The Ghost in the Shell Deluxe Edition 2 by Masamune Shirow

details
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
Pages: 328
Genre(s): Manga, Science Fiction
ISBN13:  9781632364234
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

thoughts

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.

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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.


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 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… 🤣

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49 comments

    • I look forward to the animated movies/series. I’ll probably start in the order they were released too. I’ll also have to check out the live action movie to truly see what they did with the character and the lore initially introduced in the manga.

      Like

  • Wow, that may be a first one star review I’d seen on your blog… I know what I won’t be reading then 😉 Though, to be fair, I’ve heard about the pornographic aspect of The Ghost in the Shell before – was curious when it would actually show up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes. I rarely pick up anything 1 star. The other 1 star review I have is Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Absolute garbage. I think my review tears it apart.

      I mean… the pornographic content was slightly teased in the other two volumes, but it only felt minor. This third volume however… The focus was truly there. Not worth the time, unless it’s exactly what you’re looking for hahahah

      Liked by 1 person

  • I’m sorry for your bad experience with this manga. 😥 I haven’t checked the manga out, only seen the anime and the movie. I feel like it’s a safe bet that it’s the anime that deserves all the hype, nothing else! 🤔😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh man, it’s good to hear you had a wonderful time with the anime adaptations though. I wouldn’t recommend the manga, even if it’s just these three volumes, unless you’re a huge fan of the franchise and need a quick fix or are curious about the creator’s vision for this franchise! 😛 Thank you for reading though! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Haha…okay as sad as this is….I did have to laugh a lot during the reading of your review lol 😂😂 I didn’t know that there was actual porngraphic aspects in these volumes. As you know Ghost in the Shell is in my top 3 favorite animes of all time. But this sounds really bad. Can’t even rememeber the time when you gave something only one star. Still…trust me: the anime is amazing, and you will soon forget about this obviously, piece of trash. Even though I’m a hardcore Ghost in the Shell fan, these mangas i’m going to avoid…that’s for sure 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaahh I do love those books I rate 1 star because of how much they make me want to scold them too. 😛 I mean, the first two volumes did show off Major in a slightly sexual tone, but never as intense as it was in this volume for this new protagonist. The first volume was the only truly “good” volume since it really conveyed how the creator envisioned Ghost in the Shell with philosophical ideas and cyberpunk lore. But man… this last volume was so unnecessary. It really is just fan service. I’d have a good time seeing how you’d react to the manga knowing that you love the anime so much though hahahah 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol…well, maybe if I can find this ones in some kind of discount bin I would maybe be tempted to buy them: but, pretty sure that is not going to be happening any time soon 😂😂

        Liked by 1 person

  • Yep, Shirow is known for his echhi, if not outright hentai, artistry. It’s why the original GitS graphic novel was always shrink wrapped when it was sold at bookstores.

    But moving on, I hope you like GitS: SAC. That was just such a FUN show. GitS: Arise was also really good. I only watched the first anime movie and none of the others, so can’t comment on them…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was a lot less prevalent in the first volume, but it was clear that Shirow wanted it there for a male audience. But this volume? Oh boy. It’s purely fan service. I do look forward to the anime series and movies. I’ll probably start according to their release dates. Will also be checking out the live action movie soon, now that I’m done with the canon source material.

      Liked by 1 person

  • I don’t think I’ve ever read that far into the series… and now I won’t, if it went that bad. It’s a strange thing with manga, and often anime, how a good series can go from solid stuff to gratuitous fanservice in a blink of an eye. Some bounce back, some don’t, but here we have a very good volume one, and hours of excellent cartoons, so there’s no need to check 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is probably the weirdest series I’ve ever read for a franchise that has a reputation that precedes it. None of the volumes truly connect to one another, and stories rarely ever follow. And this last volume? Completely out of context and indeed… purely fan service. I still got one more volume of The Ghost in the Shell that was recently released to check out, but I have a bit more hope for it since it’s not Shirow’s work. I’d honestly love to hear about your reaction to this volume if you actually ever feel ballsy hahahah And you’re right. At least we can rejoice with the first volume’s true ambitiousness and complexity, even though it’s not completely perfect! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Wow, 1 star? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that rating in your reviews before! What a shame…

    I too had assumed anything Ghost in the Shell would excell all expectations (from what everyone says, I’m not a particular fan of it and have only watched the movie so far), especially the source material! Guess not. I certainly hope the anime is much, much better!

