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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ghost In The Shell:Man Machine Interface. Shirow Masamune (Writer & Artist). Dark Horse Magna (2005)


Wonderful, if not quite successful, ambitious full tilt science fiction busting with big ideas, humour and fantastic art. Motoko Aramaki, a counter-terrorist net security expert works for the giant Poseidon Industrial corporation. An attack at one of the companies facilities leads to greater puzzles and elusive enemy. Motoko is as much at home travelling the information lines of the net as she is in any of her cyborg bodies. She slips from one body and information nexus to another as she tracks the threat, along the way she encounters a entity from the Channelling Agency, a mysterious official organisation. As Motoko fights physical and cyber battles she draws closer to the extraordinary secret at the heart of the events.
Shirow Masamue's reach exceeds his grasp in this story, there is a wonderful density of detail matched against a flow of big ideas that does not quite cohere in a successful way. The details start to drown out the ideas and the ideas are not quite carried off with the force required. None of which detracts from the astounding journey that the story takes. The overall concept, of humans being equipped with cyber brains that have a constant connecting with a global cyber network, the significantly increased use of cyberisation of bodies blurring the lines of what is human is superbly exploited. Motoko is a an evolved creature,her physical bodies are all cyborgs, her consciousness, in essence her humanity or her ghost, is anchored in the infrastructure of the net.
This allows Shirow Masamune to have Motoko roam the globe easily, dropping into bodies storied at various locations to engage in stunning action set pieces. A propensity for panty shots is unfortunate and jarring. The cyber action is managed with explosive artwork that means that the information network is visualised in the most engaging and astounding way. The strategy of piling on the detail, including very funny footnotes from the creator, is effective for most of the story but becomes overwhelming at the end. As the big conclusion is approached the story falters instead of flying.
As a partial failure is is wildly more successful that most comics and extravagantly more successfully than than most science fiction, in comic form or not. The willingness to embrace and exploit the possibilities if both comics and science fiction is exhilarating and joyous, not to be missed.

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