Saturday, June 08, 2013

Reader's Diary #1012- Shirow Masamune: Ghost in the Shell

A few weeks back Debbie, my wife, was out of town at a conference. She texted me from a Chapters asking if there was anything I'd like. Like all avid readers, I had answers ready just for such an occasion. Ghost in the Shell, I answered. Our local bookstore didn't have it, nor did our library, so I didn't even have big box store guilt. About 10 minutes later though, Debbie texted me back. She'd found the book.

"Really?" she wrote.

Oh, right. The cover. Actually, she still bought it and with very little fuss. Incidentally the woman on the front is actually clothed (see her shoulder sticking through that skintight suit?). But actually, the cover is actually quite representative of what you'll find inside.

By most accounts, Shirow Masamune's The Ghost in the Shell is a manga classic. I even read a few reviews by people who ranked it up there with Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira, of which I'm a fan. As I researched further, I learned a new term: seinen manga. For those of you like me, still rather new to the manga scene, seinen manga is manga aimed at 18-30 year old males.

If The Ghost in the Shell is any indication, that means a mixture of the juvenile pseudo-porn of Maxim magazine and the jargon-filled pseudo-intelligence of Tom Clancy. Egad.

It's all terribly unfortunate because the cyberpunk premise held so much promise. Set in a future in which the lines between man and machine has been altered beyond all recognition (people with machine parts, machines with human parts), things get even more complicated when a hacker known as the puppeteer starts taking advantage of the brain/computer hybrids. But between the silly crotch/breast shots and the political/secret intelligence mumbo-jumbo the clever sci-fi ideas get lost in the shuffle.

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