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L-R: The Major, The Major, and The Major.
Not Pictured: The Major or The Major.
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Ghost in the Shell is a highly influential Cyberpunk franchise about a cyborg woman that leads an elite Japanese police force. It began with a manga that first started publication in April 1989 and finished publication in November 1990. Since then, the series has spawned multiple adaptations, including movies — both animated and live-action — multiple animated TV series, video games, tie-in novels, and spin-off manga and comics.

In addition to the original manga, there are three subseries that all use the title "Ghost in the Shell", all unrelated from each other outside of being based on the same source material. Each iteration of the series features (mostly) the same cast of characters, the same setting, and explores the same themes of identity, memory, philosophy, and political intrigue.

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Besides the above series, there is also a handful of one-off media:

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This page is for the franchise in general. Please place examples for specific adaptations on their respective pages.


The Ghost in the Shell franchise provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: The protagonist in almost all installments is a cyborg woman named Motoko Kusanagi, the leader of Section 9, an elite special ops police force in Japan. As a cyborg, Kusanagi displays incredible strength and physical resilience, to the point that her teammates, themselves also cyborgs, are frequently left awestruck.
  • Alternate Continuity: Each of the adaptations has its own backstory and interpretation of Section 9 that is incompatible with other adaptations.
  • Cyberpunk: Each installment explores topics of how technology can influence our concept of identity, our memories, and the impact it has on society as a result.
  • Franchise Codifier: The original manga features a consistently comedic tone all throughout thanks to Shirow Masamune's art style allowing for easy and humorous expressions. It was Mamoru Oshii's anime adaptation in 1995 that set the tone of the entire franchise by removing all comedic elements and focusing on heavy philosophy regarding the nature of one's self, human integration with technology, and the meanings of life and artificial intelligence. Every adaptation since have been fairly focused police dramas with only occasional light-hearted comedic elements that happen naturally through the cast's personalities. Most people who know of the GITS franchise through the original movie's heavy impact on popularizing anime to western cultures would be shocked to learn that the original manga is an action comedy and probably could never imagine Major Motoko Kusanagi as being greedy, angry, catty, bitchy, or bashful. Only the PlayStation video game would ever try to recreate the comedy present in the original manga.
  • Full-Conversion Cyborg: Full-body cyborgs are commonplace, with the cybernetically-modified brain (and, at least in the manga, the spinal cord) being the only organic portions remaining. The original anime film's opening credits show Motoko Kusanagi's body being created, and one chapter in the original manga shows a civilian woman going through the entire process, in much greater detail. The practicality of such extensive cyberization is discussed in one chapter, as only having Artificial Limbs limits the amount of work they can do before the stress pulls them off the organic body they're attached to.
  • Gonk: The politicians Aramaki has to interact with are hideous, sometimes barely looking human.
  • Public Domain Artifact: "Motoko Kusanagi" is an acknowledged pseudonym in every iteration of the franchise. The Kusanagi, or "Grass Cutter" is one of the artifacts of the Japanese Imperial Regalia. It's the equivalent of naming someone as "Jane Excalibur" in Western media.
  • Running Gag: Not exactly a gag, but every adaptation is guaranteed to have the Major trying to solo a tank and rip her arms off at the elbows in the process.
  • World War Whatever: As part of the backstory in most of the incarnations, one or more World Wars broke out that ended up reshaping global politics.

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