Ghost in the Shell: The Major’s Body (8)

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Poster: Ghost in the Shell: Arise: 3: Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014The 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 seven of a pan-franchise series (find previous parts here: 123456, 7).

Stand Alone Complex’ Batou spends his time weight training though his cybermuscles don’t need it. We understand why, right? Time has to be passed.

I got a lot of exercise during this third episode of Arise: Ghost Tears. Because it was too agitating to watch straight. Time has to pass, but sometimes time needs help. Exasperation, too. Worse than Man-Machine Interface, this was a hard watch. To see the Major become so girled.

It is not internalised misogyny this time. It is not my weakness to want to keep some characters like this, when it’s perfectly alright for others or anyone real to be like that. It is OK to want to keep the Major stoic, and in the masculinised social roles, and in full creative charge of her team (Aramaki telling her their deficit, the Major angrily rejecting his advice, Borma making personal contact, leading to Togusa’s enrolment? Please!). It’s OK not to want her to have a boyfriend, or to see her team make jokes about how, in more careful words but sharp enough gist, she is a slutty abuser. It is OK to be tired of women slapping subordinate men for their cheek, which is what it means when Kusanagi’s ghost hack makes Batou punch his own face, again, twice.

The Major, Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014

Mummies alive, it’s OK to reject the notion of our boundless hero the Major sulking — pouting! — when her boyfriend of three months rejects her tentative offer of coming to work with her. It’s not even personal; he just doesn’t want to work for the military or the police. There’s a part of me that’s crying. She’s a baby.

The Major, Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014

Akira Hose and Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014In this episode, the Major’s body is:

  • entered by a socially and potentially emotionally dominant consciousness (male, her technomedic, romantic attachment)
  • entered by a virus
  • carried, newlywed-style, in her own home
  • turned into a bomb (without her consent)

Via com link, Batou interrupts the Major during a tryst. Familar: Shirow’s manga, the hallucinogenic go-hard all-woman group sex on a boat (see pt. 4). Arise has a different plan; gentle smiling underwater kisses with a pretty man in a limp pose. Batou says,

Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014Batou, Ghost in the Shell manga,攻殻機動隊, Kōkaku Kidōtai, Shirow Masamune, Kodansha, That’s familiar too, right? The boyfriend Shirow gave her in chapter eight. It’s a different period of time, a different internal dynamic, and Batou and the major’s relationship is different too, but hey: no biggie, let’s steal it anyway.

As I mentioned above, we hear her all-male team gossiping about her personal life. She dates men, apparently exclusively, and if they quarrel she beats them up. Empowered or what, rite? She may have emotions but she’s still tuff! Responding, Paz repeats the line we knew him through in Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig;

I never sleep with the same woman twice.

In that series he said it to the Major the night they met. In that series, that phrase was deconstructed. The philosophy behind it, the behaviour created around that personal mythology, led to psychosis and murder. Important note: Paz is also foxier in that series.

Section 9 discuss The Major, Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014

Back in the opening scene, as the Major leaves her lover to go back to work, she apologises with regret and desire. Compare to the shrugging cant-be-helped of the manga. Boys win!

The Major, Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014

A later Section 9 meeting: I’m halfway through these chill-out stretches and they’re working for me. I look up and see Anna Williams. Oh for fuck SAKE, I cry! That’s a horrible dress. And she’s going to a wedding.

Section 9 discuss The Major, Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014

Batou, I love you so much, but I hate your stupid fringe. I hate your retconed green eyes and I hate your obnoxious misogyny. Arise? More like ugh, guys. I hate how stupid this dialogue is, even if it wasn’t sexist and cruel:

Section 9 discuss The Major, Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014 Section 9 discuss The Major, Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014He means her boyfriend

She’s ALWAYS wearing heels, you fucking dork. I’m talking to your puppetmaster, Batou. Who wrote this shit? Did they communicate with the animators at any point? It doesn’t make it better that this is the second retaliatory ghost hack/face punch of the episode. Word of god “excuses” him, and further frames her as an abusive personality: a slap would be absurd, but at least it wouldn’t be stolen autonomy. A ghost hack is Imperio.

