Genre: Surreal Futurist Vision of Mind Meets Machine
review in one breath
In this highly acclaimed sequel, not only has the technological bizzarities of the world gone rampant, but the producers have taken a qualitative evolutionary step in their anime rendering. This is an amazing piece of eye candy wrapped in an intellectually satisfying Sci-Fi tale. The futuristic vision presented here is quite impressive and often jaw-dropping.
This is the sequel to the 1995 Ghost in the Shell, also produced by Ishii Mamoru and based on the incredible work of manga artist Masamune Shirou. In the nine year interim between this film and its prequel, there was a four year TV series entitled "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" (2002-2005) and two video games based on the original and "Stand Alone Complex".
Although this film and its (9 year prior) prequel contain the same characters and constitute a single, prolonged narrative, there are massive evolutionary steps between these two films in terms of animation rendering and philosophical stance.
Whereas the original Ghost in the Shell appears to have been rendered solely in traditional cell animation, this 2004 sequel integrates some fascinatingly beautiful CG rendering. This is pure eye candy and clearly brings mature animation into a whole new evolutionary tier (which will ultimately meet its culmination in Appleseed (2004), also based on a Masamune's manga).
In my review of the prequel, I highlighted the philosophical quest which undergirded the entire narrative. Here too, a philosophical quandary, namely existentialist, is clearly in the forefront of our characters' concerns. But just as in the animation techniques, there is a clear evolutionary step in the manner in which these questions are presented. The initial questions in the prequel regarding the nature of individuality are here replaced with a more resolute existential stance in the face of ultimate uncertainty (due to an inability to answer the prequel's primary question). Consider, for example, how the character Batou describes Togusa's inability to discern Reality from a cyber-hack induced Dream State: Whereas humans are (actually) unable to distinguish between our waking Reality and a Dream Reality, we must move ahead, hoping that our contemplation of what happens somehow gives us a clue.
That pure commitment to choice and action in the face of ultimate uncertainty is pure Existentialism at its best. Thus the prequel's fixation on Descartes ("I think therefore I am (or am I?)") has wholly transformed into a Kierkegaardian stance.
And finally, as in the review of the prequel, I must give sincere laud and honor to this film's pure visual value. This is simply fun to watch, with its dark and culturally fascinating landscapes, from its distant and decaying urban epicenters to the bustling and overcrowded thoroughfares of an over-urbanized metropolis.
This film gets high reviews all around, from nearly every review you will read of it. And this review is no different. This is definitely one to add to your collection (keeping in mind the narrative requires an understanding of the prequel) of "gotta see" Japanese animation. AND the eerily beautiful soundtrack really makes this a holistic experience.
Version reviewed: Region 1 subtitled DVD available at all mainstream venues.
|Excellent example of traditional cell animation intergrated with eye-boggling CG.||More gun violence, neck-snapping, torso exploding and general graphic mayhem.||A gazillion nude dolls ready to stomp you into the ground!!||Undeniably beautiful and mind-boggling. This is top notch Japanese animation.|