Ghost in the Shell 2 / Innocence : 5 of 5

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence [Blu-ray]I've been so into Ghost in the Shell lately that I'm buying up every way to experience this anime/manga universe left and right, which means I had to get this 2004 feature film sequel on Blu-ray! I've read many wishy-washy reviews of this movie, so I wasn't sure quite what to expect, but it turned out to be one of the most awesome anime films I've ever seen. There are so many elements that make this movie really unique, starting with the fact that Motoko (the main character of all the other Ghost in the Shell movies and anime series) is barely a part of the plot (although she does play a vital role), leaving the story to focus instead on Batou and Togusa. This is a great combination of characters, with Batou being almost fully machine and Togusa almost fully biological, especially since the movie is jam-packed with philosophical discussions (as well as tons of literary quotes) about the nature of humanity and consciousness and how they relate to cybernetics (or dolls). Batou and Togusa work together to unravel a case of female robots who are murdering their owners, and following them on their investigations and listening to their deductions is a fascinating process. But I immediately need to start talking about the visual aspect of this movie, which is absolutely breathtaking. Most of the film combines CGI modeling with traditional cel animation is a beautiful way, and the level of detail is just incredible. Not only are there stunning cityscapes and vehicles to enjoy, but even sets are rendered so perfectly that they appear "hyper-real". The now-famous scene in the mini-mart features aisles of products that have been created so every last box and can is completely labeled, and a huge Chinese parade (the story is set in Hong Kong like the original film) is just overflowing with accuracy that feels like you could infinitely zoom-in on the picture and discover new details! I could go on and on about the computer displays, the animation of Batou's basset hound and even the amazing reflections of light on cars, but it's enough to say that Innocence is the first anime film to ever be nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival! The Blu-ray includes a nice (but short) Making Of segment, plus a full Japanese commentary track, and it's so much fun to listen to the filmmakers obsess over every detail on screen. I had a fantastic time watching this movie and digging ever deeper into the world of Ghost in the Shell!