There is no doubt that Innocence is visually stunning, but it lacks the philosophical depth and thematic consistency that helped make its 1995 cinematic predecessor Ghost in the Shell a cult classic.
Fascinating visual touches abound -- kanji everywhere, cars styled as if from the 1950s. An eclectic mix of modern Japanese, Chinese and European influences pervades the work. However, there is no sense of these images having any greater significance within the context of the narrative. The boisterous parade scene in particular, with its riot of colour and mish-mash of Chinese and Japanese images, seems more of a parody rather than a homage to its subdued and meaningful cousin in Ghost in the Shell.
Also expected of Oshii Mamoru, this film is packed with textual references and quotes. However, he goes overboard with these in Innocence. The constant quoting and referencing alienate the audience instead of enhancing a mood or provoking further reflection, and the constant exposition doesn't help.
As a stepping stone for further exploration of burning philosophical issues like what it means to be human, Innocence is an excellent start, as the Midnight Eye review implies. In terms of narrative and structure however, it's not as coherent or engaging as the first. Still worth catching though, for the sheer beauty and fluidity of the animation.