Saw this last night. It’s pretty damn good, but not great. I always thought the first movie was very good, but overrated by a lot of people. The second one is very similar to the first one–some “What is life?” Blade-Runner type philosophy, some action, an interesting protagonist (it centers on the Major’s partner, the guy with the cybernetic eyes), a mystery story, and really annoying music. The biggest change from the original is the animation–the characters all look pretty much the same, but the backgrounds, settings, and vehicles have gotten a major overhaul, apparently because computer-assisted animation has become the norm. I think it’s great–you lose a little bit of the impressionistic rough-animation feel of the original, but you gain a lot in terms of striking visuals. The story was pretty good, but I thought the movie was too long for the material. There’s a through-the-looking-glass section towards the end that I thought was awesome.
Also, this was the first anime I’ve seen with subtitles, as far as I can recall. Although I hate dubbing in regular movies, I think I prefer dubbed animated movies. You’re sewing together two perfomances (the animator’s and the voice actor’s) no matter which language you use, so why not use English so I can concentrate on the animation?
Overall, definite thumbs-up. If you liked the original, you’ll definitely like this.
I saw the Parade clip that got linked to by AICN a while back and was fairly surprised. I definitely wasn’t expecting 98% CG with traditional cels on top. I find the look fairly jarring. I guess it’s a deliberate decision not to use some sort of cel-shading on the CG, since they do use it for GitS TV show.
Stuff like Invader Zim and Futurama integrate the CG portions so well, whereas the worst thing for me in something like Last Exile is the brutal 3D vanships they have Claus fly. They stick out like a sore thumb. See also Witch Hunter Robin, where the 3D backgrounds look like they were made 6 years ago.
Still, I’ll probably see GitS: Innocence, but I’m not expecting too much. I thought the original was kinda… boring… actually.
The blending of the cel animation and the 3D work is almost seamless in most places. The parade scene is a great showcase of their 3D work, but several places throughout the rest of the movie show off the actual beauty of their animation techniques far more effectively. GitS2 is the most impressive animated anything I have ever seen. The scenes with the basset hound are perfect.
If you didn’t like the first one, well…this one’s even slower in places, although it’s visually captivating at all times. I think the tone is very different, and the art design is more film noir than the sci-fi futuropolis in GitS1. No optic camo, no giant robots, all the cars look like shiny versions of autos in The Maltese Falcon, the connection jacks in the characters’ necks are rarely utilized as anything more than a communication device.
Whereas the first one focused on communication and human interaction in terms of the newly-risen internet, GitS2 is more about man’s drive to recreate himself in a technological being. I found that interesting, but somehow I think it has more relevance in Japan, where the humanoid machine is more than just a sci-fi element, and more of a goal to be achieved.
I thought it was great, and the ideas presented in it are very interesting and worthy of discussion, if you can get at them underneath all the obtuse psychobabble tossed around about 2/3 of the way through the movie. If you’re going to see this one, see it in a theatre. I cannot stress that enough. See this movie on the big screen, or you will miss half the experience. For anyone in LA, get your ass to the Arclight and see it there. Amazing.
Why is it better in Japanese? Unless you speak Japanese, I can’t imagine what possible advantage there is to this. In a live-action movie, I understand it–the actor intends his speech to go a certain way with his gestures, and it screws up the performance to have someone else dub in the speech (not to mention that it’s distracting because the mouth movements don’t match). But you’re dubbing in speech either way in an animated movie, so it doesn’t seem like you would lose anything by going with an English dub rather than a Japanese dub–and you’d obviously gain the ability to understand the dialogue without reading it.
Boy I wish this was playing somewhere near me but, according to their website, I’ll be waiting for DVD. I really enjoyed the first movie. The SAC series, on the other hand, hasn’t done much for me though things seemed to pick up in the final episode of the first DVD. I’ll be picking up Vol 2 this week and hope it improves on Vol 1.
Stuff like Invader Zim and Futurama integrate the CG portions so well, whereas the worst thing for me in something like Last Exile is the brutal 3D vanships they have Claus fly.
I love the 3D ships in Last Exile. It really adds a lot to the action scenes for me. Even better are the 3D mechs in Macross Zero.
For me personally, this really depends on the individual production.
