|“||Just a whisper, I hear it in my ghost.||”|
Motoko Kusanagi (草薙 素子, Kusanagi Motoko) is the main character in Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex anime series. She is an advanced cyborg with highly advanced capabilities, recognized as a true professional in her line of duty. Often referred only as "The Major" (少佐), Motoko is one of the best police agents out there, and her squad, known as Section 9, is highly regarded as well. In the Stand Alone Complex continuity, Motoko Kusanagi is a confident, calculating, and somewhat aloof individual. Despite that, she is far from emotionless; she knows how to be friendly and her peers find her quite approachable, while her rage is something to behold. Yet deeper under the shell, she guards the story of her cyberization, or full-body prosthesis procedure, which damaged her memories from her childhood.
Over the course of the series, she and her team take on particular cases known as "Stand Alone Complexes": processes or events which harbor no point of origin, leading multiple independent people towards one mutual goal. Beneath the veneer of organized crime, she uncovers plots such as the Laughing Man, the Individual Eleven, the Solid State Society, and the post-human phenomenon.
- 1 Background
- 2 History
- 2.1 Childhood
- 2.2 Serving the JGSDF
- 2.3 The Laughing Man Arc
- 2.4 The Individual Eleven Arc
- 2.5 The Solid State Society Arc
- 2.6 The Post-human Arc
- 3 Appearance
- 4 Personality and traits
- 5 Abilities
- 6 Relationships
- 7 Image Gallery
- 8 Quotes
- 9 References
Little is known about the Major's past. She keeps her personal life for herself, and not even her closest ones know about her true identity. Motoko Kusanagi is a mere pseudonym she was given once she experienced cyberization. With that name, she was enlisted in the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force and served some time, until she was recruited by Daisuke Aramaki to work for his Public Security Section 9, a private investigation group. She's the second highest-ranking member and the most cyberized person in the team.
As the years go by, Motoko and her team are enlisted in the cases of Stand Alone Complexes, in pursuit of a cyber criminal hacker known as The Laughing Man, and later on the second season, the Individual Eleven case. She has a knack against injustice, and fights for the fairness of humankind, a trace of which she longs to possess.
Despite hinted many times, it's finally revealed in season 2 that Motoko underwent cyberization when she was a child, being a survivor of a disastrous plane crash. She and another handicapped boy were the only ones to have been successfully treated. The transformation procedure had wiped most of her childhood memories, but she could recall the fact that the other survivor, who was around her age, had devoted himself to her while she was in coma, folding cranes as he desperately wished her to get well. Out of circumstances, they had lost contact with each other and went their separate ways. Motoko finally became who she is to this day, while the other boy disappeared from sight.
Little is known about the Major's childhood, during the times before she was Motoko Kusanagi. At her young years, she had a family and was involved in a plane crash, which she and another boy ended up as the only survivors. She was kept in a coma state and needed urgent care, while the other boy had most of his body paralyzed save for his left arm and face. Seeing her sorry state, the boy felt sympathy for her and urged the doctors to help her first, folding cranes as a way to wish her well. Eventually, the girl was pulled away from the clinic, and the boy thought she had died. In reality, she had gone prosthetic transition and became a full cyborg: her ghost put inside a shell. She was adopted by another family and was given good foster care, even possessing a toy doll. When she learned about the boy's efforts and devotion for her, the girl returned to the clinic to visit him, every day. Despite bonding together as friends, she was reluctant into revealing him her true identity. Nevertheless, the girl wanted to be reunited with her guardian again, so she invited him to become a cyborg too. He accepted, on one condition: if he would be a cyborg, he should have the ability to fold cranes with his left hand. He then demanded the girl to do it for him, but she failed due to her lack of fine movement controls. Saddened to have failed the very person who motivated her to live again, the girl left, telling the boy that she would return once she was able to fold as many cranes as he did for her. She was never seen again, as the boy realized who she was and soon became a cyborg, ultimately leaving the hospital before she could return. Both children parted ways ever since, regretting that they were never true to themselves and their feelings. Little did they know that their paths would cross again.
Serving the JGSDF
Later years, the girl took the name of Motoko Kusanagi and was enlisted in the army due to her status as a full-cyborg. She made her way up to the rank of Major, eventually catching the attention of Lieutenant Colonel Daisuke Aramaki, who was also head of a special operations team known as Section 9. Forming the main squad, Daisuke and Motoko recruited former ranger Batou Buttetsu, engineer Ishikawa, bomb squad trooper Boma, street thug Pazu and eventually the mercenary Saito, who was defeated in a marksman showdown with The Major. Their latest member was the detective Togusa, a family man with almost no prosthetic enhancement. Particularly during this time, The Major and Batou formed a close professional and friendly relationship, with implied sexual tension between the two.
