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The Ghost in the Shell, Volume 1

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Deep into the twenty-first century, the line between man and machine has been inexorably blurred as humans rely on the enhancement of mechanical implants and robots are upgraded with human tissue. In this rapidly converging landscape, cyborg superagent Major Motoko Kusanagi is charged to track down the craftiest and most dangerous terrorists and cybercriminals, including “ Deep into the twenty-first century, the line between man and machine has been inexorably blurred as humans rely on the enhancement of mechanical implants and robots are upgraded with human tissue. In this rapidly converging landscape, cyborg superagent Major Motoko Kusanagi is charged to track down the craftiest and most dangerous terrorists and cybercriminals, including “ghost hackers” who are capable of exploiting the human/machine interface and reprogramming humans to become puppets to carry out the hackers’ criminal ends. When Major Kusanagi tracks the cybertrail of one such master hacker, the Puppeteer, her quest leads her into a world beyond information and technology where the very nature of consciousness and the human soul are turned upside down. From Shirow Masamune, the award-winning creator of Appleseed and Dominion, comes The Ghost in the Shell, the breakthrough manga that inspired the internationally acclaimed animated film. An epic dystopian tale of politics, technology, and metaphysics, The Ghost in the Shell has been hailed worldwide as an unparalleled visionary work of graphic fiction. And now it’s ready to dazzle the imagination in its second millennium. This edition includes a new Introduction from Dark Horse publisher, Mike Richardson, and a postscript from author, Shirow Masamune, with his thoughts on the phenomenon that is The Ghost in the Shell.


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Deep into the twenty-first century, the line between man and machine has been inexorably blurred as humans rely on the enhancement of mechanical implants and robots are upgraded with human tissue. In this rapidly converging landscape, cyborg superagent Major Motoko Kusanagi is charged to track down the craftiest and most dangerous terrorists and cybercriminals, including “ Deep into the twenty-first century, the line between man and machine has been inexorably blurred as humans rely on the enhancement of mechanical implants and robots are upgraded with human tissue. In this rapidly converging landscape, cyborg superagent Major Motoko Kusanagi is charged to track down the craftiest and most dangerous terrorists and cybercriminals, including “ghost hackers” who are capable of exploiting the human/machine interface and reprogramming humans to become puppets to carry out the hackers’ criminal ends. When Major Kusanagi tracks the cybertrail of one such master hacker, the Puppeteer, her quest leads her into a world beyond information and technology where the very nature of consciousness and the human soul are turned upside down. From Shirow Masamune, the award-winning creator of Appleseed and Dominion, comes The Ghost in the Shell, the breakthrough manga that inspired the internationally acclaimed animated film. An epic dystopian tale of politics, technology, and metaphysics, The Ghost in the Shell has been hailed worldwide as an unparalleled visionary work of graphic fiction. And now it’s ready to dazzle the imagination in its second millennium. This edition includes a new Introduction from Dark Horse publisher, Mike Richardson, and a postscript from author, Shirow Masamune, with his thoughts on the phenomenon that is The Ghost in the Shell.

30 review for The Ghost in the Shell, Volume 1

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    AWESOME! I mean seriously, the movie will be coming out soon as I write this in late Feb 2017, but I read the comic in English translation over 20 years ago and LOVED it. I also read the sequel and watched the associated anime that it inspired. It is a fantastic universe in a sort of dystopian future that poses the same basic questions as the I Robot series by Asimov - how will artificial intelligence change human kind and at what moment is an android sentient. A MUST READ before the movie comes AWESOME! I mean seriously, the movie will be coming out soon as I write this in late Feb 2017, but I read the comic in English translation over 20 years ago and LOVED it. I also read the sequel and watched the associated anime that it inspired. It is a fantastic universe in a sort of dystopian future that poses the same basic questions as the I Robot series by Asimov - how will artificial intelligence change human kind and at what moment is an android sentient. A MUST READ before the movie comes out - or after you watch it. This is truly one of the greatest mangas. I have the Kodansha Bilingual version and as much as I find it entertaining that Masamune Shirow leaves a ton of editorial explanations of his drawings and ideas (and excuses sometimes for shortcuts he takes in the story), the type is really really really tiny. That being said, Bantu is a total badass and Major Motoko Kusanagi is an extremely sexy cyborg built over a human body with those human memories buried in her as her "ghost". Her adventures as a super agent are fun and engaging as well as sexy and occasionally quite violent - NSFW and 18+ for the most part. The anime was excellent, let's hope the live action version lives up to the hype as well. They will surely not be able to cover the variety of adventures in this volume so it will be interesting to see whether they use the anime as a basis or go off on a different story altogether. There are many possibilities which is one of the things which is so great about this manga. The film - like the anime - is a sort of prequel to this volume. But it is absolutely amazing!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Leonard Gaya

    Ghost in the Shell is a manga from the 1980s (just like Akira), which was at first only known to the manga aficionados in Japan. It later became one of the landmarks of the genre, especially after being adapted countless times into TV series, movies and video games. This album is mostly a series of procedural supercop dramas set in the near future. I suppose they were, by the usual practice, initially published as a series in a Japanese periodical and then gathered into a single tankobon. All the Ghost in the Shell is a manga from the 1980s (just like Akira), which was at first only known to the manga aficionados in Japan. It later became one of the landmarks of the genre, especially after being adapted countless times into TV series, movies and video games. This album is mostly a series of procedural supercop dramas set in the near future. I suppose they were, by the usual practice, initially published as a series in a Japanese periodical and then gathered into a single tankobon. All these stories revolve around political-corporate-terrorist conspiracies, which the protagonist, Major Motoko Kusanagi, and her gang at Section 9 need to thwart, using a multitude of car chases, machine guns and explosives. These stories seem, for the most part, somewhat formulaic. The theme of this manga has evident cyberpunk undercurrents: Major Kusanagi is a cyborg made of robotic body parts (a “shell”, big boobs included) and a human mind (a “ghost”, you get it). Her sidekick, Batou, is also a cyborg, of the hefty sort. The evil Puppeteer too is a sentient artificial hacker emerged from the “sea of information”. Considering that this was written in the 80s, in many ways Shirow Masamune was something of a visionary. Some aspects, however, are distinctive of the style and opinions of Shirow —who provides quite a few “footnotes”, either in the margins or at the end of the volume—: a geeky interest for firearms and all sort of technical mumbo-jumbo, a schoolboy’s taste for pop-metaphysical speculations and a morbid fascination for torn-apart-bimbo-girls eroticism. Some pages are in colour (beginning and ending of each episode), others in black and white, with no obvious reason. On the whole, Ghost in the Shell is the work of a young man (Shirow was twenty-something at the time), with spontaneity, a lot of ideas and mastery of artwork, but in the end, comes across as a little stringy. The 1995 anime, by Mamoru Oshii, is a direct adaptation of this volume, but without all the excess meat. The 2017 Scarlett Johansson movie is loosely inspired by the anime and, although the plot is rather meh, makes a stunning use of CGI.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    This is a classic science fiction manga by revered mangaka Shirow (a pseudonym). I am sorry to say (since many of my sci fi and manga GR friends loved it) I had a little trouble getting into it. I had to start and restart it several times. The ambition of the piece is obvious: It explores 21st century man vs machine AI issues, with a cyborg female Major Kusanagi who kicks ass and looks like what some people hope to see at Hooters, I suppose. Anyway, you know her and have seen her a bit too much, This is a classic science fiction manga by revered mangaka Shirow (a pseudonym). I am sorry to say (since many of my sci fi and manga GR friends loved it) I had a little trouble getting into it. I had to start and restart it several times. The ambition of the piece is obvious: It explores 21st century man vs machine AI issues, with a cyborg female Major Kusanagi who kicks ass and looks like what some people hope to see at Hooters, I suppose. Anyway, you know her and have seen her a bit too much, maybe. I know I have, anyway. (Oh, but it's not a "she," it's an "it" so we can see her naked as much as we want!). And haha, after a long day she gives her boys a treat: Let's go to a strip club, on me, guys! I know for some of you that a Shapely Girl Bot helps detract from the terrible dialogue (could be partly a translation issue?) and character development, but I think it's overall a weakness. You can't take a Major seriously who has a face like a six year old a body like that, imo. This volume, that collects the first 8 issues of this series, is a rerelease that adds a longish and impressively detailed "Author's Notes" section and adds "adult content" that wasn't part of the development of the anime movie version, I am told. In the way of some manga it is hyper-violent, which also in a way gets impedes our serious exploration of what is underneath all of the fleshy and flashy surface: The series is about "the ghost in the machine" (or, okay, shell) or soul or spirit. Why is it Major Kusanagi cares enough to Fight the Power? She has something (most? some?) humans have, she has moral commitment, she wants to fight the Man and. .. uh, dehumanization. Pretty good for a de-human. In addition to Kusanagi's "ghost," there's also, in this story, "ghost hackers" capable of reprogramming human minds to make them Orwellian puppets, and this is what Kusanagi and her tribe are fighting. And I like that part. I mean, the tale is not all that original in its effects--the strong girl and girly shoot-em-up bits, which are the main thing, it's an action comic or looks like it, mostly, and as I said, the dialogue and characterizations are not its greatest strengths--but the fundamental corse of the story, the resistance to totalitarianism that is the main part of the story is good and well though out and interesting. If you look at Shirow's notes, you can see he has thought thoroughly through the world-building. So it's an impressive and flawed but never boring series. It's AI meets IT meets The Man, with a strong cyborg girl leading the charge. An epic dystopian tale that touches on the nature of consciousness. Reminds me of Tezuka, trying to get at larger political issues in his later work.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chris Youngblood

