Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

If our gods and our hopes are
nothing but scientific phenomena,
then it must be said that our love
is scientific as well.

--Villiers de L'Isle-Adam "L'Eve Future"

  

The long awaited "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" will be opening September 17, 2004. After nine long years this film of acclaimed writer/director Mamoru Oshii is the sequel to his "Ghost in the Shell" which was one of the most successful anime films of all time.

"Innocence" was the first anime film ever to compete for the Cannes International Film Festival's coveted Palme d'Or.  It also joined the ranks of such animated classics as "Dumbo" (1947), "Peter Pan" (1953), "Fantastic Planet" (1973), "Shrek" (2001) and "Shrek 2" (2004) to become only the sixth animated film to compete at Cannes.

  

Batou, a detective for the government's covert anti-terrorist unit, Public Security Section 9, is investigating the case of a murderous gynoid

I was lucky enough to be able to be part of a round table discussion with Mamoru Oshii, a charming shy man, he was happy to answer, through his translator, any of the questions I or the six other journalists had. He revealed that what is portrayed in this film as the future is in Oshii's mind actually the present.  During the round table discussion he was wearing a Basset Hound T-shirt under his open shirt. The Basset Hound in the film is modeled after Oshii's own dog, Gabriel, who makes an appearance in every film by the director.  Oshii is an ardent dog lover, as evidenced by the fact that ten years ago, in order to find an ideal environment to live with his dogs (he also has a mutt named Daniel), he moved from Tokyo to Atami.  Because he works five days a week in Tokyo, his weekends with his dogs give him immeasurable joy.  "As humans have become more 'mind-oriented' and the environment has become more urban, some have forgotten the idea of the human body," says Oshii.  "As far as they're concerned, the human body does not exist anymore.  The reason that people of today choose to have dogs is that they're looking for a substitute to the human body." When I asked Oshii during the round table to clarify this quote, he explained that some people have family or children that take them away from technology and out of their heads to their bodies, but for him it is his dogs that do this. I also asked him if he feeds his dogs kibble or meat (you will understand when you see the film) after a very long laugh he explained that he cooks the same food for his dogs as he cooks for himself.

                                                                                          ?AND DOGS
                                                              There's one more kind of existence
                                                               in common with dolls and deities.

                                                                                                    --Kim

         

Batou finds his only sense of serenity in the time he spends with his beloved bassett hound

Some other interesting things I learned in speaking to Oshii are that in his first film he felt that what makes you, you, is your body and your relationship with others. In doing this second film he felt that what makes you, you, is your brain and your memory.  Now, after the film has been completed, he thinks maybe your brain or your body are not so important! Another interesting fact that Oshii divulged is that he only really felt he was Japanese after making this film! Oshii does not go to the movies, instead, he waits 2-3 years until the films are show on TV, feeling that only the best will stand the test of time. The first movies that influenced him towards his career were Robert Altman's "The Long Goodbye" and Roman Polanski's "Chinatown." Oshii said that he gets very burnt out doing anime so he is quite certain that his next film will not be one but more likely a live action film, he tends to alternate between the two.

      

This film takes you from your seat and yanks you into the screen like any great film should do. It has lots of dialogue so it was sometimes hard to read the subtitles which not only took away from your enjoyment of the spectacular visuals, but made the story line hard to follow. However that did not matter since the film had such a captivating effect.

  

Batou and Togusa work together to solve the mystery of the murderous gynoids

The source for all of Oshii's film is done the old fashioned way by hand drawing. After that the animators use digital software which have powerful textural effects, however Oshii makes all of the amazing textures of his films at the source, by hand, so they would not have a look or feel of any other films and they certainly do not. I was able to see the film at a press screening. The visual effects of this film were absolutely stunning! The reflections were spectacular especially on the cars and their chrome as they drove by in any given scene. The animation of the birds, the ceramic tiles, the stained glass, burning fire scenes, the city, the shadows etc. were amazing, the details were phenomenal.

When Oshii visited New York, he knew he had found his imaginary location - "I wasn't thinking about scouting locations, but as it turned out, New York was the city with the definitive gothic atmosphere that I had been seeking.  It's a city of ominous skyscrapers and perpendicular lines. Wherever you go, you're surrounded by flat, perpendicular surfaces, and the city is completely closed off because there is no distant view whatsoever. There was no horizon, only tall buildings everywhere, and shadows. When I saw beams of light coming through the gap between high-rise buildings, the whole megalopolis suddenly felt like an enormous temple." So, for the production design of "Innocence," which is set in an unspecified Asian city in the not-so-distant future, Oshii decided to go with a style he labeled "Chinese Gothic," which emphasizes a mysteriously foreign ambience in the story.