The Laughing Man Arc
In the 2030's, a series of cyber crimes against the government rise. Medical doctors who specialize in prosthetic designs are attacked, and a conspiracy about a medical product circulates. A mysterious figure is the origins of these attacks: The Laughing Man, a hacker who cannot be seen. Daisuke Aramaki enlists the Major and her team to investigate and uncover the criminal behind the fraudulent acts. At the same time, she takes on side cases and brings battle against the enemies of the law.
The cyberbrain switch
Takeshi Kago conspiracy
Illegal Prosthetic Trade
The Network Movie Director
Laughing Man appears
Hunted by Umibozu squad and disbandment of the team
The Individual Eleven Arc
Reforming Section 9
Stopping the Jigabachi malfunction
Exploited by Kazundo Gouda
The Mysterious Assassin
Tracking Hideo Kuze
A Closure to The Past
The Solid State Society Arc
The Post-human Arc
NSA recruitment and the return of Section 9
Motoko Kusanagi often switches her prosthetic bodies. Despite that habit, she keeps distinguishable traits among the many shells she uses. Her body frames usually consist of a slim and well endowed young woman. She keeps violet-colored hair and crimson red eyes. Sometimes she's seen wearing maroon colored glasses.
In Season 1, Motoko's standard attire is quite a revealing one, as noted by many characters. It consists of a light purple leotard worn over the chest that goes just above the crotch. The bottom of the leotard is black. An utility belt is attached on the leotard, precisely the waist. A dark purple leather jacket covers her upper set of apparel. Under her waist, Motoko dons clothing similar to pink leggings, which go up halfway to the thighs, revealing her rear. Her boots are purple. Evidently considering the impracticability of her getup, she sometimes wears pants instead. She always keeps finger-less military gloves.
In season 2, her attire is more efficient and optimized. Her standard attire slightly is different during this season. She wears a sporty jacket that only reaches her biceps and the collarbone area, which protects the neck. She keeps her signature leotard. Her pants are light purple, with a black belt holstered on. She continues to wear black fingerless gloves and boots.
In Solid State Society, Motoko's wore her a plain grey skintight bodysuit and combat boots, with a black combat trench coat worn. With other clothing worn on the back side. The bodysuit seems to not be of Section 9's combat uniforms, as it didn't have the same designs as the ones worn with her combat uniform. She continued to wear finger less gloves. She seems to have replaced her traditional marooned colored glasses with normal black lenses. It's likely that Motoko wore this attire during her two years away from Section 9, as she remained busy and operative in secret. Therefore she likely discarded her signature leotard attire.
Motoko has worn several other attires as the series went on.
When attending conference meetings, Motoko wore a almond colored Military dress uniform.
When assigned to operate in a top secret mission, Motoko wore combat clothing given to her and her team for the mission. It included a brown vest over a black short sleeved shirt. with combat pants worn.
When assigned to travel to other locations, Motoko wears a white coat with a grey belt worn. A white undershirt with a black tie tucked in is worn underneath. Along with grey long boots.
When posing as the thief Cash Eye, Motoko wore a white skintight catsuit. The bicep areas had black designs and accents across her body. To keep her identity safe, she donned a thick grey headset . This outfit has never appeared again since then.
When not on missions and to keep up with Section 9, Motoko would wear a dark blue form fitting dress uniform that slightly revealed her legs on the sides.
When reliving her past, Motoko wore a short loose blue shirt and white pants.
When assigned to a different squad as part of a special mission involving other nations, Motoko wore a long brown coat and black clothing underneath.
When traveling on her own, Motoko wore a sleeveless white button up shirt with a long black skirt and heel shoes.
For a brief time when hunting down Kuze, Motoko wore a grey combat jumpsuit. The bicep areas have cargo pockets. A shoulder belt is worn with utility compartments. With a normal utility belt worn. Black boots are worn. A white undershirt is worn. Grey gloves are combat gloves are worn.
Motoko is mostly seen in her Section 9 uniform, which she is most recognized in.
Sometimes, she will participate in mission by only wearing the grey bodysuit that is worn under the combat clothing of her uniform. Which include darker grey designs and accents.
