Welcome, my Friends, to the last film festival week review of the year. We’ve looked at a lot of films. Some well known. Some more obscure. Some tied to popular franchises, some stand alone adaptations. We started the week with a call back to last year’s film festival and we’re going to end the same way. So, let’s take another look at Production I.G’s Ghost in the Shell franchise. Last year, I took a look at the first film, which was excellent. This year it’s time to look at the second film. Co-produced by Studio Ghibli, this is Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.
The Major has gone missing. Our hero in this installment is Batou. The story opens with Batou being called to the scene of a crime to investigate a murder committed by a prototype sex robot. It seems like a job for the regular police, but Aramaki is concerned by the fact that there are several such murders, all by the same line and that some of them have been against people in powerful positions. As such, he sends Batou and Togusa to investigate the incidents and the company behind them.
Let’s start with the positive aspects of the story. It does do a really good job of converging its plot points in a way that makes sense and is largely compelling. It also does a good job of establishing everything that factors into the climax well before the actual climax. Everything is foreshadowed handily without spoiling what’s actually going to happen. The twists make sense and do help keep things interesting. The film, however, is not without story problems.
The pacing of the film is pretty bad. There are some pretty long stretches that serve no purpose other than to pad things out and show off the artwork. The investigation itself suffers from the effects of this with some scenes being far shorter than they should and others dragging a bit. It’s not so bad that you’ll lose track of what’s happening but it’s bad enough that it’s jarring.
Our major characters in this one are Togusa and Batou. The film does do a really good job of giving them both character arcs that develop them and give them complexity. They also exchange some really good banter. The weak link is the antagonist. There really isn’t much of one aside from a vague corporate entity motivated by profit. They barely even show people who work for this company Yeah, real companies do make decisions that emphasise profits over people and there are cases where those decisions are unethical or even illegal, but it still feels weak and kind of cliché given how many works use the amoral corporation in the exact same role.
The art in this is gorgeous. There’s a lot of detail and the futuristic technology looks really cool. The character designs are unique and combined with the technology in a way that gives the film a unique aesthetic. Batou’s dog is also adorable. The action scenes flow really strongly and I have no complaints about the art whatsoever.
Yamadera Kouichi and Otsuka Akio both reprise their roles as Togusa and Batou to great effect. Tanaka Atsuko also successfully reprises her role, albeit very briefly. All of the actors in this give great performances. As for the music, it is very good but I have the same criticism I had with the music of the first film. The same bloody song gets used throughout the movie during atmospheric scenes and it ends up really over-used.
Another film without any. 1/10.
Ghost in the Shell 2 is not as strong as the first film. Don’t misunderstand, it’s still a good cyberpunk work with strong protagonists, excellent artwork, great acting and a good narrative. What really hurts it is the pacing and the antagonist being really weak. Still, if you’re into cyberpunk narratives, give it a watch. My final rating is a 7/10. Next week we’ll be back to our regular schedule and looking at Tales of Symphonia the OVA. Wait… there are three of those, not counting the specials. We’ll look at the first Tales of Symphonia OVA, The Sylvarant Chapter.