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Ghost in the Shell: Innocence (Animated Clips) (PSP) artwork

Ghost in the Shell: Innocence (Animated Clips) (PSP) review


"Given that I am about to review what is essentially a UMD music video for a gaming website, a little exposition is obviously required. You see, with the stunning disappointment of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex for the PSP, I was left with a fanboy sized hunger and not much to fill it. Of course, the how's and why's are a story for another day, but let it be said that some tepid first person action and laggy controls were enough to kill any and all interest."



Given that I'm about to review what is essentially a UMD music video for a gaming website, a little exposition is obviously required. You see, with the stunning disappointment of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex for the PSP, I was left with a fanboy sized hunger and not much to fill it. Of course, the how's and why's are a story for another day, but let it be said that some tepid first person action and laggy controls were enough to kill any and all interest. Enter Buena Vista's Innocence: Animated Clips collection, a UMD music video released to commemorate (or was that commiserate?) the occasion. Featuring seven, classic background tracks taken from the smash hit movie Innocence, and edited to suit Production I.G.'s incredible animations, this was potentially the hunger buster I was looking for.

When machines learn how to feel, who decides what is human...

Those among us who have experienced Mamoru Oshii's superb Innocence already know how much of a visual treat his movie was. Combining the latest in CG animation with Shirow Masamune's distinctive character designs, it presented cinema goers with a bleak look at an all too possible future. It was also Bato's story: a Section 9 cyborg detective assigned to investigate a recent homicide in which a female robot, one created solely for sexual pleasure, slaughtered her owner in cold blood. Familiar stuff? Perhaps. Asimov himself covered similar ground years ago and reached many of the same conclusions Innocence strives for. But ultimately such parallels are neither here nor truly there and Oshii's work is, for want of a better description, a thought-provoking masterpiece.

For as much as the plot draws from Asimov, Innocence must also acknowledge Ridley Scott's sublime Bladerunner for its obvious inspirations. The now standard mish-mash of cultures is clearly evident, Chinese slum districts lay strewn with filth and decay, providing an interesting juxtaposition to the cleanly refined, high-tech environs of the various business sectors. Neon lights fill the orange skyline, playing off each other with a rich blend of soft drink advertisements and assorted, post-modern living necessities. "Drink Coca-Cola". "Cybernetica Implants: When only the best will do". So real, so believable, so perfectly tailored for a range of music videos...

Now if you're starting to wonder, all this is relevant to describing the effect Innocence: Animated Clips will have. Kenji Kawai's hauntingly beautiful soundtrack compliments the above mentioned visuals perfectly, stirring up a wealth of emotional content. A pleasure robot sits abandoned in a back alley somewhere as an off-key blues note kicks in. The camera slowly focuses on its emotionless face, then shifts to a factory floor where more such machines are being produced. One is experiencing a lonely end to its life, the others display hope and promise for the future. The video plays on as the BGM changes pace, now offering a far more upbeat tone for viewers to enjoy. Giant sky-ships float down between a row of office blocks, their oars paddling the air possibly only show. A gentle rain of ticker tape then fills the screen, revealing it as a parade of sorts and shifting your emotional pendulum one last time...

Production I.G.'s influence in the editing of this content is clear, their trademark sense of style and direction pushes viewers through many of the movie's key moments. Those that haven't seen Innocence needn't worry either as the Animated Clips collection nicely side steps any and all possible spoilers. Bato's presence for example, has been removed from almost every frame, essentially freeing up the background elements and giving them a chance to shine. You won't miss the explosions, the machine guns, or the political intrigue, instead you'll find yourself soaking up many of the little details you may have missed the first time around. And with animation this rich and believable, that's always a good thing.

Even still, the more discerning of fans are likely to feel put out, lamenting on the collection's lack of bonus materials and other assorted goodies. There's no doubt in my mind that a few one-sheet posters, perhaps an art gallery or three, would have elevated Innocence: Animated Clips to must buy status. As it is however, Beauna Vista's release is an oddity, a timely replacement for the hugely disappointing Stand Alone Complex game. Whether its the professional encoding or the deeply satisfying UMD audio, fans are definitely in for a treat. Import it if you must, but do so immediately as the production run is sadly limited. A collection like this deserves a place on your shelf, even at the expense of adding another game. Check it out...


Audio: Dolby Digital
Language: Japanese
Running Time: 36 minutes

Rating: 9/10

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Staff review by Michael Scott (September 27, 2005)

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