Sometimes you get really crappy english-speaking voice actors, especially with lesser known titles. With japanese voice actors, I’m paying more attention to the emotion in their delivery, rather than things like accents or pace of delivery, which means I tend to be more lenient in judging them.
Sometimes you get subtle changes in dialogue when translated, not to make the story better, but simply so the voice more closely matches the mouth movement on screen. Sometimes those changes are bad enough to make me prefer the effort of reading the subtitles. I like to judge this by watching an anime DVD a second time with both the dubbed voices and subtitles on at the same time, and notice just how many changes there are.
Sometimes you get large changes to the story line between dubbed and subbed, even on the same disc.
Generally, it really depends on the quality of the translation, though I will admit, that if the anime in question is more action than plot, I’ll just ignore any potential story I might lose due to a bad dub so that I can watch the pretty moving pictures without having to focus on the text below.
It’s a pretty damn good movie. Pretentious, but not bad. It’s almost good enough to actually be deep, but not quite :) I’d rather see intellectual pretension in fiction than dumbed-down inanity, which is the common run of all popular entertainment…
The blending of cel and rendered animation was very far from seamless. I mean, really, it reminded me a lot of Ralph Bakshi*-- it was almost like rotoscoping. It was visually offputting in some places, but wasn’t bad at all in other places – but even when it was good, it was extremely obviously two different layers and graphical styles. I thought the blend in Blood: The Last Vampire, for example, was much more seamless than in GITS: Innocence.
I don’t think the two animation forms were ever intended by the director to be seamlessly blended, anyway. If you read whatshisname the Japanese robotics guy’s “law” about creepiness of humanoid forms increasing as you increase anthropomorphic realism without quite getting there, you might conclude the extreme difference between humanoid cel and CGI background was intentional, to avoid that creepiness factor from unintentionally appearing in the film. IMO, the Final Fantasy movie was creepy and even distasteful because the photorealistically rendered characters were too doll-like and obviously false, but were intended to be plausible. You might even conclude that the choice of traditional anime cel animation was an artistic and philosophic decision, and that it had something to do with one of the themes of the movie: namely the difference between dolls, gods, humans, and animals… But all that being said, I think that it was after all an anime sequel for which cel animation was the only reasonable choice for the characters, so there was basically no alternative. I suspect they were consciously following the lead of Blood: The Last Vampire in terms of overall graphical approach, though their modelling, rendering, and drafting styles were quite different.
The backgrounds were visually quite beautiful. Of course they were much more garish and dramatic than the ones in Blood (which themselves were very striking, and perhaps even higher quality) but nevertheless the movie might well be worth watching even without the cel foregrounds.
The plot and characters in the movie were good. Not great, but good. It’s hard for me to remember the last movie for which I could actually say this, however, so let’s say it gets a 6 out of 10 for the story on an absolute all-time scale, but 9 or even 10 out 10 on a “last 5 years” scale, and something like a 15 out of 10 on a “typical action movie” scale…
I wish the doll-robots in the movie weren’t so ugly. They are after all supposed to be “sexaroids.” I suppose people will have sex with pretty much anything, but those things were not just creepy but actively revolting. Yes, I know the ones in the factory were unfinished, but they still didn’t impress me much. I did like the way that the one controlled by the Major had very different body language. Lots of other anime robots have seemed to me to be far more attractive…
Subtitles are better than dubbing around 99% of the time. By far. I never watch dubbed foreign films (especially anime) if I can avoid it. First of all, English-language voice talent is generally far inferior to the Japanese talent in skill. Even without understanding the dialogue, the connotation of voice stress conveys more information to me in the original language than the real translation with typically bad English voice talent. Secondly, the translation is generally horrible. I know just enough Japanese to recognize some totally bogus translations. Of course that happens with subtitles too, but somehow the negative impact is less with subtitles. Third, the sound track including lip synch is far better integrated with the film in the original than with dubbed versions. [There are a few exceptions I can think of. The English voice talent for the Peacock Throne anime series is superb, IMO far superior in wit and characterization to the original Japanese, including some wicked English-language puns that must have taken the place of Japanese puns in the original. The high-level American actors hired for various Armitage films also make them worth hearing dubbed, too.]
*Note, btw, I really liked around 3 of Bakshi’s films, and cordially dislike or even hate the rest.
