In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Anatomy of Permutational Desire, Part II:Bellmer's Dolls and Oshii's Gynoids
  • Livia Monnet (bio)

Oshii Mamoru's Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004, Inosensu) articulates three major theoretical discourses, each of which appears to be equipped with its own aesthetics, and each of which responds to the transgressive art and theories of Hans Bellmer discussed in Part 1 of this essay: (a) a theory of perversion, (b) a philosophy of dolls and the human machine, and (c) a theory of animation and the animated image.1 In this, the second part of the essay, I will show how Bellmer's art and poetics of perversion inform the very unconscious of Innocence, and I will show how Innocence expands on Bellmerian hystericization in an attempt to expose and subvert the perverse structure of modernity, a strategy that I see as consonant with Deleuze's politics of "active involuntarism," here condensed into the figure of the posthysterical gynoid known as Kusanagi Motoko.

Bellmer Born in Innocence

In preparation for the production of Innocence, Oshii and his film crew toured Japan, the United States, and Europe, conducting studies at various doll [End Page 153] museums and visiting the studios of doll makers. In Inosensu: Sōsaku nōto (Notes on the making of Innocence), Oshii writes that one of their most extraordinary experiences was a visit to the New York Museum of Photography, where they saw one of the few surviving original prototypes for Bellmer's second Doll. Oshii found this experience even more profoundly revelatory than his first encounter with the Doll photographs of the German surrealist artist in the early 1970s, when, as a poor college student in Tokyo, he encountered several reproductions of these mythical pictures in an art magazine. Beholding the actual Doll model, Oshii confesses that he felt as if he were being reunited with a woman whom he had secretly worshipped and desired in his youth, knowing full well that he would never meet her. Bellmer's experiments with ball-jointed Dolls, then, were very much on Oshii's mind as a premise for his anime long before he actually began work on the film.2

Oshii's preoccupation with Bellmer's work during the preproduction phase is manifest in the finished anime. The mythical Bellmerian Poupée, for instance, makes a brief appearance in the movie: we catch a glimpse of a variation on the Torso Doll (i.e. the Doll consisting of two pelvises joined by a round abdominal ball-joint) in the opening credit sequence (Figure 1). Later, investigating the rented boathouse where Locus Solus commission inspector Volkerson was murdered, Batou (or Batō) finds The Doll, a Japanese-Korean compilation of Bellmer's Doll photographs. A gorgeous green-tinted picture from Bellmer and Eluard's The Games of the Doll (1949, Les jeux de la poupée) adorns the cover. These fleeting evocations of the permutational Poupée, however, are more than passing citations. They anticipate a sustained engagement with Bellmer's transgressive vision of dolls.

The opening credits sequence follows the manufacturing process of a gynoid, Hadaly 2052. It is a "birth sequence" that clearly echoes the scene of the creation of Kusanagi Motoko in the first Ghost in the Shell movie: the solemn choral music by Kawai Kenji, the entirely artificial inner structure, and the foetal position of the gynoid deliberately repeat the previous film. Yet the birth sequence in Innocence differs from that in Ghost in the Shell. It includes the brief appearance of a variation of Bellmer's Torso Doll; the splitting of this Bellmerian prototype into two identical articulated dolls that float toward each other until their lips touch in a chaste kiss; and a close-up of the gynoid's beautiful face, whose blue eyes open all of a sudden, fixing us with an empty stare.

It is significant that the variant on Bellmer's second Doll appears in the context of a birth or genesis that is simultaneously "natural" and artificial, human-like and mythical, cybernetic and biotechnological. The anime thus [End Page 154] situates Bellmer's art of perversion at the origin, making it the conceptual matrix or unconscious space for the story...