"Ghost In The Shell" Manga Gets Gorgeous Deluxe Edition Re-Release

by Clayton Webster

Cyberpunk fans everywhere have reason to rejoice: Masamune Shirow’s groundbreaking manga, Ghost in the Shell, has been re-released as a deluxe edition. Standing shoulder to shoulder with other greats in the genre such as Neuromancer and Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell has earned its rabid fandom. Its mind-bending insights into the nature of personhood, consciousness, and identity through the examination of protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi are just as relevant today as they were almost thirty years ago when it was originally published, if not more so.

Cyberpunk, full of neon lights and large shoulder pads, has always been distinctly 80s, though its aesthetic sense continues to influence the world of fashion today—see Hudson Jeans new Ghost In The Shell collection, which taps into the undeniable sexiness inherent to Cyberpunk. Its central premise is the reductio ad absurdum of late capitalism. Corporations with unfettered power control governments, populations, and even individual bodies. Employees are expected to be grateful for the opportunity to work nonstop for days because a person’s value is based entirely on their value to corporations. This is made starkly clear when sanitation workers are merely slightly inconvenienced when finding the corpse of a senior citizen in piles of garbage, thrown out because when someone loses value to companies, he or she loses value as a person.

The Ghost in the Shell © Shirow Masamune/Kodansha Ltd.

The Ghost in the Shell © Shirow Masamune/Kodansha Ltd.

And therein lies the central devastating irony of the controversy surrounding the film. In a work that asks questions about what it means when corporations erase human identity, the film itself is yet another obvious example of Hollywood’s problem with minority erasure. In an attempt to widen appeal and thus increase ticket sales, casting a white person for the role of Motoko Kusanagi signals that movie studios value Asian actors less than their white counterparts. And considering the recent popularity of television shows and movies about people of color that actually star people of color, hopefully Hollywood realizes that whitewashing characters is ultimately self-defeating.

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The Ghost in the Shell © Shirow Masamune/Kodansha Ltd.

The Ghost in the Shell © Shirow Masamune/Kodansha Ltd.

It’s disappointing for a lot of reasons, not least of which is that it distracts from everything that made Ghost in the Shell a classic in the first place. The few color pages in the book are vibrant and alive, the world is dense and detailed, and the philosophical questions raised are ones that every person should wrestle with in our rapidly changing society, questions about our decreasing privacy in an age or rapidly expanding surveillance technologies, the commodification of women’s bodies, and what the hell is consciousness anyway? So, skip the glossy, condensed Hollywood film and do yourself a favor by picking up the Deluxe Re-release of Ghost In The Shell.

Written by Gregory McClellan