So, it may come as no big surprise that one of the influences on the Aneka books is Ghost in the Shell. I’ve seen both movies, even read one of the Manga comics, but the animated series Stand Alone Complex is my favourite and the basis for the characters in that has always been the way I think of them. Rise and I Can’t Be Cool from the second series soundtrack are still on my playlist.
For those unfamiliar (there are any reading this?) GitS is the story of Major Motoko Kusanagi, a full-body cyborg and wizard-class hacker, and her team in Public Security Section 9. Section 9 deals with cybercrime, proactively where possible, and they do so using a lot of weaponry along with their military and hacking skills. Moyoko, “The Major,” is one of the absolutely classic kick-ass heroines, but her story is also about identity and what it means to be human when most of your body is cybernetic. Sound familiar? (Actually, Aneka and Motoko would probably not see eye-to-eye on the matter, but I think that’s a matter of perception.)
And now we have a new entry in the GitS reality: Ghost in the Shell Arise. This is a “re-imagining” of the existing universe, changing a few starting points and then running with it (a bit like the recent Star Trek reboot in a way). The aim is to show how the Major put her team together, explain the characters, etc. The first two episodes, Ghost Pain and Ghost Whispers, are out on Blue-ray and DVD and I watched them last night after Amazon delivered them into my hot little hands.
I liked them and if you’ve never tried GitS, or even Animae, then this is a pretty good place to start. The original books and films are a little on the inaccessible side, but still a bit more western in outlook than many of the genre. GitS: SAC is one of the few Japanese animated series I consistently like and re-watch and it looks like Arise is going to fit right in. Plus, since this is starting from scratch, so to speak, you don’t need to worry about knowing anything about the characters.
I’m not totally keen on some of the character redesigns, and I wish they’d got the same actor to do Aramaki’s voice as in the old versions. Motoko’s voice has changed too, though not so drastically and I can get used to that one. I liked the two episodes so far, and it’s nice to see Section 9 back in action.