The Major, Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014This same episode — the one that rips first one leg, then both, from her red leather trousers — gives us a dirty sax solo’s worth of bitch-heels from Kusanagi. Flashback to Sleepless Eye‘s foot of discipline.

The Major's foot, Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014 Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 20.53.25 Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 20.53.28

 

The Major, Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014I want to be flippant about this but look how high they are. She’s having leg trouble in this episode! Spasms and repetitive pain. Why is she wearing these? How do they help her? They can’t, so it must be for her image. Is this part of her childhood choice to make her body “orthodox”? They’re higher than they were in previous episodes. It’s not about her.

The Major, Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014The focus of consideration for this episode should fall upon the discussion of cyberbodies and cyberised life between Motoko and boyfriend Akira. Unfortunately it does very little for me, and there’s rather little of it. Motoko eats some new, cyborg-friendly, enhanced beef. She experiences “a good taste”. The scene moves on. Akira mentions that old people can look and live like young people. So what? He says the cyberised bride is pregnant. And? I’ve seen Cyborg 3, this ain’t new. Do something with it. The Major’s attitude to taste could mean so much to me!

The episode makes a lot of it, but metaphor sex is actually not that interesting to me. Intimacy is yours to define; people “doing it” is people doing it, whatever “it” is for them. There’s no philosophy for me there. It’s all covered by that early Transmetropolitan panel of people in an alley plugging their tongues together. That’s it, that’s all. Motoko and Akira borrow each others’ bodies, communicate in cyberspace, do a mind kiss. ~~Futuresex~~

Fine.

But I’m pretty downhearted that we don’t view the boyfriend’s genital area. Now, I’m ten thousand years shock if this creative team is future-thinking enough to create a boyfriend without a penis, particularly for reasons of gender fluidity. But even in the most basic regressive binary terms, I want to see the Major’s boyfriend’s dick. I want to learn about how a cyber-cis man feels about his prosthetic penis. I would like something to think on. And creators — this is an area where some of your team might have a lot to say?

Ghost Tears is a feature-length episode of Ghost in the Shell wherein Motoko Kusanagi’s boyfriend, who humanises her frightened heart with words and fixes her manufactured body with his practiced hands, betrays her to death in the name of politics, having been inspired by her previous identity de guerre — which she abandoned in the hope of finding ghost-peace in bodily settlement.

It sounds so emotionally dense in that paragraph, doesn’t it?

The Major and her boyfriend, Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014Look at her tenderly hold herself close to him. Do I, a human woman of some force, hold my lover’s arm that way? I’m not the Major, bud.

The Major and her boyfriend, Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014Hey dickhead, I hate your shirt. I hate your vanilla hemp shirt and your nothingy niceguy politics. I hate your motivation for one of your two roles, which is supposed to mitigate the criminality in the other. I hate that the Major is interested in you, and I hate that she needs your validation. I hate that you’re so safe. I hate how misty an echo of 2nd Gig‘s Kuze you are. I hate that the Major is reduced to you.
Akira Hose and Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014

Akira Hose, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Ghost Tears, Production IG, 2014I hate that Batou, with all of his faults, isn’t enough of a white knight for this series.

Akira, I hate that this year the Major’s body relies on an everyman like you.

Next: The last time. Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig. Absorb your inner child.

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About Author

The rock that drops on your head. WWAC Chief Comics Ed. Find me at claire.napier@wwacomics.com

12 Comments

  1. Arise is the “meh, next please” series of this franchise. But, that’s OK by me, I have SAC and people still like it… The only things I liked about Arise were the intro scene of Border 4: Ghost Stands Alone, and Kusanagi’s thermoptic camouflage bodysuit.

    That suit screams like “Come hug me ranger boy!” Ugh. So much Sarah Kerrigan-esque.

    • I’ve yet to see Ghost Stands Alone (but lololol @ the title, I mean come on), but at least that sounds like something to look forward to!

      • It’s…nothing too big, IMO. The last movie, I mean. And it’s certainly not SAC-esque.

        And looks like we won’t get a SSS article of this topic.

