Dark Horse Comics has announced that it will publish the first installment of Masamune Shirow's Ghost In The Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface in October. Shirow's original Ghost in the Shell manga, which spawned the remarkable anime version directed by Mamoru Oshii, has to be one of the most influential manga titles of the past decade. Now Dark Horse is readying the first English language edition of Shirow's sequel to his most famous work. The American edition of Ghost in the Shell 2 will feature 100 pages of new art and story created since the Japanese version was published.
The price and exact format of Dark Horse's Ghost in the Shell 2 comic series are still unknown at this time. Also up in the air is the fate of the 'adult' edition of Ghost in the Shell 2. The Japanese hardcover edition of Ghost in the Shell 2 included a very risqu? sequence that Shirow toned down considerably for the regular Japanese trade paperback release. Originally Dark Horse had hoped to publish an 'adult' version of Ghost in the Shell 2 that would be even rougher than the Japanese hardcover edition, but according to the Studio Proteus website (Studio Proteus translates and adapts manga titles for Dark Horse), Shirow is waffling on putting out the 'adult' version of his story in the US. Of course Dark Horse was always planning on publishing a regular 'non-adult' edition of Ghost in the Shell 2 that would be roughly equivalent to the Japanese trade paperback, and that may end up as the only US edition, though it will be supplemented with additional Ghost in the Shell material that Shirow has created since the publication of the Japanese trade paperback edition.
The publication of a new Ghost in the Shell manga should provide new opportunities for retailers to merchandise the original Ghost in the Shell trade paperback, which remains one of Dark Horse's most popular collections. Toys based on Ghost in the Shell 2 should be available from Toycom (see 'Toycom's Anime Offerings') and N2 (see 'N2 Awaits Tick Verdict'), and Ghost in the Shell apparel items, which sold extremely well in the wake of the release of the Ghost in the Shell anime, should also be available later this year. The anime version of Ghost in the Shell 2 is still several years away, but the Dark Horse Comics release of the second Ghost in the Shell manga series should start to stoke the fires under what has been one of the strongest anime properties in the US market.