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December 14, 2002
Production I.G., the cutting edge anime studio responsible for Jin-Roh, Blood: The Last Vampire, and Ghost in the Shell, has announced a feature film sequel to the anime classic Ghost in the Shell. Innocence: Ghost in the Shell, which reunites the creative team of director Mamoru Oshii and writer Masamune Shirow, is currently slated for release in Japan in the Spring of 2004. As in the original Ghost in the Shell film, Shirow and Oshii will once again be grappling with the ambiguous borders between man and machine, but this time in the context of a future love story. Can human love exist without a physical body? What happens in the future where the border between humans and machines grows increasingly ambiguous?

For retailers, even though this project is a long way from fruition, the announcement of Innocence: Ghost in the Shell is very good news. With a new Ghost in the Shell manga series currently available from Dark Horse (the first issue was Dark Horse's top-selling book of the month, see "Ghost in the Shell 2: The Dark Horse Interview"), as well as a variety of Ghost in the Shell figures and figurines (see "Toycom's Anime Offerings"), there is new Ghost in the Shell merchandise available (as well as the DVD and graphic novel from the original anime feature). A new TV anime Ghost in the Shell series (see "Bandai Gets TV Ghost in the Shell") titled Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex should find a broadcast (or more likely cable) home on American TV during 2003, which should also provide a boost to one of the most potent modern anime/manga properties.

There is an interesting side note concerning Innocence: Ghost in the Shell -- the film is being co-produced by Studio Ghibli, which is the studio founded by the great Hayao Miyazaki. While both Production I.G. and Studio Ghibli are among the most artistic producers of anime, Ghibli appears to be more dedicated to conventional 2-D animation, while Production I.G. has been at the forefront of the use of computer animated techniques. It should be interesting to see what sort of stylistic influence the Ghibli team has on the Innocence: Ghost in the Shell feature.