The story of Innocence bears a striking resemblance to that of Blade Runner. Special agent Batou who along with his equally downbeat partner are given the assignment of investigating a series of robot crimes involving gynoids (living dolls). The plot itself is very complicated and I'm not sure if Oshii is too concerned with constructing an appealing narrative. What Oshii's cinematic approach boils down to is an obsessive concern for the aesthetics and the visual representation of a dystopian future in which the line between man and machine is almost unrecognisable. One of the most memorable sequences takes place at night in a neonesque grocery store when Batou is confronted by what appears to be a manifestation of his personal anxieties. The future world Oshii depicts is a stunning architectural amalgamation of the dense, urbanised landscapes of dystopian science films like Godard's Alphaville and Lang's Metropolis. The allusions and references to the genre are intelligently constructed and Oshii's control over the textures and colours of the film reminded me of the importance of his contribution to the technological evolution of Japanese anime:
'It was Oshii, in the first Ghost in the Shell, who began anime's migration into a digital world, scanning images into a computer instead of photographing them. His decision allowed him to experiment, altering colours and backgrounds, and adding effects that made his animation seem more real. Without Ghost in the Shell, there would be no Steamboy, no Appleseed, no Spirited Away. Oshii's movie forms the vital link between the art of cel animation and the craft of CGI'
- Living Dolls, Jonathan Clements, 2005, Innocence DVD sleeve notes
Innocence is one of the best examples of the anime genre I have come across to date but it never shies away from saying that anime films can be as sophisticated, if not more so, than their Hollywood science fiction counterparts. Oshii creates an affecting and powerful title sequence, making haunting use of Japanese composer Kenji Kawai's original score: