In a near future, technology has firmly taken root into society at large. Cybernetic implants are nothing uncommon and robots roam as plentiful as humans, all connected through their ''ghosts'' to the electronic datastreams of the net. Major Motoko Kusanagi and the Public Security Section 9 find themselves in a constant battle with the newly created wave of technological terrorists and cyber-hackers. But things take a turn once Motoko gets involved in a certain case involving an extremely dangerous ''ghost''hacker nicknamed the Puppeteer, as she dives deeper and deeper into the limitless reality of the net, to reach her own startling conclusions.
Koukaku Kidoutai: The Ghost in the Shell was published in English by Dark Horse, initially into eight comic issues from March 1 to October 1, 1995 and later into a single volume on December 1. An uncensored version was published on October 6, 2004. Kodansha Comics USA picked up the license and republished the censored version on October 13, 2009.
The series was published in Japan as a bilingual edition (English and Japanese) by Kodansha on September 6, 2002.
I bought GitS over this last summer. I had already been such a huge fan of the movies and the series, I was eager to see where it all began. I had never read through a Shirow manga, with the exception of bits of Appleseed. When I got home, it was damn near 3 in the morning, and I still ended up getting to sleep at like 5.
Because this book is frickin amazing. I'm shocked at how few people have actually picked it up, given the near fanaticism the show inspired. One of the main reasons this might have happened is because there are some
extremely graphic things that happen in the manga. Given that Shirow also dabbles in drawing hentai, I can expect this now, but I was a little unnerved when I first read it. Don't worry about it, because it only really lasts like 3 pages and if you read the massive amounts of extra information in the back it makes sense.
The art in this is beautiful and brutal at times. Shirow is an absolute master at creating realistic and detailed backgrounds. His city scapes and his mechanical designs seem as though they could actually work in real life. You can certainly tell that this was done in the early 90s though,if only because of some of the inking styles and color portions of this book practically scream it.
The characters, I'll admit, aren't exactly as fleshed out as they become in the show. However, they did lay the groundwork. Togusa is still a father and husband, Batou is still the smart ass, and Motoko is still cold and efficient. One of the things that fans of the series will notice is a lack of Tachikomas. Their predecessors, the Fuchikomas are essentially the same thing, except with noticeably different mech designs.
The story is mostly random crimes and special ops that the Section 9 crew goes through, making this seem like a cop story first and foremost. Eventually it gets to the Puppeteer, and fans of the movies already know how that turns out. Some twists and turns in the story make it more enjoyable (at least to me) than the movie that was based off this, and some of the more sci-fi stuff does get explained in greater detail. Again, this is where that directory in the back comes in handy. Without reading it, this story will probably not make sense unless you're a scientist, military specialist, or an extremely well read religious practitioner.
My enjoyment of this manga is obvious, and overall I think that any fan of the series, movies, or scifi and cyberpunk in general should check it out.
“… but now it’s time to cast off all restrictions and shells, and shift to a higher-level system…”
Ghost in the Shell is a work constantly asking what comes next. Whether it’s the next potential move of a cyber-terrorist, the next iteration of technology and weaponry, or the next step in the evolution of mankind. We know where we are right now, and we think we might know where we could go, but… what comes next?
It is the year 2029 in Newport City, Japan. Section 9, a branch of Public Security, has recently been founded as a unit specialized in counter-terrorism and anti-cybercrime. When necessary, they
also act as oversight against government corruption. Towards those ends, their ranks are filled with an awesome group of highly-proficient individuals.
Major Motoko Kusanagi is the assault leader. A savvy smart-ass with skills in hacking few in the world can compare to. Batou is the powerful fist even without weapons; Ishikawa the tech expert; Saito the sniper; Togusa the rookie former-policeman; Boma the demolition specialist; Pazu the jack-of-all-trades; and Chief Aramaki the brains behind them all. Watching them work together is the best part, but sadly some don’t really have much presence. We spend little time with Ishikawa, Boma and Pazu -- and beyond Motoko, there are no real character development arcs.
Thankfully, their fights are further augmented by the crazy fuchikomas. I say ‘crazy’ in the most affectionate way possible. Depending on how their silliness strikes you, it will probably be love at first byte. A fuchikoma is a think tank, an AI-controlled armed robot that can either act independently or be entered by a controller and used as a vehicle. They look something like cute, pudgy, mechanical spiders. Much of the manga’s humor comes from the quips of these curious, sometimes recalcitrant, automatons.
Though more often than not it’s the Major’s own defiance towards authority that gets the biggest laughs.
The world of Ghost in the Shell is awash in technology. It’s everywhere you look. Usually where you don’t look too since it’s so prolific. People have begun casting away their flesh and organs in place of cybernetic enhancements or even full cybernization. Cyborgs are a norm. Motoko herself looks no different from an average, fully-human girl you might encounter beating criminals senseless while packing Seburo-style heat. Only when you get a little closer, lift up her hair, you see the ports on the back of her neck for hardwiring into a computer terminal or for direct connection to another cyborg.
Not long into the manga, there is a particularly profound section where Motoko observes the creation of a cyborg. An entirely biomechanical cyber-body is split open at the back of the neck, awaiting the only original organic material left of the woman to be cybernized -- her brain and spinal cord. Is this what our individual consciousnesses can be reduced to? Our bodies, like a two-meter high block of flesh and blood instead of marble, carved down to this small yet significant bit?
It is no wonder that the Major often wonders about the nature of her ‘ghost’. In a body 90% manufactured, it is hard to be sure what is really ‘her’ and what is not. Is there a ratio of human-to-machine where Motoko’s identity disappears and ‘she’ becomes something else entirely? And would ‘she’ know the change even occurred? At one point, she jokes that maybe only two brain cells remain the ‘real’ her.
Shirow plays this concept of identity like a violin.
It’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to our sense of self. Our bodies support our brains; our brains give rise to a consciousness. We are our bodies. However, in this new world there are hackers that would change this would-be permanence. Now cyberbrains can be infiltrated and implanted with false memories and personalities or be hijacked altogether and controlled remotely like a puppet. The main story arc involves such a character: The Puppeteer, a wizard hacker that can crack the strongest ice barriers and use people as pawns. So the question becomes not how we can retain our identity, but whether it’s even possible.
Although steeped in deeper philosophies, Ghost in the Shell is primarily an action-packed gunshot. Whether using a thermo-optically camouflaged fuchikoma to sneak around, hunting down a wanted target or busting onto the scene full force, Section 9 and the Major take you for a ride. Even when the build-up of the story is gradual, there is a great sense of anticipation of the payoffs to come. Shirow’s drawing is fluid when it comes to this tension-and-release, creating dramatic moments one after the other. A firefight may take only a few pages here or there, but it’s elegant and bloody and satisfying. And when the barrage carries on for page after page, better hold on!
Whether the technical prowess of Shirow’s art is greater than his creative choices is an academic question. Both are married perfectly. He makes Motoko look cool visually and adds to that coolness with the fact that she is a cyborg. So too is Newport City a fascinating place for both the way he makes it look and the futuristic technology he decides to fill it with. His ideas and execution are amazing. At times even prescient, given that this was first published in 1989. As with William Gibson’s Neuromancer, I guess there’s just something in the cyberpunk water.
To ask what comes next is to invite change. “Change is the only constant.” It feels pedantic to say that. It’s one of those simple truths that stretch from the cosmological to the infinitesimal. And there we are right in the middle of it. I’ve changed while I’ve written this sentence. You’ve changed while you’ve read this one. Our cells replenishing themselves, dividing, dying. Admittedly, those are tiny changes. Motoko herself confronts a great change head-on, the “what comes next” of our development as a species. It’s only one of many possible paths we could take, I imagine. It’s possible we’re well on our way, walking in her footsteps and mustering up the courage to do the same. Hell, we might have already made the decision.
