The Ghost in the Shell Deluxe Edition 1.5 by Masamune Shirow

details
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
Pages: 176
Genre(s): Manga, Science Fiction
ISBN13:  9781632364227
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆
Previously on Ghost in the Shell:
The Ghost in the Shell Deluxe Edition 1 by Masamune Shirow

thoughts

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”.

gits1_5_quote1

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.


EXHIBITA

 

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

exhibitb

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.

lashaansignature

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34 comments

  • Well, as you know I am a huge Ghost in the Shell fan, but I really have my doubts if I will ever buy these. The art looks truly amazing, and I love the way these editions look, but the stories just don’t sound too good (or sometimes to complex) And seeing that my alltime favorite anime character is pretty much absent in this volume isn’t making things any better lol 😂 But as always, this was an amazingly good review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, I know how much you love Major, but man.. I wish I could tell you a different story, but these manga aren’t going to impress you as much the anime adaptations. You’ll see things that will amaze you here and there, especially in terms of ideas, but I don’t think any hardcore fan of the anime movie/series will be able to put this at the same level. And to be honest, I have greatly lowered my expectations for the final volume. I’m only truly looking forward to finally checking out the movie/series once I’m done with volume 2 hahah 😀 Thanks for reading, good sir!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, one thing I’m pretty much sure of is that you are going to love those. Especially the series, as they truly rank amongst my favorite alltime anime series 😊 Yeah, I don’t think I will pick up these mangas, unless maybe I can find them somewhere that maybe has a good deal for them. We’ll see. Hope you will enjoy the movies/series as much as I did 😊

        Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely. I wouldn’t have if there was over 500 episodes like some of the other series out there (One Piece, for example), but by having read all three volumes, my inner completionist takes over and wants to see everything related to Ghost in the Shell hahah Really would’ve wished the manga was… much more impressive.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, the Standalone complex series are a lot of fun. Quite a different tone from the anime movie. I haven’t watched any of the other movies so I dont know if they follow in the movie’s footsteps or the series.

        But GitS: Arise was an awesome ova…

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! It’s a bit unfortunate that these leftover stories didn’t give us more of what everyone loved instead of more of what the series was missing (focus on the side characters). Also sad that the author mentions that the franchise was never meant to have an “ending” and that he gave it an episodic feel so that anyone else could pick up where he left off.

      Like

    • Thank you, sir! I’ve only started to acknowledge its popularity ever since I got into blogging, and when I started to rekindle my own love for manga/anime. The movie really did get a lot of praise since its release.

      Liked by 1 person

  • There may have been some misses for you in this one but with a quote like “even the best warriors sometimes have to take orders from idiots”, you know there are going to be some redeeming qualities too. That’s my take away from the blogosphere today. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I feel like you said something about the lack of coherence in the “Ghost in the Shell” manga before… So sad. I had forgotten and saw the name and got excited, then I saw 3 stars and thought… Huh. But, it definitely sounds like it could have used some work. 🤔🍻

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep! I did mention that; it was a pretty big surprise since there was so much for the franchise, but I’m starting to realize that most of that praise was for the anime adaptation. I think the manga is a nice thing to look into as a fan of the series, but otherwise, it wouldn’t be the first place I’d direct anyone who wants to discover what Ghost in the Shell even is about. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • What you’ve pointed out here, that this is a collection of random vignettes and short stories which were never intended to be collected together, is a pain point of mine in literature. Lots of amazing mangaka and authors write short stories to help them flesh out their characters and their histories and give their entire cast depth. But that doesn’t mean the whole world needs to read them! In particular, all the Posthumus publications of Tolkien’s work comes to mind. Yes, there is a lot of work unpublished. But that doesn’t mean we need to smash it all together and publish it.
    Also, one of the major reasons I respect Terry Pratchett and the lawyer who actually followed through with Pratchett’s will: Smash the hard drive and all backups so his work won’t continue to be published.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Hm, the more I read about the original Manga – especially through your reviews, as someone whose opinion I greatly respect and often mirror – the less I want to take the time to read it. The fact that the Major is fairly absent and the treatment of Batou not what I’d expect further diminishes any sort of appeal.

    I can’t wait for you to check out the anime, which I’m sure you’ll enjoy. I do highly recommend the Stand Alone Complex series (which I’m rewatching at the moment) as well as it’s a lot more character focused and is just damn awesome (and if you do, watch the dubbed version – Mary McGlynn is the quintessential version of the Major)!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m definitely just as disappointed as you in regards to the manga. I really did hope to be impressed and then even more by the anime adaptations, but I’ve come to understand that the manga wasn’t exactly where all the praise was coming from for the franchise. Of course, this volume in particular being a collection of leftover stories does what it’s meant to do and only gives us those extras that the author never not to publish before.

      You might be the first person to ever recommend a dubbed version of an anime! I’ll definitely consider though hahah It sure sounds like Major was done justice there! While the manga is leaving a sour after-taste, I’m still pretty excited to give the series/movies a shot soon enough! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • We sometimes forget it’s the anime we remember and not the manga. ❤️❤️ Jackie B makes a good point about posthumous publications. While an author creates these side stories and vignettes for added depth, what storytelling is to the east is slightly different than western world. Thanks Lashaan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed. I haven’t seen the anime, so when I started the manga, I honestly thought it would be at the same level as the praise given for the anime hahah. And yes, she does bring up a great point! I still got to mention that Masamune Shirow hasn’t passed away yet hahah He was very happy to see these “side stories and vignettes” get collected and published, according to his afterwords in this volume hahah 😛 In the end, it’s definitely a plus for any hardcore fan to get a bit more of the characters they love, but it’s nothing groundbreaking that’s for sure. Thanks for reading, Dani. 🙂

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