Whereas 1995’s Ghost in the Shell artfully merged anime action with meditative philosophy, Mamoru Oshi’s 2004 sequel Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is one long, tedious rumination on the blurring distinction between man and machines. Years after Major Kusanagi disappeared into the digital ether, her former cyborg partner Bato – now teamed with detective (and family man) Togusa – has become a morose loner worried that his (mostly) synthetic mind and body have stripped him of his humanity. Bato and Togusa are assigned to look into a brand of high-class pleasure robots (amusingly dubbed “sexoids”) who seem to be killing their owners and then suicidally self-destructing – distinctly human behavior that leads the cops to believe they were illegally implanted with ghosts stolen from real people. This mysterious set-up is enhanced with an awe-inspiring blend of 2-D and 3-D animation techniques, resulting in a marriage of old and new that’s not only visually breathtaking – highlighted by Oshi’s amazingly corporeal protagonists – but also speaks to the film’s fascination with organic and artificial symbiosis. Too bad its narrative – awash in solemn, pseudo-profound discussions about reality and virtual reality – is ultimately about as intelligible as the squeals and screeches of a PC modem.