  

Sinister female dolls, called gynoids, are turning on and killing their owners

To make the film more understandable and yet not tell you the story which as a journalist I won't do, I will give you some background to help understand the film better before you go to see it for yourselves. The story takes place in 2032, when the line between humans and machines has been blurred almost beyond distinction. Humans have virtually forgotten what it means to be entirely human in both body and spirit, and the few humans that are left coexist with cyborgs (human spirits inhabiting entirely mechanized bodies) and dolls (robots with no human elements at all).

   

Special Agent Batou uses a variety of deadly weapons in his battle to stop the murderous sex dolls

Batou, the main character, is a cyborg.  His body is artificial: the only remnants left of his humanity are traces of his brain? the love of his dog and the memories of a woman called The Major.

   

In the year 2032, technology runs amuck, and the line between humans and machines has been blurred beyond distinction, resulting in the proliferation of murderous dolls

A detective for the government's covert anti-terrorist unit, Public Security Section 9, Batou is investigating the case of a gynoid?a hyper-realistic female robot created specifically for sexual companionship?who malfunctions and slaughters her owner. As Batou delves deeper into the investigation, questions arise about humanity's need to immortalize its image in dolls.  Together, Batou and his partner must take on violent Yakuza thugs, devious hackers, government bureaucrats and corporate criminals to uncover the shocking truth behind the crime.

"Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" is the story of a solitary cyborg who desperately wants to hold on to what's left of his humanity in a world where the worth of the human soul is fading almost into obscurity.

   

In the year 2032, technology runs amuck, and the line between humans and machines has been blurred beyond distinction, resulting in the proliferation of murderous dolls

                                       MAMORU OSHII SAYS?
                                                                        Life and death come and go
                                                             like marionettes dancing on a table.
                                                                          Once their strings are cut,
                                                                                   they easily crumble
.

"Economic recession? corporate downsizing? violent crime?  We live in a cruel and frightening world.  For some time now, I've been working in the animation industry?a sinful world unto itself?and frankly, have gotten tired of dealing with people in general.  Sometimes, I imagine eliminating all human interaction and spending the rest of my life at home in Atami, relaxing and soaking in a hot spring.  I feel old?every day, I have to force myself to go to work. It is this culture of fear and anxiety that I want to depict cinematically.  This film is about the future of humanity, which I'm very much interested in." 

   

Are they real or are they murderous dolls?

"There are no human beings in "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence."  The characters are all human-shaped dolls, i.e., robots.  For some reason, people have always created robots in their own image.  I wonder why?  I don't suppose that the human figure is the most practical shape for industrial robots.  What is it about people that make them do such illogical things?  I thought that exploring this question from the doll's point of view would help me better understand human nature." 

   

Writer/director Mamoru Oshii creates a futuristic robot assembly process, including the mass production of eyeballs

"Batou, the main character of "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence," is our guide throughout the film.  While investigating a case involving malfunctioning androids that went berserk, Batou encounters various types of dolls: a broken android who has gone mute; a female robot who looks exactly like a human; a group of dolls burned in effigy by a mob of humans; and a man who willingly transforms himself into a corpse and flatters himself that he has transcended human limitations.  Through this experience and a series of battles, Batou is wounded and further mechanizes his body?gradually becoming more and more like an inorganic doll.  The dolls that Batou meets have their own outlook on humanity.  Each doll, from their non-human point of view, examines such human traits as arrogance and deceitfulness.  Batou and his partner Togusa (who is mostly human and thus representing the viewer) embark on a journey through hell that forces them to ponder the meaning of human existence.  Batou's function is to drive the narrative forward, leading the audience vicariously through Togusa."

   

Ghostly Parade

"This movie does not hold the view that the world revolves around the human race.  Instead, it concludes that all forms of life?humans, animals, and robots?are equal. In this day and age when everything is uncertain, we should all think about what to value in life and how to coexist with others.  We all need friends, family, and lovers.  We can't live alone.  In the year 2032, when this movie takes place, robots and electronic beings have become necessary companions to people.  Actually, that time has come already.  What we need today is not some kind of anthropocentric humanism.  Humanity has reached its limits.  I believe that we must now broaden our horizons and philosophize about life from a larger perspective.  With this film, I hope to reflect upon the uneasiness that pervades the world today.  Under such conditions, what is the meaning of human existence?"

                  

"Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" was written and directed by Mamoru Oshii based on an original story by Shirow Masamune. Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and Toshio Suzuki produced the film.  It is the second anime film to be released under the banner of Go Fish Pictures, a division of DreamWorks Pictures.

The notes at the round table discussion were taken using the fabulous Sony ICD-BM1 Digital Voice Recorder.

 

 


 

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