    I don't know. Maybe I'm stupid. Maybe it's an issue with the translations. Maybe Masamune Shirow is just an incredibly obtuse writer. Either way, I found these books (along with Appleseed) a bit muddled and indecipherable. I repeatedly felt that the books were written as though Mr. Shirow automatically expected us to understand certain things that were not explained - almost as if one were required to see the thought processes that went into the writing - the constant, unexplained references to I don't know. Maybe I'm stupid. Maybe it's an issue with the translations. Maybe Masamune Shirow is just an incredibly obtuse writer. Either way, I found these books (along with Appleseed) a bit muddled and indecipherable. I repeatedly felt that the books were written as though Mr. Shirow automatically expected us to understand certain things that were not explained - almost as if one were required to see the thought processes that went into the writing - the constant, unexplained references to 'ghosts' is a good example. Were these 'ghosts' supposed to be memory? Souls? The mind-recordings of the individuals that were speaking? And just what was the point of the lesbian scene? So many things remain unexplained and unexplainable, no matter how many times I re-read these books. Regardless of what the ultimate intent was, I'm not a major fan of most anime or Japanese comics (with some exceptions), so I cannot say that this series is entirely at fault; in the hands of a Troo Fan, it is probably much more enjoyable.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gianfranco Mancini

    Vote 4 (5 if you are a diehard fan of the GITS anime like me) After a Ghost in the Shell anime marathon where my wife and me watched in less than 2 weeks Mamoru Oshii's 1995 anime masterwork, the awful 2.0 recent version with 3d sequences added, 2nd movie Innocence, first and second season/gig of Stand Alone Complex series, the GITS SAC movie, the Arise prequel miniseries and at last the live action movie that was far better then expected (sadly the whitewashing critics and low incomes killed the Vote 4 (5 if you are a diehard fan of the GITS anime like me) After a Ghost in the Shell anime marathon where my wife and me watched in less than 2 weeks Mamoru Oshii's 1995 anime masterwork, the awful 2.0 recent version with 3d sequences added, 2nd movie Innocence, first and second season/gig of Stand Alone Complex series, the GITS SAC movie, the Arise prequel miniseries and at last the live action movie that was far better then expected (sadly the whitewashing critics and low incomes killed the franchise on birth), it was really time for me to re-read Masamune Shirow's original manga. It was just a great cyberpunk/action read, the characters were funnier and less developed than the anime series (but for Togusa(view spoiler)[, and the scene of Mayor Kusanagi shooting virtual lesbian porn movies in #2 issue was really weird! (hide spoiler)] ) but this time It was much more easy to understand it than first time I've read it years and years ago. Sadly the manga was published monthly on a magazine so you can see sometimes author's artworks are rushed and less detailed, but still very good ones. (view spoiler)[ And the ending was far more hilarious than the 1995 anime. (hide spoiler)] A real must read if you love cyberpunk sci-fi, Ghost in the Shell anime, or you just watched the real-action movie with Scarlett Johansson (Takeshi "Beat" Kitano was an awesome Chief Aramaki there) and wanna see where everything had its origin.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    This manga has some very cool aspects as well as some very annoying ones. But ultimately it was a disappointment for me. Let’s start with the cool stuff. It has a kick-ass female main character that exudes a tremendous amount of confidence. There are some interesting concepts about artificial intelligence and what it takes for something (someone?) to be deemed alive. It also has some very cool settings and great style. The artwork is inconsistent, though. The colored parts are mostly great, with many This manga has some very cool aspects as well as some very annoying ones. But ultimately it was a disappointment for me. Let’s start with the cool stuff. It has a kick-ass female main character that exudes a tremendous amount of confidence. There are some interesting concepts about artificial intelligence and what it takes for something (someone?) to be deemed alive. It also has some very cool settings and great style. The artwork is inconsistent, though. The colored parts are mostly great, with many nice details. But there are some blurry panels as well. The black and white parts aren't always that good. Some of the panels even seemed a bit lazy. Overall I liked the art. But I was still annoyed by the constant change in quality. A few examples of the good and the bad (I mixed it up to make it a little more challenging for you to figure out what is what. Just kidding. I think it’s pretty clear): So yeah, lots of ups and downs. With the story it‘s no different. But it falls more on the down side of the spectrum. It's episodic and often hard to follow. I really didn't like that aspect of the book. It‘s simply annoyingly incoherent. Some interesting concepts here and there. And a few chapters were quite entertaining. But for the most part there's a feeling of detachment created by the diffuse storytelling. Overall I think this is just an okay manga, with lots of unrealized potential. A very frustrating read for me. 2.5 stars, rounded up.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    As a big fan of cyberpunk, I probably should have read this a lot sooner. As it was, it was mostly the arrival of the live-action movie that finally drove me to get to it. To be honest, I'm really not a fan of manga. Elements of how it's generally drawn as well as a general lack of interest has led to staying away from that style for the most part. Ghost in the Shell is a little difficult to rate as I enjoyed parts of it (particularly the nuanced thoughts on identity and the line between machine As a big fan of cyberpunk, I probably should have read this a lot sooner. As it was, it was mostly the arrival of the live-action movie that finally drove me to get to it. To be honest, I'm really not a fan of manga. Elements of how it's generally drawn as well as a general lack of interest has led to staying away from that style for the most part. Ghost in the Shell is a little difficult to rate as I enjoyed parts of it (particularly the nuanced thoughts on identity and the line between machine and man) but got bored/annoyed by the weird digressions into the details of the tech and science behind it and the first section in particular is really rough. Probably worth reading if you're a fan of the cyberpunk genre and haven't previously picked this up. Full review here

