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Archive for December 17th, 2011

By Bob Clark

Masamune Shirow is a curious mangaka to study in terms of the total body of his career. Today, he’s mostly known for the franchises of anime films and television series his comics have sired– even without considering the subject of this article, the likes of Appleseed, DominionTank Police and Ghost Hound would be a tidy, respectable impact on the otaku community, to say the least (at the very least, a reasonably profitable one). Those works mostly lived in much of the same futuristic entertainment/fantasia element that a lot of manga and anime aim at, providing wholly imagined worlds tethered just enough to our present-day circumstances to feel recognizable and contemporary, even while projecting themselves and the scope of their intrigues at a scale that would far exceed even some of the most high-concept of big-budget Hollywood sci-fi spectacles. The first two works also share in common a strict adherence to the police procedural genre, following special tactical cop forces as they seek to maintain order in worlds decimated by some series of far-flung apocalyptic disasters, dictatorial dystopian states or an out-of-control criminal element consisting mainly of twin cat-girl bombshells (or, of course, all of the above). Shirow’s use of the model is something you see a lot in sci-fi, and works in anime and manga especially, where you can detect a faint aura of militarist wish-fulfillment in all of the high-tech weaponry that the various detectives and officers have at their disposal and the ways in which they’re used in cases of high international intrigue throughout their city-wide beats– Japan may not have a standing army that can fight wars overseas anymore, but there’s always ways to bring the war home and fight it with just the same kind of hardware, especially in the information age.

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