Doing Sexy Right: A Look at Ghost in the Shell’s Major Motoko Kusanagi


5By William Shelton

Earlier this month Metal Gear Solid 5 was released and with it came controversy over the design of one of the female characters. I haven’t played the game yet so I’m not going to comment on Quiet’s clothing but I will say Laura Kate did a great video summing up her thoughts and you should all go check that out. What I want to talk about is the anime Ghost in the Shell which I started watching for the first time a few days ago. I’m only about eight or nine episodes in, but one of the things I’m loving about this show is how well the creators handled the sexulisation of the main character, Major Motoko Kusanagi.

1The first thing I noticed about both the show and Kusanagi’s character was her ridiculous outfit. The Major’s default costume is little more than a corset and thong. It was impossible to ignore the titillating nature of the outfit or how absurd it would be to ware into combat, but I rolled my eyes and went with it. Comic books and other anime have long since taught me to except this kind of ridiculousness so long as the character was well written. I mean, what could you reasonably ask for in an anime, a woman in sensible footwear and body armor that protects all a characters major organs, yeah rig…..

2Oh….this changes things. I don’t remember if the Major underwent this costume change in the first episode, she did in the second which was more of a combat operation than the first was anyways. This simple costume change helped to establish a lot about the Majors character and in my
opinion it also helps justify the “corset and thong” she wares throughout the show. By having the Major switch into combat armor for the more action heavy segments we learn that she’s well aware of the danger that comes with her job and that she’s not foolish enough to go into battle unprepared. She’s a Soldier and more importantly she’s a Professional and she acts like it. This is expanded in a later episode when she is undercover at a press conference wearing a Formal Uniform. Again the viewer is shown that the Major knows what’s appropriate for the situation at hand; she’s attending a professional event and she dresses accordingly.

3“Okay,” I hear you ask “but how does that justify the sexual nature of her normal outfit”? Personally I feel that this helps sell the idea that she just likes looking sexy. While there are plenty of valid arguments against the justification that a fictional character “chooses” to dress sexually, to me it works better here because, unlike so many other female characters, the Majors sexual dress never puts her in danger. You wouldn’t be able to disrobe her in a fight and her armor covers the parts of her that are actually important, not just the fun “important bits”.
I still prefer her more toned down look in the spin off…reboot…reimagining…thing that was Ghost in the Shell: Arise, but I’m still glad the original show brought us a character that was allowed to be sexy while also knowing when to drop the titillation. Kusanagi’s sexuality never infringes on her ability to be bad ass because the creators crafted a character who knew when not too be sexy. Nor is it possible to ignore her sexuality because she has so little issue flaunting it. She looks good, she knows it and she wants you to know it as well….just not in the middle of a firefight.

4I completely understand why some women may disagree with me on this issue, and I’m not going to attempt to say their wrong for feeling that way. If you’d like to discus this further please feel free to take to the comment section.

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One response to “Doing Sexy Right: A Look at Ghost in the Shell’s Major Motoko Kusanagi

  1. Pingback: Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie Trailer and Impressions | Poor Mans Geek

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