Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence Ani-Manga Box Set Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C

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  • Art Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 39.99
  • Pages: 556
  • ISBN: 1-59116-829-5
  • Size: Short B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence Ani-Manga Box Set Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     March 23, 2005
Release Date: April 15, 2005

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence Ani-Manga Box Set Vol.#01
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Mamoru Oshii
Translated by:Yuji Oniki (Miscellaneous Translation)
Adapted by:

What They Say
In 2032, the line between humans and machines has been blurred almost beyond distinction. Humans have forgotten that they are human, and those that are left coexist with cyborgs and dolls. Batou is a cyborg. His body is artificial: the only remnants left of his humanity are traces of his brain... and the memories of a woman called The Major.

A detective for the government's covert anti-terrorist unit, Public Security Section 9, Batou is investigating the case of a "gynoid" - a hyperrealistic female robot — who malfunctions and slaughters her owner. As Batou delves deeper into the investigation, questions arise about humanity's need to immortalize its image in dolls. The answers to those questions lead to the shocking truth behind the crime... and, quite possibly, the very meaning of life.

Each volume comes with elegant dust jackets from the original Japanese edition. Japanese sound effects complete and uncut, with bonus glossary. Special original essay on director Mamoru Oshii and Innocence.

The Review
Viz definitely went all out with the packaging creating something that will look great on any collector’s shelf. There are four volumes total, which was the same count as the Japanese release, which are housed in a very sturdy, white, chipboard box.

The front side of the box features the same artwork that was shown on many promotional posters and items for the movie’s release. It features a dismembered female gynoid with Batou’s basset hound standing above it. At the top is the text “4-VOLUME ANI-MANGA BOX SET” in small black letters. The English Innocence logo is across the middle of the box over the top of the illustration. At the bottom is the text “BASED ON THE FILM BY MAMORU OSHII” along with the Viz logo. The top of the box features the Innocence and Viz logo. The box spine features a cropped version of the front artwork with the Innocence logo displayed vertically. At the top of the spine is the Editor’s Choice imprint and the bottom of the spine has the Viz logo. The back of the box features the cover artwork from the Japanese image album which features Batou and his basset hound standing in front of some machine with a lot of gears. The Innocence logo is across the top and to the left of the artwork is the box set summary. There is also a bulleted list of the features and highlights of this release. At the bottom is the Viz logo and T+ rating.

Each volume has a nice dust jacket that features the same artwork and cover design as the original Japanese volumes, with the artwork wrapping around the dust jacket. On the cover of each volume is the Innocence logo across the top, volume number and “BASED ON THE FILM BY MAMORU OSHII” across the bottom. The spine has the Innocence logo displayed vertically, the Editor’s Choice imprint at the top, and the Viz logo at the bottom. The backs of each volume just contain the Innocence logo in the center over the artwork.

Inside of each volume is a character profiles and a definition of terms, as well as a story summary. I found the profiles and definitions to be extremely helpful as they go into much more detail than the story itself. The high quality glossy paper does a nice job with bringing out the color stills and making them quite striking. At the end of the last volume is an afterword from Carl Gustov Horn, as he explains why he likes Innocence and his thoughts on the story.

Since this is an Ani-Manga, the artwork is made up of over 2000 stills from the actual movie. Therefore I will not be grading the designs and techniques of the “art” itself, but instead focusing on the panel layouts and the stills chosen.

There are many sequences of stills that I felt were either taken from too short of a time interval or nothing was much different between each still, which gives me the effect of watching a slide show and not reading a manga. A few times, especially during an action scene, the stills were too blurry and I was unable to figure out what was happening in the scene. White lines are added on top of some stills in order to create an action effect, which really just felt awkward and out of place. I felt as if the action was being forced upon me.

While there was an attempt at creating some varied panel layouts, the feeling I got while reading the manga that I was looking at someone’s photo album and I was lacking that unique feeling I get when reading a manga.

All dialogue in this release is based on the English subtitles from the movie. The dialogue was free of spelling and grammatical errors.

There are SFX present which are left untouched and there is a glossary in the back of each volume. Each SFX is identified by page and panel number and listed with the romanji and English translation. While the constant flipping to the glossary might be a pain, I think this was the right move as it would have been most likely impossible to do a retouch of the SFX on the stills.

What I thought was interesting was that before the glossary is two pages of text from the editorial staff explaining not only why they chose to keep the SFX untouched and how to use the glossary, but also a mini-tutorial in Japanese language, specifically katakana and how you could read the SFX.

