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Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

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Mamoru Oshii's follow-up to his 1995 anime noir is that rare sequel that surpasses the original. In a futuristic dreamscape conjured with a mix of traditional and digital animation, cyborg detectives Batou and Togusa probe a series of murders committed by "gynoids," female robots designed for sex. The pair are as erudite as they are hard-boiled: when they're not gunning down yakuza thugs they're speculating on the nature of being and consciousness and making references to Confucius, Plato, the Bible, and the legend of the golem. Their philosophical investigations lead them into the labyrinthine palace of a diabolical hacker with plans for the ultimate technological transformation of humankind. In Japanese and Cantonese with subtitles. PG-13, 99 min. a Esquire, Landmark's Century Centre.

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