The Ghost in the Shell Deluxe Edition 1 by Masamune Shirow

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Title: The Ghost in the Shell Deluxe Edition 1
Series: Ghost in the Shell #1
Author(s): Masamune Shirow
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Format: Hardcover – Deluxe Edition
Release Date: February 21st 2017
Pages: 368
Genre(s): Manga, Science Fiction
ISBN13:  9781632364210
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

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The cyberpunk genre seems to be so much more rare nowadays, but it is the iconic classic stories of the late 80s and early 90s that remind us of its ingenuity, mind-numbing visuals and visionary story-telling. Besides Battle Angel Alita, there is one other series that has left a permanent mark in the genre, especially with its anime adaptations: The Ghost in the Shell. This seinen (aimed at adult men) manga was first serialized in 1989 and was written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow. It then later got collected into volumes and received its animated counterparts that blew the minds of many fans. In this new hardcover deluxe edition by Kodansha Comics, fans can rejoice in the collection of Major’s original story arc, a couple of coloured pages at the beginning or end of each chapter, an afterword by the author as well as an extensive amount of endnotes (written in an extremely small font size and merged within the margins as often as possible) by the author himself.

Set in the mid-twenty-first century, The Ghost in the Shell explores a world where humans and machines rely upon each others biology to enhance their abilities and to blur the differences between each other within the human world. The story focuses on a counter-cyberterrorist organization known as Public Security Section 9, led by the awfully sexy and intelligent Major Motoko Kusanagi. With a peculiar and nevertheless efficient team, she tracks down cybercriminals known as “ghost hackers”. These individuals are highly complex and are able to exploit the system on which most humans and machines depend on to live their lives. By reprogramming whoever they want, these “ghost hackers” are able to manipulate individuals into doing the deeds of criminals for them. With this mission set as her purpose, the hunt for criminals begin.

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One the biggest issue I had with this volume is its cohesion. Or should I say its lack of cohesion. Each chapter is a story on its own that never truly connects to one another and leaves you with a bucket full of questions to ponder on. These questions aren’t always followed with answers later on, but actually play on a much more spiritual and philosophical level. The strength of each chapter however lies in the impeccable world-building that blooms with each chapter. You’ll be truly stunned by the world that Masamune Shirow conceives in The Ghost in the Shell. Once you finally grasp the concept behind the “ghost” of each machine, you’ll see that Masamune Shirow really looked to break conventionality and bring his readers to unlock their own perception of what the body and the mind are meant to do.

The story also has an extremely heavy accent on politics and corporation baddies. It is no easy feat to untangle the corruption and the mess that follows along those lines as you dive into this volume. If you thought you’ve seen it all with conspiracies, think again. Even with each chapter following a similar structure as a police procedural story arc, you’ll notice that there’s nothing clean and coherent within this world. Speaking of cleanliness, the story also has a dose of what we’d call NSFW (not safe for work). From intense gore scenes to sexual content, there’s a clear target audience in this series. After all, our protagonist Major is nearly flawless as a character. From her outstanding fashion sense (not kidding here, she’s a fashionista who changes styles with each chapter) to her wits and unmatched fighting skills, Major is a beautiful hero that you’ll have a hard time hating on.

While the artwork didn’t venture into too much details, its style is easy to identify and appreciate. The coloured pages however make it a bit harder to enjoy as the tones used and the colour gradations were sometimes odd. Ultimately, the first volume of The Ghost in the Shell is an ambitious and visionary cyberpunk manga that blends politics, artificial intelligence and metaphysics. Its lack of cohesion will however make it pretty hard to appreciate on a first read, but at least fans are graced with the ability to reread, with a couple of anime adaptations (which is where most of its praise comes from) and a live-action movie to shake things up a bit.


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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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Have you seen the live-action whitewashing-controversy-filled movie adaptation of The Ghost in the Shell back in 2017?

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36 comments

    • I definitely plan on checking out the animated series and movies once I’m done with book 1.5 and book 2. It should give me enough lore to see how well the animated counterparts do. Your opinion seems to however be shared by a couple of people too.

      Liked by 1 person

  • The movies were too overwhelming for me, both visually and mentally.
    We watched the two series and enjoyed them immensely. Bookstooge may agree; the movies tried to tell too much, too fast. The series were able to take their time in the story-telling process, and it worked better.
    The live-action movie would have been good if they had used an appropriate actress. ScarJo ruined it. The goofy skin-suit ruined it. What were they thinking?
    Your hardcover manga book is pretty happening. I bet you treasure your hardbound comics!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This review is awesome! You really covered all aspects of the manga well which admittedly I haven’t read but i definitely will and feature it on my page once I’m done. What did you think of the movie adaptation? There’s a lot of debate around it especially surrounding white washing and the like but I actually think they really did the anime justice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much!!! I totally appreciate that. ❤ I'd love to see how you fair with it when you get the chance to try it out. I haven't seen the movie adaptation yet. I'm holding off until I get around to completing the manga run (there's still a book 1.5 and a book 2 to go). I'll definitely keep an open mind about the movie though. Hollywood and the quality of their live-action adaptation of Japanese material is…well… questionable. 😛

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    • I’m holding off on ScarJo’s movie for now. I’ll definitely complete the manga before engaging the animated and live-action adaptations. I can see how the animated movie could’ve struggled though. TV series usually always do better when it comes to development (character and world).

      Hahahah I see you also found her skin-suit odd. It’s pretty different from what we get in the manga too.

