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Manga / Pandora in the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn

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Nene (right) and Cla-rin Clarion.

It is a time when the world is frequently ravaged by huge natural disasters. A time when members of the general public in technologically-advanced nations began to acquire cyborgs and autonomous robots. In this era, as larger nations engage in cutthroat competition for technology and resources, the gulf between the rich and poor widens. And in this time... something else happens that has nothing to do with any of that. A story begins in which GIRL MEETS GIRL.

Nene Nanakorobi, a full-body cyborg girl, is moving to Cenancle Island to live with her aunt. While on the cruise heading to the island, she meets the eccentric scientist Uzal Delilah and her long-suffering "assistant" Clarion, another full-body cyborg. When terrorists attack the island however, Nene finds herself helping Uzal "defuse" the situation, thanks to being given access to the Pandora device housed in Clarion's body.

At the end of all this, Nene finds herself as Clarion's new "owner"... And she hasn't even managed to find her aunt's home yet!

Illustrated by Koshi Rikudo (of Excel Saga fame), Pandora in the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn (紅殻のパンドラ/Koukaku no Pandora) is a cyberpunk action comedy manga based on an unused concept of Masamune Shirow (designs of which would eventually be re-used in Ghost in the Shell: Arise). It was serialized in Kadokawa Shoten's Newtype Ace magazine, before being moved to Niconico Ace, and is licensed in English by Seven Seas Entertainment.


An anime adaptation by Studio Gokumi was first shown as a movie in theaters on December 2015, before being formally aired during the Winter 2016 Anime season. The anime formally adapts seven and a half volumes (nearly all published material by that point in time) of the manga.

Pandora in the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn features the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Nationality: The terrorist face Uzal is hiding behind is portrayed much more generically in the animé than in the manga original, where he looks much more like an Middle Eastern Islamic terrorist including the flag which is missing from the animé.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Over the course of their little rebellion, Uzal's subordinates activate BUER, an experimental machine, in the hope of it helping them out. The problem is, because the activation code they used was a dummy left by Uzal because something like this might happen, it instead goes berserk , and starts indiscriminately attacking everything in Cenancle Island. The first thing Nene and Clarion have to do is to try and find a way to shut it down.
  • Advertisement:
  • Antiquated Linguistics: BUER's Central Nervous Unit speaks in archaic Japanese, which is usually translated as Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe.
  • Arc Words: "World peace."
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy:
    • Aside from the doll joints and Clarion's Pandora Device hatch, Nene and Clarion's bodies are completely featureless under their clothes.
    • When Takumi took a shower assisted by her Gertsecommas, she was drawn in a Super-Deformed style that made her look a bit like a Weeble, with her body depicted as a featureless cone.
  • Benevolent Boss: The robot thief boss "Mr. Chicken" is not only very protective of his little brother, he also looks out for his other subordinates, as well: He for example refused to take part in an escape attempt from jail unless his other subordinates would be sprung, too.
  • Berserk Button:
    • For Nene: don't do mean things to Clarion and don't make threats, either.
    • Also do not touch Clarion's ears.
    • Don't call cyborgs "things" within earshot of "Mr. Chicken".
  • Big Fancy House: Takumi's mansion looks like a strange cross between a futuristic machine, a Shinto shrine and a Taoist temple. It starts verging on Bizarrchitecture when her underground emergency shelter looks like a perfectly ordinary Japanese bedroom built inside a giant brain.
  • Big Brother Instinct: The robot thief "Mr. Chicken" is very protective of his younger brother "Mr. Fried": When Clarion cut off Fried's cyborg hand for touching her ears, Chicken got extremely angry and ordered his brother and his other subordinates to destroy her instead of seizing her undamaged as attempted earlier (he thought that Nene and Clarion were two very sophisticated and extremely expensive robots; He was thus ready to pass on a very lucrative opportunity as a thief just to take revenge for his brother's cyborg hand). He also pleaded to Clarion to not hurt his brother after Nene caught them later.
