GHOST IN THE SHELL
First published in English in 1995, this classic cyberpunk manga is the story of a future society dependent on cyborgs (humans with machine parts). It's 2029, and Japan has gathered a troop of military cyborgs in Section Nine, a secret paramilitary security squad. The S-9 squad leader is the tall and sexy female cyborg Major Kusanagi, and the men under her command include the gruff Batou and the uncertain (and mostly human) rookie Togusa. Bafflingly metaphysical and utterly gripping, the book is an episodic chronicle of S-9's missions that illustrates the fluid nature of crime, espionage and geopolitical skullduggery in a world where human personality, vast data networks and cybernetic technology have essentially fused into a single social matrix. The team tracks criminals, spies and terrorists who hack networks or illegally copy the ghosts (or souls) of enslaved humans into black market cyborgs. Their ultimate case is the Puppeteer, a deadly cyberterrorist who turns out to be a ghostless, "self-aware" artificial intelligence spontaneously created out of the vast sea of networked information. Masamune's b&w drawings are dynamic and beautifully gestural; he vividly renders the awesome urban landscape of a futuristic, supertechnological Japan. This new edition restores material (including graphic sex scenes) deleted from the earlier U.S. edition. (Nov.)
FYI: The book's publication coincides with the recent release of two related and critically acclaimed anime, Ghost In the Shell: Innocence (on DVD) and GITS: Standalone Complex (broadcast on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim).