Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Masamune Shirow

Masamune Shirow
Masamune Shirow (pen name for Masanori Ota) is one of the most popular and influential creators of manga (Japanese comics). He is best known as the creator of Ghost in the Shell, which most Westerners know more from the 2 Anime movies (directed by Mamoru Oshii) and TV show than from the original manga they were adapted from. His other well-known manga include Appleseed and Dominion.

Ghost in the Shell is essentially a cyberpunk (computer oriented science fiction) story and the anime adaptation of it was very influential on popular films like The Matrix. The story is that the Wachowski brothers were running into resistance from the studio when pitching the idea for the original Matrix movie. The Brothers W couldn’t seem to get across to the studio execs what kind of a movie they were trying to make until they sat them down for a showing of Ghost in the Shell and said “We want to make a live action version of something like this.”

Masamune ShirowIn addition to manga stories, Shirow also creates highly-rendered “calendar art” specifically designed to appeal to the prurient interests of young men. It usually features scantily-clad or semi-naked women with exaggerated sexual characteristics, (who may or may not be robots or androids), wielding large high-tech weapons amid gleaming sci-fi trappings and futuristic settings.

Many of his images will be unappealing or downright offensive to some women. Ironically, strong women are the central characters in his comic stories. They are the heroes, the movers and shakers, the ones who make things happen. The men are either supporting characters or the villains.

Shirow’s drawings, even his highly rendered calendar images, have that “anime” cartoon-style look to the faces that many western viewers have trouble accepting: large doll-like eyes, tiny pointed noses and exaggeratedly small mouths and chins. His comics storytelling, however, can be fairly straightforward for Westerners when it has been translated and the images have been “flopped” so the panels read left to right instead of right-to left.

I don’t know of an official Masamune Shirow website, although there is an official Ghost in the Shell site. Here is a Masamune Shirow fan site with information and links, and another Masamune Shirow Hyperpage with info, articles, reviews and fan forums.

Here is a Shirow Gallery of his highly rendered calendar art as part of this French Web magazine Black Hole (see my notice at the end of the post).

Here is an About Shirow page on a British site, and another informational British site on The Art of Shirow.

To read Shirow’s actual manga, start with Ghost In The Shell Volume 1. The recent Ghost In The Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface is also good, but quite different from the original and his other work.

Note: The sites linked here contain sexually oriented material and nudity. Avoid them if you’re likely to be offended.

 

4 thoughts on “Masamune Shirow

  1. manuel paredes

    lo admiro como dibujante genial y fantastico soy un admirador de sus series pero lamentablemente por aca no llegan solamente Ghost in the shell yo vivo en Chile la ciudad es Arica . Yo tambien dibujo he dibujado varias obras suyas .Pero soy solamente aficionado. Me despido atentamente deseandole buena suerte .
    Mi direccion es email hidden; JavaScript is required
    posdata ..tambien soy fisicoculturista.-Chao.

  2. Decatonkeil

    You should have mentioned somethng about his use of CGI for coloring or implementing 3d objects and environments alongside with the hand drawn characters and also that his male characters are not that much like the regular manga/anime designs (while the female characters do have those features, the males have smaller eyes, more wrinkled faces, bigger jaws and noses, etc.).

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