Cyberpunk Review » Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

January 14, 2006

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

Year: 2004

Directed by: Mamoru Oshii

Written by: Shirow Masamune (Comic), Mamoru Oshii (Screenplay)

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

Rating: 10 out of 10

Overview: If you’re looking for the best instance of awesome 2D-3D anime with an incredible philosophically laden story, Ghost in the Shell: Innocence is the hands down winner. While I still like Wonderful Days more on pure cinematography, it doesn’t hold a candle on either the story or the philosophy. Oshii is truly a master at providing an incredibly intricate, fully researched message about the direction of humanity in a wonderful anime package. Make no mistake - Oshii is fully up on co-evolution theory (the co-evolution of man and his tools) and has something very interesting to add to the discussion. And while it has all of this, GITS:2 does suffer overtly and purposefully from the absence of its star character - Motoko.

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Major Motoko, the main character from the first Ghost in the Shell movie (which might still make an appearance here…) is no longer here, and the rest of the cast has to pick up the pieces and move on. Bateau (Ôtsuk), major motoko’s partner from the first movie, and a cyborg detective for the anti-terrorist unit Public Security Section 9, investigates the case of a female robot - one created solely for sexual pleasure - who slaughtered her owner. Togusa, the mostly human detective that Motoko found in Ghost 1 is assigned as Bateau’s partner. The plot thickens as the movie progresses, and the two are sent to a number of incredibly cyberpunk looking locations to uncover the truth.

Overall, this movie has the feeling of a cast trying to cope when the major star has left. Similar to the Borg Encounter when Picard is removed, or maybe some of the first star trek series when Captain Kirk is lost somewhere doing green chicks, Motoko’s disappearance dominates a most of the back story. We get to see almost a character study of Bateau, a mostly cyborg being who has suffered the loss of the closest person alive to him struggle to maintain meaning in his life
and Togusa failing to live up to Bateau’s expectations as a partner. While the characters are able to work fine within the plot, the movie suffers from the lack of both sex appeal and the lack of a truly dominant character.

Similar to other Oshii films, there are instances where the plot gets put on hold to allow the philosophy to explored. This is a different sort of pacing (again copied by the matrix) which some like and others find pretentious (I like it!). The philosophy breaks are interesting, but only get fully connected at the end. Additionally, the plot is twisting enough and only clarified in the end that a second viewing would aid in comprehension.

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Even if you don’t like the metaphysical mumbo-jumbo or strange pacing, Ghost 2 should be seen as mandatory viewing for its truly mind blowing merging of computer imagery and hand drawn animation artistry. This is cyberpunk at its finest! Truly, Neuromancer’s William Gibson would be floored with the continually awe-inspiring scenery that’s intermixed with the grittiest of settings. I lost count of the number of sets I would have loved to freeze and place on my wall. From the creation of robots complete with fiber optic circuitry and positronic brains, to the dingy alleys of the underworld, the vast expanses of the futuristic building-scapes, this movie employs every color palette in the most effective manner imaginable. Often, you almost stop paying attention to the subtitles to just take in the scene in all its heavenly glory.

On top of this, we get trademark moments of Oshii pacing. Oshii is fully content to leave the dialogue aside for a while and let the mood develop from the visuals and sound. Very few movies do this effectively - Avalon and GITS:2 certainly come to the top of the list. In short, the pacing makes GITS:2 a fully immersive experience in a way that visuals alone couldn’t do.

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GITS 2 Philosophy: In looking at the philosophy, the first Ghost was dominated by a discussion of what it means to be human and being alive. It culminated in the creation of a new species - the merging of a sentient program called the puppet master with Motoko, an alive human complete with a soul (ghost). Without knowing the details of Ghost 2, one would have expected in seeing the first movie that Oshii would have explored this vast new experience in Ghost 2, Yet this was not to be, as instead the story takes a very different perspective to the ideas covered in the first movie. Innocence is really tracing the idea that what we "see" isn’t at all real, and that reality as a concept needs significant revision. This is done in a variety of ways through mirror analogies, VR segments and discussions of whether there is a difference between artificial life and real life. In this sense, GITS2 is far more the philosophical sequel to Avalon.

