As network TV dives deep into reruns and reality shows, it's time for us to look at some TV-to-manga adaptations. That's right, everything you'll see here is:
So let's start with one that started as a manga, became a TV show, and then became a manga again.
GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX (Kokaku Kidotai Sutando Aron Conpurekkusu), adapted from the series by Yu Kinutani. First published in 2009 and first published in North America in 2011.
In the futuristic world of New Port City, both bodies and minds can be digitized and mechanized at will. This is something that not only civilians take advantage of, but criminals as well. When such offenses are beyond the scope of the police, the shadowy government group known as Section 9 takes over. Under the leadership of Major Matoko Kusanagi, the Section 9 team must work together to save the prime minister and his staff from a hostage situation while finding the mastermind behind it.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (hereafter shortened to GITS: SAC) is considered by many to be the best iteration of the franchise. It strikes the perfect balance between the transhumanist themes of the original and thrilling police action. Even if you're not familiar with the original manga or Mamoru Oshii's film, this can still be enjoyed as a sci-fi take on a police procedural. I don't blame anyone taking this quality TV show and turning it into a manga. If there's any problem with it, it's that it literally is the TV show transcribed to the page.
That's right, this is the sort of TV-to-manga adaptation that copies its source material line for line and shot for shot. If you've ever seen the first episode of GITS:SAC, you've seen everything this volume has to offer. It's a story that serves as a decent introduction to Section 9 as a whole, but it's not so good for introducing its individual members. The only one who gets anything resembling a proper one is Togusa, the team newcomer who is notable only for his mullet and his lack of cybernetic alterations. Otherwise, it presumes that you already know most of them from the other version of Ghost in the Shell or that you'll stick around long enough to get to the character-driven episodes. Hell, we learn more about the Tachikomas, as this manga comes complete with its own version of Tachikoma Time! It's saying something when the sentient tank robots get more of a spotlight than the freaking Major!
That being said, it's still a really good storyline. It starts off as your standard hostage situation, but as the investigation shifts towards the conspiracy behind the kidnapping the intensity grows. It's perfectly paced, perfectly tense, and incorporates the sci-fi elements of this universe well. It's just simply kind of redundant if you're already a fan of this version, and I can't imagine anyone picking this up unless they were already a fan of the show in the first place.
Again, GITS:SAC managed to find a good balance between Shirow's original designs and more modern (well, modern for the mid-2000s) sensibilities. There are some minor things that I wish were changed (such as the Major's uniform, which is basically a one-piece swimsuit with thigh-highs and a leather jacket), but for the most part it's a look that's aged gracefully. Kinutani does try very hard to stick close to the show's aesthetic...maybe a little bit TOO hard. He tries so hard to keep everything on-model that even mid-assault the characters come off as stiff, like action figures acting out a fight. It's all perfectly fine on a technical level, but it lacks verve.
The source material is great, but this adaptation doesn't add anything meaningful to it other than some mediocre art. Like too many TV-based manga, it will only appeal to those already familiar with the show without stopping to catch the rest of the audience up.
This series is published by Kodansha Comics. This series is ongoing in Japan with 5 volumes available. All 5 have been published and are currently in print.