Review: Ghost in the Shell : stand alone complex series

  • Title: Ghost in the shell: stand alone complex
  • Author : Yu Kinutani and Masumane Shirow
  • Illustrator: Yu Kinutani
  • Series: Ghost in the shell: stand alone complex series total of 4 episodes
  • Genre: Manga
  • Available in the library: Yes – Episodes 1,2,3 and 4
  • Rating: 9.991/10. Why not a full 10? Because I believe everything is not perfect but this is very close to it. Stop whatever you’re doing and read it. You won’t regret it (unless you’re trying to annoy me).
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 Review by Karune Walker

Overview: Ever wondered how anime and manga became popular in the western world? The answer: this series and two other franchises were the catalyst for that (the others being Cowboy Bebop and Neon Genesis: Evangelion if you’re interested). The original Ghost in the Shell (GITS) manga was released in 1989 and has since had a massive cult following, which I can say I am part of. GITS: Stand Alone Complex specifically is a spinoff from the original GITS series, so you don’t have to have read anything before this, which I think is quite good because, in my opinion, this series is far superior to the original (I know blasphemy!). Unlike previous manga I have reviewed, this series is actually quite complex in terms of the themes and the narrative flow, but don’t let that deter you in any way, as I think this makes it all the more interesting. But that’s my opinion. Based off the original GITS by Masumane Shirow, the cyberpunk action Stand Alone Complex (SAC) was still written by Shirow however, was drawn by Yu Kinutani and is set in Japan in the year 2030. In this future, humanity has evolved technology to the point where many humans have converted into cyborgs, human brains inside prosthetic bodies, but still allowing the retention of human emotions. The series follows Public Security Section 9, a spec-ops task force that investigates varying degrees of crimes, and its head leader Major Motoko Kusanagai. This series specifically focuses on the case of the notorious “Laughing Man Incident”, which saw many cyborg civilians have their brains “hacked” and, as a result, Section 9 is plunged into a world full of corruption and political conspiracies.

Characters: Again, there are quite a few characters in the series so I have decided to talk about the three that I deem are the most important Major Motoko.

Major Motoko KusanagiSay that three times. I dare you. Anyway, the Major is a cyborg human and is the head of Public Security Section 9. As a lead protagonist, the major has a shrouded past and little is known about her. She shows creative skills as a leader, in stealth operations and hand to hand combat, but is determined to do things “by the book” if she can help it. Though she has human emotions, she sometimes struggles to show empathy to those around her (albeit rarely).

batouBatou He is the second in command of Section 9 and remains human despite his numerous cybernetic upgrades to his eyes and upper torso. An outgoing jokester with a quick temper, he expresses his anger at injustices that happen in the world. He acts as an emotional anchor for the Major, acting as a voice of reason to her. Plus, he looks boss. togusa

Togusa The most human member of Section 9, Togusa is sceptical about the differences between man and machine. Because of his humanity, Togusa is the most empathetic character of Section 9 and is also the most emotional within the group. He has excellent skills in melee combat and knows how to handle a gun.

Art Style and Visuals: The only way I can describe the visuals of this manga is that it looks terrific. Every time I read it I am surprised at how good it looks. The attention to detail is staggering. The way Kinutani draws and details the city of Tokyo just makes it all the more believable. Character designs are good as well, with Kinutani ditching your more “typical” design for more of a realistic touch. Some might not pick up the differences between the two, but when you do, it makes all the more difference. Overall, I have to applaud the amazing job Kinutani has done here as it adds a new dimension to the manga and it makes it all the more enjoyable.  

The Verdict: I may have just written a review but I could go on for pages and pages about how this is just a stellar manga. The characters appear distant due to their cybernetic upgrades (expect Togusa), but the retention of their emotions make them somewhat relatable. The story is compelling and addictive, and there is only four volumes out so far! That’s how good the story is. Of course for some, it may be a little complicating at the start and that could turn a few people away which is sad, as some may not be able to enjoy the spectacle of what is Stand Alone Complex. Visually it’s amazing and really nothing to complain about.

Out of 10, I rate Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:  9.991/10. Why not a full 10? Because I believe everything is not perfect but this very close to it. Stop whatever you’re doing and read it. You won’t regret it (unless you’re trying to annoy me).

What now?

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