[Links] The Shell of the Ghost

By: Anime Feminist March 23, 20172 Comments

While preparing some upcoming content on Ghost in the Shell, Peter brought to my attention this 2014 series of posts by Claire Napier on how the Major’s body is presented and considered in the many Japanese versions of the franchise.

Ghost in the Shell: The Major’s Body (Women Write About Comics)

A screenshot of the beginning of Napier's article from the website Women Write About Comics. At the top of the page, an iconic image of Kusanagi in sunglasses and holding a gun. Title: "Ghost in the Shell: The Major's Body (1)". Text: "The Major, or Motoko Kusanagi, is the protagonist of each incarnation of the Ghost in the Shell manga-anime merchandise 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?" Underneath the text is a row of images of dolls/figures of the Major in various forms, sexualized to different degrees.

Batou asks her, early in the season, why she sticks with “that female-model body”. Switch to a male chassis, increase your strength and physical power, he says. She ducks out of the question, physically besting him with her hacking skills (under her cyberbrain-hacking instruction, he punches his own face). The Major says that while she can out-think Batou, she doesn’t need to outmatch his bodily strength. I don’t like this exchange; it sounds too much like women are weak but they’re cleverer — which isn’t true enough to serve.
Existing in-story in a fully manufactured body, being under creative control of animation professionals who present her as a sexual prospect, the Major allows me to consider from just the right distance: what does it mean to have one of these? A “woman’s body”.

This series explores the presentation of Motoko Kusanagi through visual analysis of the manga, anime and films, revealing the writer’s own insights and asking thought-provoking questions. It contains spoilers for the whole franchise, but you don’t need to have read or seen any of Ghost in the Shell to follow or appreciate the points being made. At a time when the remake is inspiring heated discussions about what a Japanese cyborg should look like and why, it’s fascinating to take a deep dive into this topic as it exists in the Japanese versions only.

Read the full series then let us know what you think in comments below!

We Need Your Help!

We’re dedicated to paying our contributors and staff members fairly for their work—but we can’t do it alone.

You can become a patron for as little as $1 a month, and every single penny goes to the people and services that keep Anime Feminist running. Please help us pay more people to make great content!

Comments are open! Please read our comments policy before joining the conversation and contact us if you have any problems.

%d bloggers like this: