Innocence: Ghost in the Shell

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Batou, the protagonist.

Innocence: Ghost in the Shell (Japanese title: Innocence イノセンス, or Innocence: Kokaku Kidotai) is a follow up to the anime Ghost in the Shell, but not primarily a sequel.

Innocence is one of the most ambitious anime movies on the question of animated objects and its representative forms as artificial life.

The Japanese release date was March 6 2004 (Official U.S. Release Date: September 17, 2004). It had a production budget of approximately US $20 million (approx. 2 billion yen). In order to raise such a large amount of money, Production I.G.'s president called Studio Ghibli's president Toshio Suzuki to work on the project. As a result Studio Ghibli is a co-producer.

The movie is directed by Mamoru Oshii, loosely connected to the manga by Masamune Shirow. The movie was produced by Production I.G., which also produced the original movie and the spinoff TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.

On the origins of the film, Mamoru Oshii says: "When Production I.G first proposed the project to me, I thought about it for two weeks. I didn't make Innocence as a sequel to Ghost in the Shell. In fact I had a dozen ideas, linked to my views on life, my philosophy, that I wanted to include in this film. [...] I attacked Innocence as a technical challenge; I wanted to go beyond typical animation limits, answer personal questions and at the same time appeal to filmgoers."



The story of Innocence begins in 2032, when cities are inhabited by the dwindling race of humans, purely mechanical androids and cyborgs like Batou who still have a ghost (human spirit), but are vulnerable to ghost hacking.

The film features several characters from the preceding film, like Togusa, the most organic member of the team, and Batou, as the protagonists.

The special officers of Public Security Police Section 9 are investigating a cyborg corporation called LOCUS SOLUS[1] ( (from the equally named novel by French author Raymond Roussel) and its gynoids - androids made in the form of young women, used as sex dolls - that killed their owners and, as soon as they realize they have a spirit, start to think of suicide.

Further, Oshii comments: "They want to become fully human -- but they can't. That dilemma becomes unbearable for them. The humans who made them are to blame. They try to make a doll that is as human as possible -- but they don't think of the consequences."

Dolls are an important motif in Innocence and have a spirit, but at the same time are not quite human. "But the other characters as well. Their movements are somewhat doll-like. Even their expressions are more doll-like than human" granted Oshii.

Batou's body is fully artificial: the only remnants left of his humanity, encased inside a titanium skull shell, are traces of his brain, and the memories of a woman called Motoko Kusanagi. In fact, Major Motoko Kusanagi is listed as missing, although government agents are still looking for her, as she has confidential knowledge on the Project 2501 in Ghost in the Shell.

Background information

Innocence is Life
"...untested, but virtue is innocence tested and triumphant." (W. H. Griffith Thomas, 1962)

Innocence begins with a quotation from Mathias Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's Tomorrow's Eve (1886):

"If our Gods and our hopes are nothing but scientific phenomena, then let us admit it must be said that our love is scientific as well."

The movie is filled with references to fantasy, philosophy and Zen and addresses aesthetic and moral questions. The numerous quotations come from Buddha, Confucius, Descartes, the Old Testament, Saito Ryokuu, Max Weber, Jacob Grimm, Plato, John Milton, Zeami, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam and others.

The characters themselves are a reference to Tomorrow's Eve (The term android was first used in this book featuring a man-made human-like robot named Hadaly) and Locus Solus or, more symbolically, like the Coronor Haraway to Donna Haraway ("A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century" (

It could prefigure a new century with people facing "towards a humanity of hard disks and memories" [2] (,1-0@2-3488,36-365728,0.html) when animate and inanimate start to merge in new forms like "interconnected 'living dolls'".

While pursuing the truth behind the crime incident that happened in the course of the movie, Batou and Togusa, flying to Etorofu, a special economic development zone, make the following observation: [3] (

"If the substance of life is information, transmitted through genes, then society and culture are essentially immense information transmission systems, and the city, a huge external memory storage device."

On his narrative intentions Oshii comments:

"For Innocence, I had a bigger budget than for Ghost in the Shell. I also had more time to prepare it. Yet despite the economic leeway, abundant details and orientations, it was still important to tell an intimate story. [...] Personally, I adore the quotes in the film. It was a real pleasure for me. The budget and work that went into it contributed to the high quality of imagery. The images had to be up to par, as rich as the visuals."
"This desire to include quotes by other authors came from Godard. The text is very important for a film, that I learned from him. It gives a certain richness to cinema because the visual is not all there is. Thanks to Godard, the spectator can concoct his own interpretation. [...] The image associated to the text corresponds to a unifying act that aims at renewing cinema, that lets it take on new dimensions."

Kenji Kawai's technologic music greatly contributes to the film's futuristic atmosphere, and reinforces its link to Ghost in the Shell: for example, the opening theme echoes the ubiquitous "Birth of a Cyborg" piece from the first movie.

Some others turn to more modern jazz fusion and romance like the song "Follow Me", which is used in the trailer and became popular among fans of the movie.

Mamoru Oshii's concept follows in the tradition of the romantic myth of the manufacture of a creature which is at the same time human and artificial, such as Frankenstein's monster. There is a substantial amount of religious and philosophical musing on this general topic, which arguably gives it a more mystical tone than most cyberpunk.

Oshii said the film was first inspired by bleak thoughts of economic recession and violent crime. He imagines a world where humans have been replaced by their virtual selves.

"Distinguishing the virtual from the real is a major error on the part of human beings. To me, the birth and death of a human being is already a virtual event," the 52-year-old director told a news conference on 2004 Cannes Film Festival. "I think that accepting that what we are seeing is not real will open the doors of truth for mankind," he added.

