In this brilliant and difficult sequel, Masamune revisits the future, cyborg-dominated world detailed in the original manga. While Batou, the gruff cyber-security operative from volume one, makes an appearance, this new work is more of a meditation on the first book's central theme-the melding of cybernetic technology, human personality and the spiritual "ghost" or life force at its essence-than a continuation of the original story. Book one ended after Major Kusanagi, Batou's sexy cyborg commander, downloaded her "self" into a bodiless, "self-aware" artificial intelligence. Now Masamune focuses on another beautiful cyborg, Motoko Aramaki, chief security officer for a giant multinational conglomerate. Aramaki digitally transfers her personality and capabilities between cyborg bodies stashed around the world, as she attacks industrial spies, assassins and cyber-hackers while keeping up a steady stream of digital communications with various robotic assistants and her secretary back at the office. Once again Masamune attempts to assay the virtual terrain where technological entities meet the essence of human spirituality, connecting the mythology of sci-fi machinery to both the metaphysics of religion and the timeless allure and complexity of Asian creation-myths. The color and b&w graphics are stunning, brilliantly evoking the nonvisual world of data transmission. While his story can be confusing, Masamune has created one of the most thoughtful and gorgeous manga ever produced. (Jan.) FYI: Although the plots are different, this book is linked to two acclaimed anime releases, Ghost in the Shell: Innocence (on DVD); and GITS: Standalone Complex (broadcast on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim). Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.