    • It is revealed in later chapters that he got into robot theft to pay for better cyborg arms for his little brother and even turned on his escape helper from jail after she said that cyborgs are nothing but "things" because of his little brother having been bullied that way in his childhood.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Nene's favorite video game is "MonBasu for the original DSD." The game is clearly intended to be Monster Hunter (translators of Pandora call it "Monster Bash", but perhaps "Monster Buster" would have been better), and the platform parodies both the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP.
    • Robot thieves were shown to steal a robot dog made by "Pony".
  • Blatant Lies: Suuuuure Uzal, Nene really did pass out that one time, and you didn't do any illegal modifications on her while she was unconscious.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Seven Seas translates the name of Uzal's philanthropic organization as the "Rare Foundation", but considering all of the other Classical Mythology Shout Outs in the series, the name is most likely supposed to be "Rhea".
  • Brain–Computer Interface: The plug-in mental interfaces make their return here from Ghost in the Shell. However, much like full-body prosthesis and cyber-brains, it's a new enough technology that early adopters like Nene's aunt still can't even dream of doing the tricks Major Kusanagi is able to get away with (like having a real-time conversation while participating in a virtual-reality online chat at the same time). Demonstrated in episode 3, where Nene finds Takumi's body catatonic when she's plugged in and "working".
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • The poor reporter who, in every episode so far, just ends up getting herself hurt. She doesn't even get far enough to introduce her name! Verges on Iron Butt Monkey, as her mishaps haven't managed to kill her (permanently anyway; episode 3 shows that she was resuscitated by a paramedic) yet.
    • Also Uzal's unnamed subordinates get abused a lot.
    • BUER, whether it's because of Takumi wanting to dismantle him to find out how he works, or Clarion locking him up in a safe to prevent Takumi from dismantling him, or inflicting Amusing Injuries on him for being a Lovable Sex Maniac.
  • Child Soldiers: Uzal recruits Nene into fighting against various threats and is surprised that she had no combat training in school (the latter adding to the Crapsaccharine World vibe of the setting as it implies that combat training is a normal occurrence in schools even thought it's also implied to be voluntary, at least).
  • City of Adventure: Cenancle Island is shaping up to be this. Special territory-designated island cities sure are common in modern Japanese media.
  • Corrupt Politician: The chairman of the CSGO (Cenancle Self-Governance Organization), Janus North, is shown to be blatantly corrupt.
  • Cosplay: Aside from being underpaid, this was apparently one of the things Uzal did to her Perky Female Minion squad, who were shown to be, among other things, dressed as a Bunny Girl, a Meido, a Miko, an Anime Chinese Girl... It's no wonder they up and revolted.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Cenancle may be a clean, luxurious, high-tech city built on a sunny tropical island, but under the surface it's still a cyberpunk setting, with conflicts over human augmentation and the control of weapons and technology.
  • Credits Gag:
    • In the end credits of every episode, the Butt-Monkey reporter who never manages to say her full name is listed as ブリーーーーー, which can be rendered as "Vli——".
    • Each episode's end credits also contains a different skit in which Nene and Clarion record their "Pandoradio" show.
  • Cute Machines: The Gertsecommas, which look like egg-shaped relations of the Tachikomas from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Oh, and they double as attack drones for Clarion.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Nene literally goes ga-ga over Clarion, and it doesn't take much to get her to cooperate with Uzal's zany scheme because it gives her the chance to be close to Clarion.
    • She has a similar reaction to Phobos, the "sister" of Clarion and a (former (?)) member of the villainous organization "Poseidon".
  • Cyberpunk: Has all the hallmarks of a Masamune Shirow series — cyborgs, advanced AI, mental computer interfaces — with the difference is that Pandora is a comedy.
  • Cyborg: This being born from a Masamune Shirow concept, of course the series features this. It's noted however that full-body cyborgs like Nene are extremely rare, as unlike in Ghost in the Shell, the people of Pandora's setting have shown difficulty in adapting to a mechanized body.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The access port to the Pandora Device is located close to Clarion's crotch, and Nene can only gain the information she needs through her finger. This means that, whenever Nene needs to use the Pandora Device, to other people it looks like she's fingering Clarion (Clarion also starts to blush and moan when Nene is using the device).