  8. 4 out of 5

    Psychophant

    This is the book that, in my opinion, closed down cyberpunk as a literary current, in 1991. It is what the matrix tried to become, a meld of style, futurism and religious take on that basic cyberpunk question, what it means to be human. It is a very dense book, difficult to follow and with lots of subtext and unreliable narrators. It is also incredibly well drawn and laid out. It is self contained, which is also rare on this genre. It still feels fresh and up to date, which just pays homage to its This is the book that, in my opinion, closed down cyberpunk as a literary current, in 1991. It is what the matrix tried to become, a meld of style, futurism and religious take on that basic cyberpunk question, what it means to be human. It is a very dense book, difficult to follow and with lots of subtext and unreliable narrators. It is also incredibly well drawn and laid out. It is self contained, which is also rare on this genre. It still feels fresh and up to date, which just pays homage to its long term vision. Only its abstruseness and deliberate doubt induction keeps it from a perfect score.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    So disappointed that I can't finish this manga. I know it's a classic. I never figured out what was going on. I also have a problem with 80's hair and clothes distracting me from vintage manga and old movies, but that's my own issue. I think I might check out the anime, though. I did appreciate Motoko's sense of humor but it wasn't enough to get me through this book. So disappointed that I can't finish this manga. I know it's a classic. I never figured out what was going on. I also have a problem with 80's hair and clothes distracting me from vintage manga and old movies, but that's my own issue. I think I might check out the anime, though. I did appreciate Motoko's sense of humor but it wasn't enough to get me through this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I was completely confused from page one, I felt I had come in half-way through a hard sci-fi series. The Plot was all over the place and the characters were hard to keep up with. The sexy-lesbian-android bit wasn't even a smutty little offshoot, it was just porn for porns sake and the artwork went from absolutly beautiful to something my little brother could draw. At one point Masamune actually writes 'After this, there's a scene where Mokoto takes over the driving and Togusa checks his gear and I was completely confused from page one, I felt I had come in half-way through a hard sci-fi series. The Plot was all over the place and the characters were hard to keep up with. The sexy-lesbian-android bit wasn't even a smutty little offshoot, it was just porn for porns sake and the artwork went from absolutly beautiful to something my little brother could draw. At one point Masamune actually writes 'After this, there's a scene where Mokoto takes over the driving and Togusa checks his gear and puts it on, but it was too much of a hassle to draw, so I left it out' a mangaka shouldn't find their art a 'hassle', if they did they should just be novelists, that's if they can actually be arsed to. Unfortunately the substratum of this story is interesting but it has been done before and let's be honest, everyone else did it better.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rory Wilding

    At a time when anime was seen as an underground phenomenon during the nineties, there will be a handful of us who would buy VHS tapes that were distributed by Manga Entertainment. One of the few titles that stood out for us was Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 sci-fi masterpiece Ghost in the Shell, which not only refined cyberpunk and pushing the boundaries of adult animation, but became a massive influence to future sci-fi works i.e. The Matrix. However, out of the numerous movies, TV shows and video games At a time when anime was seen as an underground phenomenon during the nineties, there will be a handful of us who would buy VHS tapes that were distributed by Manga Entertainment. One of the few titles that stood out for us was Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 sci-fi masterpiece Ghost in the Shell, which not only refined cyberpunk and pushing the boundaries of adult animation, but became a massive influence to future sci-fi works i.e. The Matrix. However, out of the numerous movies, TV shows and video games as well as a live-action film coming our way in the near future, Kōkaku Kidōtai was first conceived as a manga series first serialised in 1989 written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow. Set in the mid-21st century of Japan, counter-cyberterrorist organization Public Security Section 9, led by Major Motoko Kusanagi, hunts down the Puppeteer, a cyber-criminal wanted for committing a large number of crimes by proxy through "ghost hacking" humans with cyberbrains. Despite the above synopsis (which became the basis for the 1995 film), this volume that collects the first eight issues of the series, seems to be about other things, perhaps more so than the Puppeteer manhunt. Clearly Shirow has ideas he wanted to explore in terms of design and philosophy, as well as the search for identity in a technologically advanced world. However, in the way he explores them is through a pretty ramshackle odyssey where the protagonists jumping from one mission to another, while supporting characters appear and just disappear without set-up or indeed execution. With cyberbunk being Shirow’s genre, this book, like a lot of his manga such as Dominion Tank Police, the tone jumbles from being philosophical existentialism to slapstick comedy. There are two short chapters which takes a break from the main narrative, each with their own tonal sensibility. Chapter 4 focuses on the funny dysfunctionality of the Fuchikoma units – spider-like thinks tanks with A.I. – and how one plans a revolution against their owners. The next chapter reveals the making of a cyborg and it is here where Kusanagi questions her existence as a cyborg, albeit through a dinner conversation with one of her gal-pals. Even if you read the most mediocre out of any manga, one can always admire the artistic craftsmanship and even through Shirow’s sketchy designs, his characters are expressive and the action zips along. Although most of this book is black-and-white like most manga, the coloured pages look very splattered, making the art look rougher. Coming from a background in erotic art, Masamune Shirow loves women, specifically the skimpy-wearing type, and there are a number of pages, including a full-on lesbian threesome sex scene (in a virtual reality, mind you) that will upset some readers. As a fan of the 1995 classic (with its tight narrative that makes it better than the source material), I found this book to be a conflicting one as it’s kind of all over the place, but a pretty fun read that has action, comedy and sci-fi, albeit in an inconsistent manner.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    This is one of my favourite comic books, science-fiction works in any medium and things put to print ever. Mind you, I couldn't finish GITS the first time I started reading it back in high school. Not just because of the convoluted plot being hard to follow but also my decision to read the chapter where the story suddenly out of blue cuts to the heroine Major Motoko Kusanagi in the middle of an oiled-up lesbian orgy on a yacht on public transit back then! This is censored to a much more worksafe This is one of my favourite comic books, science-fiction works in any medium and things put to print ever. Mind you, I couldn't finish GITS the first time I started reading it back in high school. Not just because of the convoluted plot being hard to follow but also my decision to read the chapter where the story suddenly out of blue cuts to the heroine Major Motoko Kusanagi in the middle of an oiled-up lesbian orgy on a yacht on public transit back then! This is censored to a much more worksafe scene in some reprints, mind you, I have an uncensored Danish translation of this chapter that I bought at a Copenhagen book fair. I finally got around to reading "Ghost in the Shell" all the way to the finish when studying philosophy in university. I immediately noticed that many of the storylines, not just the Puppetmaster arc that became the centrepiece of the 1995 anime, happened to dramatise the exact same philosophical dilemmas I read about in the curriculum just as futuristic crime/espionage thrillers with lots of impressive action scenes and convoluted gambit pile-up storylines straight out of classic hardboiled crime fiction. I imagine quite a few manga/anime fans who have never heard of Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault or Donna Haraway might nonetheless still be familiar with many of their basic ideas through Masamune Shirow. Furthermore, I was impressed by how much work Shirow put into making a believable future society and documenting in detail how we could get to there from now. It's clear that Shirow is extremely well read in not just philosophy but also sociology, economics, political science etc - rare to come across science-fiction authors who master so many "hard" and "soft" sciences alike. This is one area where I think comic books have an edge over prose fiction when it comes to the science-fiction genre: Much of GITS' worldbuilding is done in footnotes that don't end up dragging down the pace of the plot like conventional infodumping. On a related note: I might be one of the few Occidental GITS fans of my generation who read this before watching any of the anime adaptations, and re-reading GITS after viewing the anime is something of an interesting experience. Mamuro Oshii's 1995 adaptation sticks closely to the opening action scene of the 1st story arc, the "Junk Jungle" arc and the concluding Puppetmaster storyline but it's interesting to see what Shirow and Oshii handled differently. The famous spider tank battle also appears in a completely unrelated storyline revolving terrorists in league with rivalling factions within Japan's "Deep State", a common occurence in the 1868-1945 Japanese Empire and a detail lost on most Occidental readers while Japanese audiences would understand that Shirow meant to show 21st century Japan falling into the same corruption and militarism as it had a century before. I can nonetheless understand why Oshii thought the spider tank scene had to be included, it's one of the best action scenes Shirow's ever written.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jedi JC Daquis

