Ghost in the Shell: The Major’s Body (6) [Trigger warning: rape culture]

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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. This is part six of a pan-franchise series (find previous parts here: 1234, 5)

Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama Takumi Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama TakumiPrequel to Arise’s animated features, Fujisaku Junichi and Ooyama Takumi’s ongoing manga Sleepless Eye is about Batou and the Major’s first meeting. Let me state my bias plainly: I don’t care.

The connection that Batou and the Major have is not interesting because of its unknown factual chronology. It’s interesting, and touching, because it’s intangible. It’s analogous to the titular ghost: more than the sum of body parts and circumstances.

Explaining “how they met” (and playing with ~at first they hated each other) — how gauche. But gauche is the order of the day. I’ll just treat you to a slideshow, shall I?

There’s nothing to this choice of clothing beyond “tight, tight, naked-tight, fit torso!”. She’s vacuum sealed in and the camera — sorry, this isn’t a film, is it? Ooyama’s pen, drawing from his imagination — just loves coming up from behind, below, or both. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the ‘net…

Ooyama outlines her vulva. He does it carefully. He shows you the precise contours of each of her labia, and how her body curves from her anus (if she has one — cyborg, remember?) and past her vagina (again: if). My visual literacy delivers this message from the images’ creators, editors, publishers: You could power on up into there, if you wanted, reader. Look, she’s got high heels on; you could easily get her off balance. It’s distasteful to the extreme. Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama Takumi

Sorry, I have to emphasise: the precise contours of each of her labiaGhost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama Takumi

Here are two panels that come quickly in sequence. Narrative context: Batou is trapped, he hates the Major, he thinks she’s an enemy and he’s rudely dismissive about her prosthetic nature; he scathingly blames her for what he perceives as her low self-valuation. Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama Takumi Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama Takumi Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama TakumiThe high-heeled boot of discipline. Her torso so tightly restrained in battlefield garments that her appearance approaches insectoid. Her apparently unaroused, but nevertheless fetishised (and oh boy, reader, but is that ever a pet hate), nipples. She looks down over her breasts, and her trousers are sucked fiercely up into the devouring void. What’s being communicated here? Is this supposed to teach us about Batou? A desire/repulsion cyberbody hangup?

No. I don’t think it is, because most of these panels are not from his eyes. And you know? It’s incredibly easy to get into Batou’s eyes.Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama Takumi

Batou, as usual, is the emotional centre of the story and does the most reacting. He reacts to everything, and everything we learn about the Major either comes through him, or through our being privy to her cyberbrain communications. A dislike of Kurtz’ capitalist motivations is the only beat in the story that adds any new dimension to events within Arise — but all this does for me is create a hole in the emotional connection I thought she and the Major had. It changes my perception of the story, but it lessens my engagement. The Arise interactions between Batou and the Major actually seem to ring false having read Sleepless Eye. Animated, they seemed to be virtual strangers. This manga creates an intimacy of shared trauma.

I’ll bring back this tweet I made a few months ago: tweet from @illusclaire, Batou & the Major, Ghost in the Shell Arise, Sleepless Eye Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama TakumiArise has taken too many of the Major’s character components from her, and she isn’t “who she is”. From Arise back to Sleepless Eye, she’s increasingly juvenile and appears as a child multiple times. Rather than building a core of strength, as per the childhood appearances in Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig, these childhood flashbacks — and even brainspace childhood remnants — serve to emphasis how vulnerable this poor little lonely bad(daaamn that)ass is. Kurtz uses a scene from Motoko’s childhood as leverage. See what I did there, with the name? Batou views a childlike version of her through cyberlink, once he’s learnt to sympathise with her. He comes by this sympathy in the normal way: she sacrificed her body to save his. In the next scene his sympathy turns to pity, as she’s talked about as an object by a man she called comrade.

Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama TakumiAbove: cyberbrain child-Motoko and Batou. Below, in the scene that Kurtz invokes: Motoko wears a dress, knee socks. SAC:2nd Gig‘s youthful shorts and t-shirt combo is very likely to occur on the same child; it all depends on the whim of the day. For sure. That said, I suppose it’s a coincidence that this alarmingly vulvic manga emphasises femininity when exhibiting the Major’s early youth?

Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama Takumi Speaking of Kurtz, a character introduced and revealed as the Major’s betrayer in Arise. Let’s meet her again, earlier in their relationship. Here’s how she debuts in this manga. Try not to be distracted, but what’s happening with her torso skin? Under the breast, there. It falls like a curtain. Well, I won’t sniff at bodily diversity, but I do think it’s an accident, considering this feature is not repeated within Arise: Ghost Pain. Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama Takumi Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama TakumiThis comic’s art’s not 100%  technically bad. Some panels, such as this one to the left, show an understanding of muscular anatomy and the physicality of force that’s unfortunately sublimated in the up-pelvis illustrations partially listed above. Even the occasional over-detailed spread largely works for me in context, such as this one, which might be effectively expressing the physical reaction to sudden knowledge of extreme danger. The costuming problems remain (that sternum-bisecting breast separator does nothing more than hold on her sleeve. Is your cyborg right arm cold?), and the focus doesn’t really leave the breasts, does it? Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama Takumi

This cropped scan cuts off where the bottom of the page does. That’s seriously the bottom of the page. You still alive? TITS.

