Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence
What is a Soul?
"Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence" is perhaps one of the best and arguably one of the most under rated animes out there. Set in the distant future, where all of humanity are cyborgs (some more so than others) to where some have even given up their frail human bodies to become fully machined. Where the only thing that's real about them is their memories. However, is that even real? For you see in this futuristic society, everyone's mind is monitored by the net. Thus, making telepathy now possible, as almost everyone in the world has a cybernetic brain. Sadly, as most people know about hackers in our current society, lets just say they still exist in this futuristic utopia. However, unlike the hackers in our era where they can easily steal someone's identity online, the hackers, in this future, can also control anyone's brain and control them.....even manipulating their memories to where everything they think they know about themselves isn't real at all. Just a cruel and twisted joke at the whims of a mad man. Very scary to even think about, but it happens in this film. Are we even still human even if the only thing real about us is our own memories while the rest of our body is a machine? However, as this film shows since our minds would be linked to the internet, where any hacker can manipulate said memories, then are we even still humans? Or just some carbon copy of someone who once lived? For you see, it has always been mankind's dream to reach the pinnacle of human perfection, even if it means giving up our own humanity to do so. However, at what cost? "Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence" plays on this concept beautifully.
The story takes place in futuristic Japan, Bato (Akio Otsuka) and his new partner, Togusa (Koichi Yamadera), investigate a series of murders that involve the owners of love androids, life less drones programmed to satisfy their master's sexual urges or are they? In a futuristic society where nothing is what it seems, and memories can easily be erased or manipulated, via hackers, then is anything real? As Bato soon discovers during his investigation, this is far more complex than a simple malfunction on the love androids' part. Forcing Bato to put his life in danger along with his partner's as they have a few run ins with the Yakuza (Japanese Mafia), just to solve this mystery. However, what he finds along the way isn't for the faint of heart. As he soon finds out that the dangerous actions like taking on the Yakuza, was not entirely of his own free will. Rather to divert his attention from the real issue at hand.
Indeed, for anyone who's ever been blessed to follow Masamune Shirow's work on the "Ghost In The Shell" series, will certainly know that the series blends the lines between machines and humanity like no other. Portraying many controversial questions and concept about exactly what is a soul? What defines us as human beings exactly? In a world where a person can have an android body, but their memories are real; however, even that can be manipulated by a hacker. Then are you even still a human being? Or a mere copy of someone that died? Plus, what if a machine could gain its own it's own self awareness and emotions, then what would make it have less of a soul than you? If the only thing real about you was your memories, but even that might not be real. As I stated before, Masamune plays on this concept beautifully, to where it'll leave anyone questioning their own right to say they have a soul. Or dare I say it, what would be the definition of it.
Even the visuals were amazing for this movie, as the level of detail in the animation itself is breath taking. Portraying a futuristic yet surprisingly realistic society, allowing for the audience to completely buy into the reality of the film itself. Of course, the visuals also help tremendously in setting up the atmosphere, as it creates a dark film noir element to it. Thus, shrouding the story in mystery as to keep the viewer constantly on their toes.
Sadly, if there is one flaw to this movie, it's that there are some story elements that won't make sense unless you've seen the first movie, "Ghost In The Shell." As that film, explains in more detail about certain things like what happened to the main character, Major Motoko Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka), who plays a vital role again in helping Bato solve this new case. However, that's not to say you won't understand what's going on if you haven't seen the previous film. No, the story line is set fairly easily to where anyone can follow what happens throughout the film, without any confusion. Just that one little foot note won't make sense if you haven't seen the previous chapter.
Overall, "Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence" is by far one of the best animated films out there. Anyone who dares call themselves an anime fan, then this is definitely a must see. As the visuals and the intriguing story aspect will keep anyone entertained.