My, My, Major. How You Have Changed.

Tomorrow will see the release of the newest instalment in the Ghost in the Shell franchise: Ghost in the Shell: Arise. But this isn’t the Ghost in the Shell you remember — not visually at least.

While all the characters you know and love are recognisable — though younger as this is a prequel — fans of the two TV series and the movie Solid State Society will no doubt feel that this version of the Major looks nothing like the one they are used to. And they are right. But Ghost in the Shell is one of those franchises where the characters can — and have had — drastic changes to their character designs.

So let’s look through the character designs of the four major characters — Major Kusanagi, Batou, Togusa and Chief Aramaki — as they appear in the original manga, Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society and, finally, Ghost in the Shell: Arise.

The Major has no doubt had the most drastic character design changes. But what’s most interesting about her Arise design is how similar her facial features are to her counterpart from the 1995 film. As Arise is a prequel, it makes sense to go back to a design reminiscent of the film that made Ghost in the Shell world-famous.

There are a lot of constants in Batou’s design — the cyborg eyes, the constant frown — but what does change is his hair. Sometimes it short and spikey, sometimes it’s long and tied back in a ponytail, and sometimes it somewhere in between. It seems that is the only aspect of his design — other than his clothes — that isn’t resistant to change.

But as little as Batou has changed across the iterations, Togusa has changed even less. He’s always got the bangs and mullet and is constantly wearing suit pants with a matching jacket. But on a meta note, I really like that the one guy with the least amount of cybernetics remains the most constant throughout the franchise.

When it comes to Aramaki’s character design, it’s all about the hair. In some iterations, it’s slightly poofy. In others it’s a force of nature that even gravity is powerless against. In Solid State Society, I’m tempted to think it is growing into its own life form. I mean it clearly has ribs.

And here’s the rest of the cast in their Stand Alone Complex, Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG, and Arise iterations for your review.

Ghost in the Shell: Arise border 1: Ghost Pain will be released in Japanese theatres on June 22, 2013. No international release date has been announced but the Japanese Blu-rays, which include English subtitles, will be released on July 26, 2013.


    Wow, Surface much?

      Yeah, the Surface promotion is rather silly. The special advert they animated couldn't even show her USE Surface. Motoko 1. Doesn't use commercial products and 2. The idea of using her fingers to operate an OS is laughably primitive.

        I do like the fact that none of them seem to have any idea what to do with them. Borma looks like he's contemplating eating his.

    I'm all for more GITS regardless of image changes. It remains one of my favorite series ever since its first iteration.

    The most informative article on Kotaku I've seen in a long time. +1

    The designs of both the Major and Batou in Arise strongly resemble those from the original movie, particularly that pensive look on the Major's face. Besides, when you consider that most of the other characters look virtually unchanged, and that these two traditionally have the most extensive cyberisation (virtually all of their external bodies), I'm not really seeing any discontinuity here.

    More GITS yeah! My only gripe, the tinniest one is it completely retcons 2nd Gigs Episode 14: Poker Face... where Saito tells the story to the rookies about how he (and Batou) first met the Major.

      If you really pay attention to that episode, it's pretty clear that most, if not all of the story Saito tells is a fabrication. It conflicts with many of the details we know of when characters met each other from other points given throughout the series. In other words, it was a bluff.

      Last edited 23/06/13 3:26 pm

    From memory, wasn't Kusanagi an android or similar? The fact that a robot has "aged" probably frustrates me more than it should...

    What a sweet blast from the past. This is my alltime fav anime series. I am soo going to be hunting for this as soon as it's released. A few words on the story wouldn't have gone astray in the article.

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