Ghost in the Shell: The Major’s Body (1)

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The Major, or Motoko Kusanagi, is the protagonist of each incarnation of the Ghost in the Shell manga-anime-merchadise franchise. If you care to google, Motoko Kusanagi is autocompletes to “a man” and “is hot,” then “in bed with a boy” and “in bed.” For a science-fiction philosophy character named for her military position, we (the audience — although I don’t limit this to those who have experienced the fiction, as the Major is iconic) sure are caught up in thinking about her gender and sexual status. Why could that be?

As a long-term fan of the property, and the Major (ask my hairdresser [me]), I wanted to read about the Major’s body. The Major is a cyborg, her visible body is 100% manufactured. Does that relate to the interest in her physicality? I couldn’t find much, so I wrote something myself — one chapter per piece of the franchise. This is the first on Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 animated feature Ghost in the Shell. I’m starting where I started. VHS off eBay. Can I anime?

still from Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, 1995, Production I.G

still from Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, 1995, Production I.G still from Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, 1995, Production I.G

In Ghost in the Shell, the Major is often nude or seemingly nude. In her opening scenes, for example, her nipple shapes are visible and she has no apparent genitalia. A line at neck level, visible in some short shots, and some possible cloth bunching during a crotch-level close-up suggest a flesh-colour bodysuit to the eagle-eyed viewer. Her breasts are individualised in a way that would have to be designed into a piece of clothing purposefully: how does the fabric adhere to the sternum? Why design a bodysuit that hugs tight as a thong? Apparent nudity, such as later during the water fight scene, is emphasised by the addition of thigh-high boots and low-slung belts at her hips, emphasising the hourglass of her torso and suggesting a sensual pelvic tilt. Her posture is natural, unstudied, and not innately sexualised.

still from Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, 1995, Production I.G

During the credits sequence which follows the creation of a body identical to the Major’s, perhaps a body that is the Major’s, the nipples are focused on and coloured, while the barest hint of genital shape is effected through momentary shapes of light.

still from Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, 1995, Production I.G

still from Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, 1995, Production I.G

still from Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, 1995, Production I.G

still from Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, 1995, Production I.G

Her full-cyborg status is emphasised again in her morning routine immediately post-credits; upon waking, all it takes to be ready to leave is a short moment in another room — an unbroken cel featuring her bedroom and window — followed by the addition of a coat. No washing, no bodily functions, no breakfast.

Ghost in the Shell Japanese theatrical poster, 1995, Production I.G

Advertising for the film features the Major fully nude, penetrated by wires of varying thicknesses, gun in hand and back arched so that her left breast is clear in profile and her buttocks are rounded and elevated, head tilted back.

After the Major’s iconic invisible fight in shallow water, Batou puts his large coat around her shoulder, mirroring the traditional image of the chivalrous man who covers the accidentally uncovered woman, saving her from shame (apparently irrelevant), the elements (the Major cannot be at risk of catching a chill, as she is a cyborg), or both. Later, together on a boat trip, Batou is stirred to see the Major unzip and remove the top half of her wetsuit. He grunts, and looks away, in apparent respect for a modesty she does not appear to require. In the subsequent boat scene, they talk in detail about the (non-sexual) functional differences between an organic and a cyborg body.

It was not translated for American dub audiences, but early in the film the Major makes reference to her menstrual cycle (as a cyborg, she doesn’t menstruate — I’m ignorant on whether her organic brain may retain hormonal alerts related to the expected menstrual cycle). This reproductive/cyborg theme is returned to in the climactic scenes as the Puppetmaster effectively tells the Major she will bear his compu-babies if she agrees to merge with him.

