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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Friday, April 21, 2017


I remember liking the anime film adaptations of Masamune Shirow's GHOST IN THE SHELL franchise, though I've not re-screened them in years, and would prefer to see them again only if I should get the chance to read the original 1989 manga-stories on which they were based. Though I didn't have easy access to the 1989 work, I did check out this 2001 "graphic novel." The events of MAN-MACHINE INTERFACE take place about four months after the events of the first continuity but one source claimed that the works are not interdependent.

Unfortunately, I didn't get much out of interfacing with INTERFACE, for much the same reason I didn't enjoy Shirow's earlier success APPLESEED: Shirow just can't shut up about the wondrousness of his cyber-world long enough to tell a coherent story. Most of the story deals with the main hero, android Motoko Aramaki, showing off her ability to download herself into a variety of android bodies while investigating-- well, something. Frankly, I couldn't follow the rudiments of Motoko's mission, though it did involve submarine pirates and pigs being used to grow substitute organs. In fact, Shirow's margin-notes, in which he explains the various aspects of his sci-fi cosmos, are more interesting than the main story.

To his credit, Shirow knows how to give readers both action (one of Motoko's android bodies gets into a big firefight) and fanservice (Motoko often shows off a lot of leg and butt, even while resenting anyone who enjoys the view). Some elements of Japanese mythology are crammed into the helter-skelter narrative, and I'm sure that Shirow has the talent to produce a symbolic discourse by scenes such as this one.

However, the main content is much like that of a 1930s "space engineering" story, where the authors' main interest is always focused upon singing of the wonders of science. In terms of organization MAN-MACHINE INTERFACE also resembles the 1940 origin of Hawkman by Gardner Fox. The mythic content is indubitably present, but it's something of a potpourri.

I didn't have a lot of love for the GHOST IN THE SHELL teleseries, but at least its storytelling proved coherent. Some day in future I may try to reread Shirow's 1986 DOMINION as translated by Dark Horse, since that too offered more organized stories.

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