It’s been 25 years since Shirow Masamune’s cyber noir classic, Ghost in the Shell ( Kokaku Kidotai, literally “Mobile Armored Riot Police”) was first published in serialized form in the pages of Kodansha’s Weekly Young Magazine before being re-issued as the well-known manga anthology we know today (published by Dark Horse). This of course led to the birth of a media empire with the smash-hit anime feature film of the same name, directed by Mamoru Oshii and released in 1995. This was followed up with a sequel (Ghost in the Shell: Innocence) in 2004 and the phenomenally successful 52 episode anime series, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex between 2002-2003.
So much has already been written about Ghost in the Shell it hardly seems necessary to take you through its cultural impact and legacy. Although I will say this. Firstly, the film is far more important than the original manga that spawned it, in my opinion. It has shaped modern SCI-fi tropes in literature and film and television for the past 19 years and should be considered a cornerstone of cyberpunk narrative fiction alongside the work of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson. Without GITS there would be no Matrix. Where do you think the Wachowski Sibling’s got their “jacking in” concept, which is a central plot device in The Matrix? And doesn’t Trinity (Played by Carrie-Anne Moss) bear a rather striking resemblance to GITS’s Motoko Kusanagi?
Speaking of Motoko Kusanagi, or The Major as she is also known. She is the main protagonist of GITS, the central character and hero. Her “ghost” (spirit, self) is the only organic part of her still left, while her “shell” is a wholly cybernetic body that can be updated and modified whenever necessary. The central device of GITS is that everyone in the future to one degree or another is augmented with cybernetic implants and that there are very few wholly “organic” and non-augmented adults left. It is this idea of the merging of man and machine and the birth of fully self-aware artificial Intelligence (A.I.) that is central to the rich philosophical themes of GITS that have hooked millions of people from around the world. However! Did you know that it was the work of author, inventor and futurist, Ray Kurzweil and his theory of the Singularity that directly influenced Shiro Masamune to create GITS in the first place? Amazing stuff. Follow the links and make yourself smarter. Also! I recommend being a lot nicer to your robot vacuum cleaner and also making sure your kids ditch Saturday morning French in favour of Code Club.
The Major is undoubtedly one of the most influential female protagonists in modern cinema as well as for manga and anime as a whole. It is with a great deal of excitement that I read with interest last week that one of my favourite new actresses, Margot Robbie who recently co started in the terrific Wolf of Wall Street has been linked to the role in the upcoming live-action adaptation that is being produced by Dreamworks with director, Rupert Sands (Snow White And The Huntsman).
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of all things GITS, Manga Entertainment is releasing the original 1995 film in HD on Blu-ray for the very first time on 29th September. It’s packaged in a limited edition Steelbook and comes with an exclusive booklet containing new essays from some of the UK’s most authorities voices on anime. It’s well worth a read. You can buy it here.
And if you are reading this in America or Canada don’t despair! Anchor Bay is also releasing the Blu-ray on 30th September. And if that isn’t enough, you can also catch them movie in select cinemas around the UK, Scotland, Ireland, USA and Canada throughout September.
I was lucky enough to attend San Diego Comic Con this year! Partly because Manga collaborated rated with Mondo and Kodansha to release an exclusive limited edition poster print by Killian Eng to sell exclusively at the event. Well! Those guys at Mondo can’t get enough of GITS (Check out their amazing work on Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle too). Mondo will also be including GITS in their Mondo-Con program. It runs between September 20th-21st in Austin, Texas.
Well! That pretty much wraps up everything Manga is doing to celebrate Ghost in the Shell. It’s been KNACKERING, but rewarding. It’s one of my favourite films of all time and it is incredibly relevant to today’s interconnected world. There is just one more thing!
If you need more Matoko Kusanagi in your life, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t? Keep your cybernetic eyeball implants peeled for the upcoming release of Ghost in the Shell: Arise [Borders] Parts 1 & 2; the brand new miniseries out on DVD and Blu-ray on November 24th in the UK. It’s aces.
This post was written by Jerome Mazandarani, the director of marketing and acquisitions at Manga Entertainment Ltd.He started his career with Manga in January 2005 and to date has been responsible for releasing over 100 anime films and more than 400 anime TV series and OVAs in the UK under the Manga, Funimation, Viz Media and Kaze brands. And he’s absolutely knackered!