    The Ghost in the Shell is a mash-up of the cyberpunk Japanese cyborg genre, mixed with elements of politics, transcendence of the mind and a bit of spiritual science. Yet this work of Masamune Shirow is not another Akira. Though each of the chapters in this collection is a good read in its own right, Ghost in the Shell fails to deliver a cohesive over-arching narrative where everything is loosely bound together with a surprisingly generic amount of counter-terrorism action. But given some more ti The Ghost in the Shell is a mash-up of the cyberpunk Japanese cyborg genre, mixed with elements of politics, transcendence of the mind and a bit of spiritual science. Yet this work of Masamune Shirow is not another Akira. Though each of the chapters in this collection is a good read in its own right, Ghost in the Shell fails to deliver a cohesive over-arching narrative where everything is loosely bound together with a surprisingly generic amount of counter-terrorism action. But given some more time, one would definitely appreciate the many, many things GitS tries to conver to its readers, from the very shallow fan service quips in the illustrations to the quantum physics stuff about the mind, soul and ghosts. But viewed without these stuff, Ghost in the Shell follows Major Kusanagi and her band of merry cyborgs as cyber police who tackle problems like stopping possible terrorist strikes, assassination assignments, reconnaissance and other stuff you'd see in a decent police story. The chemistry between the characters are great and I have to commend Shirow for dealing with the main characters' personalities very consistently. Each chapter (save for the last one) starts with pages in color. The biggest gripe I have with this volume is its story. There are many times that the manga is very hard to follow, especially when Shirow throws all these political names and random scientific stuff out of nowhere. Rereading is a must here. There were also some dialogues which are either too much in exposition or too much in spritiual and scientific blabbering.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gemma ♕ Bookish Gems

    My first manga! Took me a while to get my head around how to follow the panels but I really enjoyed this. I loved the characters and the cyberpunk world. I found some of the technology stuff a little hard to follow sometimes which meant I didn't give a full five stars but I will definitely be checking out the film and the next volume! My first manga! Took me a while to get my head around how to follow the panels but I really enjoyed this. I loved the characters and the cyberpunk world. I found some of the technology stuff a little hard to follow sometimes which meant I didn't give a full five stars but I will definitely be checking out the film and the next volume!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Curie

    I enjoyed the ideas of this far more than the story itself. This is a classic after all, but it's one first published thirty years ago, too and therefore definitely shows signs of wear. Set in the middle of the 21st century (snap), Ghost in the Shell introduces us to a world where the line between the human and the machine has become indistinguishable: humans now rely on robot enhancements, while machines are upgraded with human tissue. In this world, we follow the story of cyborg super-agent Mo I enjoyed the ideas of this far more than the story itself. This is a classic after all, but it's one first published thirty years ago, too and therefore definitely shows signs of wear. Set in the middle of the 21st century (snap), Ghost in the Shell introduces us to a world where the line between the human and the machine has become indistinguishable: humans now rely on robot enhancements, while machines are upgraded with human tissue. In this world, we follow the story of cyborg super-agent Motoko Kusanagi, who is out there to hunt cybercriminals and hackers who try to abuse this new technology. The ideas of this were fascinating, albeit not entirely new reading from today's perspective. A lot has happened within the genre in the last couple of decades, so reading this for the first time now robbed me of its novelty. I still loved the idea of ghosts being contained in these artificial shells and I think the manga is strongest when it gets quieter and allows for those unavoidable questions of what's human and what's considered equal. It took me ages to get into the actual story. The problem was mainly, that despite charming footnotes that have been added as an editorial feature and that often comment on the mainly serious plot points with a humorous and nerdy tone, the general adventures of Kusanagi felt simplistic to a degree where I at no point felt properly engaged. Another thing that is going to be strange to see with the eyes of a 21st-century-Westerner is how heavy on sexualised female bodies this is. Kusanagi's shell has received an impressive, irrelevant pair of boobs as a feature that will be shown at every occasion and depictions of random orgies felt hilariously forced that I couldn't but feel amused. All in all, I think this is a great read if you care for the genre and are like me, interested in its beginnings. Despite or maybe because of it's age, this is an impressive piece of work on the visionary front. I still consider Akira the slightly more fun work.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sud666

    This HC version of the famous Japanese manga has some full color additions and the format has been updated. The story revolves around a cyborg named Major Motoko Kusanagi, who is a Special Operative who is taken from the Army and put into Section 6. Section 6 operates as a domestic security branch. In this dystopian cyberpunk world their main concern is with hackers who can enter into cyborgs and take them over. This meta theme is apparent in all the individual issues. While the stories revolve a This HC version of the famous Japanese manga has some full color additions and the format has been updated. The story revolves around a cyborg named Major Motoko Kusanagi, who is a Special Operative who is taken from the Army and put into Section 6. Section 6 operates as a domestic security branch. In this dystopian cyberpunk world their main concern is with hackers who can enter into cyborgs and take them over. This meta theme is apparent in all the individual issues. While the stories revolve around different stories, the overall concept of a major hacker is always present. It is a well thought out world and quite interesting. This is from over 30 years ago and has aged well. In a typically Japanese fashion, there is a strange mix of graphic violence mixed with some childish humor. But it does not detract from the story. If you are looking for an intereseting and original sci-fi story than you will like this classic sci-fi manga.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carlex

    I had been warned that the manga was quite different from the anime that has fascinated me so much. And it certainly is. The truth is that it is difficult to know which part to attribute to the medium, that is, the manga vs. the anime adaptation, and which part to the tone that the respective authors want to provide: Masamune Shirow in the first case and Mamori Oshii as director in the second. In any case, as a reading today -and after I have delighted with many viewings of the anime- the manga I had been warned that the manga was quite different from the anime that has fascinated me so much. And it certainly is. The truth is that it is difficult to know which part to attribute to the medium, that is, the manga vs. the anime adaptation, and which part to the tone that the respective authors want to provide: Masamune Shirow in the first case and Mamori Oshii as director in the second. In any case, as a reading today -and after I have delighted with many viewings of the anime- the manga stands on its own. In the manga the drawing is shocking, with a style that seems rushed. Some illustrations are incomprehensible and in others it seems the author leaves it to your imagination to fill in the missing information, but in any case as a whole for me it is equally fascinating. As for the writing, I think it is more explicit than the anime; the stories and the characters themselves are tougher and in general it maintains a much more cynical tone. Pure cyberpunk!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lashaan Balasingam