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Ghost 2 almost turns the perspective from Ghost one on its head and looks at what it means to be a sentient program and how even humans seeking to become fully cyborg struggle to attain this plateau of ever increasing sensory perception and understanding. Taking Decarte’s notion ("I think, therefore, I am") that sentient life does not require a ghost, Ghost 2 explores the notion that a sentient program or robot (called a "doll") might NOT want to have a ghost, and looks at what happens when ghosts are foisted on dolls. Ideas taken for granted in the real world, like the demarcation between life and death get blended and rendered almost meaningless.

On Dolls: Let’s go into a discussion of dolls for a moment: On one hand, dolls in our terms are purely fake, but in the eyes of a child, are actually "real" in the sense that they are assigned virtual persona and as an object and affect the behavior of the child. In effect, the notion of the child’s mind being constrained to her head is challenged - the child’s mind functions "virtually" in the doll. This notion of a doll is also examined in the sense that it contains our greatest fears - that all we are is a "shell" without something actually unique inside that makes us special. In making a cyborg "doll" that mimics a human - GITS2 poses that we are creating a human-looking shell that is sentient in the Descartes sense, but is not complete. Even worse, when given a facsimile of a ghost, we are doing real harm to the doll as the doll is now neither a stable sentient robot nor a human, but a bastardized thing in-between.

In total, there is this ongoing discussion of three types of "ultimate" life forms: God, Dolls, and animals. They all embody the notion of innocence. God (in this sense, almost synonymous with Major Motoko’s new form) is all knowing so basic human frailties no longer affect her. Needs and desires that humans have are non-existent for God. Dolls, and in cyborg version of dolls - sentient robots, are also perfect in that they can think but don’t fall prey to human inadequacies. Finally, Oshii argues animals such as dogs are innocent. Their joys in life are simple ones - Batou’s dog scenes also serve to demonstrate that which is still "human" about Batou - everything else in his life has been rendered meaningless. In this sense, interestingly the dog takes on the same roll as a doll does with a child - This shows Batou’s mind expressing its "virtual" humanity externally.

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Throughout the movie are instances of humanity’s self-gratification, extreme self-importance and the consequences of over-indulgence. From the enormous cathedrals to the dingy alleyways, to the making of dolls in our own “perfect” shell of ourselves, Oshii’s message is that we are doing everything possible to hide ourselves from true humanity. The beautiful imagery of GITS 2 is the result. Freedom comes not through materialism, but through real “humanity.” However, one wonders whether Oshii thinks real humanity is in anyway restricted to humans. At some level Oshii is saying our bodies are now obsolete, and that what makes us human, our shell, may not be the purview of humans.

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As for the details of the merging of traditional hand drawn animation, there are a few scenes where the Babylon 5-like ships or statues don’t quite fit, but for the most part, the expansive scenes have incredible depth, and the close-ups are as exquisite as a portrait. You are truly missing out on a feat of artistic beauty if pass this movie up. And overall, GITS:2 is clearly in of the best new cyberpunk movies out. Watch it - you won’t be disappointed.

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Tags: cyberpunk movie review

This post has been filed under Hot Cyberchicks Kicking Butt, AI (no body), Awesome Cyberpunk Themes, Man-machine Interface, 10 Star Movies, Android Movies, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals, Animes, Cyberpunk movies from 2000 - 2009 by SFAM.


January 19, 2006

noname said:

Note the tower with 4 “arms in image gits-innocence2.jpg are similar to the tower in Freejack?

January 20, 2006

SFAM said:

Note the tower with 4 “arms in image gits-innocence2.jpg are similar to the tower in Freejack?

Oh wow. Hadn’t noticed this. I’ll have to look at this next time I watch Freejack (Maybe I’ll stick a review for this up tonight).