gs454 gs062 gits-post-3 gs314

still from Ghost in the Shell, 1995, Production I.GIn this film, men appear fully clothed and in many roles, at many levels of society. The puppet master is referred to as male — although this is not confirmed as being for a reason other than default, based on their reputation as a terrorist and/or awakening as an aware being — and appears in a naked, female-designated stock body. At a late stage the Puppetmaster talks with a low voice, spoken by a male voice actor. The Puppetmaster’s nipples, centred in full breasts, are clearly double-tiered and delicately drawn; carefully shaped. Their nose is not detailed in this way, and the mouth is not animated to move with the character’s dialogue until late in the scene (this is subconsciously explained by “it’s a cyborg,” but remains a professional choice made by the filmmakers). This is not an outlandish appropriation of normative women’s breasts, it may be intended similarly to the huge sugar labia of Kara Walker’s A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby; “But what you see from behind is what happens when a nude woman bends over, raising a question of whether it’s a gesture of sexual passivity or not.” They may not be intentionally “idealised” — breasts may be too culturally charged to be able to appear non-sexual without being actively off-putting; perhaps these breasts are designed to be as unremarkable (through their uncomplicated “perfection”) as possible. Why were breasts necessary? Why must the Major be a woman? Why must the Puppetmaster wear this breasted body? Why the nudity? Are these aspects necessary to deliver the story (or more importantly, the thought experiment)?

still from Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, 1995, Production I.G still from Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, 1995, Production I.G still from Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, 1995, Production I.G

still from Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, 1995, Production I.G

Imagine the intent of the filmmakers was to neutralise female nudity; avoid sexualisation and use it to float some philosophical musing above a character study on existential crisis. Is it responsible to call the Major, naked, sexualised?

ghostscreen2

still from Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, 1995, Production I.G

Perhaps unbalanced detail is put into the realistic, subtly emphasised nipples of these woman-designated bodies. (later in the same interview, referenced above, Walker concedes that her Sugar Baby sculpture is “sexually overt,” and resultantly “discomfiting.”) While groundbreaking and challenging in many ways, the film does not escape objectification of what the collective unconscious considers “the female body.” This may be purposeful, it may be useful, but it remains inescapably sexist. It exists within a sexist system before a sexist audience, many of which will not interrogate the sexual and gendered questions that the film succeeds in asking for many viewers. As a
teenaged viewer, I was extremely uncomfortable with the semi-conscious awareness that
this was how #notallmen considered my body: naked, as a default, whilst they all gits-kusanagiremained clothed. No matter how much I could achieve, mentally or physically, philosophically or emotionally, my body and face are observably female-normative, so I’m rendered nude. Even when clothed, before mentor, colleague, subordinate and victim. I’m the audience, watching the Major, knowing she’s me, knowing I’m a speck in a dust cloud.

You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman, right?

I was interested, though. This was food for thought. And she does get things done.

The Major doesn’t let people best her, she sets her own course. She had great hair.

I got something from the Major, which was why I kept paying attention.

Next: Innocence

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About Author

The rock that drops on your head. WWAC Features & Opinions Ed. Find me at claire.napier@wwacomics.com

41 Comments

  1. Great write up! Here’s my 80 cents. XD

    I’ve always struggled with the whole dichotomy of ‘hot crime fighting warrior chick’ as fashioned in the scope of male gaze; she must be sexy, and if strong, she has to be bisexual -—because she likes the same things as you do, dude, so you can relate to her, even though she has boobs and you know…that vagina thing. I loved Stand Alone Complex (the show) more than the movies–because Kusanagi changed to reflect the changing demographic of its audience.

    I came to the film after reading the Ghost in the Shell manga series. I was hesitant to watch it, because Ghost in the Shell ran in Young Magazine, which is a seinen mag (aimed at men, for men, by men) and I knew it would reek of male gaze. I forced myself to watch it, because I wanted to like Kusangi. I wanted to like her because…I grew up with Wonder Woman.

    My initial admiration of Kusanagi, despite her debut porno-type design, is the same one that keeps me loving Wonder Woman, a proclaimed feminist hero that still wears a thong, a bustier, and high heels when she fights for peace and justice. I’m still waiting for Wonder Woman to ditch the bathing suit— unfortunately, there’s too many 40something-fans that grew up with the TV show prone to vocalizing their displeasure whenever someone tries to make Diana, less like a stripper, and more like a soldier. (I was happy to get the Dodson version of Diana fighting in Boots—with a bust and a waist that were proportionate in size–this from Dodson, known for his cheesecake, so color me thankful).

