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Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

Continuing the story from the classic original, this is another masterful work and a new benchmark for Japanese animation

Studio Production IG | Distributor Manga | Certificate 15 | Price £19.99

Ghost in the Shell 2 has it all: stunningly beautiful animation, a clever plot and a deeper meaning. Ironically, the only thing it’s short on is soul. But make no mistake, you should see this anime. It is truly breathtaking. Despite being a touch impersonal its images remain with you even longer than most live action films.

This power could be thanks to the hauntingly brilliant music of Kenji Kawai, or the magnificent world-building scenes that Mamoru Oshii is rightly famed for. Peculiarly, it’s certainly not due to the characters. The central figure, Batou, never really opens up.

The script neatly follows on from the first film. It’s been three years since his partner, Motoko, disappeared into the net, but cybercop Batou is back on duty, investigating a spate of homicidal sex droids loose in the city. It seems these droids have a secret up their synthetic sleeves and finding it out is going to be a real challenge…

Taking as a theme a combination of ontology and identity is an incredibly brave move in an age obsessed with the skin deep. It’s a tribute to the anime audience that this subject matter attracts such interest. Oshii has realised this potential and pointed anime in a direction all its own. 

The newly-dubbed English version certainly makes GITS2 easier to watch, but to keep pace with the Japanese dialogue it lacks feeling. Despite its faults, this is an undeniably masterful work from Production IG. Like most masterpieces, it will take time and context for it to be fully appreciated.