    • Takumi trying to touch Clarion's ears against her will, and Clarion's reaction to it, look a lot like attempted rape. This is why Nene got mad and deleted the virtual environment Takumi was running.
    • The third leg of the CNU looks very phallic and even starts to point upwards when Nene shows it her panties as demanded like an erect penis.
    • "Something is ... Entering me!"
    • The automatic maintenance system for Clarion, especially the many manipulators entering her Pandora device port (which is where her crotch would be), remind very much of tentacle porn (in the manga, they even pixelated a panel that would've shown it), an association Nene seemed to have made, as well.
  • The Dragon: Fear, the silent and giant robot that serves as Kurtz's bodyguard.
  • Eagleland: Just like in its inspiration Ghost in the Shell there's an American Empire (also called "Imperial Americana") in this setting, too.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: Nene is so smitten with Clarion that she exhibits an unfortunate lack of curiosity about the situation she's currently in —
    • Uzal told Nene that Clarion is "the same as you," leading Nene to assume that Clarion is another full-body cyborg. But Clarion doesn't need to sleep, always obeys Uzal's directives and doesn't seem to know much about how regular humans live, Takumi only ever refers to her as "Uzal's puppet", Dr. Toto thinks there's something strange about her, and there's an Evil Twin of her working for Poseidon. It makes us question whether Clarion is actually a highly advanced android — she may have the same kind of prosthetic body as Nene, but her brain could be an AI instead of being originally human. It probably wouldn't matter much to Nene if this were the case, since she treats all robots like people anyway.
    • Uzal was running a False Flag Operation so that her dirty work could be blamed on terrorist attacks.
    • Why does Takumi look like a little girl?
  • Expy:
    • Vli—— looks very much like Excel from Excel Saga — they're both hyperactive Butt Monkeys with blonde hair, green eyes and Cute Little Fangs. In the manga, she's in love with her perpetually unseen Bureau Chief like Excel is with Ilpalazzo.
    • Similarly, Chairman Janus North is a black version of Excel Saga's Dr. Kabapu, and his secretary looks like Miss Momochi with glasses.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: "Mr. Chicken" may be a thief, but at least he hates people who see cyborgs as "things" with the fire of a thousand suns (because his little brother, "Mr. Fried", was bullied as a child because of his cyborg arms after he lost his real ones in a car accident).
  • Everything Is Online: "Network disturbance" causes even wheelchairs and medical implants to stop working!
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Lean, the cat belonging to Amy Gilliam, the blonde cyborg girl in episode 6, was able to detect Fear, the (invisible) combat robot of Colonel Kurtz and maybe also to Kurtz himself.
  • Fantastic Racism: Some people hate people cyborgs and some even regard them as "things" and robots (e.g. how Mr. Chicken's little brother Mr. Fried was bullied as a child after he got cyborg arms, how Takumi gets flak for having a cyberbrain or how Altman and others hide their cyberbrain port when they don't need them).
  • Flipping the Bird: The way Uzal's subordinates taunt her when BUER's weirdly-shaped console (a statue of her voluptuous self) was damaged.
  • Fun with Acronyms: It's explained in the manga and the show's website that BUER stands for "Base of Unearth Extra Resources". (For the origin of BUER's name, see Shout-Out below.)
  • Generic Girl: Bunny has a generic-looking face and bob haircut, so it's a Running Gag that nobody recognizes her when she isn't wearing her bunny ears.
  • Goroawase Number:
    • When the Project 2501 surveillance AI tells Nene her name is "25", Nene nicknames her "Niko".
    • Uzal came up with the alias "Saharu" because her ID number when she worked at Poseidon was 386. Similarly, she gave Takumi her name because her ID number was 1093.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: After Ian Kurtz was defeated and apparently killed, the actual Big Bad was revealed to be the villainous organization "Poseidon" who persue a nebulous evil plan called "Apollo Seed Project".
