Miscellanea and Ephemeron
04/07/2005 Archived Entry: "Ani-Manga review: Ghost in the Shell: Innocence"
Review by Ginger Mayerson
I think this ani-manga edition of "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" is just for me. I saw "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" three times (twice paying retail) and still couldn't take it all in. The first time I saw it, I was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of it. There are moments in this anime that will simply take your breath away. The second time I saw it, I was trying to reconcile the visuals with the soundtrack, which is also impressive in and of itself. The third time I saw it, I was trying to follow the nuances in the dialogue subtitles while on visual and aural sensory overload. The plot is a fairly straight forward futuristic police/government tale; someone is breaking laws we here in the present could never imagine and breaking them for reasons I'm still not clear on. However, this ani-manga clears up many points in the dialogue that I was longing to have cleared up.
"Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" explores themes of what it means to be human. In a futuristic society where everyone has some kind of cyborg/robotic enhancement (sometimes being more machine than, well, flesh), the issue of what constitutes the human and the ghost (I'm not sure if ghost is closer to soul or mind or some combination of both; I'm still mulling it over with my unenhanced fleshy gray matter) becomes crucial. Are we human because we have a "ghost," or in spite of it? If you transfer the "ghost" from a human into a machine, what does that make of them both?
The two main characters are reluctant partners in the traditional tough guy cop style. Of course they fall in love -- just kidding -- Batou is a cyborg and Togusa keeps talking about his wife and daughter, but they do end up coming to terms with each other and having some fairly intimate conversations. It is these conversations this ani-manga limns and does a great job of it, too. There is a scene in a cross between a helicopter and jet where Batu and Togusa quote poetry to each other. (Oooh, shivers.) Here's a taste from that scene as they are on their way to the lawless, high tech industrial zone, which, visually utterly defies description, but just remembering it makes my knees weak:
Batou: "Reminds me of the line 'what the body creates, is as much an expression of DNA as the body itself.' ... If the essence of life is information carried in DNA, then society and civilization are just colossal memory systems... And a metropolis like this one, simply a sprawling external memory."
Togusa: "'How great is the sum of they thoughts if I should count them, they are more in number than the sand.'"
Batou: "Psalm 139 ... the way you spout these spontaneous exotic references... I'd say your own external memory's pretty twisted."
Togusa: "'His legions, angel forms, who lay entranced thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks.'"
Batou: "Now you're quoting Milton."
See? Great stuff (from two guys who are NOT in love); and this anime is full of such dialogue, but it's hard to catch with everything else that's going on in the moment.
But that's where VIZ, the makers of these beautiful little dust-jacketed jewel-like books in a boxed set that I will treasure forever and ever, come in: they've got it all here and you can take it all in at your own pace.
Frankly, I feel the perfect gift would be this boxed set, and DVD's of both "Ghost in the Shell" animes. You get beauty, philosophy, action, and really cool music and sound effects. Who could ask for anything more than that?
From the Press Release:
"The exclusive Ani-Manga edition of GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE was created using over 2000 full-color stills from renowned director Mamoru Oshii’s spectacular film, which was released theatrically in North America in 2004 by DreamWorks. Each volume in this four-volume set comes with elegant dust jacket that mirror’s the original Japanese edition, along with the complete and uncut Japanese sound effects, and a bonus glossary. Also included is a special original essay on director Mamoru Oshii and Innocence."
Edit 20050521: So, now this ani-manga is even more important to me because I was a fool, a FOOL I tell you, and bought this crappy DreamWorks DVD of "Ghost in the Shell 2," which, in the English subtitle version, unbelievably stupidly subtitles sound effects, like, oh, stretching and tearing sounds, bird cries, dishes rattling, etc. I kid you not, it is annoying as hell, and I wish I'd heeded the Amazon reviews of how bad this is. DreamWorks must think the people who buy this DVD are idiots, which is very much not the case (see urgent edit below). Oddly, or appropriately, the French subtitles lack these annoyances. So, even though I can read French, I find myself watching more and more with the subtitles disabled, and if I really need to see some text, well, hah! I have this ani-manga! Yay!
I can only hope the Special Edition of GITS2 is as good as GITS1, which is simply and purely lovely. I'm hooked, hooked like a bass. Dear me.
Special 103105 Edit: Apparently subtitling sound effects on the DVD was either a mistake or the outgreat has been so great , click on that link for details. Well, that's nice of them.
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