Anime: Ghost in the Shell 2 - Innocence
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Retail Price: $34.98
The anime franchise Ghost in the Shell has been around for years and years of cybernetic action and drama, only seemingly growing bigger. With the success of the manga, series, spin-off Arise followed by the Ghost in the Shell film, a future film was inevitable (and that’s not even considering the live action film coming in March of this year). In order to keep things fresh -- or at least throw people off -- the second film (Ghost in the Shell 2 - Innocence) from 2004 takes the series' kick-ass heroine the Major out of the anime’s spotlight and decides to give a little more attention to Batou, her former partner and another fan favorite character who usually feels stoic and powerful. With Batou taking the mantle of the series protagonist (clearly it’s temporary), just how will Batou handle missions without the companionship of the Major?
In the series ongoing narrative, Batou was in search of the Major Motoko that is unfortunately halted when a barrage of savage murders spreads quickly throughout their city. Of course, it connects to the technology boom of Ghost in the Shell, and robotic partners receive programming that is a definite part of the serious crimes being committed. Now that Batou is forced to address the events taking place that deviate from his own goals, he and his partner Togusa will tackle the robotic-based mystery that plagues them due to sheer underestimating android or robotic coding. The robots that have a role in this? Well they are utilized for sexual encounters, which makes the murderous tech even more unexpected.
One thing that can be said about Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is that it definitely separates itself from traditional Ghost in the Shell stories. Of course, there is the obvious reason, with Major Motoko Kusangi taking a backseat to the plot, but the main plot seems to all come back to sexuality. It doesn't always outright state what they are trying to explain through these sexuality-driven robots, but the casual viewer can tell that the exploitation of technology for one of the more basic psychological needs crosses the creator’s mind when telling this side-story that’s packaged as a film as opposed to an arc of the series of OVA.
Batou taking the role of the protagonist of the film is considered either a benefit for those who wanted him to have a bigger role or a negative for those who are more singularly interested in Major Motoko Kusanagi. Personally, I found Batou to be a great choice, even though the first act of the film didn’t initially pull me in. As it progressed, I became more interested in Batou’s thoughts on not only the case the film is centered on, but more of the analytical innuendos that Ghost in the Shell likes to hint at. Motoko does eventually make an appearance (of course, it is her franchise practically), but it doesn’t take away from Batou’s experiences and journey. The ending of the film is one that is truly a hard pill to swallow because of the origin of these robots that are used as weapons and what was actually intended for them.
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is something uniquely different from the other tales from the franchise but manages to keep that quality that makes viewers reach deeper to find answers to the morality-driven questions they often present. I give Ghost in the Shell credit for making use of such a rich world with different avenues to share stories and trying something somewhat different from what the fanbase would have expected (but this is loosely based on a chapter in the manga, let it be known). The animation takes extra opportunities to hold on a still with a cinematic appearance and creates a grim looking world where sex and technology take a dark turn at what people are capable of in both good and bad ways. This is a perfect film for franchise fans who want something slightly different, and I can appreciate a franchise that hopes to have its viewers pondering what is or isn’t morally acceptable.
Overall Score: 7/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
- Batou ended up being a nice choice as the lead for this particular film.
- It may not have been riveting from beginning to end, but Ghost in the Shell is notorious for having moments at the very least.
- I can’t help but hope that the current popularity of Ghost in the Shell will pave the way for other live-action anime adaptations.