Tomorrow will see the release of the newest instalment in the Ghost in the Shell franchise: Ghost in the Shell: Arise. But this isn’t the Ghost in the Shell you remember -- not visually at least.
While all the characters you know and love are recognisable -- though younger as this is a prequel -- fans of the two TV series and the movie Solid State Society will no doubt feel that this version of the Major looks nothing like the one they are used to. And they are right. But Ghost in the Shell is one of those franchises where the characters can -- and have had -- drastic changes to their character designs.
So let’s look through the character designs of the four major characters -- Major Kusanagi, Batou, Togusa and Chief Aramaki -- as they appear in the original manga, Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society and, finally, Ghost in the Shell: Arise.
The Major has no doubt had the most drastic character design changes. But what’s most interesting about her Arise design is how similar her facial features are to her counterpart from the 1995 film. As Arise is a prequel, it makes sense to go back to a design reminiscent of the film that made Ghost in the Shell world-famous.
There are a lot of constants in Batou’s design -- the cyborg eyes, the constant frown -- but what does change is his hair. Sometimes it short and spikey, sometimes it’s long and tied back in a ponytail, and sometimes it somewhere in between. It seems that is the only aspect of his design -- other than his clothes -- that isn’t resistant to change.
But as little as Batou has changed across the iterations, Togusa has changed even less. He’s always got the bangs and mullet and is constantly wearing suit pants with a matching jacket. But on a meta note, I really like that the one guy with the least amount of cybernetics remains the most constant throughout the franchise.
When it comes to Aramaki’s character design, it’s all about the hair. In some iterations, it’s slightly poofy. In others it’s a force of nature that even gravity is powerless against. In Solid State Society, I’m tempted to think it is growing into its own life form. I mean it clearly has ribs.
And here’s the rest of the cast in their Stand Alone Complex, Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG, and Arise iterations for your review.
Ghost in the Shell: Arise border 1: Ghost Pain will be released in Japanese theatres on June 22, 2013. No international release date has been announced but the Japanese Blu-rays, which include English subtitles, will be released on July 26, 2013.