The Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network by Max Gladstone

details
Title: The Ghost in the Shell.
Story Arc: Global Neural Network.
Series: No.
Writer(s): Max Gladstone, Alex de Campi, Genevieve Valentine & Brenden Fletcher.
Illustrator(s): David López, Giannis Milonogiannis, Brent Schoonover & LRNZ.
Publisher: Kodansha Comics.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: September 18th 2018.
Pages: 160.
Genre(s)Comics, Science Fiction.
ISBN13:  9781632366030.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.

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They sometimes say that one of the sincerest form of flattery out there is imitation. The mere fact that there are people out there who take the time to recreate something that they acknowledge as significant tells us a lot of the importance of that very creation. What exactly is done with the creation afterwards is another story in itself, but if we were to look at the effort put into the creation, we can can at least conclude that there’s something valuable in the source material.

Shirow Masamune, creator of the classic cyberpunk manga The Ghost in the Shell, is the perfect example of someone who initially created this series in hopes that it would inspire others to build upon the foundation he set and expand his universe into something much bigger than he had ever conceived it to ever become. In his manga series, most of his stories were set apart from one another and rarely ever had any flow to them. His goal was to simply spark ideas in readers and writers alike so that they would propel this franchise towards something new and special. Dipped in a police procedural mold set in a futuristic universe, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of potential to this franchise.

In this special collaboration between Shirow Masamune and Kodansha Comics, several renown writers and artists were given the opportunity to create a stand-alone short graphic story based on The Ghost in the Shell franchise. Collecting all four stories, The Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network is a sci-fi comic book anthology, read from left to right—unlike the traditional manga—with full-colour artwork exploring the very ideas that made the franchise so fascinating to so many fans.

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In “Automatic Behavior”, Max Gladstone and David López tells us a story starring Motoko Kusanagi on a covert mission in Shanghai where she is brought to work alongside a wartime rival in hopes of finding and bringing back a kidnapped friend. While the artwork reminds you of good ol’ cartoons, it remained a very loyal 21st century perspective of The Ghost in the Shell. Beloved characters are present, although Major doesn’t exactly look like her classic self, and ideas of what it is to be a cyborg within this world are quickly explored in a typical spy infiltration story.

In “Redbloods”, Alex de Campi and Giannis Milonogiannis puts Togusa and Saito on the front lines as they infiltrate a bio-supremacist gang, while Motoko Kusanagi dives into the mind of a young girl looking for answers to her identity/her ghost. The artwork here is amazing and is the most loyal to the original designs by Shirow Masamune. Juggling a balance between a manga and a comic book, the designs and colours help immensely in drawing the reader into the world and the complex cybernetic mission Section 9 is on.

In “After the Ball is Over” by Genevieve Valentine and Brent Schoonover, new characters are given the spotlight and are on the run as a reflection on the world in which they now live in veils the story. From the repercussions of cybernetic enhancements to privatization of resources like water, the world in which the story is set is depressing and almost desolate. The artwork reminds me of Mitch Gerads’s work in The Sheriff of Babylon and is definitely my favourite of the anthology.

In  “Star Gardens”, Brenden Fletcher and LRNZ gives us a story featuring Major Kusanagi and a trap in which she fell for during one of her investigations as she attempted to infiltrate the mind of a young girl to get closer to a cyber-criminal that has been difficult to capture. Questions on the concepts of memory and identity are thoroughly explored as Motoko Kusanagi is left lingering in the remnants of her imagination unable to escape the grasps of her adversary. While thoroughly fascinating ideas are explored here, the artwork was a lot harder to appreciate, although original to some extent.

The Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network turns out to be an intriguing collection of stories showing us a westernized look at the Ghost in the Shell franchise. With various writers and artists with different styles and ideas, this anthology served as an entertaining visit of a beloved cyberpunk world that can only ever be associated to Masamune Shirow.


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

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Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (also called Ghost in the Shell: Arise − The Movie or New Ghost in the Shell) is the last Ghost in the Shell animated movie released to this day! Quite beautiful and intriguing! 😍

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17 comments

  • This is sounding a whole lot better than the original mangas if I’m being honest. The first and second story especially sound the most intriguing to me. I’m also likeing the fact that it features the major in at least three of the stories, which would be enough for me to go and check it out 😊 I didn’t even know this one existed but I will definitely be on the lookout for this one. Fantastic review, and thank you for sharing this! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, right? Hahaahh I think anyone could do way better than what the original manga was able to offer, and I’m glad to find out that this is an example of just that. Just the fact that it’s a lot more structured with each story, and that it’s clear that it’s an anthology rather than one big story arc, really helps the reader appreciate this more. I’m glad to put this on your radar, Michel. Hopefully you’ll have the chance to enjoy some of these stories someday! Thanks for reading. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Is the pic on the cover supposed to be the cyborg from The Ghost in the Shell? I ended up studying that pic a bit trying to figure it out 😊.
    Pretty awesome to create a work that was meant to spark ideas and creativity in others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Writers sure are versatile huh? I see a lot of writers dive in the comic book world at some point in their careers nowadays. Like Seanan McGuire who had recently went to Marvel to work on a couple of X-Men comic book issues. Always nice to see this happen! 😀

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    • Hahaaha It’s definitely a nice addition to the lore, especially since it’s closer to a comic book than a manga too. Seeing how Western authors take on these characters/this world was a nice, quick and fun experience. Hope you get to try it out at some point! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • This sounds great! I had no idea this anthology existed, and it makes my heart super happy. Your observation about Masamune wanting his world to be expanded and built upon by others is not one I had considered before. It makes complete sense! It reminds me a bit of the Animatrix, but you know… in comic form. I hope to see more expansions of this universe. There are some brilliant ideas in the Ghost in the Shell world; so much more opportunity to expand!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a recent release, brand-new, never-before-seen collection hahah It’s the first time that the creator accorded other authors the possibility to add new stories to his manga. It would be nice to see a more developed Ghost in the Shell series with another writer. It has so much potential, especially when it was pretty much badly delivered in the original series hahah 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I’m not familiar with this franchise (not surprising as I’m a total newb with GNs and manga) but I really enjoyed the introduction to your thoughts! 🙂 Well done!

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  • What an interesting concept to open up a story to have different writers/artists contribute to make a series even though the storyline might veer a bit to another direction. As a reader, I might find it disorienting because I would feel the main character would seem a bit off in some stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely interesting, but then again, if we think about it, it’s quite common too. The perfect example is Batman, or just about any superhero. They were created by one person and over the years, many others have taken a shot at it and given us different interpretations. What I liked about this however is that we’ve taken something from the Asian world and given Western creators the opportunity to create something based on it. The differences are definitely much more immediate and observable hahah 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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