After paying money I will never get back for the disappointment that is 2017's Ghost in the Shell, I realized that it hadn’t scratched my itch for a Tokyo-esque sci-fi tech opera. It delivered, mostly, on the dystopian vision of Tokyo that Io9's Evan Narcisse called “futureshock design porn.” But while its setting contained infinite storytelling possibilities, Ghost in the Shell tapped into few of them. Leaving the theater, I felt awfully unsatisfied.
So, this weekend, I returned to Tokyo Ghost. It’s a current sci-fi comic by Rick Remender and Sean Murphy about how technology changes what it means to be human. A lot of it takes place in 2089 Los Angeles, where constables Led Dent and Debbie Decay chase down hacker criminals in a world where humans are hackable. It’s very William Gibson, where Dent’s tech addiction, mirroring the modern heroin epidemic, has him “plugged in” to dozens of feeds constantly. For her part, Decay is a rare, unfettered technophobe.
On an assignment, they travel to the “garden nation” of Tokyo, the only nation that hasn’t succumbed to tech-mania. There, Dent’s feed addiction and Debbie’s tech aversion lead them along different, and mutually exclusive, paths. Tokyo Ghost then becomes a story of love, forgiveness and ideology.
Tokyo Ghost hits a lot of the same themes that Ghost in the Shell nods toward, but with a more fleshed-out world and characters better suited to explore it.
If you’ve already watched the original 1995 Ghost in the Shell—this is step one—and want a fresher take on what it means for humans to be hackable, check out this comic.