9 January 2005 | Sentinel-15
Impressive sequel to an anime cyberpunk classic
A new Japanese cyberpunk masterpiece that makes the original GiTS look primitive by comparison. Mamoru Oshii and his crew did a masterful job creating a worthy successor to their 1995 adaptation of Masamune Shirow's original manga.
As in the original movie as well as in that other quintessential proto-cyberpunk movie, Blade Runner the movie explores human nature in a world that is becoming more technological all the time, to a point where people ARE technology, the boundaries are rapidly fading away. What does it mean to be human? If we join with technology, would we become something else? Should we welcome it, or fear it? Will humanity lose or gain from the changes?
After the events of the first movie, Major Motoko Kusanagi has seemingly disappeared; focus of the second movie has shifted to Bateau, who is still working for the secret government "Section 9". This is by no means a bad thing, since Bateau is at least as interesting a character as Kusanagi ever was. Going beyond your basic cyberpunk cyborg tough guy with attitude, he is very intelligent, and has some nice human touches (like the dog he loves taking care of). At various points he and other characters routinely indulge in philosophical debate, often quoting literature, from Milton to biblical psalm verses. Just to say this isn't your typical sci-fi action movie, although there is some action, and when it comes, it's fast, brutal & violent.
The actual plot involves an incident with a sophisticated robotic "pleasure model", if you will, gone berserk. The investigation leads us through the darker parts of near-future Japanese society, including yakuza, companies with questionable ethics, and mysterious hackers.
Visually, the movie is stunningly beautiful, using a combination of traditional cell animation and state of the art CGI. Many of the movie's backgrounds are gorgeous to just look at; even dark and dirty back alleys are shown so rich in color and detail, you could gaze at them all day. Like in the first movie, Oshii lets the movie halt at times, immersing the viewer in the richly detailed world he created. Many of the computer screen readouts resemble those seen in Oshii's "Avalon" a lot which again is not a bad thing, as they look both high-tech and yet elegant & artistic.
Last but not least, the music by Kenji Kawai is hauntingly beautiful, adding more layers to the sophisticated richness of it all.
I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. Anyone who likes science fiction, anyone who was blown away by movies such as Blade Runner and of course the first "Ghost in the Shell" (which you should see before watching this one) will enjoy this.