Another thing to note is the translation of “The Ballade of the Puppets”, a song written by Kenji Kawai who was the composer of the original soundtrack. There are three variations of this song that appear in the movie, and it is the second variation that appears in the second volume during the Chinese parade scene. Under the panels, the Japanese text is left untouched and the translation of the text, as well as all three variations, are in the appendix in the back of the second volume.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
The cyberpunk genre in anime seems to be a dying breed. The great American novels from the 80s influenced many late 80s, early 90s anime which seemed to be a perfect stage for getting across the worlds and ethos of cyberpunk. Innocence, the sequel movie to the original, classic Ghost in the Shell movie, attempts to rekindle the flames and put cyberpunk back in the anime mainstream.

The world of Innocence is a futuristic Japan where humans have blended with machines, creating specialized cyborgs who live amongst androids and highly advanced computer systems. The story follows two agents from an elite task force called Section 9, as they try and solve a case of murders done by gynoids, a humanoid designed by Locus Solus for sexual purposes. Batou, a cyborg detective whose body is almost completely artificial, teams up with Togusa, a former police detective who’s body is still almost completely human. Togusa has some big shoes to fill since Batou used to work with Major Kusanagi, the cyborg agent from the first movie who placed her ghost within cyberspace and vanished.

The setup in the first volume and a half presents a very intriguing noir-type of storyline. It’s pretty straight forward and is interesting to see how two agents, who are complete opposites in this cyberpunk world, work together to solve a murder case featuring androids gone berserk. Their differing personalities create some interesting dialogue about the relationship between humans and robots. One of my favorite scenes is the visit to the police coroner, a cyborg who has a nihilistic view about this relationship. It is all very rich in cyberpunk ethos and beliefs but it never strays from the noir storyline underneath.

The rest of the storyline is where I think Innocence starts to unravel and left me drowning in a pool of esoteric quotes, condescending dialogue, and philosophical mishmash. After Batou has his e-brain hacked, he and Togusa head off to visit a former military officer named Kim, who Batou served with and has since left his physical body and now has his ghost inhabiting a robot. It is this whole sequence with Kim that takes up far too much time and offers nothing more than a bunch of discussion about the relationship between robots and humans, most of which is hard to follow. I remember seeing this sequence when watching the movie and I was confused then, but the visuals from the animation kept me entranced. Without this, I’m stuck struggling through a bunch of dialogue that after a while I really stopped caring about. Supposedly during this long sequence it is somehow determined that Kim has a connection with Locus Solus and they use Kim to get their way onto the company ship that is located in international waters. This plot revelation is completely lost in the deluge of dialogue, which seemed like nothing more than Oshii getting his rocks off. I was left puzzled and confused, which made the conclusion of the story having little impact.

There also is a sort of love story going on behind the scenes between the ghost of Major Kusanagi and Batou, but it is left as a tiny afterthought and never really developed. Batou obviously had strong feelings for the Major, and her vanishing has left him alone and somewhat depressed. Personally, I think this sort of cyberpunk love story would have been much more interesting to explore and worthy of discussion.

While reading Innocence I couldn’t help but feel like I was reading a brochure to a resort. I kept feeling like I was getting a hint of something bigger, and I wasn’t always getting the whole experience. Having seen the Innocence movie already may jade my view somewhat, but I believe the strong points of Innocence is the animation, music, and sound. When these are removed I am left with a bunch of ramblings filled with esoteric quotations and philosophical discussions that leave the story feeling a bit bloated and trite. The plot doesn’t move naturally based on the events in the story, but instead the plot changes are forced upon the reader in order for Oshii to fill up a lot of screen time with his own personal discourse.

The way that Viz has handled that packaging is pretty stellar. For fans of Innocence, this definitely is an item that would look great on the shelf. The sturdy box features nice artwork and the dust jackets on the manga are very appealing. Where the DVD packaging was lacking, the ani-manga definitely picks up the slack. I can’t help though feeling frustrated that an ani-manga gets the great dust jacket treatment when other Viz titles do not receive the same treatment when their Japanese counterparts do.

Even with the great packaging, I still think this set is a tough sell and hard recommendation. With the DVD having already been released for a few months, many have already seen the movie and shelling out an additional $40 MSRP might be a bit steep. For those who haven’t seen the movie, the DVD is the cheapest route as its MSRP is less than this set. In the end, it is a wonderfully packaged product for collectors who are fans of the series, but ultimately offers less than the original movie at a higher price.


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jnager 3/13/2012 7:47:40 PM

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