(by Killtopia creator/writer Dave Cook)

-originally posted on the Killtopia Facebook page

This is the first in a series of posts that look at the key cultural influences on our comic series Killtopia, starting with the anime juggernaut Ghost in the Shell.

I remember first watching Ghost in the Shell back around 2003 (I was an anime late bloomer), and initially being confused by the philosophy around it – what did it mean to be human? Do machines have the capacity to feel? and so on.

I was more of a straight up action kind of guy back then, but today I love a bit of deep thinking, philosophical debate and narrative ambiguity. Basically, give me a story where I can think, interpret and see things in my own personal way and I’m happy.

And that’s what Ghost in the Shell became for me after a few viewings. On the surface (and once you have a firm handle on the plot) it seems quite straightforward – the tale of something mechanic given sentience, a digital being that yearns for freedom beyond physical constructs.

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The whole concept of leaving the mechanical body and existing as code online, free to travel around like some kind of spirit – that’s always been a compelling subject to me. Imagine uploading your soul onto the internet with free reign to ride it around like some kind of literal information super-highway.

It’s a slightly mind blowing concept isn’t it? We also tackle this very concept in Killtopia, as our futuristic version of the internet sees the user log in and physically walk around as an avatar – and just like our real internet – there are some dark corners in this virtual world few dare to tread.

You won’t see our version of the internet in issue #1, but the concept of this virtual plane and the possibilities it presents are crucial to our overall plot, and we can’t wait to share it with you all in later issues.

The Ghost in the Shell influence also extends to our character Crash, who is the first Mech in the Killtopia sector to achieve sentience. He very quickly becomes the subject of a city-wide manhunt, as every low-life, gangster, corporation and Wrecker tries to flush him out for a huge reward, and the secrets buried inside his code.

So was Ghost in the Shell a huge influence on Killtopia? I’d say with our idea of the internet and Crash’s sentience – yes, definitely, but the overall world and tone owes more to my love of Japanese videogames, particularly the studio Platinum Games.

They’ll be the topic of my next influences update, coming soon. stay tuned and thanks for reading! 😀

-Dave