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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ghost In The Shell. Shirow Masamune. Dark Horse Manga (2004)

A great collection of stories revolving around an anti-terrorist public security team in a future Japan where the boundaries between human and machine are becoming blurred due to advances in prosthetics. Public Security Section 9 is lead by Major Motoko Kusanagi who has a fully artificial body, her spine and brain are the only biological elements, the rest of the team are more or less equipped with mechanical upgrades. They operate in an information drenched society where a cyberbrain in required to provide access to the net and allow normal functioning. This naturally gives new opportunities to criminals an terrorists to infiltrate individuals and attack the "Ghost in the Shell", the human personality of the individual. The stories are nicely varied, they mix up the political landscape of the future state of Japan with straightforward criminal activities. The final episodes raise interesting questions about what would happen if a machine intelligence became self aware.
This is a really dense comic, the art is crowed with detail and the stories are packed with ideas and explanations as well. Shirow Masamue manages to use this density to enhance the momentum of the stories, to place his cast in a credible context and to bring them to vivid and sharply defined life. The art is wonderfully easy to read and skillfully uses changing styles to move the mood of the story. Major Motoko is a great character, vibrantly human in her artificial body.
Ghost in the Shell is smart, funny and thoughtful science fiction, in a word, brilliant.

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