The sequel to Ghost in The Shell, titled Innocence, was actually the film that made me a fan not just of the franchise but of Oshii film's altogether. Ever since my introduction to Innocence I've been back peddling on all of Oshii's past films, and dropping way too much money to see his new releases. But if you're someone who is as starved for smart cinema as I am, than it's worth it. It would also mean that Innocence is a must see movie.
Innocence takes place four years after where the first GITS leaves off. In the original, Motoko Kusanagi was our person of interest. She is powerful, pensive and powerfully pensive -- and also the dear friend of her more grounded partner, Batou. Innocence now brings a dim spotlight on Batou, who, in the absence of his friend Motoko, begins to mirror her self-reflective behavior. Batou is investigating a series of gruesome murders, searching for the people responsible. However, who he is really searching for is his friend Motoko; and what he is really hoping to find is himself and his own humanity.
To help Batou through this important journey, Mamoru Oshii, the film's director, has given Batou the insight of historical people who have no doubt embarked on the same journey in their lifetime. Plato, Descartes, Milton, Buddha are all referenced in this movie -- sometimes being directly quoted. It is almost as if Oshii catalouged the words of wisdom that have served him in his own struggles, and now passes the baton to us by way of Batou.
If you entered this movie during your own period of uncertainty, you'll want to thank Oshii for what he is trying to do. This is a movie about the inevitable loneliness that is intrinsic to life (the corporation "Locus Solus" that Batou investigates translates to "Lonely Place"). Even if you can't find the virtues of this movie on first viewing, that's okay. You may have a different reaction later. After all, on the DVD extras Oshii tells us that he wanted to make a film that would be useful to the human condition even 20 years later.
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