Title: The Ghost in the Shell Deluxe Edition 1.5
Story Arc: Human-Error Processor
Series: Ghost in the Shell #1.5
Author(s): Masamune Shirow
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Format: Hardcover – Deluxe Edition
Release Date: January 31st 2017
Genre(s): Manga, Science Fiction
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆
Previously on Ghost in the Shell:
The Ghost in the Shell Deluxe Edition 1 by Masamune Shirow
It’s hard to not acknowledge Ghost in the Shell as a critically-acclaimed franchise. The mere mention of its name has fans conniving against the naysayers. Although it all started with a manga series written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow, it’s the anime adaptations that were later created that truly blew the minds of a whole generation. The revolution that came with that creation propelled this franchise into the hall of fame and forever left its mark in the cyberpunk genre, but also in the world of anime production. Ghost in the Shell however only knows three distinct volumes: The Ghost in the Shell (1991), The Ghost in the Shell 1.5: Human-Error Processor (2003) and The Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface (2001). My quest to explore this source material before finally seeing the anime that changed the lives of many continues here with volume 1.5. and things aren’t looking so great.
As Masamune Shirow mentions himself in a small paragraph of story commentary at the end of this volume, Human-Error Processor collects a bunch of different stories that essentially leaves you feeling like it’s all over the place. This intermediary volume has stories featuring different characters that are part of Public Security Section 9 (the counter-cyberterrorist organization) who have rarely had the opportunity to be on the front-lines in volume 1 and 2. These leftover stories that have never been intended to be originally published finally got collected in Human-Error Processor, but do not necessarily add anything in particular to the protagonist known as Major Motoko Kusanagi or the infamous villain of this series known as the Puppet Master. The featured stories include “Fat Cat”‚ “Drive Slave”‚ “Mines of Mind” and “Lost Past”.
One of my biggest surprises with the first volume was the lack of coherence in the structure of each story and the very absence of an identifiable overarching story. This time around, each story was a lot easier to follow and understand from A to Z but came at the price of any innovation and of the presence of Major Motoko Kusanagi. Could you imagine that? The protagonist that everyone loves to see in action only appears once throughout the whole volume and acts as a deus ex machina. The Puppet Master is also completely irrelevant for the most part and barely gets a quick mention to tease him as a potential culprit. Instead, each story clearly highlights the police procedural that Ghost in the Shell was meant to be and lets secondary characters take the spotlight. The clear advantage of this decision is a better understanding of these characters, especially Batou who still succeeds in being interesting although not as charismatic and bad-ass as Major.
The other unfortunate downside to these stories is the lack of ambitiousness seen in the first volume. If there’s one thing I’ll never forget about Masamune Shirow, it’s the ideas that he continuously conveyed throughout his plot in the previous volume. His ability to mix technology with consciousness made The Ghost in the Shell incredibly large and special in terms of conceptualization. In the stories collected in volume 1.5., that very ambitiousness is put aside to limit everything to a villain that controls cyborgs for evil purposes, but never goes beyond that. The only time Masamune Shirow actually utilizes the lore he created in Ghost in the Shell is when he has his characters sharing their fields of vision with one another, when cyborgs are manipulated to do things they would never do or when certain characters use their thermoptic camouflage. Besides these basic elements part of the universe, the stories never push any ideas into any creative direction.
While this volume might have been a lot better in terms of coherence and structure, the stories lacked the originality and ambitiousness of the ideas developed in the first volume. The quasi-absence of Major Motoko Kusanagi also restrained each story from the charisma that the character brought around with her. Then again, these short stories should be seen as extras for fans who have read both volumes 1 and 2.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
The trailer to what is known as one of the best anime movies ever made. Can you imagine how huge my expectations are? Whatever size you think it is, multiply it by a billion.