Those looking for more Motoko Kusanagi
will be disappointed by the stories in Human-Error Processor
, Shirow’s collected work including stories first published by Young Magazine
in the early to mid-nineties. It makes sense, really; the four stories take place after the Puppetmaster incident (when Motoko leaves to explore the vast and infinite net) and before ManMachine Interface
(which is ALL about Motoko, in a weird and somewhat philosophically indulgent kind of way).
In some ways Motoko’s absence makes this similar to Solid State Society
, and there are in fact some elements of the stories that are echoed by that film. For instance, in "Drive Slave" the Major shows up (as Chroma) and helps Batou, although she’s really on her own investigation and the help is entirely coincidental;
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she also shows up at the beginning of the story by herself, standing on top of a building watching over things.
The first story, "Fat Cat," follows Togusa and Azuma as they investigate the case of a woman’s father who is being controlled remotely—and has probably been dead for some time. There’s quite a bit of Aramaki as well, but not Batou. Not the best storytelling in the world, but an interesting story. As with all the stories in HEP, this one’s mostly black and white.
"Drive Slave," the second story, is the only one in which Motoko appears—although not as her old self, nor as the later “Motoko Aramaki” of MMI. As Chroma Aramaki, she is trying to find a missing person being used by terrorists to try to get at a witness that Section 9
happens to be protecting—and hence her interaction with Batou. This is a good story, but it feels like the introduction of something else, something further involving Motoko and Section 9. Maybe Production IG were inspired to create Solid State Society
based on this one.
"Mines of Mind" is probably the most interesting ... Section 9 and Section 6 end up having to work together on a case involving the murders of people linked only by having the same tattoo. Is it a case of illegal arms dealers getting even? A conspiracy? Lots of Batou in this one, and a good story—and it feels complete. This is my favorite.
Finally, "Long Past" begins with the investigation of a woman killed by Section 6, and the deaths of two
Section 6 operatives as they were trying to apprehend her. There’s a lot of running around in this one, culminating in a confrontation between Saito and a sniper somewhat reminiscent of the one in Solid State Society
. This story is my least favorite of the quartet, as it seems to include a lot of running around to make the story more complex, but feels more like being given the run-around just to get to an unsatisfying end.
Overall, these are a fun read, but really don’t have the depth of the first manga or MMI. They do give a larger spotlight to the rest of Section 9, which is good and fleshes out the world, but the stories themselves aren’t as riveting as they could be, or as I know Shirow can create when he’s at the top of his game. A good buy, but if you’re thinking the GitS franchise just has too much in it for you to afford, these can be missed.