No. They’re powerful objects, I’ll grant you. Made of some stern stuff. Still at full salute, even after a passel of bullets has made its way through her! Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama Takumi I could say more, but why bother? I think this manga is pointless, low on storytelling, low on women, and high on fetish. It adds nothing to my enjoyment of Ghost in the Shell and lessens my appreciation of Arise, which was already shaky. We get the familar beats, but what’s repetition for its own sake worth?

Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama Takumi Sing me out, sweetiepie. Ghost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama TakumiGhost in the Shell Arise: Sleepless Eye cover, 2013, Fujisaki Junichi, Ooyama TakumiYou’re not wrong. Well done! You get a medal.

No, seriously!

She gets to not be dead. He gets a medal.

Probably for chivalry, idk.

Idc.

Next: 2nd Gig? Arise: Ghost Tears? Man/Machine Interface? All three? Don’t know. Tune in anyway!

Series Navigation<< Ghost in the Shell: The Major’s Body (5)Ghost in the Shell: The Major’s Body (7) (NSFW) >>
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About Author

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

23 Comments

  1. The up-pelvis shots make me wince. While I’m aware pants such as leggings would show that amount of detail, I don’t think most people would wear them into battle. Comparing her outfit with the men shown in the panels is interesting. There’s a lot of ripped muscles on display, but I kinda want to see any of these military dudes in pants like that.

    • Claire Napier on

      I’m wearing leggings right now! And they are TOTES not comparable in body suction to the ones illustrated here. Olivia Newton John was sewn into her Bad Sandy leggings, and you can catch narry a glimpse of the outline of her labes during “You’re the One that I Want”!

      Basically it is just SO BAD and yes, I second the motion for circumcision-revelation trousers in situations such as these.

  2. Please… Talk about 2nd GIG next time. Seeing Motoko as some kind of sex object darkens my heart. *sobs* 🙁

    To be honest, I think Arise is a “watch and drop” anime, designed to make profit advertise the franchise to lecherous and fetishist masses.

    Speaking of fetishes, I got an habit of “ugly-fying” the Major. LOL

  3. I’ll agree that it’s distasteful, even pornographic.

    To make the leap that the artist is inviting the audience to rape the Major through their fantasies is just… typical feminist delusional bullshit.

    Are you sure the artist is the one fantasizing about rape here?

    • Why do you suggest the illustration suggested the angle and instability that it did? An actual rape is clearly impossible, as this is a) a manga and b) even if the scene was real and photographed, the viewer would not be able to jump inside the picture.

  4. While I 100% agree that a character like the Major really should be less over-sexualized, the intent of rape-fantasy on the part of the main artist is inhumane of an assumption to make.

    I think she has taken a step back. From the original manga, to Stand Alone Complex, she became far less sexualized (in comparison, still far from modest) and I was hoping there would be progress in making her more realistic over time.
    The constant contours in the new art I feel is a big let-down, but you’re flat-out accusing the artist of thinking terrible things.

    Too harsh, is there no middle ground? The more extreme you are, the less likely the people that make the content are to listen. Rather than make a rational argument, (which you entirely have in some of this) you villainize the creator, and of course, they will (rightfully) take offense to that, and you message will ultimately fall of deaf ears.

  5. It’s hard for me to get mad at Ghost in the Shell when 95% of all related media portrays a fanservice-friendly Major. That and Shirow’s given up on anything resembling decent science-fiction and now just draws porn with women with breasts that look like actual bananas, no joke.

    And the biggest capper on all this is that Japan is never going to change that. Honestly, they’re not. Especially not for foreigners.

  6. Ghost in the shell and shirow’s work always been like that since 20 years he depictes strong women but also hyper sexualized. It is not good (for some peoples)but is not something new in the ghost in the shell franchise.
    I mean Even it was tone down by the 1st movie, Mokoto is a highly trained warrior fighting in revealing bikinis that it how she is .

    there is even some sex scenes in some ghost in the shell stories (censored in my country)
    Maybe we shouldn’t even read those comics like they seem to hurt western peoples feelings.

  7. http://cinema.theiapolis.com/movie-0ST9/ghost-in-the-shell/gallery/ghost-in-the-shell-1085389~1.html the very 1st frame of Kusanagi is her being completly naked her design coming from shirow ‘s work Oshi mixed his own vision but the kusanagi we have is directly inspired by shirow’s version.
    http://cdn.mangaeden.com/mangasimg/03/03ff7152377a61451625872594c8a172b1f1b41a8a88ae89257407f5.jpg

    Oshi went for something more realistic but it is still there .
    I would depict the character of GITS movie sexy she is really done like she was an actual robot which wasn’t in the original manga the character was quite lively .

