Check out the Ghost in the Shell anime, manga, TV series and more!
Paramount Pictures‘ live-action Ghost In the Shell movie stars Scarlett Johansson (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Lucy), Pilou Asbæk (Game of Thrones), Juliette Binoche (Clouds of Sils Maria) and Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire) and hits theaters on March 31. You’ve seen the trailer, the new Weta Collectibles and more, but are you familiar with the rest of the franchise? We’re taking a look back at previous iterations of the story, including the hit Ghost in the Shell anime, the original manga, the video games, the TV series and more to get you caught up before the new film is released!
Ghost in the Shell Manga
The Ghost in the Shell manga was written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow and premiered in 1989. It tells the story of the counter-cyberterrorism group Public Security Section 9 and their leader Major Motoko Kusanagi. It’s set in Japan in the 21st century at a time where most people have cybernetic enhancements of some kind. Kusanagi is, however, fully cybernetic. One of the major crimes that the manga deals with is the hacking of cybernetic parts, including the brain and memories. The manga takes on themes like advances in technology, and has a detailed look at life in the future, including many footnotes with extra details. The world is carefully drawn out and constructed, and has been given mostly positive reviews from very devoted fans.
Ghost in the Shell Anime
There have been a number of Ghost in the Shell anime films, including 1995’s Ghost in the Shell, 2004’s Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, and 2015’s Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie. The first one, directed by Mamoru Oshii, is considered a landmark in the genre, with sequences and visuals that clearly influenced The Matrix trilogy. Its famous “shelling sequence” during the opening credits shows the creation of Major Kusanagi and is set to haunting music by Kenji Kawai.
The anime is set in the futuristic Japan of 2029. Everything is connected by an electronic network, including the cybernetic body parts of most of the characters. Like it is in the manga, Public Security Section 9, lead by Major Kusanagi, is a top-of-the-line group assigned to combat cyber-terrorism. The group of highly-skilled agents has to track town the Puppet Master, a hacker who is involved in “ghost-hacking,” or taking over the minds of those enhanced by cybernetics. In addition to the shelling sequence, there are a number of famous visuals, including Kusanagi falling out of a window in what is called a thermopic suit. Though she appears nude, the suit allows her (and other agents) to disappear from view. The film was done with “digitally generated animation” or DGA, which was a new technique at the time, and the film was lauded for its stunning visual effects. Innocence, also directed by Oshii, was much more loosely based on the manga and is only loosely considered a sequel. Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie was directed by Kazuya Nomura and is set after the events of the TV series (see below) Ghost in the Shell: Arise, after the assassination of the Japanese Prime Minister.
Ghost In the Shell TV Series
In 2002 Animax premiered a new version of the story called Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and in 2004, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG which dealt with Section 9 and the Laughing Man and Individual Eleven respectively. In 2006 we got Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society. There were also books, manga and video games based on this iteration of the saga. We also got Ghost in the Shell: Arise in 2013 which took us to a time before the one in the original manga, which was then turned into a manga itself.
Ghost in the Shell Video Game
There were a number of video games based on the series, including Ghost In the Shell for Playstation back in 1997, which was a third-person shooter where you got to play as a new member of Section 9. There were a few done for the Stand Alone Complex storyline as well as a first person shooter. The latest one was Ghost in the Shell: First Assault – Stand Alone Complex Online in 2016. That title is certainly a mouth full.
Ghost in the Shell Live-Action Film
Johansson will star as Major (the name Motoko Kusanagi is not used) in the live-action film based on the franchise. Many elements will be taken from the Ghost in the Shell anime, as well as Innocence and the manga. We’ll see the thermopic suit (as you can see in the trailers), the robot geishas and Kuze (Pitt), who looks like he has cybernetic parts from the little we can see in the trailer. Binoche plays the doctor who gave Major her cybernetic body. We’ll see some classic moments from the Ghost in the Shell anime, including the garbage truck battle, Major falling out a window in the thermopic suit and the famous shelling sequence. The story will deal with thought hijacking as well as Major’s search for her humanity and her past. Pilou Asbæk plays her close friend Batou. On set, Pilou Asbæk talked about their relationship and said that in certain takes, they played it as romantic and in others, as close friends. There has been some controversy about the casting of Johansson in the lead role, with critics calling it white-washing. Supporters of the casting have pointed out that all of Section 9 is cast internationally to show a future where everyone lives all over the world.
Ghost in the Shell will hit theaters on March 31, 2017. The film also stars Takeshi Kitano, Kaori Momoi, Chin Han, Danusia Samal, Yutaka Izumihara, Tuwanda Manyimo and Rila Fukushima and is directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman).
What is your favorite part of the franchise? Is there something from the Ghost in the Shell anime, manga, TV series or video games that you’re dying to see in the live-action film? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @comingsoonnet.