  2. Tell me, how would you compare GiTS to Battle Angel Alita a.k.a. Gunm? Thematically, they are complete opposites, though tey do share some common features. The manga is translated professionally, though due to James Cameron, it can be read online for free. I would love to hear read your opinion, especially on the protagonist Alita (Gally in the very compressed and abridged two episode OVA). Most of modern sci-fi and manga female characters seem to be Galatean (get it ?) in nature, and I do believe that Battle Angel/Gunm does a good job of deconstructing such a character. Thanks for your time.

    • Battle Angel Alita been number one on my to-read list for like six months now. I keep skipping to numbers five and six and then refilling them, and… etc etc. Thanks for the reminder!

      I’m going to come back to this comment, once I can answer it. Cheers for reading!

  3. Thank you for these reviews- just caught up on them all now. Ghost in the Shell (well, as far as the movies and SAC) is my favourite anime franchise yet I feel too embarrassed by the sexualisation of the Major and how obvious it can be at times to show it to many people, unless they are already used to this kind of thing through other anime. The scene in the first episode of SAC where she gets out of the Tachikoma always makes me laugh, if a bit awkwardly. I stopped playing the DVDS when my mum was around after a couple of episodes because of this- it’s a bit too hard to explain.

    I’ve always thought of it as a guilty pleasure because of this feeling. It’s as if it’s wrong to like something that seems so sexist at times. I appreciate how they try to explain it- her apparent disassociation from her body is an interesting topic and it all makes sense, but at the end of the day it often just feels like an excuse to flash some nipples and bum for the audience. Not to mention her outfit in the first season. And the camouflage outfit in the first movie…i’d excuse the nudity there, except I’m fairly certain from what I can remember that the scene with the garbage man about 20 minutes later shows that you don’t need to be nude to use one. I like it as part of her character, but at the same time I don’t like how they present it literally, I suppose.

    You go a lot more in depth about this than I think I can comprehend but it’s always great to see someone actually tackling this part of the franchise.

    as a footnote- I really do not like Arise. I can’t really put my finger on why this is but it just….doesn’t feel the same. Part of it is the change in design- the male characters all look very strange to me, like someone got their faces in photoshop and shrank them down so that they take up much less of their face. And Motoko doesn’t feel like herself anymore in personality. It’s also a bit boring, but that’s just a personal thing.

    Can I ask which iteration of Motoko is your favourite, aside from all this? Definitely from the first movie, for me.

    • Re: Arise — right?? Their faces are weird! Too small on their heads!

      Thanks for your comment. It seems we’re basically in accord! Always nice. Although my favourite version of her is Stand Alone Complex. When she explains about only seeing films she really wants to, and making a point of seeing them alone? Click! That’s my gal.

  4. This f*cking OAV (BORDER 3) SUCKS, that is not Motoko. Where is the real behavior of Motoko?

  5. André Vila Franca on

    I was expecing GITS ARISE to be a bit better, but i guess it’s because i was so used to SAC and SAC 2nd GIG awesomness..
    I was enjoying the GITS ARISE manga, it has a very different feel from Shirow Masamune’s GITS but it was still very entertaining, i hope chapter 7 comes out some day.
    On another note, i’m a guy and i feel a bit frustrated that Batou never had sex with Motoko. There’s a scene in SAC where they’re both very close in an apartment and it feels like they have a special thing and i kinda noticed a sexual vibe between them, but they never actually have a phisical relashionship, although they have great respect for each other and i believe they’re true friends.
    And by the end of SAC 2nd GIG when Motoko is buried with Kuze Hideo and he asks her if she had someone special whom she could trust, she says “no”, despite Batou being above her trying to rescue her. And the fact they actually showed that juxtaposition is very interesting, does she really mean that or did she felt Hideo’s loneliness and she lied to him just so he could feel some empathy? I don’t know.. I wanted to hear your side!
    Thanks! ^^

    • Claire Napier on

      No she doesn’t, she says “sort of”. Stay tuned. 2nd Gig is coming.

      Batou, of course, is not.

  6. “Paz is also foxier in that series.” Yeah no kidding. I like how the slides below that remark have him looking like a checked out dad at a kids’ pizza party. Thanks for the excellent series btw.