Innocence achieves a unique spatial atmosphere which is also worthy of mention. Panoramic views are enveloped in orange light and deep haze. Sunlight seldom falls on Batou, who wanders in solitude at ground level, bathed in yellow light, red neon, and blue electric light, effects which enhance the movie's atmosphere of film noir beyond its obvious reference to Blade Runner.

Unlike with a filmed movie, the creators of an animated movie must envision and create all the detailed elements that make up a scene, and the movie comes to life. Innocence approaches this challenge with some weird 3D scenes softly integrated to 2D characters; but it is said that "in some scenes there was intentional direction from Oshii to make 3D environment look unreal to describe ghost-hack and such complicated concepts."

Oshii says:

"I enjoy making the world [of the film] as detailed as possible. I get absorbed in the finer points -- like what the back of a bottle label looks like when you see it through the glass [demonstrates with a bottle of mineral water]. That's very Japanese, I suppose. I want people to go back to the film again and again to pick up things they missed the first time."

The dog Gabriel, looking one more time like the only real being, makes an key appearance, like in many of Oshii's movies. A scene of Batou feeding his dog is echoing Ash in Avalon and Mamoru Oshii in his real life, as the director himself admits: "Batou is a reflection of my own thoughts and feelings. Innocence is a kind of autobiographical film in that way."

He also explained the reason why all his films feature a basset hound -- his faithful companion in real life.

"This body you see before you is an empty shell. The dog represents my body. Humans can be free only if they free themselves from their body. When I am playing around with my dog, I forget that I am a human being and it's only then that I feel free."

Even if some of the characters from Ghost in the Shell are present, Innocence goes far beyond the themes of electronic networks and human-machine technologies. The usual downbeat story line of Oshii's movies could perhaps restrict the audience to technology and anime fans.

Mamoru Oshii also adds his own reflections about art and animation:

"I think that Hollywood is relying more and more on 3D imaging like that of Shrek. The strength behind Japanese animation is based in the designers' pencil[4] ( Even if he mixes 2D, 3D, and computer graphics, the foundation is still 2D. Only doing 3D does not interest me."

The animation features a motif of figurative deformation of scenery — especially the cathedral house in Shenzhen and the Chinese parade which will stay as one of the most amazing scenes in recent memory. Although the style is quite realistic and detailed, it mixes in startling distortions.

"The film is set in the future, but it's looking at present-day society. And as I said, there's an autobiographical element as well. I'm looking back at some of the things I liked as a child — the 1950s cars and so on. Basically, I wanted to create a different world — not a future world."

Cannes Film Festival

Innocence was one of the feature films in competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.

DVD Controversy

On December 28, 2004, DreamWorks released Innocence on DVD in the United States. Reviews immediately began appearing on Amazon and other websites criticizing the film's subtitle track. Instead of including the yellow subtitles from the theatrical release, DreamWorks produced the DVD subtitles using closed captioning. The result was script that intruded on the movie's visual effects; and in addition to reading dialogue, audiences saw unneccessary alerts like "Footsteps..." or "Helicopter approaches..." After receiving numerous complaints, DreamWorks released the following statement (

If you are not satisfied with the subtitle options on your "Ghost in the Shell 2" DVD, DreamWorks Home Entertainment will replace it with a version that includes English Language subtitles. If "v4" is printed on the package spine, you already have English Language subtitles.
This program applies to Region 1 DVDs and to consumers with U.S. and Canada addresses only.
To receive a postage-paid mailer in which to return your original "Ghost in the Shell 2" DVD disc only, please provide the following information. Please send the DVD only; do not send the DVD package. On receipt of your DVD, DreamWorks Home Entertainment will send your replacement.
Thank you.

Another complaint many fans have with the release is the fact that the movie has no English-language dub. Many fans say that this ruins continuity, seeing as how the original movie and the TV series both have English audio. This is not new for DreamWorks, as the other anime movies in their Go Fish line (such as Millennium Actress) do not have English dubs.

Manga Entertainment, which released the first movie and collaborated with Bandai Entertainment to release the TV series, has stated ( that it will be releasing the movie with the original dub cast for the UK market.


  • Extracts of Dialogues
    • Life and death come and go like marionettes dancing on a table. Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble.
    • Why are humans so obsessed with recreating themselves?
    • We weep for the bird's cry, but not for the blood of a fish. Blessed are those who have voice.
    • Let one walk alone, committing no sin, with few wishes, like an elephant in the forest.
  • Mamoru Oshii on his intentions:
    • "I'm happier if 10,000 people see the film 10 times each than if 1 million people see it once. I'm not making it for the general public, but for a core group of fans -- I hope it will make a big impression on them. If I can do that, I'm happy." (The Japan Times: March 17, 2004 full interview  (
    • "This movie does not hold the view that the world revolves around the human race. Instead it concludes that all forms of life humans, animals and robots are equal. In this day and age when everything is uncertain, we should all think about what to value in life and how to coexist with others."
  • Mamoru Oshii on Japanese concept of tamashi [spirit] and the Western concept of soul:
    • A soul is not something someone can just show you. But if you believe in it enough, want to see it enough, it will appear.
    • In the West, people don't believe animals have souls, do they? That's not true in Japan, though. I myself believe that dogs and cats have souls -- but that has nothing to do with a specific religion.
    • Children have similar feelings about dolls -- if they love a doll enough, they feel that it's alive. That feeling is universal. It's not something they're taught -- they just feel it somehow. It's not connected with any religious belief.


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