For a more deliberate introduction…
I knew I liked Ghost in the Shell before I saw Ghost in the Shell, or read it, or bought the DVDs. This was the primary inspiration for longtime favorite The Matrix — and even better than The Matrix, its badass female character was front and center (though my love for Keanu Reeves is deep and mysterious). Blade Runner nearly scared me away from cyberpunk, and I didn’t understand a word of Neuromancer the first time I read it, but Ghost in the Shell saved me, pulled me close and said: Hey. It’s okay. You’re kinda dumb. Just pay attention this time.
And apparently I was old enough to do so at that point, though not enough to understand that starting with Oshii’s film was probably the best course of action, as opposed to Solid State Society. But I think that was a matter of what was available to me, and even though you can find the 1995 film on Amazon new for nickels, back then I guess… who knows. These days, pick up the anniversary edition on Blu-Ray Disc.
This was the media property that taught me first that science-fiction could be philosophical, and then second that maybe theme shouldn’t exist solely in dialogue. Ghost in the Shell remains special to me because it’s visually appealing in a niche way — I may love the look of anime like Kill la Kill, but Ghost in the Shell is where I’m from — and it’s full of sociopolitical and philosophical themes, making it essentially the key title to this site’s mission.
The manga is cool, the movies are great, and Stand Alone Complex is transcendent. 2nd Gig is a beautiful and complicated story of civil uprisings, political manipulation, and technological immortality — a stunning epic of televised animation.
I envy Masamune Shirow. He might be a weirdo, but he invented a story premise and world that if I had invented… I’d never do anything ever again. This site discusses sci-fi in general but just know: When I’m talking about other things, I’m always thinking about Ghost in the Shell.
To celebrate the franchise, and the twenty year anniversary of the Oshii film (and the tenth anniversary of Innocence), The Battle Beyond Planet X will be doing a podcast marathon over the next two months covering the major entries in the series, chronologically, beginning with the manga next Monday, and an episode-by-episode review/analysis of every episode of Stand Alone Complex, both seasons. It all leads up to a terminating point in Arise, the latest in the series, and maybe a video retrospective (to lighten the mood).