Animation studio Production I.G has produced several different anime adaptations of Ghost in the Shell, starting with the 1995 film of the same name, telling the story of Section 9's investigation of the Puppet Master. The television series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex followed in 2002, telling an alternate story from the manga and first film, featuring Section 9's investigations of government corruption in the Laughing Man and Individual Eleven incidents. A sequel to the 1995 film, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, was released on 2004. 2013 saw the start of the Ghost in the Shell: Arise original video animation (OVA) series, consisting of four parts through mid-2014. The series was recompiled in early 2015 as a television series titled Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Alternative Architecture, airing with an additional two episodes (one part). An animated feature film produced by most of the Arise staff, titled Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie, was released on June 20, 2015. A live-action American film of the same name was released on March 31, 2017.
Shirow has stated that he had always wanted the title of his manga to be Ghost in the Shell, even in Japan, but his original publishers preferred Mobile Armored Riot Police. He had chosen "Ghost in the Shell" in homage to Arthur Koestler's The Ghost in the Machine, from which he also drew inspiration.
Primarily set in the mid-twenty-first century in the fictional Japanese city of Niihama, Niihama Prefecture (新浜県新浜市, Niihama-ken Niihama-shi), otherwise known as New Port City (ニューポートシティ, Nyū Pōto Shiti), the manga and the many anime adaptations follow the members of Public Security Section 9, a special-operations task-force made up of former military officers and police detectives. Political intrigue and counter-terrorism operations are standard fare for Section 9, but the various actions of corrupt officials, companies, and cyber-criminals in each scenario are unique and require the diverse skills of Section 9's staff to prevent a series of incidents from escalating.
In this post-cyberpunk iteration of a possible future, computer technology has advanced to the point that many members of the public possess cyberbrains, technology that allows them to interface their biological brain with various networks. The level of cyberization varies from simple minimal interfaces to almost complete replacement of the brain with cybernetic parts, in cases of severe trauma. This can also be combined with various levels of prostheses, with a fully prosthetic body enabling a person to become a cyborg. The main character of Ghost in the Shell, Major Motoko Kusanagi, is such a cyborg, having had a terrible accident befall her as a child that ultimately required her to use a full-body prosthesis to house her cyberbrain. This high level of cyberization, however, opens the brain up to attacks from highly skilled hackers, with the most dangerous being those who will hack a person to bend to their whims.
The original Ghost in the Shell manga ran in Japan from April 1989 to November 1990 in Kodansha's manga anthology Young Magazine, and was released in a tankōbon volume on October 5, 1991. Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface followed 1997 for 9 issues in Young Magazine, and was collected in the Ghost in the Shell: Solid Box on December 1, 2000. Four stories from Man-Machine Interface that were not released in tankobon format from previous releases were later collected in Ghost in the Shell 1.5: Human-Error Processor, and was published by Kodansha on July 23, 2003. Several art books have also been published for the manga.
Two animated films based on the original manga have been released, both directed by Mamoru Oshii and animated by Production I.G. Ghost in the Shell was released in 1995 and follows the "Puppet Master" storyline from the manga. It was re-released in 2008 as Ghost in the Shell 2.0 with new audio and updated 3D computer graphics in certain scenes. Innocence, otherwise known as Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, was released in 2004, with its story based on a chapter from the first manga.
On September 5, 2014, it was revealed by Production I.G. that a new Ghost in the Shell animated film, Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (攻殻機動隊 新劇場版) in Japanese, would be released in 2015 promising to show the "further evolution [of the series]". On January 8, 2015, a short teaser trailer was revealed for the project unveiling a redesigned Major more closely resembling her appearance from the older films, and a plot following the Arise continuity of the franchise. The trailer listed Kazuya Nomura as the director, Kazuchika Kise as the general director and character designer, Toru Okubo as the animation director, Tow Ubukata as the screenplay writer and Cornelius as the composer. The film premiered on June 20, 2015, in Japanese theaters.
In 2008, DreamWorks and producer Steven Spielberg acquired the rights to produce a live-action film adaptation of the original Ghost in the Shell manga. On January 24, 2014, Rupert Sanders was announced as director, with a screenplay by William Wheeler. Principal photography on the film began on location in Wellington, New Zealand, on February 1, 2016. In April 2016, the full cast was announced, which included Juliette Binoche, Chin Han, Lasarus Ratuere and Kaori Momoi, and Scarlett Johansson in the lead role; the casting of Johansson drew accusations of whitewashing. Principal photography began in early 2016. Filming wrapped in June 2016. Ghost in the Shell premiered in Tokyo on March 16, 2017, and was released in the United States on March 31, 2017, in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D. It received mixed reviews, with praise for its visuals and Johansson's performance but criticism for its script."
Stand Alone Complex TV series and film
In 2002, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex premiered on Animax, presenting a new telling of Ghost in the Shell independent from the original manga, focusing on Section 9's investigation of the Laughing Man hacker. It was followed in 2004 by a second season titled Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG, which focused on the Individual Eleven terrorist group. The primary storylines of both seasons were compressed into OVAs broadcast as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex The Laughing Man in 2005 and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Individual Eleven in 2006. Also in 2006, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society, featuring Section 9's confrontation with a hacker known as the Puppeteer, was broadcast, serving as a finale to the anime series. The extensive score for the series and its films was composed by Yoko Kanno.
In addition to the anime, a series of published books, two separate manga adaptations, and several video games for consoles and mobile phones have been released for Stand Alone Complex.
Arise OVA and TV series
In 2013, a new iteration of the series titled Ghost in the Shell: Arise premiered, tackling an original look at the Ghost in the Shell world, set before the original manga. It was released as a series of four original video animation (OVA) episodes (with limited theatrical releases) from 2013 to 2014, then recompiled as a 10-episode television series under the title of Kōkaku Kidōtai: Arise - Alternative Architecture. An additional fifth OVA titled Pyrophoric Cult, originally premiering in the Alternative Architecture broadcast as two original episodes, were combined and released on August 26, 2015. Kazuchika Kise served as the chief director of the series, with Tow Ubukata as head writer. Cornelius was brought onto the project to compose the score for the series, with the Major's new voice actress Maaya Sakamoto also providing vocals for certain tracks.
A manga adaptation was serialized in Kodansha's Young Magazine, which started on March 13 and ended on August 26, 2013.
Ghost in the Shell was developed by Exact and released for the PlayStation on July 17, 1997, in Japan by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is a third-person shooter featuring an original storyline where the character plays a rookie member of Section 9. The video game's soundtrack Megatech Body features various electronica artists.
Several video games were also developed to tie into the Stand Alone Complex television series, in addition to a first-person shooter by Nexon and Neople titled Ghost in the Shell: First Assault - Stand Alone Complex Online, released in 2016.
Bungie's famous 2001 3rd-person shooter/platformer/action/adventure game Oni draws substantial inspiration from The Ghost in the Shell setting and characters.
Kodansha and Production I.G announced on April 7, 2017 that Kenji Kamiyama and Shinji Aramaki will be co-directing a new Kōkaku Kidōtai anime production. Its format and release date haven't been announced yet.
Vivienne Chow interprets the film adaptions as symbolizing Hong Kong as a struggling "ghost" seeking to preserve its identity in the wake of its transfer to China.