Title: The Ghost in the Shell Deluxe Edition 2
Story Arc: Man-Machine Interface
Series: Ghost in the Shell #2
Author(s): Masamune Shirow
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Format: Hardcover – Deluxe Edition
Release Date: February 21st 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
The Ghost in the Shell Deluxe Edition 1.5 by Masamune Shirow
This was probably one of the biggest disappointments I’ve ever known in a long time. With a franchise like The Ghost in the Shell, you’d think that everything related to it would be inevitably flawless and indisputable as a cyberpunk classic. Limited to three deluxe editions, the manga is anything but what the franchise’s reputation acknowledges it to be. Learning it the hard way was not something I planned on doing, but now that I’ve been through all three volumes, I won’t deny the overwhelming sense of disenchantment I felt for this series. With that being said, I still see the light at the end of this tunnel with the chance to finally check out the anime adaptations that have clearly been the source of all the praise garnered for The Ghost in the Shell name.
What is the final volume of The Ghost in the Shell about? I couldn’t even tell you even if you gave me all the time in the world to spell it out for you. The story doesn’t exactly follow the iconic protagonist known as Major (Motoko Kusanagi), but instead follows Motoko Aramaki, known as Motoko 11. While not technically the same, they share a lot of elements in common, as the story hints that she might be an offspring of Motoko Aramaki and another key character in the franchise. Nevertheless, Motoko 11 still has Major’s fashion sense and destructive combat skills to help fans fall in love with her. While technically set after the events of the first volume, most of this story arc shows no continuity at all to any of the past events.
And so you must be wondering what is Motoko 11 doing throughout this story. Well, most of the story, if not all, has her floating around naked—without nipples—sort of like a doll with a human face, within a neural-mapped electronic brain as she attempts to hunt down an unknown villain. To do so, she attempts complex and incomprehensible hacking techniques to access hidden pathways, bypass complex protocols and inject viruses, and all that with the help of strange little tech assistant creatures, creatures that visually made no sense and only made me want to ignore most of the time.
Coherence and structure were clearly not Masamune Shirow’s strong suit. This volume, while it was just one huge story arc, never tried being coherent even if its publication would have depended on it. As the author attempts to deliver once again an ambitious and complex story, he completely fails to hit his target and gives us what is probably the most unnecessary story ever. If I could sum up what I faced against throughout this reading experience, it would come down to two things: technobabble and pornography. You read that right. Flipping through this volume, I found myself not understanding a single word thrown at me more often than not. I honestly couldn’t see what the purpose of throwing random technological instructions left and right could serve to the experience when the story itself was impossible to follow. I simply felt like I was a living fish dropped in the middle of a cat fight: I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew something was going to kill me soon.
And then there’s the pornography. I’m going to call it just that because that’s all it really was. Every single female character in this volume had watermelons on their chest, a stomach slimmer than a tree branch and a buttocks bigger than my pillows. And that obviously includes the protagonist who doesn’t hesitant a moment to find herself in a strange position to showcase her assets and her panties. Not only were the designs so unrealistic and were inappropriately showcased every flip of a page, you could easily tell that the purpose of it all was nothing more than to sexually arouse readers. Trust me when I say this happens a lot. Who needs a Playboy magazine when you got this volume of The Ghost in the Shell to do the trick. It really was about raising your libido levels, while trying to convey some sort of original idea or philosophy around artificial life. As if pumping all that blood out of your brain to other parts of your body would help a reader reflect on complex ideas. Funny thing is, as I slowly—actually pretty quickly—approached the epilogue, I wondered how the volume didn’t feature actual hentai—if you have no clue what that is, I invite you to look it up at your own risk—instead of flirting with softcore pornography. Surprise, surprise. Right towards the end, there’s actually a panel that was straight out of hentai.
While the source material might have scarred me momentarily, I still remain optimistic regarding its anime adaptations. After all, after having delved into the manga, it’s safe to say that its fame did not arise from there.
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 series ever made. I’m just hoping it’s so good that I’ll forget my experience with the last volume of the manga series… 🤣