Paul Nicholson, the designer of The ‘Laughing Man (Warai Otoko)’ logo that appears in the TV anime Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (Koukaku Kidoutai: Stand Alone Complex) directed by Kenji Kamiyama, posted a comment on Instagram about the creation of this logo!
In the post, Nicholson wrote about why he was chosen as the designer for the logo in the first place.
‘Ghost in the Shell’: The Anime Illustrating Crimes in a Near-Future Society
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (Image from Amazon)
The anime Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was broadcast on TV in 2002. Since then, the S.A.C. series has expanded into 2 series and OVAs.
S.A.C. includes all the most important aspects of the original manga written by Masamune Shirow but its episodes were telling completely new stories. The anime was directed by Kenji Kamiyama with music produced by Youko Kanno. The anime studio was Production I.G.
The Laughing Man is the logo that appears in the episodes of the ‘Laughing Man Case (Warai Otoko Jiken)’ during S.A.C.’s first season.
A cracker (a computer hacker with evil intents) known as the ‘Laughing Man’ uses this logo to hide every data of his face recorded online so that no one would know who he is. His actions gathered a lot of public attention, and it turned into a theatrical crime case.
The Inside Story Revealed by the Logo Designer
In the anime, the ‘Laughing Man Case’ was so sensational that fashion items such as bags and T-shirts with the logo printed on them became a trend.
Since the live-action film Ghost in the Shell (starring Scarlett Johansson), is about to be released in Japan, and the fans are getting more and more excited, the logo designer Paul Nicholson has posted a comment related to the anime!
GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX AND HOW I GOT TO DESIGN THE LAUGHING MAN LOGO. From the mid to late 90s, I had been designing for a Japanese game developer and music label, Frognation. At the time, I had and sent the guys in the Tokyo office a load of Prototype 21 stickers, which were liberally plastered around. Prototype 21 was a clothing label I designed for which ran from 1992 to 2002. Dai Sato, one of the guys at Frognation, is also a scriptwriter at Production I.G. and had been working on early drafts for the animated TV series of Ghost in the Shell – Stand Alone Complex. His laptop being covered in those stickers I had sent were seen by the director of Stand Alone Complex, Kenji Kamiyama. He loved the stickers and as he was looking for a graphic designer, one thing led to another. I was sent a brief and invited to submit designs for the Laughing Man, a hacker central to the storyline. That was the summer of 2001. For this Laughing Man, it was the first time Production IG had chosen to work with a non-Japanese creative. #GhostintheShell #StandAloneComplex #LaughingMan #ProductionIG #KenjiKamiyama #DaiSato #Logo #LogoDesign #GraphicArt #GraphicDesign #Paul Nicholson #Number3 #3 #III
In the Instagram post, Nicholson explained the reasons why Kenji Kamiyama made an offer to him. According to Nicholson, at the time, Dai Sato, the anime’s scriptwriter, had stickers designed by Nicholson all over his laptop. Kenji Kamiyama saw these stickers by chance and really liked their designs. This became the reason for Kamiyama to ask Nicholson to design the ‘Laughing Man’ logo.
Just so you know, in February, Nicholson had also posted a comment on Instagram about the inside story of his logo design of Aphex Twin, a.k.a. ‘the Techno-Beast’.
Nicholson also designed the logo for the ‘Individual Eleven’ (Kobetsu no 11-nin), the terrorist group from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG, and the logo that appeared in the TV anime Eden of the East (Higashi no Eden), also directed by Kenji Kamiyama. Let’s hope that he will someday tell us the inside stories for these logos as well!