Ghost in the Shell 2

In 1996 the original Ghost in the Shell was released. Last Friday the (much antisipated?) sequel was released. As per Paradoxdruid’s request, here is my analysis.Take yourself back to the beginning of 1996. At that time I was a junior in high school. I watched pretty much any anime I could get my hands on because it was anime. Up until I saw the original Ghost in the Shell, the best anime I had seen was Macross Plus (only part of it had been released at that point) and Akira (which defined anime in the 80’s). Ghost in the Shell paled everything, not only from its amazing animation style and attention to detail, but the plot, the interesting characters and the music all flowed together seamlessly. Ghost in the Shell was to anime in the 1990’s what Akira was to it in the 1980’s. If you haven’t seen it, then you should. One thing, though, it ended and I couldn’t see any real potential for a sequel.

It is now 2004, and this has been self labeled as the much antisipated sequel. I was suspicious, to say the least. Could they create another masterwork? I went into the movie with low expectations, but I should have lowered them further. In terms of visual work, I have never seen such realistic computer generated backgrounds in my life. They were amazingly detailed, awe inspiring, but they also were disconserting. On many occasions the backdrops fell into the Uncanny Valley, which made your brain look specifically for flaws and then eccentuating them.

Within these near perfect computer generated backdrops the hand drawn characters lived. The use of hand drawn animation for anything that was alive was a great touch for two important reasons. 1) The characters didn’t fall into the Uncanny Valley, so you could empathize with them. 2) They looked similar to the characters in the original, so you could connect them to the first movie. 95% of the time they did a good job of near seamless integration with the backdrop, but during that 5% of the time where it wasn’t near seamless made me nauseous. It wasn’t the action scenes where this was a problem, it was the walking scenes that they didn’t put the effort into.

Now, you might be thinking, Stephen, you said that you should have lowered your expectations further than you did, but so far it doesn’t sound that bad. The problems were with the plot and the dialog. The directions the plot went seemed forced and had little to no explaination. The connections drawn between different groups seemed to be done as an afterthought in a half-assed attempt to make the plot seem more intricate than it actually was. The dialog that did occur was often tedious and seemed to be something you would expect from a freshman level philosophy course. If you removed the bullshit half thoughtout discussion on what is life, or put more effort into not making it seem pompas and immature, and concentrated on the style of dialog that defined Bato and his partner, it wouldn’t have been bad.

I would like to rent it and hear what the director has to say about it. It could very well be that he purposefully put the entire film into the uncanny valley and then flattened the characters for the expressed purpose to accentuate the “questioning of reality” theme that both films put forward. If that effect was purposeful, then I commend his amazing execution of it, but I somehow doubt that is what he was going for.

In the end, I think that a lot of people who read this forum would love this film. It was amazing visually, it had some great action scenes and was, in general, entertaining. It was not on par with the original, nor will it be the defining anime of the 2000’s.

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