Now that the hallmarks of anime have been fairly well nicked by Tarantino, the Wachowski Brothers and Hollywood in general, you might expect the futuristic frenzy of Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence to be feeling old hat. Not so, and Mamoru Oshii's sequel to his 1995 hit has engineered a kaleidoscope of visual dynamite but the story, which sees two special agents uncovering novel business practices involving murderous androids and abducted children, has a hollow ring to it.
Like Sky Blue, 2D and 3D animation are thrown into the blender to create a sumptuous world of cyborg cops and high-tech yakuza. There's more than a nod to Blade Runner in the urban planning but some of the camera sweeps through sprawling megacities are worth the price of admission alone. The characters themselves display nuances only dreamt of by Disney and Oshii is not afraid to let them linger for a few seconds in quiet contemplation before engaging in extreme violence. With subtle sound production and Kenji Kawai's haunting score in tow, it's a technical marvel.
But like all true cyberpunk, the convoluted plot is buried in an overload of detail and quick-fire dialogue. At least it's fairly self-contained (a blessed relief if you missed the first one) and some exposition towards the end clears up most things. But given the build up, the big revelation is rather pedestrian. The dialogue, liberally sprinkled with quotes from Milton amongst others, lends the film philosophical ambitions it doesn't truly realise but if you can't fathom the story out, just sit back and enjoy one hell of a ride.
In Japanese with English subtitles.