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Archive for August 11th, 2012

By Bob Clark

In the West, the thirty-year vet manga artist Masamune Shirow is known mainly for spawning the Ghost in the Shell series, adapted for animation in critically acclaimed films and television shows by Mamoru Oshii and Kenji Kamiyama, respectively. Besides that work, he’s gained a solid, if somewhat suspicious reputation as one of the defining and most influential artists in his field over the past several decades, with a breadth of work in comics and illustration that’s hard to match. Granted, much of his most recent work has tended towards the pornographic, and even in his less openly erotic works there’s usually little to inhibit the self-gratification impulse prevalent in his stories and characters– nearly all of his high-concept sci-fi escapades revolve around dishy badass chicks who discharge explosive military weaponry first and disrobe for some kinky R&R later. In his best works, this is paired with a genuinely thoughtful introspection on philosophical and political themes, making fine use of police and military genres as well as high-tech cyberpunk, at times rising to become some of the most visionary and impressive critiques of 1980’s culture from almost every conceivable angle. At his best, Shirow makes sure to cover all the bases (sexual and otherwise), and in its first two books, Appleseed stands as some of his most impressive work, perhaps even more so than his classic Ghost in the Shell. But then, in the case of this manga, it helps that there’s nothing to outshine the original in quite the same way as Oshii and Kamiyama’s animation.

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