Bandai Entertainment announced the acquisition of North American broadcast and video rights to Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex, an anime TV series that functions as a sequel to and extension of the original (1995) Ghost In The Shell anime.   Masamune Shirow, who wrote the manga that provided the basis for the original Ghost In The Shell film, also provided the narrative basis for the TV series, which is being produced in Japan by Production I.G., the same studio that released the original Ghost In the Shell film as well as Jin-Roh and Love Hina.  The series is currently in production and has not yet been broadcast in Japan.  One other key credit to note is Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop, Escaflowne), who is writing the music for Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and whose presence is sure to get the attention of American anime fans.


Since Ghost In The Shell was one of the best-selling anime properties of the 1990s, the reappearance of the sexy Major Motoko Kusanagi is very good news indeed.  Dark Horse Comics recently announced that it was publishing a new installment of the Ghost In The Shell manga series (see 'Ghost In the Shell II Due In October'), while several toy companies displayed Ghost in the Shell II action figures and statues at this year's Toy Fair (see 'Toycom's Anime Offerings' and 'N2 Waits For Tick Verdict').  In addition to creating new products ranging from DVDs to apparel, the re-emergence of the property should also lead to additional sales of the original Ghost In The Shell manga trade paperback from Dark Horse and the DVD of the original film, which is still available from Manga Entertainment.


A journal documenting the progress of the new series on the Production I.G. web site shows director Kenji Kamiyama editing the tenth episode of the series, indicating that production is far along on the first season.  In an interview posted on the site Kamiyama talks about the differences between movie and TV animation: 'This series is based on a TV format, so it is only natural that it looks different from the past works of I.G., but I still think that our quality is unbelievably high.' Kamiyama also talks about the differences between eastern and western animation, 'I believe that the roots of eastern and western animation are the same, but the circumstances where the two were brought up might differ.  In Japan, animation is not considered something for children. That might be the major difference now.'


That difference could present problems for Bandai in getting TV exposure for the Ghost In the Shell series, but the original Ghost in the Shell film has been shown numerous times on American cable TV networks.  If Stand Alone Complex is too adult for the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim Block, then surely some other cable network will take advantage of this opportunity.  It should be interesting to see what kind of an American TV setting Bandai will manage to secure for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex -- and to see how big a gap there will be between when the series bows in Japan and when it finds it way on to U.S. screens.