    I was let down when Stand Alone first aired, emulating all the sexist nonsense in Kusangai’s design. The material written for the show was too intelligent for the male-gaze version of the Major (she spent the first season in a trench coat and a playboy bunny outfit-sans ears). Season Two was markedly different—Kusanagi had a proper uniform, and there was ZERO mention of her sex life (which in the manga, she makes porn on the side–something I was glad to see didn’t make it to the film or the show!).

    I take stock in that Kusanagi from the film, differs greatly from how she ended on the TV show. 🙂

    • Claire Napier on

      I have no idea where the porn on the side thing comes from! Have you seen it? I’ve only read an english translation of the first manga run, as well as one or two issues of translated Man-Machine Interface, so maybe it was removed in translation or was retconned in later, but..???

      I have a LOT to say about Stand Alone Complex, so… stay tuned!

      • It was in the manga series– Motoko only got ‘serious’ during the puppeteer case–which is where I think the movie picks up. Let me rephrase–having read the series, she partakes in the net sex as a means of ‘therapy’. There’s s disconnect having lost her own body, and online sex (with men or women) is how she channels her recreational intimacy.

        • Claire Napier on

          I recall the sex with the two women, which is unexplained beyond “this is a thing she does”, and Batou interrupting it. I haven’t seen the part that everyone talks about where Batou gets genital pain due to interrupting, and I haven’t seen sex beyond that one time where the boat scene is simulated. It doesn’t seem like that would be removed, and the full-frontal fucking on the boat left in. This is definitely before the Puppetmaster arc?

    • I actually had no problem with the nudity in the 1995 film, because not only is it fairly limited to, like you said, the camouflage bodysuit and the intro. The rest of the film draws her very un-ladylike, she’s always wearing clothes, her face isn’t drawn with plump, glistening lips and huge eyes, and there really isn’t any mention of her being a woman.

      Stand Alone Complex I didn’t watch more than half of the first episode. I just refuse to watch anything where a female character wears a bunny-suit without ears for no other reason that to be jerk-off material for a male audience. Even the “camera angles” are always making sure to have her ginormous boobs or her naked ass in the frame, it’s distracting and completely infuriating. After reading your comment though, I might give season 2 a chance.

  2. We look at Philosophy of the Bedroom and see Eugénie as a defenseless flower, corrupted by deviants and written by a sexist.

    In the light of aesthetics from the point of anti- natural objectification we cannot see her for the strong, desire ridden, sexual conqueror she actually is, and is becoming.

    Her personality is usually androgynous. The body she has chosen, is inline with her line of work. She has other bodies as well. Young, old, male, female, not human at all ( well the last one was not specifically hers, there was a retro microwave looking guy in a couple episodes)

    The point is, this is the body she chooses.

    As for Batou, they are best friends, there is a love and a respect their that is not being taken into consideration. Batou is an old school boyscout in a lot of ways, but he would have covered up and attempted to Togusa as well. His character is designed to defend people, regardless of gender, this was not an act of sexism or chivalry this was an act of humanness and love for a friend.

    As for conversations between the two, lol I prefer the one hopefully you will be discussing in Innocence, but friends it least good ones, have conversations like that all the time.

    Her is the kicker, anyone can be aroused by anything at any time. As for his modesty that she does not require, they get into that a few more times, it is not a gender issue, it is a personality issue. Why does Batou constantly work out when their is no need? In fact the major in later things, goes out of her way to tease him about it. Its their thing, they are a part of each other, but apart.

    As for the puppet master thing, I agree, they diverged from the original writing in that one. It was suppose to be about transcendence, beyound humanity, beyond genders, to break free of limitations. In fact originally when they merged they become a united figure, a half of each of them, and the major was no longer a woman, nor really a man.

    but a full being of consciousness and knowledge.

