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One of the mangaka most responsible for the prevalence of Cyberpunk themes in anime and manga since the early 1980's, Shirow Masamune specializes in stories about technology-gone-berserk and post-apocalyptic madness.

Beginning his career with such works as Intron Depot and Black Magic M-66, Shirow struck gold with Dominion, one of the funniest dystopian fantasies ever written — which was later turned into the successful OAV series Dominion Tank Police. The more serious Appleseed manga was also successful.

However, he is currently best known for his hard-SF saga Koukaku Kidoutai, known overseas as Ghost in the Shell; not only did GITS have an extremely successful print run, but it was turned into a film by Mamoru Oshii and adapted — with help from Shirow himself — into a TV series (GITS: Stand-Alone Complex) that has run for two seasons.

In 2008 he worked on Real Drive with Production I.G., which have been responsible for the GitS series Stand Alone Complex. An other Production I.G work he participated in was Sampaguita, the 3rd game of the interactive anime Visual Novel series Yarudora, providing character design. He was also involved with character design for Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon; the true extent of his involvement beyond drawing official artwork (below his normal skill level in places) for the game is unknown, but the in-game character designs do suggest he did have quite the influence on the general style direction.

Shirow's art style is characterized by an obsessive attention to technical detail (rivaling that of his contemporary Katsuhiro Otomo), and a similarly detailed — if unrealistic — approach to character design.

Shirow is a very private and reclusive individual, having often been called the J.D. Salinger of Japan; like many mangaka, he is best known by his pen name. All that anyone knows about Masanori Ohta, the man behind the pseudonym, is that he lives in Hyogo, Japan (where he moved after losing his house in the 1995 Kobe earthquake), and that he was formerly a high school teacher.

He is a fan of FN guns and the FAMAS.