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October 03, 2004

Police Procedural

God help me, I'm old. Saturday afternoon, with the consent of my loving wife, I took off two hours early for NOVA, and drove downtown to meet my friends so that we could see Ghost in the Shell: Innocence at Cinema 21, the best art theatre in the metro area.

I've enjoyed the various incarnations of Ghost in the Shell for years, starting with the manga by Masamune Shirow (a genius with many other great stories, don't even get me started on Appleseed). Next was the first movie, which I've seen, but don't yet own (now I have to go get it!). Most recently I've been enjoying the hell out of the first season of the television series, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The television series more or less ignores the continuity of the movie, what we anime/sci-fi buffs call an alternate timeline.

What I like so much about these stories is the intricate plotting, with deep twists and turns, of crime in the future. We get all the attention to detail that Larry Niven gave in his early years when technology impacts human lives. Here the crimes are cyborg-augmented violence, computer aided graft, diseases inflicted on the post-human mind. The theme threaded throughout the series (manga, movies, television) is declared in the umbrella title. The Ghost in the Shell. Soul, spirit, animus, whatever breathes life into clay, the ghost investing the shell with more than simple motion, mimicry.

So is it any wonder that I was excited to see the second movie, set in the same timeline as the first movie, but with a major emphasis on Batou, who is the cyborg policeman best fit to a role in film noir? Alan doesn't like the art style of Production IG, the company doing the graphics for this movie, but I thought it was delicious. And the plot was Philip K. Dick, Blade Runner perfect, a plot to -- oops, I know none of my regular readers (all three) are going to care about a spoiler, but I'll skip it nevertheless in case someone googles here. Suffice to say that it was most satisfactory.

At the end, as the house lights came up, I noted that GitS was a prime example, perhaps the only one, of a proper science fiction implementation of that tried and true genre, the police procedural. James said "what?" I said, "you know, a police procedural." It turns out none of these guys has ever heard the term before. Is this just me? Is it my reading and movie history, or has this term gone out of vogue? Oy, do I feel old!

Posted by dpwakefield at October 3, 2004 10:17 PM