Everyone has that one friend who is into Anime. Usually dealing with more adult themed ideas, Anime is the kind of thing that would make Mickey Mouse blush. Jump back in time to 1995 when the first “Ghost in the Shell” arrived in theatres. “Ghost in the Shell” became one of the most influential animated movies of the decade. Nine years later, the same exact team who brought the first film into the world has come together again to give us a second helping.
“Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence” feels like a younger sibling trying too hard to live up to the achievements of its predecessor. The story is not as groundbreaking as the first, but it does create extraordinary moments of visual achievement. Writer/director Mamoru Oshii developed the story in close relation with “Ghost in the Shell” creator Shirow Masamune. Produced by Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and Toshio Suzuki, they were the force behind the animated sequence in “Kill Bill Vol. 1.” Oshii has really delivered something unique, which probably explains the nomination “Innocence” received at the Cannes Film Festival for the Palme d’Or, something its predecessor never accomplished. However, despite this fact, “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence” fails to be as appealing as it could have been.
In order to understand “Innocence” some catching up is in order. The story takes place in Tokyo in the year 2032. At this time it is commonplace for people to have numerous mechanical implants to enhance their bodies. Fully mechanical bodies are referred to as “shells.” A “ghost” is usually the living human part, which controls the “shell.” The main character, Batou, is an agent working for a secret government agency. Batou’s “shell” is all state-of-the-art mechanics except for, of course, his biological “ghost.” The strong silent type who seems inclined to bend the rules in order to even the odds, Batou is fashioned after detective film greats like Humphrey Bogart. Opposite the machine is the mostly human Togusa, a clich