    You can find my review on my blog by clicking here. The cyberpunk genre seems to be so much more rare nowadays, but it is the iconic classic stories of the late 80s and early 90s that remind us of its ingenuity, mind-numbing visuals and visionary story-telling. Besides Battle Angel Alita, there is one other series that has left a permanent mark in the genre, especially with its anime adaptations: The Ghost in the Shell. This seinen (aimed at adult men) manga was first serialized in 1989 and was w You can find my review on my blog by clicking here. The cyberpunk genre seems to be so much more rare nowadays, but it is the iconic classic stories of the late 80s and early 90s that remind us of its ingenuity, mind-numbing visuals and visionary story-telling. Besides Battle Angel Alita, there is one other series that has left a permanent mark in the genre, especially with its anime adaptations: The Ghost in the Shell. This seinen (aimed at adult men) manga was first serialized in 1989 and was written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow. It then later got collected into volumes and received its animated counterparts that blew the minds of many fans. In this new hardcover deluxe edition by Kodansha Comics, fans can rejoice in the collection of Major’s original story arc, a couple of coloured pages at the beginning or end of each chapter, an afterword by the author as well as an extensive amount of endnotes (written in an extremely small font size and merged within the margins as often as possible) by the author himself. Set in the mid-twenty-first century, The Ghost in the Shell explores a world where humans and machines rely upon each others biology to enhance their abilities and to blur the differences between each other within the human world. The story focuses on a counter-cyberterrorist organization known as Public Security Section 9, led by the awfully sexy and intelligent Major Motoko Kusanagi. With a peculiar and nevertheless efficient team, she tracks down cybercriminals known as “ghost hackers”. These individuals are highly complex and are able to exploit the system on which most humans and machines depend on to live their lives. By reprogramming whoever they want, these “ghost hackers” are able to manipulate individuals into doing the deeds of criminals for them. With this mission set as her purpose, the hunt for criminals begin. One the biggest issue I had with this volume is its cohesion. Or should I say its lack of cohesion. Each chapter is a story on its own that never truly connects to one another and leaves you with a bucket full of questions to ponder on. These questions aren’t always followed with answers later on, but actually play on a much more spiritual and philosophical level. The strength of each chapter however lies in the impeccable world-building that blooms with each chapter. You’ll be truly stunned by the world that Masamune Shirow conceives in The Ghost in the Shell. Once you finally grasp the concept behind the “ghost” of each machine, you’ll see that Masamune Shirow really looked to break conventionality and bring his readers to unlock their own perception of what the body and the mind are meant to do. The story also has an extremely heavy accent on politics and corporation baddies. It is no easy feat to untangle the corruption and the mess that follows along those lines as you dive into this volume. If you thought you’ve seen it all with conspiracies, think again. Even with each chapter following a similar structure as a police procedural story arc, you’ll notice that there’s nothing clean and coherent within this world. Speaking of cleanliness, the story also has a dose of what we’d call NSFW (not safe for work). From intense gore scenes to sexual content, there’s a clear target audience in this series. After all, our protagonist Major is nearly flawless as a character. From her outstanding fashion sense (not kidding here, she’s a fashionista who changes styles with each chapter) to her wits and unmatched fighting skills, Major is a beautiful hero that you’ll have a hard time hating on. While the artwork didn’t venture into too much details, its style is easy to identify and appreciate. The coloured pages however make it a bit harder to enjoy as the tones used and the colour gradations were sometimes odd. Ultimately, the first volume of The Ghost in the Shell is an ambitious and visionary cyberpunk manga that blends politics, artificial intelligence and metaphysics. Its lack of cohesion will however make it pretty hard to appreciate on a first read, but at least fans are graced with the ability to reread, with a couple of anime adaptations (which is where most of its praise comes from) and a live-action movie to shake things up a bit. Yours truly, Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer Official blog: https://bookidote.com/

  19. 5 out of 5

    Roxana Chirilă

    In humanity's cyber-future, cyberwomen will occasionally wear underwear with chain straps. What can I say? Scantily clad women with weird lingerie seem to have been all the rage in the future we never got to have (possibly because, after the 80s, programmers started making silly things like the internet and we gave up on memorable haircuts). Aaanyways, fashion aside. "Ghost in the Shell" is less of a unified whole than I was expecting. Knowing that there are only three volumes in the original mang In humanity's cyber-future, cyberwomen will occasionally wear underwear with chain straps. What can I say? Scantily clad women with weird lingerie seem to have been all the rage in the future we never got to have (possibly because, after the 80s, programmers started making silly things like the internet and we gave up on memorable haircuts). Aaanyways, fashion aside. "Ghost in the Shell" is less of a unified whole than I was expecting. Knowing that there are only three volumes in the original manga series, I was expecting them to tell a single story and tell it well. Instead, what we get are several episodic stories which tie in together, but not seamlessly - and they're a bit hard to follow. Maybe it's the art (although the occasional colored pages help), or maybe it's the fact that I didn't feel for any of the characters very well. And besides, Ghost in the Shell does that thing hard sci fi occasionally does, namely expect you to fill in the blanks regarding world-building. After seeing the 2017 movie, I felt that this was a very different sort of story: Scarlett Johansson creates a character who is palpably different and who feels cyber indeed, while the manga's Major is very much like a normal woman who occasionally wonders if she's actually human, considering the fact that she's a brain+spine in an artificial body. It's an interesting story (and different from the movie), but I'm happy I didn't get it at full price.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Monkey Feyerabend

