The Many Reflections in Innocence

In Innocence, there are multiple scenes and several minor details Oshii seems to have set to deliberately echo against each other.  Most of these are mainly distinguished in Kim’s manor, since it serves as a mirror for the film itself.  However, Oshii uses these visual parallels throughout Innocence.  Having written about this in my book, I felt this visual method in the film warranted a short dissection of some key sequences in order to better show the intricate use of mirror images Oshii constructs and how fully realized it is.  Listed below are some of the many interesting parallels to be found in Innocence.

  1. The Virtual Togusa

Perhaps the most thematically crucial one is when Togusa examines Volkerson’s remains.   Funnily enough, before handing over the virtual footage of Volkerson’s body, Ishikawa mentions to Togusa that “This is the scene 22 minutes ago.”  22 minutes ago is approximately the running time for the film itself at that present moment when Togusa speaks with Ishikawa.  22 minutes ago for the film itself begins with a short intro explaining Togusa and Batou are investigating “grisly murders,” the “scene” 22 minutes earlier before investigating Volkerson’s body.

After Togusa examines the still shot of Volkerson, notice particularly in the following shot that Batou is pacing right behind Togusa after he examines the virtual projection of Volkerson’s body.  Later, during the third simulation in Kim’s manor, Togusa finds himself lying on the floor and seeing his body self-destruct.  The shot of this scene is a direct inverse shot of Volkerson’s body, one made clearer to Togusa than the static projection he witnessed of Volkerson’s corpse.  After Togusa is returned to reality, like in Volkerson’s home, Batou stands directly behind Togusa but this is now an inverse shot of the one above, thence mirroring the scene in Volkerson’s home.  Togusa perceives a gruesome and graphic visual of Volkerson’s corpse, but he is unaffected by this sight when it is a clinical part of his investigative routine, looking only through the medium which also constitutes him.  When Togusa steps literally through the looking glass, he transmutes into Volkerson himself in experiencing the virtual construct of his own self.  His shock upon witnessing his mechanical body is contrasted with his clinical detachment in examining Volkerson’s corpse.

Additionally, an interesting detail to take note of is the electrical light fixture which is seen hanging over Togusa’s head after his cyberbrain is hacked with the virtual simulations.  As one can see in the left image, there is only one light fixture on the bookshelf that is seen lit and situated above Togusa, indicating Togusa has been “enlightened” with this newfound self-knowledge of his technical existence.  In contrast, the image on the right shows only a single unlit bulb on the bookcase while the rest of the light fixtures are seen to be lit.  The dim light fixture is situated directly over Kim’s head, suggesting he is “unenlightened.”

2. The Underworld of the Autopsy

At the coroner’s office, the gynoids are seen put under examination, preserved in amniotic plastic wrap that is not so different from the holographic picture of the girl Batou discovers stored away in Volkerson’s library.  The orange color evincing a sense of warmth, it is displaced from the clinical cold white settings.  Take notice of the ceiling paneling in the coroner’s office, and how comparable it is to the grating in the flooring on the Locus Solus ship, where the kidnapped girls are stored in the ghost dubbing processing area.  The ceiling of the examination room is now the floor, as if it has been turned upside down.  With the freezing temperatures in both settings, it suggests the gynoids are held in some purgatorial limbo.  Interestingly, Togusa is initially seen at the coroner’s to bundle up in being exposed to the cold before getting used to it, whereas Batou and Kusanagi are completely unaffected by it.

3. Chief Aramaki and Kim

During the earlier parts of the film, Batou and Togusa make three visitations to Chief Aramaki’s office, the same number of times they revisit Kim on the top floor of his mansion whilst they are entrapped within the virtual simulations.  Interestingly, the content in each reiteration is also similar.  The first visit shows a general debriefing between all the characters.  In the second, Togusa is portrayed in the scene as a solitary figure, provoked by Kim and Aramaki in having a moment of self-reflection.  In the third instance, both Batou and Togusa endure an intense conflict with Kim’s office getting destroyed by gunfire that is similar to the battle against the Yakuza, followed by Aramaki chewing them out for being reckless.  These instances are visually comparable with Togusa and Batou seen to stand small in the frame’s background at the office door with Aramaki and Kim looming larger in the foreground to feel more authoritative and imposing.  Moreover, Aramaki and Kim are reclined back in their chairs with their hands later seen clasped before their chest.

Aramaki's officeKim's Manor Office


4. Gabriel


While Batou is getting repairs done on his arm after having shot it in the grocery store, Togusa takes care of his dog.  It is presumed his daughter is looking after Gabriel more extensively than Togusa and his wife.  This is noticed when Gabriel is seen whimpering while Togusa tries to restrain the dog as it yearns for Batou in not having seen him after getting maintenance done on his arm.  Later, when Batou returns from his leave from home, Gabriel yearns just as intensively for Togusa’s daughter, the affection she provided to him during Batou’s absence having been imprinted on the dog in the same way as Batou’s affection.


5. The Young Girls


When Batou visits his local store, he spots a child holding onto her mother’s coat through his cybernetic eyes, viewing the child from a detached distance.  In Kim’s manor, he sees the shadow of a young girl as he walks down a dimly lit corridor as if he were catching up to her as her fixed pose makes her appear as if she was running away from him, which is later mirrored by Togusa’s daughter running to her father at the end of the film.  Finally, Batou finds the kidnapped girl from the ghost dubbing processing area.  These moments are significant in how they chronicle Batou’s transitions in his investigations, getting closer and closer to the kidnapped girls before finally concluding on a sense of there being a return of the children to their parents.

6. Caveat: Reflections in Kim’s Manor

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