Japan has always been the biggest producer of anime in the world, if not considered the only one. But very few of these Japanese “cartoon” made it back to North America. I completely understand, I mean, simply marketing wise seem like a giant endeavor. But it didn’t stop the biggest behemoth of the anime business to taunt the North American market in the early 90’s. We were then introduced and immediately hooked on them. I’m talking about Dragon Ball Z, Mobile Suit Gundam or even Sailor Moon, series that would define a generation.
But these were only our introduction to anime. Today I’m going to talk to you about something that didn’t make it to cable TV, but instead was only accessible to the fanatics who would dig deep enough. I’m talking about Ghost in the Shell.
First released in Mangas form, this series immediately made a huge success in Asia. So much that the movies and anime production was clearly inevitable. Retrospectively, it was a smart move for the Japanese market who was booming in the animation field. It was only many years later that the English Dub versions we’re released in North America.
The cyberpunk themed universe of Ghost in the Shell introduces subjects like philosophy and what it represents to be “human”. We follow the adventures of the cybernetic task force name Section 9. Lead by Motoko Kusanagi, a bad ass and highly skilled military woman who was one of the first full prosthetic being in Japan. She became an orphan and given a new body from the same unfortunate car accident. In their world most of the people now have cybernetic brains where their memories are digitalized but the “Ghost” AKA their soul cannot be duplicated.
Along the way, the creator Masamune Shirow has produced stories with some of the most fascinating conclusions. Filled with action and epic monologues, the stories will pull you in a spiral of philosophical conundrums.
Today, I can count around Three Manga series, Seven Movies, Three Anime series, Two Video Games (including one that came out last week) and a Live Action Movie currently in development. Even though it could be fun to watch the series in the chronological order, I find it best to go with the release order. (Keep in mind that the original Films, TV Series and Arise have different continuities). Here is my take on it:
1. Ghost in the Shell (Movie 1995) (2.0 is a remake with extra non needed CGI)
2. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Movie 2004)
3. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (TV Series 2004)
4. Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG (TV Series 2004)
5. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society (Movie 2006)
6. Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Borders 1 – Ghost Pain (Movie 2014)
7. Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Borders 2 – Ghost Whispers (Movie 2014)
8. Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Borders 3 – Ghost Tears (Movie 2015)
9. Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Borders 4 – Ghost Stands Alone (Movie 2015)
10. Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Borders 5 – Pyrophoric Cult (Waiting for the English Dub)
11. Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (Arise Continuity) (Movie 2016)
Both the original from 1995 and Innocence from 2004 have been nominated and winners of multiple animation award ceremonies including the Tokyo Anime Award, the Annies Awards and the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
In conclusion, I highly recommend Ghost in the Shell. Either for the epic action or the mind bending philosophy, this universe is sure to amaze you. One thing is for sure, Masamune Shirow has made a cyberpunk masterpiece.
On this, I hope you enjoyed this post. See you Nerds next time.