I haven’t seen this yet, but I hope I get to see a subbed version. The main problem with dubbing is that the quality of the voice acting is all over the place. I loved the first Ghost in the Shell, but the english dub of it is probably the worst english voice redub I’ve ever heard in an anime. None of the characters have any emotion in their voice, and they sound like it’s the first time they are reading their lines. In situations like that, you get more emotional response with subtitles because at least you hear the characters’ intended tones of voice.
Sometimes you get subtle changes in dialogue when translated, not to make the story better, but simply so the voice more closely matches the mouth movement on screen.
Another factor is the length of time it takes to say something- its not enough to translate the Japanese verbatim. If the statment takes 2 seconds to say in Japanese but 5 seconds in English then the sentence has to be radically shortened and/or the delivery sped up, both of which can hurt the production.
It really varies depending on what I’m watching. Both Cowboy Bebop and Last Exile, for example, have excellent dubs IMO so I watch them dubbed. Escaflowne, on the other hand, had a pretty poor dub so I switched to subs in pretty short order. GITS: SAC is another series where I started enjoying it more once I switched to subs- the English voice acting is competent but pretty devoid of emotion.
I won’t watch any live action foreign languae film dubbed because I find it distracting. Anime, on the other hand, I prefer a good dub so I can concentrate on the visuals but if the dub is poor I have no problem with subtitles.
I thought the dubbing in the first GitS was actually rather good. There’s not much tonal variety in either the English or Japanese language tracks, and I think that was intentional. The films’ characters are strikingly robotic most of the time. It’s a contrast to the manga and the TV series, in which they seem much more balanced as far as mood goes. But then, you’re rarely going to see an Oshii film with a whole lot of wacky going on.
The one exception being, of course, Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer, one of my favorite films of all time. And if you want to hear a horrible, horrible dub, check that one out in English. Yeesh.
I’ve seen it, but with a pretty bad fansub. Visually stunning, but the plot was defenitely thin. More action sequences this time around, but none were as satisfying as the two in the first film.
I thought it was thematically very interesting the way the question of the first film, how do I know that I’m real, was juxtaposed with the question in the 2nd film of how do I know the world I’m experiencing is real? It was also interesting the way the major plot point of Kusanagi merging with an AI to acheive a higher level of existence in the first film is mirrored by the children being dubbed into the dolls to acheive a lower state of existence in Innocence.
I suppose the lack of emotion in the voiceovers could be intentional, but it seems to conflict with the strong emotions that drive Kusanagi toward the end of the film. What you say does make sense though, considering that the best voicing in the movie is for Togusa, who is the only non-cyborg, though Aramaki’s voicing is good and I think he was supposed to be a cyborg as well…
Why is it better in Japanese? Unless you speak Japanese, I can’t imagine what possible advantage there is to this. In a live-action movie, I understand it–the actor intends his speech to go a certain way with his gestures, and it screws up the performance to have someone else dub in the speech (not to mention that it’s distracting because the mouth movements don’t match). But you’re dubbing in speech either way in an animated movie, so it doesn’t seem like you would lose anything by going with an English dub rather than a Japanese dub–and you’d obviously gain the ability to understand the dialogue without reading it.[/quote]
Well, as others said it all depends on the production. Some dubs are really good like Bebop, others aren’t. Though I think I prefer Bebop in english because listening to the Japanese voice of Ed is like nails on a chalkboard for me. As for GITS, and SAC it doesn’t help that I’ve seen all of season 1 and half of season 2 in japanese. Its weird to hear it in english now. The tv show dubs seem a bit better than the movie though.
Aramaki has cybernetic parts, but he’s far more human than Batou or Kusanagi. All that’s human of the latter two is their brains, but Aramaki is mostly human, as I understand it.
Kusanagi just has a couple traces of her real brain left, from what I recall (I think batou has slightly more, not sure). Her consciousness is entirely within her cyberbrain. As far as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is concerned, anyway.
I saw a pretty bad fansub as well. I’m totally with you on the whole children dubbing thing. Coolest part of the movie. Kusenagi evolved because she combined with someone else. The children are degenerating because it’s one set of genetics getting copied over and over and over again. Like saving a JPEG 1,000 times.