      And yes, I absolutely love my special editions. I treasure them with all my heart. I tell myself that the future-wife better accept my collection and let them future-kids embrace this goldmine and live in billions of worlds throughout their life. 😀 😀 For now, I shall be the one to enjoy all these classics. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  • As you know I absolutely loved Ghost in the Shell…I have seen everything: the two animeseries, the two movies, and the live action movie (the only thing I haven’t seen yet is the new Arise series). But…I haven’t yet read the manga. I didn’t know that there were now deluxe editions for these as well. But it does sound like it’s not really worth the purchase. Ghost in the Shell has always been something that was really a challenge to understand when it came to the storyline 😊
    I am one of the few people that really enjoyed the live action movie😊😊 I thought the entire controversy at the time was blown way out of proportions. And..I really thought Scarlett played a great role 😊 Wonderful review Lashaan 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahaha yep, I believe Major is one of your favourite characters if I stand correct! Oh man, you should give the manga a shot someday. It’s messy, but it’s always nice to see what the original idea behind the anime/movie was like. The deluxe is probably a bit expensive however, but still a pretty thing to have among the your collection! Oh, as for the white-washing stuff, I am not someone who’s 200% against that kind of casting as long as the actor proves it through a great performance. Otherwise, I’ll just greatly question the intentions behind such a casting (probably Hollywood’s attempt to grab more people’s attention by casting a popular and beautiful actress). Thanks for reading man, I really appreciate it, my good friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Welll…you know me, I’m always tempted to add way too cool stuff to my collection, and this one just looks to good to not add it 😂😂
        And you are right, the Major is my favorite anime character, which will never change 😊😊
        As for Scarlett…I think she did a very good job in portraying the Major. But I know that a lot of people had a different opinion on that. I think the whole white washing issue destroyed the film before it even came out. Which is a shame, as I still think that it’s a pretty fun film 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  • The movie looks trippy! Although I see what you mean about whitewashing, omg. It sounds like a great idea, sorry it didn’t flow quite the way you wanted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does, doesn’t it? Hahahah And yep, it’s one of those Hollywood movies that got a lot of news coverage online regarding the casting decisions. It doesn’t however mean it’s all bad. There were still plenty of people who enjoyed it plenty! 😀

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  • I saw the movie recently and i liked it a lot. Only realised after that it was based on a book. Should have known better.
    I love cyberpunk, and i must agree: there’s not nearly enough of it lately.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad to hear you enjoyed the movie though. It was one of those blockbuster movies that had two camps (love or hate). And yes to the whole cyberpunk universe! Blade Runner 2049 being the most recent and best one yet! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Awwwww. I LOVE Ghost in the Shell! Sad to hear that the comic/manga doesn’t quite hold up. 😕 Strange way of doing things that every chapter is a new story, and I can understand that the colours may be a little distracting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. The manga is a whole other thing. It was still nice to see what the author/illustrator first conceived as a kid (I believe he was in his early twenties when he created this series). Quite huge, and thankfully the animations elevates it all for fans! 😀

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    • 100% agree with you there. There’s nothing easy to follow, and there’s no effort in holding your hand while you go through it. It needs to be re-read a couple of times to truly catch everything.

      Liked by 1 person

  • I haven’t heard much about The Ghost in the Shell (other than the movie which I haven’t seen you’ll probably be pleased to hear) but it sounds like a great concept. I feel like the lack of cohesion between the chapters would get me a little though, did you find it pulled you out of the story slightly when you started a new chapter? Still it certainly sounds like there were more positives than negatives (and you know me, hearing there’s amazing world building is always a plus!)
    Great review. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahah You can totally watch the movie without having read the manga, if you’re interested by it of course. The lack of cohesion sort of does take away any rhythm, but when you understand that every chapter would press the reset button and explore the world in a different and new angle, you find yourself enjoying it nonetheless. 😛 Thank you Beth! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  • I’ve seen it all before reading any, and while the first anime movie is unmatched, I also enjoyed the manga immensely. One of the cyberpunk classics, overlooked by readers who refuse to appreciate comics. Lighter than the movie, and perhaps a bit aged compared to the 1995 masterpiece, it would still be near the top of my manga recommendations 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s how I feel with a lot of great comic book stories. So much greatness ignored and overlooked by readers. I’m glad to hear so much love coming from you for the manga. It’s definitely unmatched in originality and scope. A series worth picking up and trying at least one for those intrigued, for sure!

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  • Great review Lashaan, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. I’m a huge fan of the 1995 anime (which I rewatched recently – review coming soon!) and the awesome ‘Stand Alone Complex’ series (which I plan to revisit in the coming weeks) – have you seen those?

    I’ve always been hesitant to check out the manga, mainly because the art style seems to verge a little too on the goofy side compared to the way Ghost in the Shell has been presented in animation. Maybe I’ll give it a go one day out of curiosity but I doubt it’ll live up to the anime’s.

    Ah, the live action version – as you know from my review I was disappointed with that, it wasn’t terrible but just lacked essence and relied too much on imitation rather than reinvention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Chris! I’m holding myself from checking out the anime and movie till I’ve went through all three main deluxe editions. I’m definitely pumped about the anime, I knew about your high praise of it, and it’s almost an international consensus regarding its quality. I can assure that the manga does add that goofy side, especially to Major. She can be crazy serious and bad-ass one moment, and then she’d have moments where she’d make childish faces coupled with a childish behaviour. It’s still something worth checking out for hardcore fans, it shows how much the creator had a lot of ideas for this series.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The only reason I’m persevering for this one is cause there’s only a couple other volumes in this series. I’m reading them so that I can fully appreciate their animated adaptations, which is where a lot of the love for this series is at hahah 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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