Ghost in the Shell (攻殻機動隊 Kōkaku Kidōtai?, Mobile Armoured Riot Police) is a Japanese science fiction manga created by Masamune Shirow originally released in 8 separate issues. He followed it up by Ghost in the Shell 2: Man/Machine Interface and more recently by Ghost in the Shell 1.5: Human Error Processor.
The manga is notable for the proliferation of footnotes and commentary by Shirow himself on both the technology and the socio-political background of the setting (in the complete, English language graphic novel edition, these take up more than 30 pages).
The overarching story of the manga is of Major Motoko Kusanagi's hunt for a cyber-criminal, The Puppeteer (known as The Puppet Master in the film), whose real identity is unknown. The Puppeteer commits a large number of crimes through a single modus operandi: "ghost hacking", that is, breaking into and taking control of human minds. As the agents of Public Security Section 9 start to unravel the mystery of the Puppeteer, it becomes clear that it is no ordinary criminal, but a unique autonomous artificial intelligence project (Top Secret Project 2501) created by another government agency, the Treaty Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), also known as Section 6. The Puppeteer escapes Section 6's control in pursuit of his evolution through merging with Kusanagi. Kusanagi, although initially skeptical, finally agrees to allow the Puppeteer to merge with her own consciousness, sharing her body, in what is no doubt intended to raise even more questions about the nature of human identity in a world where human consciousness is no longer unique.
The chapters have the date in DD-MM-YYYY format next to the title except for chapters 1, 4 and 5.
As of 2008 DreamWorks acquired the rights to produce a 3-D live action film adaptation of the original manga with Steven Spielberg tipping the scales in DreamWorks favor. So far Avi Arad and Steven Paul are confirmed producers and Jamie Moss will be adapting the manga into a screenplay.
- The Ghost In The Shell (Kokaku Kidotai) : Publisher: Kodansha (KCDX) ISBN 4-06-313248-X C9979 Release: 5 October 1991, original Japanese
- Ghost In The Shell (English Edition) : Publisher: Dark Horse Comics / Studio Proteus ISBN 1-56971-081-3, Release: December 1995, English adaptation