Innocence; Science-fiction thriller, Japan, 2004; D: Mamoru Oshii, S: Akio Otsuka, Koichi Yamadera, Atsuko Tanaka
The future. Years after the events where Major Kusanagi went missing, her cyborg partner Bato is still working for the police, with a new partner, Togusa. They are currently investigating a crime series where sexoids - android sex toys - killed their owners screaming "Help me". Bato and Togusa discover that the Yakuza kidnapped girls in order to attach their personality in the sexoids, making them more "lively" for the customers. They apprehend the 'guy in charge', hacker Kim, whereas Kusanagi's personality uploads herself into one puppet and helps Bato rescue the girl who screamed for help.
The first ever anime nominated for the Golden Palm in Cannes, "Innocence" is an even better sequel to the hyped, though too rigid original cyberpunk classic "Ghost in the Shell", relying not so much on grey-bleak atmosphere anymore, instead offering an engaging story with a clearer oversight. A philosophical essay disguised as an action thriller, "Innocence" presents a collection of quotes, thoughts and rants about human existence - even though the Schwarzenegger-type protagonist Bato seems like an unlikely philosopher, he says a few great quotes in the most unlikely situations: "If the essence of life is information that is carried in DNA, then society and civilization are just colossal memory storage systems and a metropolis like this one is just a sprawling external memory." There are also other good contemplations ("You don't have to be Caesar to understand Caesar"), an occasional vivid detail about the blend between humans and robots (upon getting a new robotic hand with instructions, Bato sums it up with: "The more I use it, the more it will seem like my own") whereas the protagonists even cite Confucius! Even though director Mamoru Oshii is not as pretentious here as he was in "Angel's Egg", "Innocence" is still humorless and excessively dark, whereas the story is rather vague, which is a burden especially in the rather disappointing end. Still, this sequel is definitely not an "empty shell", but has spirit.