    I get really frustrated when comic books get overcomplicated, lose focus or simply don’t know what the heck they’re doing. It’s not damn hard to put together a coherent story, now is it? Apparently it is 😂 Also, this sounded more like an ode to infodump than anything else… Maybe even the author’s personal shrine for his extensive technological knowledge. I sincerely mourn for your enjoyment after reading your review because it looks like you went through the most painful experience ever. And that is saying something.

    So this was basically fanservice, right? Great to know. I’ll be skipping it then 😂 Anyway, good luck with the anime! I sure hope it’s much, much better than this crappy manga 😶 And as always, great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahah yep! I only have one other 1 star that dates back to like 2015 or 2016. I rarely run into them. They truly have to meaningless books for me to rate it that low.

      Yep.. I’ve come to realize to late that the anime was were all its praise was coming from and that the anime didn’t adapt the manga like most anime do.

      None of the stories follow each other! It was truly astonishing how weird these three volumes were. I’m sort of happy that the canon source material is limited to these three volumes too hahaha It really is fanservice. And you really would have to be looking for this kind of stuff to actually enjoy it. 😛 Thanks for reading, Sophie!

      Liked by 1 person

  • Such a shame this was such a disappointment! It doesn’t sound like it delivered on anything and it’s not good that it was so hard to follow :/ It’s really bad that it didn’t bother to have any continuity with the previous volumes too!! Ach- I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you at all. amazing review though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I tried to remain optimistic with this final volume even if it did feel like the manga wasn’t going to find its footing and deliver what I would’ve liked to see. Oh well, guess it’ll all depend on the animated series/movies and the storywriters on those to show me the greatness of this franchise! 😀

      Like

  • Hahahahhaa wow, I’m so, so sorry you had this experience. Honestly I rarely pick up classic manga because I find it very hard to follow. The frames aren’t as well developed as later manga. And I’ve unfortunately read this kind of fan service manga before, though it never went hentai, all due to my cousin who loved the series so much and “let me” borrow his copies. Sometimes I wonder how classics caused the big boom that manga is today in japan. 😀 Great review! Sorry to see you have to write one for a manga Lashaan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m actually happy to find out the truth behind the source material though, even if it costed me my patience and my time! 😛 You’re right about that. There’s definitely a significant difference between modern and 80s-90s manga. I’m seeing it quite clearly, but man… I’m too curious about classics to ever give up on them for now. 😀 Oh, at least it was quite accessible for you thanks to your cousin hahah Would’ve been a bit sadder if you bought them and found yourself in front of intense fan service hahah Thanks for reading, Dani! I appreciate it! 😀

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  • Ouch…but, fair analysis sir! It’s commendable that you’ve stuck with the series even though by large you haven’t enjoyed it. It’s sealed the deal for me, I definitely want to avoid the manga and stick with the anime versions of GiTS. I too would be irked somewhat by the more pornographic aspect of this, admittedly there’s some ‘fan service’ present in the Standalone Complex series but it doesn’t override or overbear the brilliance of the rest of it.