  • Great Offscreen War:
    • At the end of the 20th century, the impact of a giant meteor caused all kinds of global disturbances which lead to a war called "Asian Conflict" and the destruction of Tokyo.
    • A "Third Jinaboku Military Campaign" where Kurtz achieved victory.
    • According to one of the CDF military police members, the American Empire is in the middle of an unspecified "huge war". (Their opponent is implied to be the Munma Holy Republic, also from Appleseed.)
  • Hot Scientist: Uzal certainly fits the bill, with a dash of Mad Scientist. It helps that we're first introduced to her while she's sunbathing in a very skimpy bikini.
  • Hour of Power: While the abilities Nene gains from the Pandora Device are comparatively useful, they also have a time limit.
  • I'm Taking Her Home with Me!: Nene's reaction to Clarion when they first met.
  • Instant Expert:
    • As far as the rare owners of full-body prosthesis, Nene is one of these. As an adepter, she's able to make use of her cyborg body far better than it should be possible. Remember, unlike Ghost in the Shell, full-body cyborgs are still rare, and there are actual cases where the patient's mind simply rejects the mechanical body it was given.
    • A feature of the Pandora Device. Whenever Nene uploads one of the Elpis series commands from Clarion, she instantly gains the ability if not the actual mental knowledge related to a specific skill. See how her body unconsciously expertly loads and aims the handgun she was given despite her saying at the same time that she had no idea how to do so.
  • Jumped at the Call: Really, Nene could have just easily walked away when the initial Cenancle Island attacks happened, but nope, she just had to go back and make sure Clarion was safe.
  • Lighter and Softer: Along with Dominion Tank Police, when compared to Masamune Shirow's other works.
  • Lost in Translation: The reason why Takumi doesn't want to be addressed with "aunt" doesn't carry over well into English: the Japanese word Nene used for "aunt", "obaa-sama", can also mean "grandmother", "granny" or even "old hag".
  • Lovable Sex Maniac:
    • BUER constantly makes hammy soliloquies about flat-chested maidens and inner thighs. This usually results in Clarion crushing his head or breaking his neck.
    • Nene is Flanderized into being this towards Clarion in the "Pandoradio" segments of the end credits.
    • Cenancle is actually a fairly reasonable science fiction setting. The strangest parts of the story's premise — Clarion, the Pandora Device, BUER and the cosplay minion squad — can all be chalked up to Uzal being a pervert.
  • Meaningful Name:
  • Miranda Rights: When Uzal's minions were arrested by the Cenancle police, they were told that as terrorism suspects they had NO right to remain silent or consult a lawyer and would be shot immediately if they resisted.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: What kicks off the plot to begin with — Uzal underpays her employees and forces them to wear embarrassing cosplay, so they decide to take over her systems and rebel while she was away. It... doesn't exactly go as planned.
  • Motive Rant: Kurtz goes on a five-minute long rant in episode 11 about how only the American Empire has the right to impose peace on the rest of the world. Hilariously, all of this was completely ignored by Nene, who was more interested in Clarion's condition.
  • Ms. Exposition: Vli——'s main purpose in the story is to deliver information about events on Cenancle until she gets interrupted by her Butt-Monkey tendencies.
  • Mundane Utility: The Pandora Device's Elpis series commands give Nene the ability to do frankly amazing things, but as shown by episode 4, there's nothing stopping Nene from using it to temporarily become, say, a master chef.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The companies that Nene visits in episode 4 all originated from Ghost in the Shell (in particular, Serano Genomics was the Big Bad in the first season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.)
    • Takumi tries to see if Nene can control a six-armed prototype Hecatonchires body, but it proves to be too difficult for her.
    • The main antagonist, Colonel Kurtz, is a "security adviser" from the American Empire, which originated from Appleseed and also made its presence known in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex's first and second seasons.
    • When Nene pretends to be an android to infiltrate Kurtz's base, she gives her name as "Hanako Dosukoi", which is the alias Excel always uses whenever she disguises herself.
