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Philosophy, Innocence and Sex Robots

Delve into the disquieting developments that make up one of the most anticipated anime films in forever--Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.

by Chris Istel

Major Motoko Kusanagi is now long gone, and her once-partner Batou has been paired up once again, this time with the all-human Togusa. They are assigned to a case involving the murder of various people by their suicidal robots, and once it is discovered that these robots were made for sexual purposes, the plot gets deeper than either man could have ever imagined.

This is what is at the heart of the story of Innocence, the human desire to create something exactly like human beings, but better, going so far as to create a female robot with sexual organs. Is this a healthy desire? This question is slowly answered as Batou and Togusa piece together a scandal that goes beyond a merely voluptuous idea. They begin to form their own ideas as to what lines can be crossed in the blossoming age of robotics.

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Since Batou is mostly a cyborg, he is pretty comfortable with the constant increase of human dependency on robots. Therefore, most of the conflict is within Togusa, who has recently started a family. When comparisons between robotics and raising a child are brought up, he adamantly maintains that the two are different, despite the mutual desire of a human to shape something exactly like him or her. What makes the situation even more complex is the creation of robots being alike to the process of creating biological life.

The story is told in a fairly straightforward manner, and unlike its predecessor Ghost in the Shell, this film actually has decent pacing, moving swiftly from scene to scene, but not too fast as to create confusion. While the character development is good, the movie is more enjoyable when the original Ghost in the Shell movie has been previously viewed.

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Ghost in the Shell is arguably the most well-known anime in the U.S., aside from Miyazaki's masterworks such as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. Equally loved as much as it is hated, the movie did have many great points in terms of animation and directing, but the extreme amounts of philosophy inserted into the dialog overshadowed those points, driving many viewers away.

Innocence has none of this excessive droning. Instead, it subtly presents the viewer with various ideas and notions, slowly exposing the secret desire of humanity to become something better and the alarming rate of robotic integration in the film's world. This time around, instead of the clunky dialog, the philosophies are pushed through the actions of the characters and their quoting of various philosophers. In fact, one does not even need to pay any attention to this aspect of the film in order to enjoy it, and the plot itself actually isn't all too complicated. This alone makes Innocence a successful film.

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Mamoru Oshii has definitely stepped up his game here as both director and writer. Because of this lower amount of ranting, the film is paced better and there are more action scenes to be had. The action scenes in Innocence are unforgettable, especially when combined with the awesome sound effects. Machine guns thump, wood splinters, glass shatters, Yakuza scream in pain while they die, all this in awesome surround sound audio.

On the technical side of things, Innocence is hands down the greatest anime of all time. The animation is simply more beautiful than anything created before. Production I.G. certainly took their time in animating this, perfectly combining hand drawn characters with a CG world. While most CG anime tend to have less emotion and less of a human touch to them, Innocence is the complete opposite of this. Every setting in this film boasts an incredible amount of atmosphere, only adding to the great job that the staff did with adding emotion to the characters.

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Also, I must mention the exceptional soundtrack of Innocence. Kenji Kawai returns as the composer for the score, as do a few of the songs from the first film. Obviously, one of the more memorable songs from either film is the theme, "Making of a Cyborg". It carries as much weight in the sequel as it did in the original. Some songs introduced with Innocence are equally exceptional, especially when played with their corresponding scenes. One that comes to mind is "Kugutsuuta aratayo ni kamutsudo hite", a riveting piece very much in the vein of "Making of a Cyborg". Another is "The Doll House", from one of the key moments in the movie. When released in the U.S., the OST definitely will be worth a look.

While certainly not a departure from any of the conventions of its genre, Innocence rises above the others and it may well be an anime classic on its own merits. Though the film still deals with weighty topics, it does so in a way that will not interfere with the viewer's enjoyment.

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