[…] I will probably write a separate essay on this, but just to be clear, this viewpoint shows that the Matrix trilogy is the philosophical sequel to Ghost in the Shell (GITS). GITS2: Innocence does not follow Motoko’s journey after she integrates – Neo does. GITS2: Innocence is really a furthering of the philosophies that Oshii advanced in Avalon, meaning that conceptually, GITS2: Innocence is the sequel to Avalon, not the original GITS. […]

February 28, 2007

Caelum said:

I’m not sure how I managed to finish this movie.

I was expecting the great pacing, smooth scripts, and innovative animation from GITS 1. I got a convoluted story with bursts of obscure action thrown in to keep me awake.

Violence in GITS 1 was meticulously planned and used for a specific goal- the 10 minute buildup to a half-second sniper attack provides the climax of the movie. GITS 2 has us charging around yakuza houses blazing submachine guns and eviscerating the odd policemen with nary a care for reality or suspense.

The script of GITS 1 was deep, provocative, and readily accessible. GITS 2 philosophy is what happens when weeaboos take hold of a script. I can hardly overstate how many obscure pseudointellectual quotes are in this movie. It’s like Oshii thought exploiting a sense of Japanese exoticism is enough to sell the movie by itself. I don’t think I can adequately describe how disgusting it was for me to see pragmatic, cool characters like Togusa flip from making smart remarks about the reliability of his old-fashioned revolver in a hightech world to saying crap like “Only in perfect wind do the most beautiful cherry blossoms fall” every other goddamn line.

Lastly- the animation in GITS 1 was amazing because it used techniques that weren’t expensive to create an incredibly rich environment. GITS 2 just throws money at us. The mid-plot rain shots in GITS 1 were calculated to show us gilmpses of the future of urban mankind, and they remind me of the beautiful environmental sketches in comics like Transmetropolitan. This sense of background flows right out of Motoko’s speech preceding it. The parade scene in the middle of the movie has absolutely nothing to do with the movie other than to again capitalize on our fascination with Japanese exoticism.

At least the kept some of the same music.

SFAM said:

Hi Caelum, sorry this movie didn’t work for you. To me the animation absolutely matched the symbols in the narrative, and the movie as a whole worked wonderfully. I’m not sure what weeaboos are, but GITS: Innocence clearly plays like an Oshii movie to me. The best I can say is to give it another viewing in a bit to see if it works better for you. I do agree though that GITS Innocence isn’t as accessible as the first movie.

As an aside, I’ve heard many of the same comments you’ve made about GITS: Innocence also directed at the first movie (especially concerning the pseudointellectual quotes) - usually these are from people initially exposed to Ghost in the Shell from either Shirow’s Manga or more likely GITS SAC.

The other thought (perhaps this doesn’t relate to you, but I’ll throw it out anyways) is how this movie was marketed on DVD. clearly GITS: Innocence is not an action movie. There is now a mismatch between the movie and the marketing that didn’t really exist at initial release. Take a look at the packaging in some countries. Consider some of the original artwork, for instance:

As opposed to the US release:

Now if you come to this movie anticipating anything resembling GITS SAC, for instance, you probably will be thrown for a loop. GITS: Innocence is deep and rich philosophically - moreso even than the original movie. But I agree that this makes those who will enjoy it a smaller number. Count me among those though - I loved it!

March 29, 2007

David said:

It only took twenty minutes of GITS2 before I switched it off. I’m not very tolerant towards anime that tries to be major smartass throughout.

Anway, is this a prequel or a sequel?

March 30, 2007

SFAM said:

Hi David, if you switched it off after 20 minutes, I don’t guess you’d care very much whether it was a sequel or prequel. Feel free to read the review if you want an answer to this though.

April 3, 2007

James NIGDEF said:

Meh. I loved the 1st movie and had very high hopes for the sequel… unfortunately it’s a huge letdown.

The first thing is the art: the mix of CGI objects and backgrounds with classically drawn characters looks terrible: these elements don’t mix well at all, making the CGI elements look plasticky and the drawn ones flat.

