10 Years of Kodansha Comics—October Spotlight: The Ghost in the Shell

Oct 08, 2019
10 Years of Kodansha Comics—October Spotlight: The Ghost in the Shell

10 years of Kodansha Comics! The year 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the first Kodansha Comics manga published in English. Please join us in celebration as we select one classic Kodansha Comics series each month for exclusive content, promotions, and other surprises!

The Ghost in the Shell Volumes 1, 2, and 1.5; Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Volumes 1-5; and The Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network are available from Kodansha Comics!

Our October spotlight title is the cyberpunk cop classic The Ghost in the Shell. Not the usual kind of ghosts October is known for, but as the year winds down to a close, we’re focusing on some timeless manga classics! So what kind of “special surprises” do we have waiting for you this month? Check these out …

Surprise 1: Exclusive The Ghost in the Shell Pin! As a part of the 10 Years of Kodansha Comics project, we've teamed up with our friends at Rightstuf to bring you this awesome exclusive Major Motoko Kusanagi pin! Visit Rightstuf and order any volume of The Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell: SAC, The Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network, Ghost in the Shell: README 1995-2017 and you'll receive an exclusive pin for FREE! Your order will also come with our new Kodansha Comics mascot Kacey pins! Available this month (October 2019) only or while supplies last. 

Surprise 2: The Ghost in the Shell series digital sale! Shirow Masamune’s masterpiece comes in many deluxe versions and spin-offs. From now until October 14th, all the titles related to The Ghost in the Shell are up to 50% off at all of our digital retail partners Apple Books, BookWalker, comiXology, Google Play, Kindle, Kobo, MyAnimeList, and nook! Surprise 3: The Ghost in the Shell Survey Sweepstakes! Have you ever wished you could own a collection of all things The Ghost in the Shell? Well here's your lucky chance: for the month of October only, ONE lucky winner will win The Ghost in the Shell Deluxe Complete Box Set, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Volumes 1-5, The Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network, and Ghost in the Shell README: 1995-2017. All you have to do is take this survey by October 31 to enter for a chance to win!

New artwork by LRNZ from The Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network

Surprise 4: Interview with Brenden Fletcher and LRNZ from "Star Gardens" featured in The Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network Kodansha Comics (KC): This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first chapter of the Ghost in the Shell manga. How would you describe its impact on your life and your body of work? Brenden Fletcher (BF): I don’t think I’ve ever seen a world-building toolkit as vast and inventive as the one used to create The Ghost in the Shell manga. As influential as the stories and characters have been on me through the years, it's the myriad ways Shirow-sensei uses the language of comics to open up his universe to the reader that keep pushing me to be more creative in my own work. I’m still in awe of his comics after thirty years! KC: “Star Gardens” depicts Major Kusanagi’s encounter with a hacker searching for a loved one whose mind has been stolen and is literally being mined for ideas. Its plot explores how one person’s creativity can be coopted or exploited under corporate capitalism. On a deeper level, it examines sources of personal identity in a world where media is omnipresent. How did you decide to tell this story in the setting ofThe Ghost in the Shell? BF: It seemed a natural extension of the themes of identity explored in the abundance of The Ghost in the Shell media. I wanted to make a statement about how our creative minds frame our own being: that we can and often do construct multiple iterations of ourselves to suit different moments of our lives that can live alongside one another in harmony, and that there is danger in not being properly acquainted or comfortable with those many facets that make up your whole you. In this story, that danger leaves Kusanagi open to a hack. It ultimately validates for her that no matter how she sees herself, no matter whose skin she finds herself in, they are all versions of a unified whole.

On a meta level, exploring these ideas through the coexistence of the many versions of Major Kusanagi—from comics, movies, animated series, games, etc.—struck me as something that would resonate. It was also a way for me to personally come to terms with the way her character shifts depending on the lens she’s viewed through, or the creative hand guiding her. All are valid and can coexist in “Star Gardens”.

KC:  For some, it can feel difficult—even futile—to set out to create something truly new. Do you have any advice for writers or artists who may feel discouraged at the thought that their work, whatever it may be, is too derivative or not original enough?

BF: The creator will always feel the influences on their own work far more than the audience. It’s easy to just say “Don’t sweat it!” and urge you on to just get writing or drawing or whatever, but I totally get how that’s a concern. I see The Ghost in the Shell in just about everything I do :)

The best advice I can give is to tell the story you want to tell and always listen closely to your characters. When you veer off course, they’ll guide you back to where you belong. And when you’ve done your first draft, go back and give it another pass. And then another. And then another. The more you refine, the more you let your characters guide you, the more your work will become its own thing.

KC: If you lived in the world of The Ghost in the Shell, where would you be and what would you be doing?

BF: As cool as all the tech is in the world of The Ghost in the Shell, it’s also super terrifying. I was born and raised in the country and I feel like if THIS was the world I was forced to live in, I’d be offline, hiding somewhere in the Northern Ontario woods, hoping to God I’d be left alone long enough to raise my family and see old age in relative peace.

Either that or I’d be some kinda super ninja-cyborg.

Kodansha Comics (KC): How did you first encounter The Ghost in the Shell?

LRNZ (L): It was July 1992: Kappa Magazine Issue No. 1, one of the very first anime/manga-related magazines in Italy. They published the entire original manga series, monthly, and I loved it!

KC: Your art in “Star Gardens” takes us on a stylistic tour through the 30-year history of The Ghost in the Shell. Do you have a favorite incarnation of Major Kusanagi and Section 9, and why?

L: I love all the ones we used in “Star Gardens,” though the original 1997 movie is probably the one I can best relate to as an artist. But if I had to choose my all-time favorite, it’s probably the only one we never used: Motoko as depicted in the animated intro movie from the PSX game Ghost in the Shell: Megatech Body, which is, as a side note, one of my favorite pieces of animation ever.

KC: Your bona fides are unquestionable, in part because your previous graphic novel Golem depicted a capitalist techno-dystopia similar to Shirow-sensei’s. Looking back three decades later, what did The Ghost in the Shell get right about where we were going as a species? How do you think cyberpunk has changed since the manga premiered in 1989?

L: As an industrial designer, I did some concept work for real-world and experimental robotics. In all of those workshops, I could spot GitS-inspired projects and ideas. It was resonating among engineers, designers, and intellectuals, at all levels. Still, I must say that what really strikes me the most about GitS is the whole philosophical issue about soul, body, gender, and identity. It really was ahead of its time and still stands incredibly strong, a megatech beacon for our unforeseeable future. The puppeteer concept makes you question the bedrock of our culture: what is human, nature or god. Not bad for a pulp sci-fi sexy comic, is it?

KC: Describe your process in creating “Star Gardens.” What conceptual work did you do first, and how did you finish the pages?

L: I started from the visionary pages, the ones where we see Motoko diving into her multiple selves, and then came back to earth designing the Newport Town and Section 9 look. The whole process took place while constantly exchanging ideas with Brenden.

KC: If there was one piece of technology from The Ghost in the Shell that you could make real, what would it be?

L: Fuchikomas. I want Fuchikomas running free in my city.

Thank you Brenden and LRNZ!

Celebrate 10 Years of Kodansha Comics with us all year long by following us on KodanshaComics.com!

Be sure to check back again next month, when we’ll be throwing the spotlight onto yet another Kodansha classic!