Ghost in the Shell: The Major’s Body (9)

Motoko Kusanagi, The Major, Ghost in the Shell, 12" AD Figure #1

Ghost in the Shell Motoko Kusanagi 12" AD Variant #2 Action Doll, ToycomWhile I struggle through The Major’s Body: 2nd Gig (getting it just right is important), let’s take a detour through the valley of the dolls.

The Major has a lot of dolls. Reversed: a lot of people out there own objects which stand for “the Major.”

I am one of these people. I own one Major figure, and I’m going to concentrate on that. It’s a twelve-inch internally elasticated, ball jointed plastic doll, imported from Japan and purchased on eBay for £15 sometime in 2002. You can still get identical ones, for example, here.

She came in a pair of white knickers and matching cropped t-shirt, under a camouflage-print boiler suit with (best part) a tiny little belt of pouches and handgun holster. Accessories are listed. I let my last remaining Barbie wear the jumpsuit, pouches too, and keep my Major dressed in the most Eighties outfit I could find in our old toybox before it went out to charity. She looks nice in a sweater and trousers, right?

The doll has nipples. Unlike a Barbie, or similar doll for little girls, she has wee plastic nubs on her more apparently naturally-weighted (or course, both Barbie and Major’s breasts are solid moulded plastic) breasts. They’re not coloured in; that would stray from canon.

My mother hated to look at this doll; she rejected it outright. Seeing my plastic Major, mum looked into the gaze and the gaze looked back. (Related: it’s never stopped bothering me how unfocused she looks, the way her eyes are painted. The Major I know is sharp. It makes me protective of this doll, this tiny her, and that makes me uncomfortable. Why would I want to play at looking after my dazed heroine?) Showing this doll to her was an oppressive move on my part, unintentionally, and having done so, I found myself with an unspoken obligation to answer for that. I couldn’t. I was fifteen and still wondering when I’d “get real boobs.” I very determinedly found the Major’s nipples “hilarious.” I steadfastly told my mother how hilarious they were. She wasn’t interested. It bothered me and I kept trying again, batting my moth-self against the betraying light. No! My … data request … against … the … firewall?

You can figure out what’s bothering you about something, eventually, but that doesn’t protect you from it.

Don’t get excited or anything, but it’s hard to think of a less literal example of objectification of women. So, my doll’s about as on-message as possible.

Series Navigation<< Ghost in the Shell: The Major’s Body (8)The Major’s Body (10): Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig >>
Claire Napier

Claire Napier

Critic, ex-Editor in Chief at WWAC, independent comics editor; the rock that drops on your head. Find me at and give me lots of money

3 thoughts on “Ghost in the Shell: The Major’s Body (9)

  1. IDN, its a nipple. To me thats miles ahead of barbie, progressive wise. No need to be afraid of it. No need to put it on the pedal. No need to make more out of it than it is. Im actually glad that i can look at a doll with very light aureola since not everyone has the dark/pinkish ones.

    Its great that you can look back at this with sober eyes. But the not so sober eyes of Motoko may have less to do with oppressiveness, and more to to do with poor execution. Shes simply a play thing after-all. Just a thought. 🙂

  2. It could be surprising that I found your page looking for model sheets for SAC version Kusanagi for fan-art. I glad I’m not the only person who finds ARISE to be largely disagreeable.

    I agree largely with your Man-Machine Interface review. I avoided the English adaptation for the longest time until recently because of the confusing and fanservicey art but I although the biggest disappointment I’ve had with it is that it has these great plot points but never follows through with them. For instance, the proper follow up to that first chapter would have Motoko teleprescencing herself into a body to fight the determinist general and his special forces cadre in a disintegrating urban situation instead going to fight off nearby sub-pirates. The other issue is that Shirow never clearly delineated between stories. I feel that there’s like three stories, one with Motoko Kusanagi, one with Motoko Aramaki/Claire/Chroma just running around for no real reason, and the short last with the stupid psychic girl. One of the best things about the original story and GITS 1.5 is that they had clearly episodic chapters, with their own stories, and the chapter introducing the Puppeteer and the chapters where Puppeteer interferes with Motoko and she completes her merge being the only real interconnecting arc.

    I’m surprised you haven’t taken a look GITS1.5: Human Error Processor. Motoko is like in a chapter of it and it has a more diverse female cast, although there’s still repurposed sexbots-turned-assassins and maid outfits. GITS1.5 is interesting in that a lot of the franchise pulled a lot of elements from that book without acknowledging it (stuff like Kusanagi overexerting herself to the point she breaks her limbs off in the Oshii film, the fight with the undersea mining mech, Saito’s duel and the combat inhalers in Solid State Society, etc.)

    I honestly think that if someone were to make another GITS series, they really need to start mining Man-Machine Interface for usable instead of going back and covering old territory with Section 9 (which I still like, but I think I like them more without the Major) . The overall premise of Motoko vs. Motoko as evolution in action would be interesting in other hands, it’s just that Shirow’s output has taken a turn for the pornographic instead of being a better visual storyteller.

    BTW, the first GITS doesn’t just contain the only graphical sexual encounter in the franchise. GITS2 MMI originally, in it’s magazine release, had a rather rough two-page sex scene of the Human Liberation Front hacker getting double-penetrated by two African dudes for no real reason. The scene was subsequently removed in the collected Japanese release, which the American , but scans of the scene can be found. Stuff like this, Galhound, Galgrease, and W-Cat (which is where Shirow felt his porn need a storyline) makes you wish that he never got over his phobia of drawing men’s butts.

    1. I doubt I’ll cover Human Error Processor, in this series, simply because the Major’s hardly in it. It’s a fun enough comic, though, I’d take it to read on a picnic. It has more of the procedural vibe that I like so much, as well as the benefits and proven winners that you mention. It’s probably the best “Shirow makes a comic that tells a story” entry in GitS, as you suggest.

      Thanks for the info about the double penetration! That’s… not surprising, and quite uncomfortable, but food for thought.

      Personally, if I were asked to imagine a new story for these character or this franchise, I’d have them disbanded and decommissioned. Give all members of Section 9 a virus that prohibits them from functioning as Section 9. Slice of life, how do they live now type stuff. How do they relate to each other, the world, the organic/cybernetic bridge. Have it “fixed” by the end if that’s necessary (or kind? haha), but I want to see these people at home, at rest, and amongst the mundanities of their future-world. There’s plenty of existential possibility there. Don’t you think?

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