K: We’ll start with a little background in this issue!
So Ghost in the Shell is a relatively small franchise in comparison to many of the more popular current day media from Japan. It began as a seinen manga series (basically aimed towards adolescent boys and men old enough to read kanji) both written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow. The original working title of this manga in Japanese is 攻殻機動隊(Kōkaku Kidōtai) The Ghost in the Shell and literally translates to “Mobile Armoured Riot Police”. It was first serialised in 1989 and then later it published its own tankōbon (standalone book).
On to the story! Of course this is all a bunch of fiction and none of it is real… unless you can, by some chance, create a time travelling device. Or TARDIS. (If you have a TARDIS, I want one too…) Anyway, I digress.
The world of Ghost in the Shell is based in the mid-21st century of Japan and follows the counter-cyberterrorist organisation; Public Security Section 9. This sector is made up of former military officers and police detectives, led by the cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi. This fictional world is focused on a possible future where computer technology has advanced to the point that members of the pubic are now able to possess cyber brains. This technology allows them to interface their biological brain with various networks…but it also depends on the level of cybernisation. For instance those who have complete replacement of the brain could have suffered severe trauma, whereas someone with minimal modifications may only wish to be able to access networks where and when they want. I suppose you could say not out of necessity, but luxury. However it is not just limited to the brain and can be combined with various levels of prostheses. As I mentioned before the Major has such modifications and a full prosthetic body.
We all know even in this day and age the level of danger that comes with technology. So can you imagine the dangers one would face in that reality? If one person was skilled enough then those with cyber brains may very well fall victim to hackers…
This is where Section 9 comes in.
How did you hear about it?
K: On a whim! It was a super long time ago now and I was still in high school when I stumbled across the movie (1995 version)…I think on VHS? God it’s been too long I can’t even remember! It was the very first Japanese animation movie that I had ever watched and I fell in love with it instantly. It’s also what peaked my interest in Japanese culture and language…though the main reason for that was my love of art. Anyhow, I still have the same passion now as I did then and get super excited when I pop the DVD on. I always say I don’t have favourites when it comes to movies, but I can’t help but love Ghost in the Shell more than the rest. Who doesn’t love technology, cyborgs, criminals and heavy action?!
J: I was just having a look in the VHS section (yeah DVDs weren’t even invented yet) of the local comic store and found it on the shelf there. After I read the back cover I was intrigued and went on to buy it, of course what do you do with a movie? Watch it! So yeah I did just that thing and must say I wasn’t disappointed with the spontaneous decision I took. We of course now own a DVD of the movie but I still have that same VHS in my possession and although most old VHSs got thrown in the garbage I’m keeping that one forever, it’s the sentimental value you have towards an object from your childhood that you just can’t part with even though it lost all of it’s usefulness.
What appeals to you the most?
K: I am a nut for science fiction, as I mentioned in a previous issue, and absolutely love anything to do with the future. When I found this the first time, I really don’t think I knew what my interests were. I had a hard time figuring out what interested me the most, but I gave it a chance because it just looked, well, awesome. I think for me I loved and still love the whole “counter-cyberterrorist” deal. I just can’t pin-point what appeals to me the most because it ALL appeals to me. Political intrigue, criminals, cyber brains…I mean, the world has talking robots!!
For that one you’ll have to see the series 😉
J: The most fascinating part that probably attracts me the most is the integration of technology into our lives AND the integration of life into that technology. Back then it was all just science-fiction but some of it is starting to become science-fact. It warns us of any possible risks that can come with certain advancements and that we have to watch out that we don’t just dive in head first without thinking of consequences. As a young kid you don’t think that deep yet but growing up and re-watching this you really get the different angles and the layers of the movie and not just the flashy cool images that mesmerise you, you get the story till a certain point at that age and yes you can follow it but it’s still just that. After looking deeper into it you can start reflecting the movie on our modern day society, although this was written over two decades ago it’s still valid today, those facts in itself are pretty mind blowing and worthy of respect in my opinion.
Would you recommend it to anyone?
K: Most definitely! There are quite a few different media types in the franchise…so for anyone interested in Japanese animation or manga, you should at least give it a go. Not everyone will like it, as with everything, but it shouldn’t be missed out! It really is a gem.
J: I would since I think it has much to offer to make you stop and think about where we are heading towards with our technology. It has a good storyline and the animation quality is just great, especially if you realise it’s from 1995. This is also one of the movies that was the inspiration for the matrix movies.
K: For this section we just want to share the collection that is Ghost in the Shell, that we know of.
- The Ghost in the Shell
- Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface
- Ghost in the Shell 1.5: Human-Error Processor
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
- Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG
- Arise – Alternative Architecture