    8.5/10 Another imperfect masterpiece by the influential, yet somehow misunderstood godfather of Japanese cyberpunk. Well, in the end, name me one good 'cyberpunk' thing that is not an imperfect piece of art. Difficult book to write about. This review is going to be all over the place, like the comic itself. Apologies in advance. It is a safe bet to assume that the syncopate narrative style of this book - already a feature of Shirow's previous work Appleseed - is hard to digest for most readers, i 8.5/10 Another imperfect masterpiece by the influential, yet somehow misunderstood godfather of Japanese cyberpunk. Well, in the end, name me one good 'cyberpunk' thing that is not an imperfect piece of art. Difficult book to write about. This review is going to be all over the place, like the comic itself. Apologies in advance. It is a safe bet to assume that the syncopate narrative style of this book - already a feature of Shirow's previous work Appleseed - is hard to digest for most readers, if not completely intolerable. Shirow's cyberpunk is quite literally cyber in content and punk in the way of storytelling. Further muddying the waters are the many interpretations of the franchise sprung from this manga. Two animation films by director Mamoru Oshii; the Stand Alone Complex and Arise independent anime series; a few video games; even a live-action movie featuring the great ScarJo. All these reinterpretations happen to be way more famous than the original source material itself. Readers approaching this book nowadays will usually be already familiar with at least one of these other iterations. For instance, I watched the famous Oshii's first movie at least a decade before getting my hands on the comic book. As a matter of facts, for the longest time I thought that the movie was based on an original script, not on a manga. A possible starting point for this review could be a comparison with that celebrated film by Oshii. In the end, that movie is the one that most people associate the name 'Ghost in the Shell' with. It came out in 1995, five years after this book. It was a slow paced meditation on what it means to be human, overcharged with a solemn tone and a melancholic soundtrack. Considered a staple of sci-fi cinema (particularly influent on the blockbuster 'The Matrix'), the movie has its undeniable charm, full of visually stunning moments. But, make no mistake, it was also the result of a marketing idea, which could be summed up as follows: 'Westerners liked that Akira movie, let's sell them another sci-fi movie that they can watch feeling intelligent'. (No wonder that the film was a critical success in Europe and North America way more than Japan itself.) In reality, it is a pretty straightforward movie. I would say even a bit dull in pushing its core theme: when you put the brain of a woman into a fully artificial body, is the resulting cyborg still the same woman, or even a woman at all? In the flick, the main character, cyborg super cop Motoko Kusanagi, has a simple portray: pretty detached from humanity, explicitly deprived of sexuality or any sense of body shame, and on the verge of an existential crisis. A metaphor between her and the notion of 'doll' is hammered way too much on the head of the audience. In a way, the movie stands as sci-fi in a traditional sense: let's use a story set in a near future to tackle questions of social and philosophical relevance for us. The classical narrative projection in the future to talk about the present. Here we find the first difference with the manga. Shirow always attempts to fully project its stories into the future, at least in principle. (Visually, there is a lot of the late 80's in here.) There is no room for existential crises in the comic book. The manga version of Motoko Kusanagi does not need to question her humanity: a society where you can technically and legally put the brain of a woman into a cyborg body is a society that has already overcome that philosophical dilemma. The one time that a character mistakes her for a robot, Major Kusanagi simply reacts by flipping the middle finger from the background of a panel. In retrospective, you can read it as a middle finger to all the pseudo-philosophical bla bla related to the movie adaptation. Ah yes, speaking of which, let's address the other huge difference from the 1995 film, and all other following adaptations actually. A most pleasant discovery for me. In the manga, Motoko Kusanagi is the exact opposite of a robotic doll. She is utterly lively, boorish, goofy, cocky. And I love her! Don't get me wrong, I also enjoy Motoko as portrayed in the anime series Stand Alone Complex (SAC), story-wise the most refined version of the franchise. (I mean, it'd better be, it's fricking 50+ episodes long!) In SAC her character finds a middle ground between the dull seriousness of Oshii's big screen interpretation and Shirow's comedic manga version. But I am a simple man, so I like the funny sexy crazy broad version best. In this manga, Motoko is also very much a (bi)sexual animal. A world where you can enhance your body with prostatic and cybernetic parts is a world where senses are enhanced as well. The Major is a representation of that enhancement. Shirow even devotes a small chapter to come up with a realistic explanation on how biotech science can achieve such miracles. Not to mention a three page pornographic scene, where Motoko has an oily lesbian menage a trois to try out her new super sensitive vagina, a preview of Shirow's future work as an erotic illustrator. (Likely, you have not seen those three pages, because most American editions of the book are censured. The single issues that came out in 1995 and the 2004 paperback from Dark Horse are the only English editions that contain that scene. Or you can buy the French edition, the Italian edition, the German edition, or any other language from a country with a less bigot bookshop market.) Just like the movie adaptation is melancholic and inclined to ponder along the line of its dolly protagonist, the mood and personality of Motoko here affects the entire mood of the manga. The Ghost in the Shell is in fact a funny, at time boorish, reading. Militaristic action and spy drama are constantly alleviated by humour sequences. The range of cartooning is amazing, going from the hyperrealism all the way to pure chibi-ness. Faces deform in vulgar expressions, bodies indulge in cartoony slapsticks. I love this. No matter how untangled with political paranoia, militaristic kink and scientific bubbling the story gets, we are visually reminded at all times not to take the subject matter too seriously. Which can make for a bit of a schizophrenic reading, sure, but hey, that is the lesser problem when you try to decode this book! In the afterward of the book, the author himself describes (his) Ghost in the Shell as "rather light cyberpunk ripping off the aesthetic, [...] a 'monkey see, monkey do' imitation." Add to that how, at this point of his career, Shirow has moved away from the heavy influence of Otomo - very perceivable in the previous Appleseed - and feels now free to assault the page with sketchy lines and deformed figures, as to hide his undeniable huge illustrative talent. Despite this sketchiness, the art remains a tour de force of gorgeous architecture and futuristic yet vivid designs. Not too mention when panels gets into abstract territory to represent divings into the deeps of cyber-enhanced minds. The storytelling is, for better or for worse, the most prominent aspect of this manga. The best description I can come up with is that of a dense and 'violently syncopate' narrative style. The Ghost in the Shell is an exercise in minimality: how few does the creator need to give us, verbally and visually, for the plot to make some sense? As a result, the reading experience is worthy only if you are a patient and attentive reader. A nod of the head of a character, represented by a barely visible line, or an almost imperceptible movement of a hand, will be necessary to understand what follows in the scene. It's how the man liked to tell the story, take it or leave it. Characters are always talking about their society and their technology - a world we have not much knowledge of. Also, they are always talking about their intelligence job - a work most of us do not understand, unless you are into special force military groups or intelligence stuff. In this regard, the mangaka has no pity for the reader. I had some problems when I started the series some months ago. But episode after episode, I got used to this dense and weird narrative style, and learned to enjoy it. Some details remain obscure, but as far as I could see everything makes sense. In the end, stripped to the bone, this is a 'procedural police' series, composed of eight stand alone episodes. In Super Spartan the major and her squad of super efficient soldiers, intelligence unit Section 9, storm a government brainwashing centre, where minors are abused. Junk Jungle is the 'car chase' episode, with a great, sad final cliffhanger on the motivations of one of the criminals. (The first act of the 1995 movie is based on this episode.) Robot Rondo is an investigation on a series of violent robot crimes, behind which lies (view spoiler)[a most human crime, the one known as human trafficking (hide spoiler)] . Phantom Fund is the 'out of the city' episode, as well as the Christmas episode...but with no Christmas, only street punks and corrupt military conspiracy! Dumb Barter is a revenge story. Bye Bye Clay is the most mind-blowing plot, if it were not for the fact that the 1995 movie is based on this episode, so it felt to me very much as déja vu. In Brain Drain our protagonist ends up entangled with the Arabo-Isreali conflict, while facing a trial for her 'shoot first, ask question after' bad attitude. Finally, in the epilogue, the Major (view spoiler)[ accepts the proposal of fusing her mind with the Puppeteer, an AI which - no, who reckons to be alive. (hide spoiler)] This epilogue is good, overall coherent with the story, but feels a bit anti-climatic, compared to how the 1995 movie realises the same idea. In the movie (view spoiler)[the 'new Motoko' leaves the scene in the form of a little girl, representation of human reproduction on a new level. In the manga, she leaves the scene in an ephebic body stolen from a criminal, I guess a representation of gender ambiguity. I like the little girl idea a bit more. (hide spoiler)] The book is full of side notes, where the author speaks in first person. They form a 'director commentary'. Sometimes they explain better what is going on in a scene. Sometimes they are world building info dumps. Most often than not, they are a way for Shirow to showcase his (unhealthy?) obsession with science, techno-realism and guns: the man knows how the physics of bullets work, and will make sure to let you know, especially if for narrative reasons he had to draw the projectiles in a non realistic way! Every now and then the side notes are used for political or social vent, revealing a young man leaning more right than left (in one occasion, he mocks countries without death penalties as 'paradise for serial killers', even if the expression of this political opinion had nothing to do with the commented scene), although he also seems to condemn consumerism and the greediness of first-world countries. In some editions of the book the notes are in a devoted section at the end. In the most recent English edition, published by Kodansha USA, they are within the actual comic pages. The book contains a warning to the reader not to focus on the notes too much, or the narration will be disrupted. But the warning is put at the end of the volume...it should be at the beginning, goddam! 😅 There is much more I would like to say. We have not even talked about Scarlett Johansson! But for now I am tired. Some video references. A nice overview of the entire franchise, noticing how the many reiterations of Ghost in the Shell form themselves an identity in continuous reconstruction, like her iconic protagonist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdhCv... A cover-to-cover commentary of the book by the Cartoonist Kayfabe. Dive into this video if you want to understand why Shirow's work is considered so great among cartoonists, despite the obscurity of his writing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MB7V... The only faithful adaptation of the manga is a 1997 Play Station game. Its cut scenes in this video will give you an idea of how the original manga actually looks and 'feels': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTkOv...

  21. 5 out of 5

    The Scribbling Man

    2.5 This was an interesting read. Inconsistent in many ways, it failed to maintain a particular tone, often jumping between humorous and serious scenarios. The art changes a lot as it progresses, as do the characters - none of which helps. The most inconsistent thing of all being Major Kusanagi's breasts which seem to vary in size by the page. The plot is very episodic, making it hard to invest in. A concept is introduced at the beginning of the book, and then referred back to every now and again 2.5 This was an interesting read. Inconsistent in many ways, it failed to maintain a particular tone, often jumping between humorous and serious scenarios. The art changes a lot as it progresses, as do the characters - none of which helps. The most inconsistent thing of all being Major Kusanagi's breasts which seem to vary in size by the page. The plot is very episodic, making it hard to invest in. A concept is introduced at the beginning of the book, and then referred back to every now and again throughout mostly unrelated political escapades before finally getting wrapped up in the last chapter. Some of it was very enjoyable, particularly towards the end, as it focuses more on the puppet master and its motivations. Shirow clearly knows his stuff, and the book is filled with interesting ideas that are often communicated intriguingly through the art. However, for the most part it's quite boring. It's difficult to care about the characters or half the situations they're in, and the simple stand-alone adventures they pursue are often made unnecessarily complicated and difficult to follow. As one can only expect (I suppose) there's quite a bit of unnecessary nudity, and a few smutty scenes here and there; often displayed in full colour at the beginning of chapters as opposed to where the rest of the story is in traditional black and white. It's a bit tasteless to be honest but it seems to be a Japanese standard. The greatest credit that can really be given to the Ghost In The Shell manga is mainly the fact that it has spawned such a great adaptation. Mamoru Oshii improves on this work tenfold, taking its concepts, characters and the better story elements and forming it into a masterpiece of science fiction animation. In all honesty, if you've already seen the film then there's not much to gain from reading the manga.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Christian