    That is not how it worked out in the animated version sadly.

    Nudity in GITS is often two fold, it has a profane identity, sexuality, arousal, visually pleasing aesthetics… but it also has a sacred aspect as well, vulnerability, a baring of the soul, the fragility of the human form.

    Treat me like a def mute ya know?

    Asking why any character, ever, male or female should be sexualized is like asking why do we breathe air? The two most powerful forces in the universe, the two driving forces behind almost everything, are sex and death. The Major is a woman, the Major is a man, the major is a sexual vulnerable strong violent caring angry individual, most of all (the sapiosexual in me) she/he is intelligent. Okeefe paints a vagina and its fine, an artist who happens to be male puts a little too much detail into a nip and its sexism… that’s not how it should work,

    People say the major is hot… they also say she is a smart fiesty can kick your ass bad ass cyborg who understands Cartesian principles of existence.

    As for naked by a default, I hate to break it to everyone… but that it is everyone, male, female, other… someone somewhere sees you as you naturally are, naked as the day you were born, and they adore it, and is aroused by it, and wants it and wants to adorn it with love and animalism.

    We so often forget that we are animals able to conceptualize beauty, and truth be told, no matter how much clothing we have on, as long as our eyes show, we will always be naked.

    • Claire Napier on

      You’re conflating the various incarnations of these characters! This is about the 1995 animated film, specifically. Later posts will cover the rest of the franchise. Hopefully you’ll read those too.

      Dude, I appreciate you’re not trying to be freaky, but I do not want to be told that people “see” me naked. Don’t tell people that, it makes the skin crawl. That’s pretty much my whole point here.

      • Sadly, being seen as ‘bodies’ first, is so ingrained in the patriarchal-psyche, I don’t think its even mentioned to instill creep-factor, I think it’s just put out there as the natural way of things. 🙁

        –PS Not trying to put you on the spot Ed, by most women don’t go around with ‘naked is the natural state of being’, and without going into an entire treatise of gender-specific aesthetics, I can tell you that I find menfolk sexier, when they’re wearing clothes.

    • Nudity in GITS is often two fold, it has a profane identity, sexuality, arousal, visually pleasing aesthetics… but it also has a sacred aspect as well, vulnerability, a baring of the soul, the fragility of the human form.

      And what frequently gets lost is the fact that the Major is the chosen example of this approach. We don’t see the male characters in nude examples because, rather frankly, they aren’t Masamune’s chosen vehicle to address or express this particular philosophy.

      From the lesbian sex scenes in the comics to the tank scene in the first film to the scene in the TV series’ first season where she shares a bed with a young boy . . . they’re all vulgar, to some degree, but all showcase something else very important: the Major doesn’t care about her body, at all. The body is a tool. It’s a shell, as the franchise title tells us, within which a universe of (purportedly) human personality is said to exist.

  3. Ed does bring up a good point about who enjoys non-intercourse nudity, and why.

    I support Ed’s assertion that depictions of nudity are what turns ‘humans’ on – I won’t even go into the psychology of why some women often prefer male nudity so long as the genitals are missing (Japanese aesthetic) or unaroused (Euro practice)–I won’t go into it because some women like seeing fully aroused men naked, while others want a loincloth at all times….but what I can say is, you’ll NEVER see casual effect male nudity in an anime/manga marketed at straight men, unless it’s pornographic. Casual effect male nudity is never put on display in narratives that are outside the erotic, because… well, it’s not a human thing, it’s a male thing.

    When others state that copious female nudity outside sexual-intercourse in media isn’t sexual, that’s sorta naïve. One need only look at Men’s Health Magazine, notorious for coupling well written men’s health articles with half-naked cheesecake images of women. Think about how many more millions Cast Away would’ve made at the box office, if Angelina Jolie was the man character, and not Tom Hanks. I think we all the point.