Next, the pace and energy of the original has disappeared. The movie doesn’t feel like a whole, hell it doesn’t even feel like a continuation of the original!

Finally after the fascinating questions about identity and technology raised by the previous movie now we are served a bland soup of pseudo-philosophy and intellectual masturbation that is more boring than stimulating.



May 15, 2007


“Innocence” is not “Ghost in the Shell”. It’s a Mamoru Oshii original. His own ideas & philosophies.

The film is lost. Many scenes featured complete silence - intended to provide a lot of “breathing time” and others - to build tension i guess. The film slows down at many instances - maybe in order for the audiences to take a glance at the sceneries and identify the symbolisms hidden in them.

The characters all having less motion - they have to be like that in order to show the similarities between humans have with dolls. For example: Batou - his life is empty, a bit depressing - this kills the enjoyment of watching this movie overall.

The animation - stunning - BUT if viewers would look closer, there was really no animation at all - most were computer-generated-imagery and the rest were rotoscoped from real live actors. Only the guns, some character and robot close-ups, were true animation.

“Innocence” can never be superior to the first “Ghost in the Shell”. It can never become more well known or more recognized neither.

May 25, 2007

LDR said:

Am I the only one who got the reference to the three wise monkeys?

This movie is zen!

LDR said:

“Just as luck appears in three, so does misfortune.
Because you dont wanna see it, you dont see it coming.
Even if you notice it, you dont say anything.
Even if you’re told, you dont listen.
Then boom, the end comes!”

And no, dont tell me you noticed the trap when the first warning sign appeared.

May 29, 2007

randomrob said:

I just want a copy of the Bandai version w/the english dub… that I don’t have to order from Britain… the hearing impaired dub by Dreamworks drove me batsh*t :((

June 1, 2007

al mac said:

i cant beleive so many people have slated this movie…… i have watched it at least 4 times now and i must admit due to the first gits direction it took me a couple of goes to fully appreciate this one. however that said, i now love this movie, it is everything a cyberpunk manga should be and i would go as far too say it is one of the best peices of manga for the last 15 years. and on a general movie scale its up with blade runner, akira and aliens.

June 20, 2007

Josso said:

Very surprised at some of the comments although I entirely agree about the mix of CGI and classic drawings - at the start it didn’t work at all but the movie made up for that later on imho - best film I’ve seen in a long time and has drawn me in further towards the genre. Despite the introduction of the CGI (which was a bad mistake) there are still some very impressive drawn scenes like in the 1st one. Fully recommended.

July 1, 2007

PSY said:

This is a post-SAC GitS, so the mix between 2D animation and CGI was a given. As far as the film itself goes, I really enjoyed it. It will never be the original, but that’s because it will never have the glass celling to shatter like the original did. A title like GitS will always struggle to live up to its name, however as long as you go into this with an open mind you should greatly enjoy it. At LEAST watch up until the doll house scene. That’s just weird…I thought my DVD was busted!

July 3, 2007

project_2501 said:

One thing that confused me was the character of Ishikwawa. He always seemed really pissed off for no apparent reason (in the english dub at least). There’s one point in the film where he tells Batou that he’s a dog lover too, but then angrily says he can’t look after the basset hound!

He seemed like a very short-tempered character, whereas in the original film he seems quite laid back.

Josso said:

Yeah the English dub is slightly dodgy (as always imho) and similar to Akira for example is the ONLY thing that ruins the film (apart from slight 3d touches that are done badly mentioned in my earlier comment). Mind you the overal sound mixing and dubbing is far better than films such as Akira.

Still, some characters don’t come out right in the English dub.

August 5, 2007

Lo-Tek Scum said:

I enjoyed the movie. The subtitles were more comedic than frustrating. Honestly though, I don’t need to know when a helicopter is flying by.