Personality and traits
The Major is known to be extremely stoic and practical. She always takes the best and most optimal routes in the world she lives in. Her life experiences have made her an assertive woman with a keen judgment. Her enemies fear her because of her prowess and prosthetic advantages, while her friends and close ones enjoy her humanity. The Major holds a rather comical and friendly relationship with her Section 9 operatives, most notably Batou with whom she has a close bond. Motoko also understands many a human concepts, such as desire and lust. She exploits this to an advantage, as she usually tends to wear revealing clothes to fool her dim-witted opponents. In her mind, the shell she uses is not what defines her true self. However, deep down inside her, she secretly longs for a sign that can prove her humanity. There are many hints to this personal quest, as Motoko is sometimes showed experiencing human activities like socializing, people-watching, and sexual intercourse. Despite being dejected by society because of her lack of outward humanity, Motoko doesn't feel any grudge for the world, and always tries to get the best of reality.
In reality, the hope that clings to her is her childhood, at the time she had lost everyone close and dear to her. When all seemed lost, there was a boy who gave her hope: a motivation to live and find purpose again. Motoko was never one to believe in fairy tales, but the boy's determination had indeed motivated her to go on with life. After becoming a cyborg, Motoko befriended him, but thought she had disappointed him because she wasn't able to return the efforts he had given for her. Thus, leaving the first person she loved, The Major went her own way. And as an adult, she accomplishes herself for her own sake, but ultimately, as a token of appreciation for the boy's efforts, whom she swore to find again.
The Major has access to the most advanced technology of combat cyborgs in Japan. Despite that, she keeps a good balance between a human-resembling body and technologies useful to her job. Since she is fully prosthetic and mechanical, save for her human consciousness, Motoko is quite prone to travel her mind into the world beyond. Aside from her body and mental aptitudes, she is an accomplished fighter with great judgment and self-control. She is knowledgeable in many forms of martial arts and strategies, as demonstrated many times through the events of Stand Alone Complex. She is also a great hacker, able to gain access to restricted information throughout the planet. Her weapons of preference are the Seburo M5 pistol and C-26 A assault rifle. Even if she's a force to be reckoned with, Motoko isn't invincible and can be scarcely outmatched in different outcomes, due to her versatility and balanced body composition, which lacks a focused specialty. She had only been bested by the greatest of her foes, notably in hacking by the enigmatic Laughing Man, in influence by the CIS' Kazundo Gouda and in emotions by the full-cyborg revolutionary Hideo Kuze, the latter of whom she shares many similarities.
Vulnerable to hacking
The Laughing Man
"If you've got a problem with the world, change yourself. If that's a problem, close your eyes, shut your mouth, and live like a hermit. And if that's a problem… " -Motoko, holding her pistol at a fugitive
"If you've got time to be depressed, why not grace us with your special talents?" -Motoko to Togusa, during the latter's training
"Apparently, he sometimes likes to swap bodies with geishas when he gets drunk." -Motoko, on behalf of a political suspect
"Don't get so googly-eyed that you wander into its field of fire! Let's go!" -Motoko to the Tachikomas, chasing Takeshi Kago
"No. It was just for a split second, but I felt something when I burned out Kago's brain. "Well, Mom? What do you think of me in my steel body?" It was a strange sensation. It wasn't pride… Or vengeance." -Motoko, after hacking and short-circuiting Kago's brain
"I have to admit, for a movie it wasn't bad- but diversionary entertainment is transitory, it just comes and goes at the viewers whim. It's the way it should be, but a film with no beginning or end that hooks an audience and won't let go of them is harmful no matter how wonderful you may have believed it was." -Motoko to the movie director, about his work
"...Dreams are meaningful when you work toward them in the real world. If you merely live within the dreams of other people it's no different from being dead." -Motoko to the movie director, about ideals and dreams.
"Those are pretty serious words, where'd you get them from, I'd like to know. A watch and weight training gear, both of us have clung to useless scraps of memory, haven't we?" -Motoko to Batou 
"Kuze. Can you fold origami cranes; only using your left hand?" -Motoko confronting Kuze about their childhood relationship
"I don't recall. I have a pseudonym though. It's the same with you isn't it?" -Motoko, sympathizing with Kuze's suffering and struggles about identity
- ntv.co.jp, Motoko Kusanagi
- This is a foreshadowing of her secret goal and her past, presented in Season 2
- This is another foreshadowing moment, which directly alludes to Motoko's relationship with Batou, and their attachment to useless pains of the past which brings them closer. At the same time, it alludes her more important reminders, which is later revealed in 2nd Gig to be the boy who saved her life as a child.