    That’s why I feel that full on female nudity, outside the scope intercourse, is every bit as sexual as depicting it during intercourse (sorry, but the whole electro-shock revival scene of the droid inhabited by the Puppeteer made me cringe. Wow, her orgasm without all the work—-now there’s something hot!)Ew. =_=;

    The old adage that men are visual when it comes to arousal, is the sole purpose of why we have this select nudity in seinen comics (men’s action, men’s scifi, men’s horror, men’s drama); so let’s not kid ourselves that it’s spawned from a “human” desire for pan-nudity in its pristine form. We have countless depictions throughout GiTS where only the things men desire, are emphasized in the nudity depicted (mainly tits and ass).

    The only time we’re reminded of Kusanagi’s ‘otherness’, is when she’s doing things like pulling off that tank lid. Her power is to be respected and admired, and in order to do this, she’s depicted with fully hard musculature, because this is a the part in the story where you’re not supposed to be turned on, or even reminded that…she’s just a female.

    • Claire Napier on

      Thanks for this comment, Tina — I’m probably going to add a referral to it on a later piece of this series (Arise, specifically). V helpful!

  4. it might be interesting to note that the puppet masters voice was changed to a more feminine one in 2.0 (the remake).
    this might be because they decided that it was strange that a female stock body came fitted with a male voice box, or if shirow masamune’s obsession with lesbianism informed their decision.

    • Claire Napier on

      Cripes, there was a remake??

      Thanks for the tip! I wonder why they made that change. Maybe just as a comparison piece?

  5. It's all about the ghost on

    “Imagine the intent of the filmmakers was to neutralise female nudity; avoid sexualisation and use it to float some philosophical musing above a character study on existential crisis. Is it responsible to call the Major, naked, sexualised?”

    It doesn’t avoid sexualisation, the movie isn’t trying to take a stance on the body of Kusanagi or the Puppet Master. It is sexualized through and through. Talking about avoidance would mean that the movie is trying to hide the fact when it tackles it. This is why the whole Mamoru Oshii saga is far different from the work of Masamune Shirow who drew a lesbian scene because…he wanted to. The movie by itself made Ghost in the Shell what it is today, then it was only a good post-cyberpunk but overtly dragged down by Shirow’s stupid antics.

    The whole point comes from the whole deconstruction of the human body in a post-cyberpunk genre. The birth and death of her body does represent something about the whole meaning of the body through sexualisation and objectification. The same thing applies to the Puppet Master who is just trying to emphasize on the whole new meaning and idea of the body that applies through cybernetics.

    I do think that this work is not sexist. Ghost in the Shell is a game that is outside the system, Oshii’s influence and all his works have proven that he is the kind of person to have the creative freedom and strength to go where people never dared to. I just fail to see why the movie would be trapped in a cycle that he wouldn’t be able to escape from and how the clothed men would become a threat to the movie’s integrity. For example, you do see numerous instance of Motoko clothed with casual attire and a special force suit that tries to be as close to reality than actual fanservice design. A lot of care has been put through the whole design process.

    In the end, I think you summed up the whole movie with this string of questions :

    “Why were breasts necessary? Why must the Major be a woman? Why must the Puppetmaster wear this breasted body?”

    Why must they ? They don’t have to, because breasts doesn’t matter anymore, sex doesn’t matter, it leads to a future where even gender loses its meaning, they just exist in their own brain. They reached a new stage of evolution, in which they become completely unique and free to choose who they want to be.

    It’s all about the ghost, not the shell.

    • Was the only way to suggest this no-meaning world to create a story that rebounds sexist in our present of many meanings?

  6. It’s surely not the only way by any means, narrative possibilities knows no bounds as far as I know, it might not even be the best, but I do think that this is something that wasn’t poorly handled in the movie.

    I cannot give an absolute answer on the subject, it is a movie that I love and it wouldn’t do the movie any favor if I would try to fiercely defend it. It just wouldn’t go well with what the movie is trying to convey anyway. I guess the movie succeeded in asking ourselves some questions and I must thank you for creating an article about it.

  7. Do you draw? I mean, I do and what do you want from the nose? I’m a woman. And it doesn’t seem like the nipples were more modelled than than any other part of the body. It’s true that women in the series and film are unnecesarily much undressed, even to the point of asking what heppened in that world of fantasy – the male authors happened. But it’s not the question of the nipples. The faces are sometimes poorly drawn due to the manga/anime mannerism. Faces are drawn poorly in every manga/anime.

    Why does she have to be female? Do you want another male main character? Does “male” mean lack of gender? That’s what you’re suggesting…. But, ya know, man are also naked in female eyes 😉 so don’t worry. And being desired means power over the desiring person, if you’re strong enough to defend the treasure. It’s all the matter of what meaning YOU give to your body and actions.

    Non-intercourse nudity? Are you seriously debating whether it is sexual or not? Weren’t you ever turned on by seeing even a small naked fragment of someone’s body? You, women? It’s not a guy thing. Hell no. Not at all. Anyway, it goes beyond my understanding what can be a sexuality if not being aroused by images of the sex you’re attracted to. But it’s probably the question of like 80% of my thought process going on in some form of image.

    I agree about the deconsruction. Look at those muscles in one of the last images. It’s definitely androgynous. The brain get stuck on gender of her in this one, because: muscle–>male, breast–>female. We also ommited the amount of flesh and blood scattering all around and over in the films, which points to deconstruction too. The body is exagegratedly physical and animal in that context.

  8. XD must have been an extremely stupid typo + auto-correction, I’m not sure how this “treasure” replace “yourself”. Auto-correction is a curious creature.

  9. The Major is one of the oldest humans in existence, one of if not the very first full cyborgs. She routinely uses multiple bodies of all shapes, sizes, and genders and even her closest friend (Batou) has no idea how old she actually is or what her original human form was. For all your philosophical writing here you’ve missed the most important themes of GitS: The nature of humanity and life.

    The puppetmaster’s character has a generic mass produced female body and a male voice but is neither male nor female. The entire movie centers around the argument of whether it is in fact alive at all, whether it has a soul.

    Kusanagi has been a cyborg for so long that she’s forgotten aspects of her humanity. Her body means as much to her as the font on the tag on my shirt means to me. The idea of modesty, or even physical preservation, is alien to a being that changes bodies faster and easier than we can change clothes. That’s why in the ultimate scenes of the movie Kusanagi literally rips her own body to pieces trying to force open the tank, which has the added thematic effect a visual parallel to the puppetmaster’s torn body.

    Two beings, the same yet different. Kusanagi was once a human and some part of her still remains human even as everything else has been subsumed by technology, the puppetmaster was never human and yet from mere technology has grown a human soul. In both cases their bodies are mere placeholders, things, vehicles, tools they literally pick up and put down at a whim. Which is human? Which is alive? Can we even make that judgment anymore?

    But you don’t touch on any of these themes. Instead you, madame white savior, judge a completely foreign culture which didn’t even have a nudity taboo before American influences forced one on them, by western ideas of body shame and sexualized nudity. It smacks of cultural colonialism, to say nothing of your misogynist dismissal of Kusanagi’s own agency and strength as a character.

    • Claire Napier on

      I’m not writing about the themes of ghost in the shell, I’m writing about the major’s body, from my own perspective.

      idk where you get your first point from? links would be good.

      last paragraph: 1) so you’re saying there *is* a nudity taboo now? 2) I’m responding to the film as an imported product, that’s the only way I can respond to it. It is an imported product, therefore the response to it as one is legitimate.

      Thanks for calling me madame though, that’s fancy.

  10. Having just read through the entire series, this is some stunning, exhaustive work. Probably the single most comprehensive exploration of how Motoko is BOTH a feminist icon AND a constant victim of her creators’ male-gaze and gender-based biases. Just really amazing work. Discourse on the internet isn’t dead after all!

  11. Ar Sanahatahar II on

    Remember watching the movie and being perplexed with – what’s the deal with all the Major’s nudity or nudity-like clothing O_o ?

