Decoding The Ghost in the Shell II, Man-Machine Interface (GitS-MMI) is like sifting through actualized ether. Meaning, there is so much science, pseudo-science, mythology and philosophy encapsulated in dense technicality that proliferates in Masamune Shirow’s physical brain and permeates the book. As a huge fan of the original series I found myself paying for this even when I was not planning on picking anything from the Bergen Comic Bookstore.
GitS is all about questioning the self. It deals with identity, consciousness and sentience in the artificial world and blurs the line between information packets and neurons. It is also a classic example of how form and style obfuscate content and how easy it is to get drawn into the beauty of visual depiction through art to the detriment of the plot. No complaints about it here though. The art is stunningly intricate and Masamune’s notes are extensive throughout the work.
Internet of Things (IoT) and Networks:
The world is datafying. Machines are heart-beating their health status ubiquitously and technology has evolved to where all these data can be stored and analyzed. Everyone wants to record, snap or text everything, this blog included. Health care devices are becoming consumer wearables. But even the most far fetched WSJ or Financial Times or CIO magazine articles cannot hold a laser to Sci-Fi imaginators in concept designs. And GitS-MMI is all that on acid. I have to give it another read just to determine whether I did not like it or I do not understand it. It is a potent array of techno babble, anti virus, firewalls, bots, viruses, LAN (Local Area Networks), teleportation and body switching. Yes. I felt like I was reading a manga version of a futuristic networking manual.
Prurient Visualization or Edgy Art
The world of manga is a mix of any of the following descriptions. Seedy, heady, prurient, fantastic, crude, slick, humorous, profound, historic, epic, prolific, confusing, cultish. And the laws that govern their censorship is pretty tensile. The japanese society is also known for its extremely hierarchic and patriarchal rigid social mores and structures. Add all this and you get a lot of material that flies the wrong way with how women are depicted, drawn and developed. Even in mainstream works like this there is a lot of gratuitous, albeit prosthetic skin. This book if made into a movie frame for frame would pass the Bechdel Test without any problems. Motoko Aramaki, who I think is a variation of the original major, Motoko Kusanagi, is all eyecandy. But then the actual curves, large eyes, shifty panel angles all seem to suggest something deeper.I just cannot place how I feel about it. There is so much detail in crafting the gaming experience and file systems and alternate society and counter intelligence but very little change along how readership would have evolved. That breaking of the 4th wall to directly challenge the reader would have made this an even more immersive and probably confounding work.
Definitely not starter material for manga but worth plugging through if interested in AI and Sci-Fi.