August 8, 2007

shogunx0 said:

I saw both parts of this film recently and i must say: it’s my dream! Yeah, that’s it! Hidden fears and dreams appeared by watching this anime. I’ve loved it! I was so excited while watching this film that I really forgot about reality for few hours. IMO this movie is a quintessence of cyberpunk conception and ideas. I think, probably, our advancement in technology and biology is coming to be like in this anime, and I can’t come by that vision will be reality. Cyberbrains, AI, artifical, impressive in construction, parts of our bodies - it’s our future, and it will come soon I hope…
Sorry my english, and if u think my scribble are shit, I don’t care, I know GITS world and reality is coming! I hope you think similar to me ;D

project_2501 said:

I think the scene with Kim cyberhacking Togusa ispure genius. I actually watched it three times in a row. It makes you feel just like Togusa, as if you’re going insane. I’ll admit that for about 5 seconds I thought there was a defect with the dvd :) The playback of that renegade cyborg’s last words (in the lab) reminded me of texhnolyze. I also liked the orange colour scheme of all the electronic stuff. It makes a nice change from green…

August 25, 2007

Bullet Fiend said:

I haven’t seen this film so I probably shouldn’t be passing judgement. I liked the first one quite a lot and have watched a few GITS:SAC episodes, but I thought that from the commercials, the CG in the movie looked way overdone. For a (Was it a sequel? I apologize for not knowing) sequel to a well known anime film, it looked 90% CG, which I didn’t like. I far prefer well-rendered anime to even some of the best CG. I also didn’t like how in the commercial, when a crate of barrels explodes next to Bateau, I couldn’t tell if it was level to him, in front of him or behind him, also, a character swings an anime blade at him which, two seconds later, turns into a CG blade. Make up your freakin’ mind!

Good review, by the way, though.

September 23, 2007

amannin said:

the 1st time i watched it, i didn’t know what to make of it all because it definitely wasn’t what i was expecting. the 2nd time around, i feel asleep halfway through…

honestly though, I really enjoyed the visuals as well as some (not all) of the philosophy, most notably: If you transfer the human psyche/conscious into a human fabricated, mechanical body, is that “thing” still human? What then, classifies humans as humans? I reflected on this notion for quite some time and even wrote a blog about it. (there’s a lot to reflect on)

I would definitely not rate this movie a 10, more like a 7 or 8 (mostly due to what i felt were pacing issues) and I would most definitely change the title to something less misleading, because this really has almost nothing to do with the original.

i would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys cyberpunk movies and is capable of enduring mind-numbingly slow pacing riddled with philosophy–it’s a good watch, just don’t get too comfortable ^^b

October 18, 2007

1337ninja said:

This is by far the Greatest movie I have ever seen. I hits on every point I can possibly think about, the philosophical Ideals presented are the essence of what cyberpunk is. It shows us our true nature and what is to become.

My rating:Best movie ever 10/10

November 6, 2007

gw said:

GITS 2 has the fancier graphics, while Part 1 has the better story. Indeed, what remains of your identity (ghost) and self-determination if all your “hardware” (shell) is owned by a corporation or government entity? And if an AI gained self-consciousness, what “human rights” apply?
GITS 2 seems a bit confusing and gabby to me, maybe due to bad translation. It surely hits home the questions of GITS 1, albeit not adding much new.

January 12, 2008

Klaw said:

Interesting to note that Locus Solus (the cathedral ornithopter seagull scene) looks almost exactly like the Hades set from Blade Runner (the opening spinner flying sequence with the eye and view of Tyrell’s pyramid) After watching the “making of” documentary and the shapes they used to build that miniature set, this looks almost identical… with the cathedral replacing the pyramid.

kevjo said:

Well, it’s not too surprising. As the director Oshii says, in the interview on the second DVD:

I haven’t been influenced by recent films, hardly any. But of course I have memories of many films that I have seen in my life, and I assume I am influenced by those films without realising it. I cannot name one in particular….
However, I don’t think any film set in the future can be free from the influence of Blade Runner. For those of us who make such films, Blade Runner is something that we cannot surpass. The film is a vision…In a way that film is my inspiration.