Motoko talks about her ‘ghost’. It’s the last bit of her identity housed within the cybernetic shell of her body. It whispers to her, guides her, offers as much assurance as it can even though she fears it might not even exist. Housed within a life of constant change, what permanence can we find?
Maybe just those changes that birth a new future… and being lucky enough to witness them when they come to pass.
There are plenty of people who are aware with the 1995 animated movie, but hardly the same with the original manga published in 1989. It’s a shame since it does build its own world better and have more fleshed out characters. Even if most of it is for laughs.
You see, the original Ghost in the Shell Manga is the most lighthearted and more comedic than what this series has produced so far. Well except of those Tachikoma shorts. However, this still treats the issues like cyber-terrorists with most respect. They just present it, as it was a common thing, not a new thing like
they did in the movie.
Instead of having one message of about the creation of a new entity made up of digital information, this manga also provides the message of child experiments, poverty and police brutality. As well to paying homage to the movie Blade Runner.
Art & Character:
If you expect the Major to act identical to the movie, then you might be surprised on how goofy she can be. Her type of expressions may look like it belongs to 80’s teen character, but she eventually shows her more mature side that we will come to know and love.
The rest of the cast seems to be more focused here than in the movie, where they were pushed aside. Even if we only focus on four out of all Section 9. Still, it’s something.
Most of the 11 chapters are episodic, with exception of the last ones which covers the incident of the puppet master. If you can’t decide between watching the movie or read the manga first, then you can watch the movie and then admire the manga afterwards.
The reason is that moments in the movie including the puppet master is underplayed in the original to an extent. Again, this manga shows a more mundane side than something as a warning from the future. I personally enjoyed some these moments. There is just something funny about Major and a cyborg engineer having a causal conversation about how they would experience death.
Even if most chapters are episodic, the manga is only one volume. Short and sweet. So, if you ever consider reading, all that I can say is, that it’s worth your time and your mind.
It also predicted the dilemma between America and Syria. Just some fun trivia.
As a big fan of Ghost In The Shell Movies and TV shows I thought at some point I would see what the original source material of one of the greatest Sci-fi anime's ever.
Before reading Ghost In The Shell I was at the time not really a manga reader so I went into it with a open mind and after reading this manga I was more sold on reading Manga and also made me love Ghost In The Shell more than I already did.
The story had already familiar aspects from the films and shows as well as other stories that I found very enjoyable and
all have a great Sci-fi elements and being a big fan of Sci-fi I found these very enjoyable from Hacking and diving into the internet.
The style the manga has is some of the best that I have ever seen in a manga which impressive as this came out in 1987. One of the greater parts of the style are a lot the fight scenes and also all the depiction's of the future with all the technology looks really good and you will find it hard to find something that looks just as good.
Characters at first what I expected from the anime's but they are a little bit different in some aspects. The best example is the Major herself. If you have seen the anime you know that she is a bad ass and very self confident but also trying to find out what her purpose is and if everything is real. But one ting that the manga has that the film or the TV show don't really show is that the Major has a immature side to her and also if you thought she didn't take any crap from ayone in the anime then read the manga as she takes it to a hole other level.
I guess if there was one last thing to talk about it is and if you know anything about this manga is the infamous Lesbian Cyber Sex scene between the Major and 2 of her cyborg friends and really to be honest its not much to shout about to be honest and it only last's about 2 pages and its just a dream sequence in their minds being hooked up together with some kind of drug (Not really mentioned) and so I don't think its gonna shock anyone over 18 put it that way.
So to sum up the Ghost In The Shell manga is a classic manga that all anime and manga fans must read. Even if your just a fan Sci-fi its defiantly worth reading as it is a classic and a part of one the great Sci-fi franchise and in anime and manga.