    One thing that I find interesting that there seems to be some kind of a play between Oshii and Shirow where Shirow does straight otaku perving out and then Oshi takes it and somehow makes it disturbing.
    After the diving scene is a sequence that seems to show two things:
    One is that there’s a second Motoko (the puppetmaster) and another is comparing her cyborg to a mannequin. By the way, I suddenly noticed that clone dog. Another body that is a product

    One thing worth noting is that Oshii has drastically changed the mood from the manga. The anime is almost completely devoid of humour and slow and moody. Which is what I love Oshii’s movies from.
    The nudity is really odd. I wonder if it’s desexualised or if it’s what Oshii actually finds sexually appealing…

    The divide between fanservice and disturbing gets much sharper in Innocence, though.

    “As a teenaged viewer, I was extremely uncomfortable with the semi-conscious awareness that
    this was how #notallmen considered my body: naked, as a default”
    People really think like this D: ?

    “whilst they all remained clothed.”
    I wonder how much of the male clothedness is caused by homophobia… Thought it may be because she is the protagonist and others aren’t. On the other hand…
    There was that shower scene in Red Spectacles…

    By the way. It’s interesting how deeply people get influenced by stuff like anime…
    Makes me wonder if it would be possible to weaponize it against the ones I hate… (hm… when one thinks, a bit, one could say that moe is weaponized to remove otaku from the gene pooll…)

    “Why must the Major be a woman?”
    I suspect that there’s a “a woman within a man drawing a manga about a woman” kind of situation going. Somehow I suspect that it’s a sign of androgyny of the author.

  12. While the culture bias is extremely strong in this write up (a key factor in understanding may be to see how another culture views nudity, and how the team making this movie, might be making a statement to their own culture in the movie (and not to other cultures specifically)). Certainly and eye opening view and interesting perspective to look from. And provides a great deal of insight into one culture’s individual’s viewpoint of this kind of content. No one else seems to have written about Ghost in the Shell and Motoko from this kind of perspective that I could find, so thank you for that too.

  13. “After the Major’s iconic invisible fight in shallow water, Batou puts his large coat around her shoulder, mirroring the traditional image of the chivalrous man who covers the accidentally uncovered woman, saving her from shame (apparently irrelevant), the elements (the Major cannot be at risk of catching a chill, as she is a cyborg), or both. ”

    Sigh…. or simply because he wanted to show her, that he cared about her in the sense of a friend worried about another’s friends well being

    “It was not translated for American dub audiences, but early in the film the Major makes reference to her menstrual cycle (as a cyborg, she doesn’t menstruate — I’m ignorant on whether her organic brain may retain hormonal alerts related to the expected menstrual cycle). This reproductive/cyborg theme is returned to in the climactic scenes as the Puppetmaster effectively tells the Major she will bear his compu-babies if she agrees to merge with him.”

    Still totally missing the point, the major is haunted by the question what makes humans human, what is the soul, what is she merely a Ghost in the Shell or is she a human being at all? The Puppetmaster simply plays with her fears and insecurities in this regard.

    “Why were breasts necessary? Why must the Major be a woman? Why must the Puppetmaster wear this breasted body? Why the nudity? Are these aspects necessary to deliver the story (or more importantly, the thought experiment)?”

    In the world of GitS the line between humans and machine is more then blurred, it became invincible. Everybody has to deal with it, in these circumstances questions about gender and nakedness simply aren’t interesting any more. The society still follows the traditional roles, because they are convenient and working, but the moment your society created artificial life is the moment when the differences within your species (gender, race, sexual orientation) loose all their value.
    Additionally the movie plays with Frankenstein elements here, the inability to procreate was what made the creature in Frankenstein go against its creator. In GitS the Puppetmaster is aware of the dillema and to appear both male female at the same time while not being able to reproduce simply illustrates the Puppetmaster’s situation.

    “While groundbreaking and challenging in many ways, the film does not escape objectification of what the collective unconscious considers “the female body.” This may be purposeful, it may be useful, but it remains inescapably sexist. It exists within a sexist system before a sexist audience, many of which will not interrogate the sexual and gendered questions that the film succeeds in asking for many viewers.”

