Ghost in the Shell (攻殻機動隊 Kōkaku Kidōtai?, literally "Mobile Armored Riot Police") is a Japanese multimedia franchise composed of manga, animated films, anime series, video games and novels. It focuses on the activities of the counter-terrorist organization Public Security Section 9 in a futuristic, cyberpunk Japan.
The first entry in the franchise was Shirow Masamune's Ghost in the Shell manga, first published in 1989 in Young Magazine. A collected edition was released in 1991; a sequel, Ghost in the Shell 2: Man/Machine Interface, was released in 2002; and a serialized manga, Ghost in the Shell 1.5: Human-Error Processor, was released in 2003, which contained material that was planned but not included in the sequel.
The manga series has been adapted into two anime films, Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence; two anime television series, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG; a film based on the television series' continuity, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. Solid State Society; and three video games: one PlayStation game, one PlayStation 2 game, and one PlayStation Portable game. The films and anime were produced by Production I.G.
Ghost in the Shell is a futuristic police thriller dealing with the exploits of the cyborg Motoko Kusanagi, a member of a covert operations division of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission known as Section 9. The unit specializes in fighting technology-related crimes. Although supposedly equal to all other members, Kusanagi fills the leadership role in the team, and is usually referred to as "the Major" due to her past rank in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. She is capable of superhuman feats, and bionically specialized for her job — her body is almost completely mechanized; only her brain and a segment of her spinal cord remain organic.
The setting of Ghost in the Shell is cyberpunk or postcyberpunk, similar to that of William Gibson's Sprawl trilogy. Kusanagi and her colleagues face external threats and also suffer internal conflict over their own natures.
A continuation of the first manga can be found in the second manga series titled Ghost in the Shell 2: Man/Machine Interface. Ghost in the Shell 1.5: Human-Error Processor includes a series of stories originally intended to be serialized in the initial print of Ghost in the Shell 2: Man/Machine Interface.
The manga was first adapted into a theatrical anime film adaptation in 1995, titled Ghost in the Shell, directed by Mamoru Oshii. The film was followed by a theatrical film sequel, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, produced in 2004, which was also directed by Oshii and places the character of Batou in the lead role. Both were based on storylines from the first manga. A third film, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. Solid State Society, was created after the anime series and directed by Kenji Kamiyama, premiering on the SKY Perfect satellite television network on September 1, 2006. Solid State Society is a sequel to the anime series storyline, and so takes place in a separate continuity. It does not connect with either of Oshii's works.
As of 2008, DreamWorks acquired the rights to produce a live-action film adaptation of the original manga with Steven Spielberg. Avi Arad and Steven Paul are confirmed producers; Jamie Moss was originally hired to adapt the manga into a screenplay, but in October 2009 it was announced that Laeta Kalogridis had replaced Moss as writer. The live-action film is set to be released in 2011.
The series has been adapted into two anime series. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was written and directed by Kenji Kamiyama and produced by Production I.G, airing on Animax from 1 October 2002 to 25 March 2003 with a total of 26 episodes. Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG followed Stand Alone Complex as the second season, also written and directed by Kenji Kamiyama and produced by Production I.G. 2nd GIG aired on Animax from 1 January 2004 to 8 January 2005, with a total of 26 episodes.
- After the Long Goodbye, written by Masaki Yamada, is a prequel to Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.
- The Lost Memory, Revenge of the Cold Machines, and White Maze are a trilogy of novels written by Junichi Fujisaku set in the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex sub-universe.
A PlayStation game was released in 1997, developed by Exact and published by THQ. A second game bearing the anime TV series title Stand Alone Complex was released in November 2004 on PlayStation 2, developed by SCEJ and Cavia and published by Bandai. A game of the same name developed by G-Artists and published by Bandai was released in 2005 for PlayStation Portable, but this is a sequel to the PlayStation 2 game, with a completely different storyline, setting, and gameplay.
The films and TV series are set in alternate universes, with the original Ghost in the Shell film taking place in 2029, and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence in 2032. The anime series, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG, are set in the years 2030 and 2032, respectively. The third film, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. Solid State Society, which follows up on many of the events that ended the second season, occurs two years after said events, based on comments made by characters in the film, which would place Solid State Society in the year 2034.
Impact and influence
The Wachowski brothers, makers of the The Matrix trilogy, have commented on the influence of the first Ghost in the Shell film, directed by Mamoru Oshii, on The Matrix. Producer Joel Silver also stated in an interview on the The Animatrix DVD that he was shown the Ghost in the Shell movie during a pitch from the Wachowski brothers to indicate the style and look of the film they wanted for The Matrix.
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex official website (Japanese)
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex official English website
- Ghost in the Shell (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Ghost in the Shell (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Ghost in the Shell at Rotten Tomatoes
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