With Ghost in the Shell, it’s hard to find a more enduring franchise in anime that’s not made for children. Originally a manga created by Masamune Shirow in 1989, it’s been continuously adapted into anime and manga since its inception. Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network is a different take on the franchise, collecting four original stories by Western artists, each with a unique vision for Section 9. With one exception, each story centers on the crew from Section 9 and takes its inspiration from a different part of the universe. Since the Ghost in the Shell manga has been enormously influential to Western comics creators, officially sanctioned stories taking place in that universe seem only natural.
“Automatic Behavior” feels most inspired by the Stand Alone Complex anime series. Section 9 is in Shanghai when Aramaki is kidnapped by what appears to be an elite group of soldiers who should have died in Laos years ago. “Redbloods” has the feeling of the original manga series, with artist Giannis Milonogiannis and writer Alex De Campi adopting imagery, layouts, and even some of the gags of the 1989 manga for their take on Section 9 in the Deep South of America. If you were a fan of the more jovial style of the original manga, this will be the most appealing story in the collection. “After the Ball Is Over” is the piece that most resembles a typical American comic. It features none of the members of Section 9, instead opting to tell a story from the perspective of a nonaugmented maid trying to help her friend escape a very bad situation. “Star Gardens,” by Brenden Fletcher and LRNZ, has more of a Ghost in the Shell: Arise feeling, with The Major attempting to rescue either a person or a ghost being held against their will.
If you’re a fan of Ghost in the Shell, you’ll do yourself a favor to check out the different takes on the world that Neural Network has to offer. Regardless of which part of the sprawling franchise you prefer, there’s something here to enjoy.
publisher: Kodansha Comics
story and art: Various Artists