If you have no idea why the internet is so mad about upcoming sci-fi flick Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson, it’s quite possible that you are completely unaware of one of the most landmark films ever made in the anime world.
The word anime may conjure up images of wide-eyed schoolgirls today, but when Ghost in the Shell debuted in the world of Japanese manga in 1989, it meant something much grittier. When the film came to the U.S. after its 1995 release, it produced one of the first major reactions to anime outside Japan — and one that would drum up an entire stateside industry dedicated to it within a few decades.
If your interest is piqued by the upcoming film but you don’t know where to begin, we’d be happy to lend a hand. Here’s the material that’s great to check out before the film or after.
There’s nowhere better to start than at the beginning, and Masamune Shirow’s manga is the gateway to the GITS universe. There are tons of comics in the franchise and many are not as good as fans have hoped, but this is the right one to read to learn all about Major Kusanagi and her team, her origins, and her motivations in a post-cyberpunk world.
Price on Amazon: $19.99
You’re read the manga, and now it’s on to the film. You’ll notice that some parts of the manga are missing from its storyline, which is common practice with manga-to-anime translation. But the tale remains a solid one, and this Blu-ray edition features the cleanest copy of the film to date with all the animation tweaked to look its best. Turn down the lights and enjoy this in the dark.
Price on Amazon: $6.99
Ghost in the Shell 2 garnered mixed reviews from fans of the franchise, some citing as it better than the first while others openly disliked it as Major Kusanagi, the series’ central character, is absent for much of the film while it focuses on Kusanagi’s second-in-command, Batou. We still think it’s a clever spin on the universe from director Mamoru Oshii, who presented his world in a different perspective than the first film offered.
Price on Amazon: $19.99
The mood of Ghost in the Shell was undoubtedly due in part to the score. Composed by Kenji Kawai and deeply rooted in Japanese traditional music, it remains equally intriguing and chilling to this day, and is a must-have for any fan of anime music.
Price on Amazon: $8.99 (MP3)
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex dialed up the action for a new story about special operation task force Public Security Section 9 as they face government conspiracy and the aftermath of world wars. Composer Yoko Kanno also came on board for the score, which adds just the right air of mystery to the series’ intriguing world. You can watch the entire collection in one go thanks to this compilation.Price on Amazon: $23.75
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