January 18, 2008

Robot Sex Studies: Cyberpunked Living is On Its Way! said (pingback):

[…] inept geeks ends up being about as morally dubious as the creation and use of the dolls found in Ghost in the Shell: Innocence. Filed under Cyberpunked living by […]

May 21, 2008

HikariMushi said:

Hello, I am relatively new to your site and i love it, I’ve been going through all of it, so far is been quite good and lots
of good movie reviews. I am looking at the ranking of Cp movies you have here and i am really confused, how come
you have GITS “2″ higher ranked than, per example TRON?. I personally been a fan of Shirow Masamune since the original
GITS came out in manga, before the original GITS movie (i actually was the only foreigner in the premier in Tokyo when
it came out, that hardcore fan of Masamune i am). GITS is genius most definitely.
But i was really disappointed by Innocence. Is definitely not at the same level than GITS or other Cp movies in ranking.
it is ok, it is good, but it is not a 10 of 10. dame desu!, it has some nice punches and details but it fails to really have the 10 out of 10 for flaws, visual inconsistency and a just try to cash in the GITS/anime craze and “lets get another GITS thing going let Oshii do whatever he wants” . no i am not angry i swear (^_^)”, i think that Innocence deserves to be within your good 6 out of 10,
but in the 10 out of 10 is like an eyesore to me…the rest you listed in the top rank definitely my faves as well (^_^).

May 31, 2008

Kuromochi said:

While I throroughly agree with many elements of your review.(and being a HUGE Oshii fan for years), I still cannot recommend it as a film so much as a lovely dissertation on the current state of biotech affairs & the role it plays in our evolution.Looking back at the filmography, it is easy to see why he chose to go for a far-removed approach from the source material and just express his concerns through Shirow’s already classic characters.INNOCENCE is in many ways not so much a sequel, but a carte-blanc work much closer in approach like Oshii’s awesome AVALON and Patlabor 2.

While I was thrilled to experience Oshii’s take on Shirow’s characters again(and again listen to the always awesome Otsuka Akio and Tanaka Atsuko), I loved it as the next logical step from AVALON, much less a Koukaku Kidotai movie, hence why Stand Alone Complex was made around the same time(with Oshii as contributing producer). So as a personal fave it ranks high, but as a piece of cyberpunk cinema for me it falls short of nailing the thematics using the language of film.Fans Only!

For straight-up cyberpunk thrills,stick to the TV series…Especially the riveting 2nd Gig.

Either way, I love the site you have here. Keep up the groovy work!

October 11, 2008

JRelic said:

The film makes more sense if you read the prequel book called Ghost In The Shell 2 Innocence: After The Long Goodbye. As for the movie, come on people, enjoy it for what it is, not what it isn’t. It’s not meant to be the original Ghost In The Shell. It is another part of the story. It is meant to be philosophical and as for the CGI I prefer it to the hand drawn for this movie. It is a progression of the times.

January 5, 2010

Pef said:

ok, why isnt Ergo Proxy in the 10 star ranks ?
it isnt anywhere on this site either , duh.

October 3, 2010

Dman said:

I’m a huge GITS fan, only recently having got around to SAC as well, but I always loved the original movie.

The movie is beautiful and worth watching.. but I have to say, I found it really trying to watch in some parts. Where they rattle off quotes from philosophers and authors back and forth, it was like watching an anime bibliography and I found it very tedious.

I love philosophical themes, but it seemed more like writers trying to ram in their favorite quotes rather than developing the characters or story.

June 15, 2012

ArmA5 said:

I really don’t understand all the hate about this fine piece of work. Sure the pacing is off and the story seems a bit dragged but most of you are missing the silver lining - try to judge a film on basis of what it promise to deliver. Oshii himself stated that he gives priorities to visuals first, the story second, then the characters.

The philosophical and the cyberpunk themes presented in this film coupled with breathtaking visuals easily guarantees it to be one of the finest films in this genre.

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