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The Perfect Beauty in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

The Perfect Beauty in
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

by Henry Edward Hardy

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Inosensu: Kokaku Kidotai, 2004) works both as a cyberpunk no-holds-barred shoot-’em-up and as a philosophical exploration of the nature of consciousness, memory, identity and what it means to be human in an artificial world. In a series of baffling crimes, an obscure series of android sex-dolls has developed a malfunction: they have started to kill their masters. When the military cyborg Batô responds to a crime in progress, he finds two murdered cops. A painfully beautiful geisha-doll android cradles the cop’s decapitated head in her arms like a baby. With perfect beauty and efficiency she tries to murder Batô as well. When he fells her with one punch of his android knuckles, she folds like a broken toy and begs him, “Help me”, then malfunctions and explodes in a most alarming fashion.

The film is visually stunning.The washed-out, grey, flat cell-animated anime characters contrast with the brilliant, super-real, anamorphically skewed candy-like cathedral light of the world portrayed through their cybernetically-enabled senses. The story is told through action and inaction, silence and violence. Much of the very laconic, cool dialogue is an obvious reference to film noir, as are the 1950s-era automobiles.

The geisha dolls are based on a series of pre-World War II dolls made by German surrealist Hans Bellmer, who made them partly as a protest against the Nazi ideals of physical culture, and partly out of an innate sense of sensuality and idealized beauty. As with Bellmer’s works, this ambiguity, that anything perfect cannot be anything human, is central to the film.

The protagonist, Major Motoko Kusanagi, is known at first in this movie only as a memory, a cipher. She disappeared years ago on a mission detailed in the Ghost in the Shell manga by Masamune Shirô and movie of the same name by Mamoru Oshii. Only her partner, Batô, continues to believe she is alive on the Net. We learn that what makes Major Kusanagi and Batô human, is that they love. Their sense of companionship, loyalty and identity with all life is what endows the shell of the body, whatever it may be, with a “ghost” or soul.

Google Image results for Ghost in the Shell: Innocence
Ghost in the Shell: Innocence (IMDB)
Ghost in the Shell: Innocence (Rotten Tomatoes)
Ghost in the Shell: Innocence (wikipedia)
Hans Bellmer (wikipedia)

A version of this article appeared previously in Current Magazine and on Electric Current

Copyright © 2005, 2006, 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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22 January, 2007 - Posted by | anime, archives, art, comics, Japan, manga, media, movies, reviews, scanlyze, science fiction, surrealism

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