low brow sci-fi entertainment like 'AVP', GITS2 challenges you to expand your perceptions, observational skills, and imagination, much in the same way that the Puppet Master tempted Motoko to achieve a new consciousness in GITS1. If the original film dealt with the Major pursuing her human/ghost identity, the sequel follows Batou lamenting the departure of his partner, and strugling to find meaning in a lonely world of obscurred man-machine boundaries.
The visuals are stunning (only the characters/guns are 'hand-drawn', but the CG puts 'Nemo' and 'Final Fantasy' to shame) and the philosophical conflicts/issues are intense. Sometimes the vastly different formats are too incongruous, but it may be a deliberate example of old-new, human-artifical clashing. GITS 2 centers around Batou, alone and marginalized in Section 9 after the disappearance of the Major. He is more of a troubled protagonist, and building on his character development from 'Stand Alone Complex', he also has an entertaining touch of Hollywood sarcastic wit, misunderstood magnificence, and emotional layer (rage one moment, blase or tender the next). He and Togusa have a colder relationship than SAC, which furter accentuates the difference in their relative humanities. Ishikawa and Aramaki return in this film, but only in supportive, plot-based roles. Batou's dog plays a surprisingly important role (he mellows and humanizes the otherwise gruff Batou), though some of its nuance/analogy escapes me (the SF Chronicle's reviewer seems to think Batou's choice of dog food for his pet is very significant). Other animals also play a large role in this film, from endless flocks of gulls, to vehicles that move like birds/whales, to giant fake elephants on parade. Symbolic significance? - knock yourself out.
The hacker Kim tells Batou that animals, like dolls and children, are held to different standards as our embodiment of life's perfection (purity and 'innocence', if you will), without the hassle of cognitive self-awareness. Therefore, we adore, enjoy, and protect them as if safeguarding our hazy notions of self (one way to discover ourselves is to realize what we are not). However, the egotistical idolatry of our living creations sometimes hampers our ability to treat them fairly and responsibly.
The brain-hack illusion scenes in the convenience store and Kim's mansion are perplexing and stunning. The movie is probably overly-riddled with philosophical proverb and conjecture, and Director Oshii almost crams too much into 100 min. Maybe as a result, the film ends rather abruptly (too simplistic, in contrast with the rest of the film which is meticulous and challenging), as did its predecessor. But the unique presentation and melange of the noir themes (techno-alienation, human-soul identity, cyberpunk metaphysics, as in GITS 1), as well as the film's grounding in realism (nostalgic cars, dirty slums, a smartly animated basset hound, and the ability to relate to the characters even to the finest detail), makes it as moving as 'Blade Runner'/'Metropolis' without the corny storytelling and awkward edification of 'Matrix Reloaded'. Of course this film is not as revolutionary as GITS 1, but it is a very impressive continuation of the legendary anime (the enhanced artwork and more apocalyptic atmosphere definitely maintain freshness and intrigue, as opposed to the 'Matrix' sequel disasters).
Some of my favorite philosophical statements were (paraprhased, my interpretations): (1) Human creations (civilization, tech, kids, pets, etc.) are the result of DNA (human identity) propagating itself for the future, and leaving monuments as external memory & tributes to our struggle to be masters of our destiny. (2) We create dolls/children that have the perfection of our own image, without the burdening, rebellious struggle for identity that comes from self-consciousness; if dolls could speak, they would cry 'I didn't want to be human!' (3) We hear the song of the bird, but the bleeding fish goes unnoticed (i.e. how about sympathy for victims who can't cry out, like dolls?) (4) When you see your loved ones during a near death experience, it's actually the grim reaper waiting. (5) Techno-exploitation and optimization of soulless robots to resemble/perfect/serve humanity will only lead to rebellion, and the realization that the creation is superior to the creator (similar to Asimov's 'I, Robot' or Spielberg's 'AI').
Questions: why would customers prefer a gynoid with a pirated ghost rather than a compliant cyborg for sexual pleasure (maybe for the purity of purpose/essence of a doll)? Why is such a case so critical to national security for Section 9 to intervene (at least the Puppet Master was like a rogue agent that needed to be neutralized)? How did the team handle Motoko's disappearance? Who runs the gynoid company? What is the definition of, and who personnifies 'innocence' (maybe Togusa or the gynoids/girl captives - even though they're killers)?
I could go on and on, but you're probably sick of reading. As you can tell, this film is far from cheerful. But it creates such pathetic grace and beauty from hopelessness and horror. For all their training and courage, mortals like Batou and Togusa are powerless to stop the cyber-takeover that is mechanizing the life out of humanity and giving godlike power to technology.
While you don't necessarily need to have seen GITS 1 to appreciate this film, there are many similarities. The heavy-bass, spooky chant music (it's no accident the dirges sound buddhist/shinto, and many ominous buildings look like cathedrals - tech seems to be our new religion), 'humanity montage' (this time involving an Asian circus/parade instead of Motoko roaming the streets of Tokyo), and opening credits depicting the genesis of a cyborg/doll are analogous. Plus the involvement of the Major is a definite reward for loyal fans. The cinematography and artistry of each carefully-crafted scene is absolutely superb. The interplay of vivid lights and colors is almost too perfect to be believed (in the surreal moments), contrasted by the squalor and shadows of the dark, damp underworld scenes, as well as the awesome yet demented grandeur of the techno-industrial cityscapes.
GITS 2 evokes many emotions: the tension during the Yakuza raid, the terror/rage during the convenience store hack, the confusion during the Kim illusion, the philosophical provocation, the creepy crime scene & forensic investigations, and the eerieness of the gynoids are as powerful as any film you'll ever see (think 'Seven' or 'Sixth Sense' on crack).
As you would guess, I believe that this film definitely deserves to be counted in the top 10 OVAs of all time. My only complaints are the banality of the sex-dolls-gone-beserk-ghost-dubbing-girls storyline (relative to the profundity of the themes addressed), the absence of a tangible antagonist (plenty of henchman but no 'villain' like the Puppet Master, maybe cyber-hijacking of humanity is the real enemy), and the excessive confusing dialogue at times (there are many cultural references that non-Japanese may not understand too - I sure didn't). But in sum, I can only be appreciative and stunned, soaking in the splendor of this film, eager to see it again, and impatient for what will hopefully be GITS 3.

Last updated Wednesday, October 06 2004. Created Saturday, September 18 2004.

Other Sites
official movie site http://www.gofishpictures.com/GITS2/
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Japanese Movie Web Site http://www.innocence-movie.jp/

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