    While it was nice to see the original versions of some of the most memorable scenes in the history Japanese and cyberpunk animation, I absolutely do not prefer the flippant tone of the manga. The characters spend as much time horsing around and making goofy trope faces as they do threatening you with an existential crisis. The shows and films were uncommonly good at the latter, and I couldn't appreciate that in the printed form because it seldom ever takes itself seriously and this lends itself While it was nice to see the original versions of some of the most memorable scenes in the history Japanese and cyberpunk animation, I absolutely do not prefer the flippant tone of the manga. The characters spend as much time horsing around and making goofy trope faces as they do threatening you with an existential crisis. The shows and films were uncommonly good at the latter, and I couldn't appreciate that in the printed form because it seldom ever takes itself seriously and this lends itself to jarring tonal shifts. Furthermore, the translation needed at least one more proof read to suss out some fairly obvious typos. That being said, it's still GitS. The art was detailed and engrossing, the action sequences were well communicated, and the cyberpunk genre owes this piece of media a tremendous debt. The contextual notes strewn throughout made for a read almost as engrossing as the plot material itself. Stunning piece of history for several popular genres today. Perhaps I'd enjoy it more if I wasn't already steeped in the more serious tones of the films and shows.

  23. 5 out of 5

    bethandbooks Bethany Nichols

    Before you see my star rating and scream horrors at me, please hear me out haha. Look, the art style is wonderful and I love love looove the world building. The 70s-80s (I think) inspired vibes were a beauty to look at, with a particular love of the fashion for me. But... the rest goes a bit downhill for me. We're in a dystopian robot world, where the majority of the population is either a fully on AI unit or has some cyborg advancement installed. Our main character, Major Kusanagi, is a military Before you see my star rating and scream horrors at me, please hear me out haha. Look, the art style is wonderful and I love love looove the world building. The 70s-80s (I think) inspired vibes were a beauty to look at, with a particular love of the fashion for me. But... the rest goes a bit downhill for me. We're in a dystopian robot world, where the majority of the population is either a fully on AI unit or has some cyborg advancement installed. Our main character, Major Kusanagi, is a military personel who works for the government and, with the aid of her crew, help take down corrupt politicians and other baddies. This... this is all cool good stuff. Not all that original but still entertaining. Yet, with it being set in a technological world, there was a lot of jargon that I just couldn't get my head round. Yes yes, I (just) passed my high school physics electricity/power unit BUT all the author added made up stuff too just added to my overwhelm. As a result, a lot of what was happening went well and truly over my head. This combined with the fact that each chapter read like it's own story, in terms of plot, everything just got even more discombobulated in my own hard wiring. And, of course, as a result of not having a clue about what was going on, I really couldn't enjoy this. I totally realise that this is a me experience, but, it is still a valid experience. Oh, and by the way, this is definitely and adult graphic novel with implied sexual acts and some nudity.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Hauke

    I have mixed feelings about this volume. I read it spread out over quite a long time, during lunch breaks at work, and maybe that wasn't the right way to do it -- although it was originally a serialised work, so you'd expect it to work well that way. I enjoyed the early chapters, and the end has made me interested for the next part, but by the time I got to the setup of the last few chapter's overarching plot, I was impatient for it to end. I like the police crime drama style structure, with a ca I have mixed feelings about this volume. I read it spread out over quite a long time, during lunch breaks at work, and maybe that wasn't the right way to do it -- although it was originally a serialised work, so you'd expect it to work well that way. I enjoyed the early chapters, and the end has made me interested for the next part, but by the time I got to the setup of the last few chapter's overarching plot, I was impatient for it to end. I like the police crime drama style structure, with a case and some political intrigue for every chapter, but it wasn't implemented in the best way, here. Many of the chapters felt like they were missing something. Having finished the book I noticed that there were several pages of notes in the back, giving commentary and explanation. While that fills up some of the holes, I really wish more of that information had been in the actual stories. For one thing the setup of the cases wasn't explained well enough to follow along and try to predict the solution, so I was left letting acronyms and names of organisations fly by over my head as I floated along passively watching the action sequences. The whole thing feels more shallow than it should be. I have quite a high tolerance for cyberpunk technobabble, but political-worldbuilding-babble kind of irritates me, I have found. There's a chance I would enjoy it more on a re-read while consulting the notes, but I can't really be bothered to put in the effort. Similarly, I really wanted some hooks to get into the characters, but again a lot of their thoughts and backgrounds were relegated to the end notes. I feel most invested in the lives of the Fuchikomas at this point. The chapters that I enjoyed most were the ones that went more into worldbuilding than action - the making of cyborgs, and the measures against AI sedition were great. I did quite like the oldschool expressiveness of the art, and the 4th wall breaking notes on the side of panels were charming rather than irritating. But with all the things that were missing, there is a MASSIVE surplus of purposeless boob shots. There are few things more alienating than cyborg nipples as the focal point of panel after panel. Save me from the cyborg nipples please, I never want to see them again. I probably will, though, because I am intrigued enough by the bizarre technobabble philosophy dump at the end to keep an eye out for Volume 2 and see how the story evolves. Maybe there will be more character development, even! I live in hope.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Neil R. Coulter

