I’ve always liked the Ghost in the Shell franchise for investigating philosophy of the mind and human experiences through the use of cybertechnology and digitizing brain functions, things we will eventually have to confront as technology becomes more prevalent and invasive in our daily lives.
This particular work, “The Lost Memory”, focuses on how, due to the advancement of sensory recording technology memories, experiences can spark similar people to be unknowningly influenced into attacking the government. Something that was initially written off as male teenage rebellion turns into something more serious and more complicated when Section 9 investigates cyberbrain data from a captured suspect.
In the year 2030, having a cyberbrain is pretty much a necessity in order to succeed in society. Yo Kazei (16) had been diagnosed Cyberbrain Maladaptive and only recently been cyberized thanks to advances in technology. There have been a series of terrorist attacks over the past two years that have committed by teenagers. Those who carried out these attacks are collectively known as the Good Morning Terrorists and the latest incident involved Kazei’s roommate Shikawa! Section 9 is determined to find out what is provoking these adolescents to act violently and why their sights are set on Middle Eastern ambassador Najif for their next attack.
The prose itself was laid out well as the chapters’ focus alternated between Motoko and Kazei until they crossed paths at the end. This let the author express the boy’s feelings as he falls deeper into the plot. The descriptions was detailed enough to allow me to imagine how it would work if it were to be animated.
The idea of seeing someone else’s memories is a little unnerving at first. Going even further and actually experiencing what the person smelled and touched to the extent you actually think it’s happening to you is a very creepy concept. In this future of GitS, there are places called Dreameries where you can experience manufactured dreams; the shadier establishments offer Realies taken from real people’s cyberbrains to customers looking for more thrilling, raw content. Kazei visits a Dreamery with his schoolmate Takegawa and expects to get an “adult” Realie. He does at the start but then he finds himself in a falling airplane and calling out to his mother. He freaks out and leaves the joint but the “dream” fragment still remains with him and seeps into his subconscious.
Unfortunately the translation process was not entirely perfect and there were two minor errors I noticed when reading. There was an incorrect verb tense typo (“he protected Najif…by shielded him with his own body”) on pg 163 and a typo (“Just has she’d told Togusa”) on pg 185. I hope these kinds of mishaps don’t occur in the next novel.
Overall, I thought it was a pretty good novelization that kept me interested until the end. The author, Junichi Fujisaku, gave some background on why Motoko has a cybernetic body and the Laughing Man incident for those who did not watch the anime but are still interested in the cyberpunk genre. The way the pieces were gradually revealed were interesting. But the book delivered pretty much the same as a standard Ghost in the Shell multi-episode arc. It was probably intended like that but I was left wanting more, slightly unsatified.
The teasing text on the back cover says that what Motoko “discovers will shake Section 9 to its core”. The scope and final details of the terrorist plot was unexpected but nobody at Section 9 was involved or seemed disturbed by what happened. Rather it was a higher-up in the military who the terrorists were angry at. I suppose it is just “fluffing” on the part of DH Press, a division of Dark Horse Comics. The phrase “shake X to its/their core” is overused in the promotion of written and cinematic works involving conspiracies and PR people should come with a better, less cheesier phrase.
Recommended for fans of the series and worth a look for readers of mysteries or cyberpunk.