*This Section needs major re-working (hopefully I can do it soon!) - Lucas 30th Jun. 01
Who is Masamune Shirow? Honestly, I am not sure myself. The name 'Masamune Shirow' is just a pseudonym to a person of immense talent and creativity, not to mention his great artistic ability. An extremely private person, Shirow has yet to make a public appearance or let himself be photographed for publications. So I guess fans will have to make do with the 'Octopus' self-potraits... Let's respect Shirow's privacy by not probing any deeper but focus on his astonishing works instead!
Arguably one of the best Science Fiction manga-ka, Shirow's pro manga debut was Black Magic, which he wrote, drew and published for the fanzine Atlas during his University years. Upon graduation Shirow went on to teach art in a high school, where he created Appleseed, the first volume published in 1985. Appleseed went on to become a huge success, earning Shirow a Galaxy Award for best Science fiction Comic in 1986. It continued to be Shirow's 'life work' with 4 volumes published as of 1989, and promises of more to come. Since, Shirow's popularity has grown, with his works translated and published worlwide.
Most of his works were also adapted for animation and games. Among the notable ones are the Dominion Tank Police anime series and Ghost In The Shell, which has been made into a hugely successful movie and an excellent Playstation game. However, Shirow has been openly expressing his dissatisfaction with the anime industry as being discriminating towards manga-kas, and prefers to work alone, as an illustrator rather than on projects that involves teamwork. Most of the time his involvement in anime and games are minimal, and more often just doing character and conceptual designs.
Shirow's works reflects on his extensive reading and the huge influence of spiders and other crustacians is apparent in his designs. Medicine, general science, supernatural stuff, philosophy, military strategies, mythology, biology, nanotechnology, sword-fights, even comedy, Shirow knows it all, well except for maybe 'school-type' romance (Hm. Maybe not! I am sure Shirow is quite capable of this theme if he wants to be)...
Another interesting fact is that Shirow is a one-man show, working without assistants and doing everything practically all by himself, except for a brief stint with an assistant, Hagane Kotetsu, who is still a good friend. Considering that he works alone, writing all his stories and illustrating every piece (right down to inking, screen toning and ready-to-publish form) it is understandable that Shirow's works tend to takes a long time to be ready for publishing.
I once read in an article about Shirow a comment: 'It is better to wait some time for a new, unique and interesting Shirow manga, rather than hurrying and ending up with a lot of standard, predictable mangas'. And I think this is very true! Let's hope Shirow has many more creative ideas and superb art in store for fans! Also, although I admit his 'one-shot' works are pretty hard to track down, do try out one of his mangas (If you don't already have!). Its worth it!
More about Shirow's person? Track down some of the English interviews.
Side Note on Resources:
This is Shirow's number one publisher. Seishinsha is an indpendent publishing house based in Osaka, where Shirow first publishes his works, and has continued to do so. Visit their website which hosts the Official Masamune Shirow Goods, News and Events page (well for Seishinsha publications that is) which you would find very useful! Also, while you're there, pick up the Shirow images from the Data Library (strictly for personal use, mind you!). If you have any queries, write to the good folks at Seishinsha, firstname.lastname@example.org. Preferrably in Japanese.
Kodansha is one of the big mainstream publishers in Japan. They publish numerous manga series and also those weeklies, including Young Magazine in which Shirow's Ghost In The Shell was first serialized. Shirow also does quite a lot of one shot short mangas in this magazine. So, do visit. There might be something new!
Studio Proteus Online
You NEED this company! Studio Proteus has been doing translations, touch-ups and publishing (most of the time with Dark Horse Comics) manga series and gives meaning to those kanji text that always leaves people like me staring in awe at those pictures and can't do anything else. They are really good and also they do all the English Shirow translations. So visit the website for more infos (check out the FAQs and fan feedbacks for answers to your questions, if not drop them e-mail). Also, updates on what's coming up!
Dark Horse Online
Dark Horse Comics. They publish, in conjunction with Studio Proteus, the English versions of Masamune Shirow books. Visit the website for informations on back issues, and how to get them. Currently they are carrying a very good selection of manga titles.
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