  • The Nicknamer: Nene calles Clarion "Cla-rin", which Seven Seas' translation of the manga writes as "Clara-rin", and Funimation's translation of the anime spells "Cla-ring". She asks the Gertsecommas for their permission to call them "Gercoma-san", even though they're non-sentient.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Clarion is a full-body Robot Cat Girl Ninja Maid. Likewise Nene is a Cyborg Instant Expert pseudo-Magical Girl.
  • No Name Given: Uzal's Perky Female Minions are only ever named by the outfits they wear: Bunny, China, Gym Uniform, Maid, Miko, School Uniform and Leotard. Vli——'s assistants are only referred to as "Camera" and "Mike", even by themselves.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Bunny tends to think "Personal space!" whenever Labrys flirts with her.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The "optical camo" mode that Nene gains whenever she uses the Pandora Device doesn't actually act like the Chameleon Camouflage the term is usually associated with in other Masamune Shirow series. Instead, it's more of a hologram layered over her normal outfit. There's actual Chameleon Camouflage in-series however, but it's instead called "stealth mode", like when used on the Gertsecommas Takumi uses to watch over Nene.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • The "Chicken brothers", the boss of a robot thief gang and his little brother and subordinate, are only known by their nicknames "Mr. Chicken" and "Mr. Fried", which were chosen to fit the chicken theme of their gang (Mr. Chicken also built a flying robot that looks like a chicken and "hatches" egg-shaped flash bang grenades).
    • According to their back story, the names "Takumi", "Sahar Schehera", "Delilah" and implicitly "Uzal" were thought up by Uzal because their names, mere numbers, were boring to her. It is not stated whether they had any "real" names before being given numbers or whether Takumi's family name, Korobase, is fake, too.
  • Panty Shot:
    • The viewer gets treated to a very brief pantyshot of Clarion when she's fighting the excavation robots controlled by Uzal's rebellious subordinates in the first episode and the "Chicken Bros" gang in the seventh.
    • Nene (but not the viewer) gets treated to a pantyshot of Clarion when a dog flips her over.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Nobody seems to recognize Nene and Clarion when the Optical Camo feature of the Pandora Device changes their outfits.
  • Potty Failure/Bring My Brown Pants: Janus North almost shat himself when he was stuck in an elevator with our two heroes and his secretary (it is not quite clear whether it was due to stress, old age or/and illness, but judging by the reaction of his secretary, it wasn't his first time having this kinda problems).
  • Reality Ensues: While Pandora is primarily a comedy, it's hard to laugh off the fact that countless people died during the chaos that ensued at Cenancle Island, as shown by the lifeless bodies lying around the resident Butt-Monkey reporter when she's revived by paramedics. Even the news feeds that followed the incident were uncomfortably similar to what would normally be shown after real-life terror attacks too.
  • Robosexual: Nene, if Clarion (and Phobos) really are robots and not cyborgs.
  • Schedule Fanatic: Colonel Kurtz always carries a pocketwatch and constantly reprimands people for being late.
  • Shout-Out:
    • BUER's Central Nervous Unit is based on the Goetic demon Buer, who is usually depicted with five goat legs and the head of a lion.
    • His boring machine body is a giant black eyeball that resembles the "Voglersphere" from the Giant Robo OVA.
    • Masamune Shirow's fondness for Classical Mythology continues to be evident here: there's the symbolism associated with Pandora's box, the cruise ship that takes Nene to Cenancle is called the Epimetheus, districts in Cenancle are named Area Vulcan, Area Mercury and Area Charon, and Vli——'s rival TV personality is named Proserpina. Cenancle is a volcanic island, and the crater bay in its center is called Ennosigaios (Earth Shaker, an epithet of Poseidon.)
    • Clarion is often drawn as a cat-shaped silhouette, which looks like a white version of Chiyo's dad.
    • The eyecatch of the series parodies the opening of Sazae-san.
    • Takumi's hair decoration looks suspiciously like the logo of Microsoft Windows.
    • Colonel Ian Kurtz may be a reference to Colonel Walter Kurtz.
