Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky wrote a song for Ghost in the Shell, but for some reason, the producers were not interested in "Be My Sexbot Baby."
"'Nothing lasts,' you said. Then why is pain still confusing memories?"—"River of Crystals," lyrics by Miu Sakamoto
DVD Verdict fans may recall that I described Mamoru Oshii's long-awaited sequel to Ghost in the Shell as pretty to watch but ultimately disappointing. Oshii's effort to meld realistic cel-animated characters with insanely overdetailed CG backgrounds came across as almost hypnotically beautiful. It also came across as weightless. The script, however, was too weighty, bogged down by Oshii's insistence on hammering at every one of his directorial fetishes (Bible quotes, fisheye lenses, his basset hound) like he was trying to work out a case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Worse, the story spun its cyborg wheels, slipping downhill from its predecessor in terms of advancing its philosophical program. So, in a nutshell: nice imagery, dull writing.
Somebody must have heard me. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence Music Video Anthology runs about 35 minutes and consists of seven music videos cutting together plot-free footage from the Oshii's movie. You can even sing along with karaoke subtitles in both English and Japanese.
The first video recuts the opening credits from the film, replacing the title cards with Shinto-themed poetry. Enjoy the choral music, because you will hear variations on that theme in two other videos, one that appears pretty much as it did in the film (a long flyover sequence that segues into a parade), and another that collects random surrealistic backgrounds. Two tracks feature jazzy torch songs performed by vocalist Kimiko Itoh, singing in English. These are smoky and romantic, but have little to do with the Tokyo cityscapes run under them. I suppose their lyrics about love and loss are meant to remind us of Batou's brooding memories of Kusanagi, but here more than anywhere on this disc, the focus on landscape rather than characters disconnects the emotional resonance of the music from the images.
There are a couple of creepy instrumentals to round out the program, but most viewers may find themselves humming their favorite techno music instead, picturing this disc run on monitors at their favorite club. The only extras (apart from some trailers for stuff Bandai wants you to buy) are two additional short videos. The first features a lilting music-box tune with—argh! It's that basset hound again! The second: a bluesy piano-based number showing off more architecture and shots already used in some of the other videos. Why were these not incorporated into the feature? Oh, because then Bandai would not have anything it could advertise as a bonus feature. You have your choice of 5.1 surround, DTS, or something called "DiMAGIC Virtualizer X," which sounds like the name of an early '80s mecha show. Because this is essentially a soundtrack album, with no dialogue or sound effects, the music is fully immersive.
This collection, overpriced in both its regular edition and a "special edition" ($10 more for a fancier case), is an effort by Bandai to both cash in on the anime music video fan market and hang onto a little cash from the Ghost in the Shell franchise (since Dreamworks distributed Innocence in the United States). On the one hand, parts of the film do work better as pure image, free from the muddle of Oshii's story. But this program should have been offered as a bonus disc with the original feature. There is nothing here worth going out of your way to buy, and if you want the soundtrack that badly, you can buy it on CD and carry it around on your iPod. That is a lot easier than lugging around a DVD player.
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