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The Ghost in the Shell: Five New Short Stories Paperback – April 4, 2017
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“A spry, classy set of riffs on the ‘Ghost in the Shell’ universe, drawing on characters we know and extrapolating from the setting at large. . . .” —Ganriki
About the Author
Tow Ubukata (1977-) is a renowned Japanese novelist and screenwriter. In 2003 Ubukata was awarded the Nihon SF Taishō Award by the Science Fiction Writers of Japan for his novel Mardock Scramble. He would then go on to win a number of awards for his novel Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer in 2010 (Eiji Yoshikawa New Author Award for Literature, Japan Booksellers' Award, Seiichi Funahashi Literature Award). Since his debut, Ubukata has penned more than twenty novels and has written screenplays for a handful of television series and motion pictures.
Toh EnJoe (1972-) is Japanese novelist who has worked within the fields of science-fiction, speculative fiction and literary fiction. He like Ubukata is a multiple award winner, having collected the Akutakawa Prize (Harlequin's Butterfly), the Seiun Award (The Empire of Corpses) and the Phillip K. Dick Award (Self-Reference ENGINE).
Kafka Asagiri is a Japanese novelist and game writer. Formerly an office worker for an auto company, Asagiri would eventually shift focus towards writing for manga and video games to great success. Asagiri's Bungo Stray Dogs is published by Yen Press and inspired a popular animated TV series.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is immediately apparent from the first story, Toh Enjoe's "shadow.net," which is a brilliantly immersive description of a mind that sees the world through multiple remote "eyeballs." It is disorienting in the best possible way, and that's what makes it feel so authentically GitS. Gakuto Mikumo's "Heterochromia" continues this with its flash-back-and-forward narrative structure and theme of fractured identity. Kafka Asagiri's "Soft and White" is by far the most traditional in the set in terms of its story-telling techniques and plot, but this is its greatest strength; it reads like watching an episode of Stand Alone Complex (to which its plot and characters are directly linked), indulging us with all the same kinds of intrigue and action while not shying away from engaging with complex ideas. Yoshinobu Akita's "Soliloquy" might be my favorite. It has a disorienting first-person narrative style similar to "shadow.net," and features Major Kusanagi herself. The set concludes with Tow Ubukata's "Springer," written as a cop's second-hand account of a case involving corporate corruption, serial murder, Olympic-level cyborg bodies, and dogs.
As mentioned above, my only qualification would be that these stories are really only for fans who are already very familiar with the franchise, especially Stand Alone Complex. These stories are not a way to get into the GitS franchise. And without already being acquainted with the world of GitS, they may be difficult to enjoy even if you are already a big science-fiction/cyberpunk fan. To give you a sense of the larger context for this collection of stories, here is a chronological rundown of most of the GitS franchise (omitting the video games):
--1989-90, Ghost in the Shell (manga) by Shirow Masamune, what started it all.
--1991-96, Human-Error Processor (manga) by Shirow Masamune, a sequel to the 1989 manga.
--1991-97, Man-Machine Interface (manga) by Shirow Masamune, another sequel to the previous two manga.
--1995, Ghost in the Shell (anime feature-length film) by Mamoru Oshii, an adaptation of Masamune’s original manga, whose critical and financial success really cemented the franchise, especially outside of Japan.
--2002, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (anime tv series, 26 episodes) by Kenji Kamiyama, an original series based on Masamune’s manga, reinvigorating the franchise and much beloved by fans. No continuity with the 1995 film.
--2004, Ghost in the Shell: Innocence (anime feature-length film), by Mamoru Oshii, a direct sequel to the 1995 film.
--2004, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd Gig (anime tv series, 26 episodes) by Kenji Kamiyama, a direct sequel to the 2002 series. Again, no continuity with either the 1995 or the 2004 films.
--2006, Ghost in the Shell SAC: Solid State Society (anime feature-length film) by Kenji Kamiyama, a direct sequel to the 2004 series. Again, no continuity with either the 1995 or the 2004 films.
--2013-14, Ghost in the Shell: Arise (anime four-part original video animation series) by Kazuchika Kise, a wholly new series but also something of a prequel, in that it is supposed to take place before any of the previous stories (including the original manga). Nonetheless, it is considered its own continuity distinct from both the 1995 and 2004 films and the 2002, 2004, and 2006 tv series and film.
--2015, Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Alternative Architecture (anime tv series, 10 episodes), by Kazuchika Kise, a re-edit and slight expansion of the four-part Arise OVA series.
--2015, Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (anime feature-length film) by Kazuchika Kise, a sequel to the Arise series.
--2017, Ghost in the Shell (live-action film) by Rupert Sanders, more-or-less an adaptation of the 1995 film, though also with elements from the tv series.
As you can see, there is a lot, and this is only a partial list. It is because the stories in this collection are woven directly into the fabric of this vast franchise that I think it is essential that you be acquainted with the world of GitS before you read them. So for those interested in getting into GitS, I recommend you start with either the 1995 film or the 2002 tv series (really you should watch them both) and then go from there.
Incidentally, it’s clear that this is the real problem that Amazon reviewer “Mark Lacy,” who saw fit to give the entire collection a 1-star rating, had with these stories. That is: they read a collection of short stories set in a world that was completely unfamiliar to them, a world that is developed across multiple manga and anime, including multiple tv series and feature-length films. They at least understand that the collection is a “tie-in” to “the movie ‘Ghost in the Shell’,” but they are likely referring not to the 1995 anime film but to the recently released 2017 live-action film, and moreover they admit that they haven’t even seen it yet. And in fact, these stories have nothing to do with the live-action film, but rather the manga and anime. With no appreciation of the GitS world, it’s no surprise that “Mark Lacy” didn’t like these stories. Their 1-star rating reflects their own experience rather than the quality of the stories themselves.
The Ghost in the Shell: Five New Short Stories is a collection of stories by five Japanese media authors/creators that builds upon the story presented in the movie “The Ghost in the Shell.” It is a quick read, which is the only reason I didn’t abandon the book part-way through. Too often I felt like I was reading a comic book or graphic novel without the graphics, and that just doesn’t work. I have not yet seen the movie, but I don’t believe my opinion of the book would change if I had.