    • There's a Shout-Out Theme Naming trend of side characters being named after movie directors: Captain Robert Altman of the Cenancle Defense Force, Amy Gilliam (after Terry Gilliam's first daughter) and her cat Lean. Amy says in Vol. 4 of the manga that the three boys who hang out with her are named David, Steven and James. Vol. 6 confirms that David's last name is Lynch and shows some other names on Amy's contact list: Dan O'Bannon, Darren Aronofsky, David Paul Cronenberg and David Wark Griffith.
    • When BUER's secret stash is inadvertently revealed to the whole world by Kurtz, the person shown representing the Germans browsing the net at that point is U-511 from KanColle.
    • The jail the employees of Uzal are transferred to is called Sisyphus Correctional Facility (most likely because the Sisyphus from myth was sentenced to an endless and pointless task as punishment).
    • The Gertsecommas look as if they were also inspired by the gun turret robots in Portal.
    • Being stuck in a garbage disposal unit in the enemies base and trying to hack the base's computer system to avoid being killed in the garbage disposal process? That's what happened to Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and Leia in A New Hope, too!
    • Fear resembles Sunny Wong from R.O.D the TV (their appearance and that both are powerful minions of the antagonist and were created rather than born).
    • The BUER avatar starts talking about a Cruel Maiden Angel's Thesis after Nene frees him from the safe Clarion put him in.
    • In the manga, during "Bunny's" explanation about the Imperial American garbage incinerator, we see a Vault Boy! The Vault Boy is seen later again in a commercial for a cola brand.
    • Colonel Kurtz at some point started to rant how he is a "god of the new world" trying to create an utopia by rather bloody means, resembling Light Yagami to a frightening degree.
    • Vli— thinks she'll undergo some kinda transformation and be something like Dio Brando, a super saiyan or Madoka after her apotheosis.
  • Something Else Also Rises: BUER frequently raises his fifth leg as if it were an erect penis.
  • Spider Tank: The Shinokaomi, shown in the OP and ridden by Clarion when she attacks the American Imperial forces in Uzal's underground base. Think of it as a bigger red relation of the Tachikomas, again.
  • The Stoic: Kurtz.
  • The Thing That Goes "Doink": Takumi has one in the courtyard of her mansion.
  • Third-Person Person: Both Clarion and Takumi refer to themselves in the third person occasionally.
  • Transformation Sequence: Nene gains a Magical Girl-esque transformation sequence thanks to the Optical Camo Mode installed into her by Uzal. The outfit she ends up wearing, by the way, wouldn't look out of the place in one of Sheryl Nome's concerts.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: If Nene says "MonBasu 4" (see Bland-Name Product above) is over 20 years old, and it's supposed to represent Monster Hunter 4 which came out in 2013, then this story is probably set after 2033.
  • Unusual User Interface: Nene soon learns that the reboot system to BUER happens to be... multiple statues of Uzal in various parodies of famous sculptures. Even Clarion is visibly disgusted when she finds out.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means/Well-Intentioned Extremist: The later chapters reveal that the villainous organization "Poseidon" seem to pursue some kind of utopia (the utopia or the plan to achieve it is called Apollo Seed Project), but they think it is only achievable by conquering the world by any means.
  • Verbal Tic: Takumi has a very particular way of speaking, ~daya. A clip compilation is available here.
    • Both Seven Seas and Funimation translate this by having her end her sentences with "Yeah!"
  • Wave-Motion Gun: What BUER was equipped with. It should tell you a lot about who Uzal really is when what's supposed to be an earth boring machine is equipped with a battleship-grade plasma cannon.
    • A smaller version is introduced later on, the Yatsukahagi, which is mounted on the Shinokaomi. It gets used to blast through one of the bulkheads in Uzal's base.
  • You Don't Look Like You: Masamune Shirow's initial concept art looks nothing like the final product that Rikudo came up with. Observe. As noted in the article description, many of these designs eventually do get re-used, but for Ghost in the Shell: Arise instead.
  • Yuri Genre: See the page quote.note 

Alternative Title(s): Koukaku No Pandora


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