    Same in GITS SAC the sexyness is there
    https://adtrwiki.com/images/6/60/Gits-sac.jpg

    My problem is that people only seems to recognize that Oshi ‘s vision is the one that we should refered, even if it does some stufsf better than in other versions; it is not more legit than the manga, SAC or Arise in my eyes .
    Maybe i ranted a little to much I am completly on board to discuss about people’s feeling.

    that being said I don’t like those panties shots in a scene of war, it just doesn’t belong to the story but i would’nt want it to be otherwise if it is what the author chosed.

    We always oppose Sexy character with interesting like we can’t have both, i like to think that it’s possible .(sorry for the bad english)

    • You’re wrong, as you’d discover if you read the whole series you’re commenting on a section of. That first image you link’s not a bikini (obviously?) but it’s not the nudity it appears to be, either.

      You’re not really discussing the piece you’re commenting on — you’re talking about fan patterns generally, and your own perceptions of the greater social validity of creatorship.

  8. FAFAH TOGORA on

    .About the major appereance in Ghost in the shell moviewhen she uses her invisibilty suits it is so thin that you can see perfectly every part of her anatomy with very visible nipples .

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/bd/ab/6e/bdab6ecd5ecbbf2837bb5f78727f6308.jpg
    For me this is plain nudity not for you it seems . (and i dont have any problem with that.)

    “You’re not really discussing the piece you’re commenting on — you’re talking about fan patterns generally, and your own perceptions of the greater social validity of creatorship.”

    You re right i got heavily out off track losing the focus of this discussion about this manga and for that i apologize this was not the best place to do it plus i didnt even see the other part about the Ghost series that was made .I should have read the all series of article before.

  9. FAFAH TOGORA on

    And so having read the whole thing i must apologize( again) because those articles are part of a very cohesive reflexion; i have some basic knowledge of Ghost in the shell but not that much in the end .This all thing is really well documented I learned a lot .

    The article helped me understand your point about the nudity of the major in The movie (which i didn’t got in my previous comment)Nude but not sexualized if i get the point.

    thank you for taking time to answer to a topic that is not even that recent; i think it will help me to think a bit more before giving an opinion and not being to stubborn .

  10. Most of the art posted as examples of Shirow’s having intended for Motoko to wear very little clothing (?) show her in the sort of bodycon bodysuits that were popular in East Asia in the ’80s, when the manga started serialization. If artists really wanted to stay true to Shirow’s vision or whatever, they should be drawing Motoko in more 21st-century outfits, which tend not to be skintight aerobics gear.

  11. FAFAH TOGORA on

    “they should be drawing Motoko in more 21st-century outfits, which tend not to be skintight aerobics gear.”

    But the whole story isnt from our time to begin with, it is set in the future, so what would be the point to turn realistic something that wasn’t from the beginning.
    How does it make the story or the universe better?
    That being said I can get why it would be useful commercialy to modernize characters to appeal new audience.I don’t like it but i suppose it has to be done.

    that is exactly what they seems to have done did with Gits arise
    (From what i saw) She wears most of the time casual and realistic outfit from our century .
    In the same time you have the new jojo’s series who get the design from the eighties treatment and it is absolulty not a problem; i suppose any choice is possible staying true to something even old fashioned or modernize it to be more actual.
    In my opinion a good design hold on through time even it still marked by the period it was produced.

  12. Much of your analysis is accurate here but you leave the impression you have not read the original GITS manga (although you have of course and critiqued it as well). In that case should you not realize it too was full of fetishizing of the female characters, complete with pornographic scenes? It’s obviously a heterosexual male cyber fetish fantasy. If your complaint with Arise is that it is sexist and objectifies women’s bodies, you would be correct, but the same is true of the original GITS and is generally true of Motoko’s art. So my question would be… what is your point? You’re criticizing a re-imagining of a sexist book from a fetish artist for being sexist..? Do your articles serve any more purpose than a vegan entering a butchery, shouting defamation of meat and oddly focusing on objects of your apparent distaste?
    Finally, to say that “This comic’s art’s not 100% technically bad” isn’t fair considering it is superior to Motoko’s original art and GITS manga. Perhaps I missed the Claire Napier master studio gallery exhibit where your expertise on art was displayed but Arise has better illustrations than most other manga being currently released.

      • It’s almost like you wrote an article about Hot Dogs, criticizing them for promoting eating meat, processed foods and carnivore culture, which of course they do… but they are hot dogs and that is their point.
        GITS has always been a perverted, fetish, violent cyber punk manga from an artist which makes perverted, fetish, violent cyber punk art. So why write an article complaining that the new GITS manga is perverted and fetishizes the major’s body? Motoko has never been some feminist icon of empowered women.