    This simply shows you didn’t understand the motives, themes and symbols in the movie at all. If all you see here is “objectification”, it is because all you wanted to see is obectification.

  14. Hi!
    Nice old essay.
    But just to be fair with poor Kusanagi, how about another essay of the same type about another female carácter that is exployted the same way (and wears the same type of outfit) as this Asian carácter and is even older than her? Just see this link: http://i.imgsafe.org/5b0559d548.jpg
    And please, this is just a polite suggestion, I am not trying “to be your boss”, Ok? Bye!

    • Wonder Woman has never especially appealed to me so I am not especially interested in writing about her for free. If you want to see me or others write about the nude or near-nude bodies of non-Asian characters, please feel free to further peruse the site.

      • Yep, I imagined you wouldn’t write another essay. I think I’m trying to be a bit ironic here because, with hundreds and hundreds of Western female characters like WW being exploited for the sexiness of their bodies for decades in comics, you chose an Asian character not as famous as them as example. It just sounded a bit biased for me. But if you are saying that the Major may appeal to you more them WW (and maybe any other Western female character), then at least it’s a kind of compliment, I suppose? 🙂

  15. There seems to be this obsession as of late of making a fuss about female characters being naked or wearing anything sexy; one thing to note is that no matter how many females watch anime it’s usual target audience is teenage males and young men, especially genres that GitS fits into. What attracts straight male teenagers?…women! If you don’t like the nature of it you don’t need to watch it and you can leave it to the people who actually enjoy it; no girl or woman kicks up a fuss about Free and do you want to know why because it’s entertainment aimed at them, just how Highschool DxD and GitS is aimed at boys and men. The Major might have been drawn naked because the creators decided to throw in some simple fan service or what’s just as likely is because the Major couldn’t care less about how she looks. In GitS: Innocence she doesn’t value her own life and being human has less importance to her because she realises she’s never going to be completely human. The problem with people having issues with how the Major is portrayed is that it was quite likely done that way on purpose for a specific target audience and it’s beyond moronic to think that a character or series should adhere to your views on women. If you do not fit into this target audience you do not have to watch it (no one is forcing you to) and there are plenty of anime series and films that are available to you; I recommend any Studio Ghibli film.

    • There seems to be this obsession as of late of making a fuss about women analysing the presentation of female characters; one thing to note is that no matter how many pissbabies want us to hush, women experience the world and even media that is not made with us directly in mind as target audiences. So you can shove your explanation of “how anime works” up your bum, frankly.

  16. I would say Claire that you can’t fully divorce the physical portrayals of the female form in the film(there all I’v seen of the franchise) from their intended use within the story.

    My take on Oshii’s work is that yes the major(and the puppetmasters) bodies are definitely sexualised and exploit viewer expectations from both the genre and the world in general that they will be for his own ends. I think one of those ends is showing the detachment of the “post human” from the physical body, this detachment more successfully shown with a female lead character exactly because her body is more easily sexualised than a male body would be so her own lack of acknowledgement of that sexualisation(via lack of “modesty”) stands out more.

    Another end is you could argue is highlighting the artificial nature of these cyborg bodies to the viewer, taking the majors sexualised body and showing its lack of genitalia or the folds in her skin(I’v always assumes that’s what it was not a bodysuit, likely unrealistic looking due to the camo technology within it) is ment to achieve this as is the puppet master’s obviously attractive but dismembered body.

    • I would say Moreorless that you can’t divorce the intended use of the physical portrayals of the “female form” from the experiences and context of those who in fact, in real life, bear such bodies.

      • If your not going to look at the context of an individual portrayal though it seems to take away much of the purpose of focusing on it in the first place rather than wider issues.

        I can’t comment on the rest of Ghost in the Shell besides the two films as I’v not seen them but for me Oshii’s films deliberately look to exploit and to some degree undermine such depictions of women that are common elsewhere.