I’m 20 years late, but I finally finished Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, which I first started watching all the way back in 2002 (!). Its detective-story approach to the GitS franchise allows it to deliver its cyberpunk world in a fairly straightforward manner that doesn’t necessarily require an inherent love of science fiction. At the same time, it still explores the central concepts of GitS (like the question of identity in a world where fully artificial bodies are ubiquitous) effectively.
But watching SAC has me thinking about just how different each iteration of Ghost in the Shell is. It makes me feel that almost everyone will naturally and firmly gravitate towards a particular flavor of GitS, even though they’re thematically of the same realm. The original manga by Shirow Masamune revels in the slick aesthetic of its futuristic technology (and dials up the horny to 11). The films by Oshii Mamoru famously dwell on the philosophical implications of its world, with the second film, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, being even more heavily geared in that direction to the point that one can argue that there’s a breaking point at that sequel. I haven’t watched Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045, but I have noticed disappointment, and I wonder if it’s because SAC 2045 is yet another noticeably different interpretation.
Though I say that people are likely to pick one version as their absolute favorite, I actually have trouble deciding for myself. I think this has to do with each GitS delivering a substantially different experience, and I find a type of fulfillment in each. Maybe I’m one of those folks who just loves science fiction as a whole.