Ghost in the Shell (Manga) – Beauty in the Details

A few years ago when I started up this blog, I thought it would be cool to create a Youtube channel to coincide with the website. The basic idea was that I could post quick impressions and such here on the channel when I found something interesting to talk about, while the more interesting stuff could be accompanied with a video.As it turned out though it was a lot of work to both learn how to use editing software, how to speak clearly, how to record myself and everything else that goes into creating a video. More work than I had planned for at the time, so my first project was eventually canned after a few weeks of toiling away at it.

This blog has been petty damn dormant so far in 2018, and I hope to turn it around in the second half. To kick things off I thought I could just share what I had produced at the time, and maybe it will give some insight into how much work goes into your favorite youtuber’s projects. (Also this is just an easy post to put out while I work on something else. For those still interested in this blog, please stay tuned for actual content in the following weeks)

This is the product of about 2 weeks of working on this project. Although there plenty of things I would do differently now (in terms of editing style, flow, script, etc.) I still wanted to show it off to show how much more actually needed to be done. Video Editing is no joke, and my hat goes off to those who create video content on a regular basis.

Song Used (with permission): SLR – Graphite

Ghost in the Shell – Beauty in the Details

Before all of the anime and live action adaptations, Ghost in the Shell first existed in the pages of Kodansha’s Weekly Young Magazine. Created by Masamune Shirow, the series told the story of a world completely intertwined with technology and a government task force that was established to protect it. The story wasn’t a simple episodic crime drama though, often diving deep into the worlds political and technological landscape. In fact, Masamune Shirow often forwent spending time building on an overarching or evenly paced narrative in order to further explain all the technicalities involved with cybernetics. To borrow the words of anime critic Digibro: Shirow doesn’t seem all that interested in storytelling, instead he seems far more interested in presenting ideas.

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We can tell from the very first chapter that Ghost in the Shell isn’t going to be your typical kind of story. Shirow isn’t interested in holding your hand and walking you through the steps, he has things to show you and ideas to discuss. A brief synopsis lets us know that we are in a highly advanced future civilization, and that the story is taking place in Japan. After that, its up to the reader to figure out whats going on. We are given hints at the political landscape the world is in through a secret meeting among diplomats and the exchanges between them and Amaraki once the police are involved. You have to read into the conversations to derive any meaning from them though, as Shirow never does explain everything surrounding the events that take place in this scene. We also get a little taste of Shirow’s love of explaining the technology used in the series, as he mentions the type of ammo the Major used to make the diplomat explode and what the 2902 means when Amaraki brings up the “2902 Thermal Optic Camo”.

These little authors notes don’t stop there, as they keep appearing throughout the entirety of the series. The little tidbits of information underneath some of the panels eventually turn into entire sentences, and eventually paragraphs. By the middle chapters of the series, Shirow uses entire manga panels to explain how things are supposed to work. He was clearly passionate about technology and cybernetics while he was writing this, and wanted to share all of his knowledge and research with his readers. Shirow often goes as far as to debunk the events of his own story with these ideas and facts, stating that things would probably never work in the real world the way they do in Ghost in the Shell.

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Disregarding all of Shirow’s notes on the future technologies and their impacts, Ghost in the Shell stands on its own reasonably well. Though the manga takes on an episodic structure, each chapter explores complicated themes involving human consciousness, human rights and what separates man from machine. Some chapters explore the political landscape of Neo Tokyo and the rest of the world, while others go into detail on how things work. For example in chapter 5: Megatech Machine, Shirow shows us how a cyborg is built and the tech involved in the process. In that same chapter, he brings up the question on what makes a person “themselves” when Mokoto brings up that she sometimes wonders if the real her had died sometime ago, and what she exists as today is just an artificial personality. Its these types of thought provoking questions brought up in the series that linger in your thoughts, and that the animated film masterfully brought to the forefront.

Without a doubt Ghost in the Shell is a flawed manga, with its lopsided pacing and often hard to follow story lines in certain chapters. Some of the longer chapters have long periods of time where it feels like nothing is happening, and some of the shorter chapters feel like there is nothing interesting happening at all. While re-reading it I sometimes had to take breaks mid-chapter to re-focus. If you go into the series expecting excellent storytelling that will keep you turning pages the whole way though would be to miss out on what Ghost in the Shell has to offer. What it does provide is an excellent look at a future world with painstaking research to back it up. To get everything you can out of Ghost in the Shell you really have to work for it, re-reading chapters and going back to read all the little notes Shirow left throughout his manga. Once you put the work in your rewarded with fully realized cybernetic world and some of the best commentary on it possible.

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