    Stay strong my friend, I’m confident you’ll enjoy the 1995 film and certain you’ll appreciate the other anime iterations – especially Standalone Complex which really digs into the characters (there’s not much character work in the 1995 film, it’s more an ‘ideas’ piece but that doesn’t make it any less appealing).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahah I’m glad to help you spare the trouble of going through these. The first volume would be the only “significant” source material of the bunch since it delivers the ideas, even though the delivery is shaky. But I think it’s safe to just stick to the anime adaptations for this franchise! 😀 Glad to hear the fan service isn’t so bad in the Standalone Complex series though. I just can’t understand it when it’s so omnipresent that you can’t even see the story anymore. Taking good notes on your thoughts of those adaptations. I look forward to diving into them! 😀

      Like

  • The only thing I know about this series was the controversy when Scarlet Johansen was cast in the movie. I don’t really read this genre anyways, but based on the cover alone I would steer clear of this one. However, I am sorry to hear you wasted your time with this. I did enjoy your review of it, though. Hopefully the next one is better for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahah yep! That controversy was pretty strong. White-washing has been quite a huge issue since that day (although it has often been present in Hollywood). Thank you for reading, Stephanie! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • Well Lashaan I just might kiss you here! Seriously you don’t know how good it is to hear that a man does not like breasts looking like melons and waists too thin. I don’t want to seem prejudiced against men here but I hear these kind of comments so often that truly your review is refreshing. Now on a totally other note I am really sorry this book did not meet your expectations!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahah I’m glad to hear that, Sophie! I am not much of a fan of those “ideal” body types that have riddled media since the early 2000s. There’s nothing realistic or healthy about it. Definitely a sad reality when there are women out there who seek heavy plastic surgery to become what is popularized as ideal though. To each their own beliefs and desires, I say! 😀 Thanks for reading though! I appreciate it! 🙂

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  • That’s a shame that this wasn’t good. I actually still have never watched any Ghost in the Shell, except for maybe the first 15 minutes of one of the movies. I should probably give that a go sometime.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d only recommend the first volume where the main ideas-which are pretty philosophical-are a lot more interesting. But honestly, it’s best to just check out the anime adaptations, series or movies, rather than the manga first. You’d have to be a pretty huge fan to want to know why the franchise is so popular and how it all began.

      Liked by 1 person

  • You know… I feel like you’ve hated all of the Ghost in the Shell Manga and comics you’ve posted…. Yet, they KEEP. SHOWING. UP. I think we may have to have an intervention for you and say “Lashaan?? NO MORE! YOU DON’T LIKE THEM, SO GIVE UP!” 😂😂😘

    Liked by 1 person

  • Hahaha love your honesty! 😂 I’ve always been curious about Ghost in the Shell (they made a movie recently, right?) but I’m guess I’m not going to try this one… ! Over sexualized manga characters are pretty common, it’s so annoying 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahah! Thanks for reading, Caroline! 😛 Yep, there’s a 2017 live-action movie starring Scarlett Johansson! I definitely wouldn’t recommend the manga, maybe just the first volume for the ideas that the author first had for the franchise. And yeees, that’s true! But… This one… Was the worse I’ve experienced so far in my life! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  • This review is exactly why I haven’t picked up the manga. I’ve been warned that my feminist sensibilities would rage a bit. XD I’m sorry that this series got worse and worse as you kept reading instead of improving. That’s such a shame! Will you be watching the anime any time soon? I’d love to hear a comparison between the two. Also, what kept you reading? Why didn’t you just DNF this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh no, I honestly don’t think you would have enjoyed any bit of this volume in particular. The first volume was a lot easier to appreciate since you could honestly see the ambitious ideas and the complex lore the author was trying to put forth, even if it was all soooo non-cohesive. I do have one more volume that’s not written by the creator, but actually several writers (it’s an anthology of stories), to go through. I’ll then check out the anime adaptations, in the order they were published, series and movies. I do want to try and share my thoughts on those on here at some point too. The reasons why I kept going is cause the manga is short… Three volumes didn’t seem so bad. I just didn’t know that it would be so… ye… I also didn’t know that none of the anime truly adapts any of the manga word for word, panel for panel. I also kept going cause my end goal was to be able to watch the anime knowing what the source material was. And so… Here I am. Done with the original manga, and ready to check out the anime! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • XD You get me. I appreciate that.

        I hope you’ll do a comparison review once you watch the anime. I’m interested to see where the ideas come from — just the first volume, a smattering of the original material, or perhaps even the anthology a bit. I am always interested in learning how manga and anime differ. It happens A LOT.

        Liked by 1 person

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