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 seven of a pan-franchise series (find previous parts here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 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.
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.
- 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,
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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
This 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.
I 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 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~~
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?
Hey 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, I hate that this year the Major’s body relies on an everyman like you.