    I'm late to all of this—too late, probably—but I recently watched Ghost in the Shell (the 1995 animated film, not the more recent one with Scarlett Johansson). I tried it first with the English dub, which was just awful. Then later I watched the whole thing in Japanese with subtitles, which was better. I know some people just love the film, but I felt kind of cold toward it. The animation style is interesting, particularly the lingering shots of cityscape, but I don't find it beautiful. Also, I I'm late to all of this—too late, probably—but I recently watched Ghost in the Shell (the 1995 animated film, not the more recent one with Scarlett Johansson). I tried it first with the English dub, which was just awful. Then later I watched the whole thing in Japanese with subtitles, which was better. I know some people just love the film, but I felt kind of cold toward it. The animation style is interesting, particularly the lingering shots of cityscape, but I don't find it beautiful. Also, I didn't really understand a lot of what happened in the movie, which made me feel dumb. Looking at reviews online, I noticed several that recommended reading Masamune Shirow's original graphic novel, which helps understand the movie. So I eagerly checked it out from the library and read it. And I didn't understand a lot of what happened in the book. In fact, I probably didn't-understand the book more than I didn't-understand the movie, so I'm not sure I've come out ahead in all of this. The movie, I now see, does a nice job of streamlining the seemingly disparate stories and plots of the book into a single, coherent (more or less) narrative focused on the Puppeteer. Those were the most interesting parts of the book, for me—and I'm sure mostly because I'd already seen the film, so those were the parts that most connected. The graphic novel includes many other plots, most of which don't seem to relate directly to the Puppeteer arc. That's fine, of course, except that I had no idea what was going on most of the time. I often felt like pages must be missing. The other obstacle for me is that I disagree with Shirow's philosophical outlook on life and the universe. He so firmly believes that his conclusions, given the data, are airtight and obvious. But I disagree. His exploration of what is basically the "infinite web of referents" of semiotics is solid, but the conclusion need not be "therefore, there is no God." There are many other conclusions that are equally valid and reasonable. Shirow's geeky arrogance in his notes throughout the book was unappealing to me (and often didn't help me understand the story at all anyway). I guess my final conclusion is that Ghost in the Shell, whatever the format, is not for me. I like all the elements of cyberpunk, but I've yet to see them come together in a way that I love.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    When I picked this book up from the library, I felt uncomfortable. The cover shows a young girl who looks naked on the cover. I felt inclined to justify myself. "I'm looking into cyberpunk," I said, "and this was one of the first ones, back in the day." She looked at me and nodded her head. "Cool," she said, with no readable expression. I wasn't satisfied. I pointed at the girl. "She's a robot. It's a cybernetic body. Only her brain is human." She looked at me. Confession time. "I'm sorry. I jus When I picked this book up from the library, I felt uncomfortable. The cover shows a young girl who looks naked on the cover. I felt inclined to justify myself. "I'm looking into cyberpunk," I said, "and this was one of the first ones, back in the day." She looked at me and nodded her head. "Cool," she said, with no readable expression. I wasn't satisfied. I pointed at the girl. "She's a robot. It's a cybernetic body. Only her brain is human." She looked at me. Confession time. "I'm sorry. I just feel weird with this book right now." She finally alleviated my tension. "Yeah, some of these are kind of bad." She flipped it open and flipped through. "Some of these manga are just like that." "Gotcha," I said. "I'm new to Manga." She smiled. Off the hook. Yeah. It's kind of bad. I want to let you know that right away. The ladies are young and don't wear much, although they are all robots or partial robots. Not much of an excuse, really. I think it's the time the author wrote it. Feminism has made a positive impact on these issues since that time (although I've not yet seen modern manga, but I'm sure it's a Feminist battleground. More power to them. It's working!) Now that I've given the disclaimer, let me tell you: this book is so deep and scientific and descriptive, it makes for a great world to live in for awhile. The heroine has the authority over a group of mostly men and part-cyborgs, and cyborgs. The world remains plugged into the net and she can access people's minds this way, retrieving data. It ends when she fuses with a ghost in the machine, a former AI which achieved sentience and longs to find a connection to humanity. On to the second book in time, to see where this leads her! The book has loads of action and guns and risk and military exploits. It's great. I recommend it if you like this kind of thing and can deal with the potential for offense.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Something different, but I was curious to (finally) read it before the new (live) action movie comes out relatively soon. (Although, as I understand it, the new movie is a re-make of the original anime (animated) movie, which doesn't fully track the book anyway.) I admit I don't read much manga, so - for me - it's "just another" graphic novel from around the same period (late 1980's into the early 1990's) in which graphic novels and adult comic books began to hit their stride in the U.S., followi Something different, but I was curious to (finally) read it before the new (live) action movie comes out relatively soon. (Although, as I understand it, the new movie is a re-make of the original anime (animated) movie, which doesn't fully track the book anyway.) I admit I don't read much manga, so - for me - it's "just another" graphic novel from around the same period (late 1980's into the early 1990's) in which graphic novels and adult comic books began to hit their stride in the U.S., following on, and riding the tide of creativity and success including everything from Maus, The Dark Knight Returns, Sandman, and the iconic Watchmen, to Alex Ross's gorgeous work in Marvels, Kingdom Come, and even the large format Peace on Earth. It's far more sci-fi (with a nod to cyberpunk, and heavy on the artificial intelligence angle) and conspiracy theory than super-hero fare, and the geo-politics are kind of fun since they're seen through a 25-year-old Japanese filter. As for the story, well, frankly, I found it a bit hard to follow or get terribly emotionally vested in. I wish I'd read it when it was new, and I was less jaded by nearly three decades of increasingly good graphic novel literature (and I don't use the word "literature" lightly), particularly including some of the newer sublime work such as the highly acclaimed Persepolis, Terminal Lance: The White Donkey, and even Strong Female Protagonist. As for whether I'll bother to see the movie, well, time will tell.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sud666

    The Ghost in the Shell was a work that was ahead of its time. Shirow Masamune's take on the cyberworld and AI, as well as the hackers, was a fascinating concept. Hence the popularity of his manga and anime. Major Motoko Kusanagi is a cyborg. She used to be military but has now come to work for Section 9. This book collects the first volume of the Ghost in the Shell stories. It gives you the background and the world building. As seminal a work as this is, you are wondering why only three stars? So The Ghost in the Shell was a work that was ahead of its time. Shirow Masamune's take on the cyberworld and AI, as well as the hackers, was a fascinating concept. Hence the popularity of his manga and anime. Major Motoko Kusanagi is a cyborg. She used to be military but has now come to work for Section 9. This book collects the first volume of the Ghost in the Shell stories. It gives you the background and the world building. As seminal a work as this is, you are wondering why only three stars? Some of the more humorous elements serve to be disjointed from the very serious events. The sheer number of competing Sections and Departments can be a headache and one wonders how this would come to pass. Still, accept those few quibbles and you will find a fascinating little story. The ideas behind the tech and the world are interesting. This version of mine had additional notes, as well as extra notes in the appendix about story ideas. The side notes can be a little annoying, but I understand he's just trying to flesh out his creation. Also, I am not sure why he has some pages in full color and the rest in Black and White. It is a shame because the color pages are gorgeous. The black and white pages don't have such a visceral reaction, though by no means are they bad. Just sometimes in action scenes, it's a bit hard to see what's going on. Still this is an original and interesting world/plot. If you enjoy sci-fi along the lines of P.K. Dick or Assimov-give the Ghost in the Shell a try. There is some interesting stuff here for you.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Xylemicarious

    Wow. Well, let me put it this way: It's almost entirely very dense philosophy and politics, broken up with the occasional blast of gunfire or flash of nudity. I hate to say it though... I probably like the movie a bit better. This just felt a bit too fragmented and episodic for its own good. Peril of the medium I suppose. Anyway, it's still pretty much required reading for cyberpunk enthusiasts, it also serves as a decent intro to information theory and philosophy of machinery/cybernetics if you Wow. Well, let me put it this way: It's almost entirely very dense philosophy and politics, broken up with the occasional blast of gunfire or flash of nudity. I hate to say it though... I probably like the movie a bit better. This just felt a bit too fragmented and episodic for its own good. Peril of the medium I suppose. Anyway, it's still pretty much required reading for cyberpunk enthusiasts, it also serves as a decent intro to information theory and philosophy of machinery/cybernetics if you read along with Shirow's notes in the back. His politics kind of weird me out sometimes, but no doubt the man has a fascinating mind (or is that ghost?).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kanwarpal Singh

    Major Kusanagi is a cyborg made of robotic body parts (a “shell”, big breast included taken from word Bombshell) but here shell meaning is that body of Robot and a human mind (a “ghost”, you get it) a combination which can delete there past memories create a thick line between human and robotic. Her sidekick, Batou, is also a cyborg, of the hulk sort with beefed up body. The evil Puppeteer too is a sentient artificial hacker emerged from the “sea of information”. Considering that this was writte Major Kusanagi is a cyborg made of robotic body parts (a “shell”, big breast included taken from word Bombshell) but here shell meaning is that body of Robot and a human mind (a “ghost”, you get it) a combination which can delete there past memories create a thick line between human and robotic. Her sidekick, Batou, is also a cyborg, of the hulk sort with beefed up body. The evil Puppeteer too is a sentient artificial hacker emerged from the “sea of information”. Considering that this was written in the 80s, in many ways Masamune Shirow was something of a visionary. . In the rapidly converging landscape of the 21st century things are changing fast enough and human depends on robot as an enhancement of there body little did they know they are losing the power of questioning. Things go haywire when Hacker told Major what is going on and how to stop that, Major took a long time to understand but finally did and she informed her team and now they are finding a way to solve the crisis in hand and villian is in between them, a biggest threat to them

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