The American Empire or AE is a fictional country appearing in Masamune Shirow's anime and manga series' Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed, featuring most prominently in Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG. The AE exists from before 2020 and at least until 2147, and consists primarily of the American states that had formed the Confederate States of America, plus parts of the Great Plains and Southwest. Its name has also been translated as Imperial America, and (in Appleseed) Imperial Americana.
In the Ghost in the Shell universe, the United States is - after the end of the nuclear World War III - partitioned by an unspecified process into three countries: the American Empire, the Russo-American Alliance (in pre-1991 materials, the Ameri-Soviet Union), and the United States of America. The other two successor states play no part in the plot of GitS, outside brief mentions such as by prime minister Kayabuki at the end of season two; the American Empire, however, is an active participant in the series' events. Its government seems driven by a desire to restore its diminished power and prestige, towards which end it adopts a policy of militarist aggression and open imperialism, directed primarily against Latin America.
A map of the circa-2030 world is shown onscreen in 2nd GIG; it appears to be identical to a more detailed world map published in the Appleseed Databook. The borders of the U.S. successor states seem to hew closely to existing state borders; it appears that the AE contains about 19 states (or their equivalent territory, as the internal structures of the successor states are unknown), the rump United States 10, and the Russo-American Alliance 21.
Due to war damage to its economy and its weakened political position, the American Empire enters into a security pact with Japan, which had escaped World War III largely unscathed. The pact reaffirms Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, prohibiting Japan both from deploying its military overseas and possessing nuclear weapons. One of the principal reasons the American Empire seeks the treaty is its desire to co-opt the "Japanese Miracle," radiation-scrubber nanomachines which can negate the effects of nuclear fallout. This technology makes the Ghost in the Shell universe's nuclear weaponry somewhat less apocalyptic in its implications then the real-world article, since the radioactive particulates created by an atomic event can be safely contained, reducing the weapons' deterrence potential.
In 2020, the American Empire calls for the deployment of UN troops to South America, under the pretext of removing the corrupt, narco-trafficking government of Mexico and several other Latin American countries. Countries which cooperate in the AE project by contributing troops to the UN force include Britain and Japan, while leftist guerrillas and foreign volunteers are among those who take up arms against the incursion. The ultimate outcome of the war is not given; it is known to have escalated badly and involved heavy urban warfare, the carpet bombing of cities, and the commission of major war crimes. The fighter and revolutionary leader Marcelo Jarti of the (fictional) Republic of Jenoma is also mentioned to have been the target of several AE and British assassination attempts, possibly in connection with these events or their aftermath.
In 2024, a civil war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, leading to an American Empire call for another UN intervention to stabilize the situation. In reality, the Empire hopes to take control of Korean natural resources, which they secretly promise to share with Japan in exchange for the latter's deployment of the JSDA in a support role. This war results in the apparent destruction of the North Korean regime, though it is not revealed what replaces it, and a massive exodus of refugees, whose presence in Japan drives the events of 2nd GIG.
It is never mentioned whether the AE still controls the Korean peninsula. Outside of Japan, the Empire appears to have very little influence in East Asia, although they do maintain extensive surveillance capabilities in the region, including satellites capable of monitoring all phone conversations in Japan. The Empire's relationship with other major powers, such as China and the European Union, is largely unknown, though it is able to successfully appeal to Britain for military assistance in Latin America c. 2020.
A Canadian Civil War is mentioned as having taken place in the decade preceding 2030; any AE involvement is unknown.
During 2nd GIG, it is implied that the Empire is in economic trouble, having dispatched one of its diplomats to Japan to negotiate an economic-aid package.
Stand Alone Complex
The first appearance of the American Empire in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex occurs in episode 10, "A Perfect Day for a Jungle Cruise – Jungle Cruise", in which the Empire dispatches two CIA officers to assist Section 9 in retrieving a deranged ex-American Imperial Navy petty officer who has been murdering people in the city. The AE intends to prevent the possibility of their war crimes being leaked by having the murderer killed by Section 9, who instead capture him alive.
Later in the series, the Empire allows Section 9 to access its highly sensitive reconnaissance satellites and Project Echelon, to monitor all Japanese phone conversations in the hope of detecting Dr. Imakurusu. The plan works, as the satellites locate the doctor prior to the Japanese DEA doing so, giving Section 9 an edge in the race to find the Laughing Man.
The American Empire plays a more prominent role in the second season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Towards the end of the series, Kazundo Gouda, the director of the Japanese Cabinet Intelligence Service, conspires with the American Empire in a coup attempt against prime minister Kayabuki. The AE's part in the coup consists of a surreptitious submarine-launched nuclear strike against the Dejima Island refugee ghetto, to be disguised as a misfire of the refugees' own crude atomic bomb (or a suicide attack with said bomb by the refugees). This plan fails when Section 9’s Tachikoma think tanks command the AE satellite which houses their AI into a ballistic reentry, colliding it with the incoming warhead. Following the collapse of the coup, Gouda attempts to defect to the American Empire, but is assassinated by Section 9 before leaving Japan. Kayabuki then affirms Japan's neutrality.
The American Empire also makes minor appearances in ancillary Ghost in the Shell materials, usually in a background role.
According to a world map published in the Appleseed Databook, the AE is (under the name Imperial Americana) still in existence during the milleu's 22nd-century timeframe, though (like much of the rest of the world at the time) in a heavily degraded state. Its borders seem to remain static between 2030 and 2147.
This article contains information from the following sources:
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (anime)
- Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C 2nd GIG (anime)
- Masamune Shirow; Appleseed Databook (1993, Seishinsha, ISBN 4-915333-69-8)
- Masamune Shirow; Appleseed Databook (1995, Dark Horse Comics/Studio Proteus, ISBN 1-56971-103-8)