Direction: Right to Left
by: Yu Kinutani
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Genre: Shounen, Action
Stand Alone Complex takes place in the year 2030, in the fictional Japanese city of New Port. The story follows the members of Public Security Section 9, a special-operations task-force made up of former military officers and police detectives. The manga presents individual cases that Section 9 investigates, along with an ongoing, more serious investigation into the serial killer and hacker known only as "The Laughing Man."
When a high-ranking government official is kidnapped, the Prime Minister must call in his top crime fighting force known as Section 9. Lead by the beautiful (and deadly) Major Kusanagi, the cybernetically enhanced squad must use all their skill to take down the kidnappers and rescue the hostages. But that’s only half of the mission; can Kusanagi and company find out who’s behind the kidnapping, and, more importantly, just what they’re after? Find out in this thrilling first volume of The Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex!
Chief Aramaki runs Section 9. He’s a career police man who believes in getting the bad guy regardless of their station in life. He’s devoted to the law of the land, but doesn’t mind bending it a little if it means the objective is achieved. He’s a man of few words, but is devoted to his staff and goes out of his way to protect them when things go bad.
Kusanagi Motoko, more commonly known as “Major”, leads the front line force of Section 9. Not much is ever really revealed about who she is, though we do get some snippets now and again. The Major is like the Chief in that she always gets the person she’s after, however she Doesn’t mind breaking laws in the process, especially if the people she’s after are hiding behind their money and station.
Bato is the Major’s second in command and has a very odd relationship with her. At times it’s blatantly obvious that he has feelings for her, but then at others it’s nothing more than “friendship”. This gives for some great interactions between the two. Like Motoko he’s a full cyborg, though in his case he had his done by the military. He’s got an interesting sense of humour, as well as few odd traits. For example he’s a habit of spending his money on weight lifting equipment even though he’s a full cyborg and doesn’t need it. He also has a strong relationship with the Think-tank’s they use, mobile tanks with built in self aware and adapting AI. His relationship with them leads to a few problems.
I don’t care what anyone else says, this is how you adapt anime into manga. Usually when they decide to adapt anime into a manga they do so in a horrific way. Trying to milk the cash cow for as much as they can, we get a series of maybe two or three volumes. The content is generally only loosely related to the anime, and highly unsatisfying.
This time however Production I.G, the company behind the manga, have hit on a winning format. They threw the usual method out the way and seem to be going for a one episode one volume approach. If they follow through on this, and do both season (both the First and Second GIG), we could potentially end up with a series running for a whopping fifty-two volumes, though I don’t really see it doing so.
This first volume of the series covers the first episode of the anime, and does it spectacularly. Yu’s art in the volume is perfect. Granted there are some subtle differences in the character designs, but you’ll get those always when different people do the same drawing.
However in general the art is superb!! The settings are all recreated really well, with the flow taken into account. It’s clear that Yu has actually watched the anime to get a feel for the style and settings, and used it frequently as a reference tool.
The story is also pretty much a carbon copy of the anime, though, I have to admit to a minor niggle here. The manga does change certain things, nothing major or enough ruin the story. However if you’ve watched the anime recently you will be left with a frown at times. The story of the first volume does however work well.
One bit I found a little frustrating was the repeating panels. Since the series (I’m guessing), originally was serialised the last page of each chapter is basically copied over to the first page of the subsequent chapter. This works well in serialisation, since it lets you get right back into the story. However in a completed manga volume this would have been better edited out. Since manga volumes usually do end up having some editing and changes over the serial, it wouldn’t have been that much of a stretch (I thinks lol).
The other bit I have a qualm over is possibly the way it was edited. In the anime there’s a lot of informality and banter between the characters. A lot of this is lost in the formal way they talk to each other. This also means some of the humour used isn’t as funny as it was in the anime.
However that’s really just a small thing, it’s not a show stopper. Their use of fonts was well chosen and handled with no issues at all on the reading front. Each font is clear, and easy to understand, as well as easy to differentiate between speech and cybercoms.
Another aspect is something I’m in two minds over as well. When Kodansha re-released the original Ghost in the Shell it was huge, way oversized. This was both good and bad for different reasons. This volume however was released as normal manga size, and I now wonder if an oversized version wouldn’t have been good. Weird isn’t it, when you get something one way you want it another, but when you get it that way you want it back the other lol.
The final thing I noticed is the price is a little higher than you’d usually pay for a manga. Though it’s not overly priced, and still a well worth investment.
All told this is the first anime adaptation I’ve read that I can honestly say it’s amazing. Well worth getting into and investing, and one I’m hoping will run for fifty-two volumes of epic Stand Alone Complex goodness!!