Major Motoko Kusanagi (草薙 素子 Kusanagi Motoko?) is a fictional Japanese character in the Ghost in the Shell anime and manga series. She is a cyborg employed as the squad leader of Public Security Section 9, a fictional division of the real Japanese National Public Safety Commission. She is voiced by Atsuko Tanaka in the movies and the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series. In the English dubbing of the original film, she is voiced by Mimi Woods. In both the sequel and in the Stand Alone Complex TV series, she is voiced by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn.

Kusanagi's various incarnations in the manga, movies, and TV series all portray her differently. Since each of these has an independent storyline, Kusanagi's physical and mental characteristics have been modified in different ways to reflect the focus of each respective story.



Motoko is a commanding presence when on assignment, but also trades insults with her troops. She constantly calls Aramaki "Ape Face" as well as other members in sector 9, and when the Puppet Master reveals the "Motokos" that exist in the minds of those who know her, Aramaki's "Motoko" is sticking her tongue out. She is much more light-hearted and immature in some occasions. Due to the Puppet Master case, she started to change and become much more serious.

In the sequel Ghost in the Shell 2: Man/Machine Interface, a person known as Motoko Aramaki appears. She identifies herself as containing "Motoko Kusanagi" elements, along with Project 2501, the Puppetmaster. She is also identified as "Motoko 11" hinting that there is more than one.

Film and TV Anime adaptation

The Major's character appears to be somewhat different in the feature-length films (directed by Mamoru Oshii) in comparison with her appearances in the TV series (directed by Kenji Kamiyama). Fans and critics have interpreted this as being an example of the existence of separate continuities, with the films occupying a reality wholly different from the television series. This interpretation is driven by a number of contradicting details in regard to plot and setting between the films and Stand Alone Complex, in addition to notable differences in style and themes between the two.

Ghost In The Shell (Film)

File:Ghost in the Shell - Major Kusanagi.png

Kusanagi is the main protagonist in the movie Ghost in the Shell, where she is Aramaki's second in command in Section 9. She is a very effective leader and is able to use her wits and cybernetic body in bringing criminals to justice. However, despite the number of cyborgs in Section 9, Kusanagi hand-picks Togusa, who has undergone only minimal brain modification, to balance the roster, an interesting expression of her belief that homogeneity is a weakness and that versatility is a strength. Kusanagi is frequently portrayed in the film as contemplative and brooding, in contrast to the down-to-earth nature of her colleague Batou. She usually wields an M-23 submachine gun that, while fictional, bears a striking resemblance to a P-90 - though with the magazine mounted vertically on the underside instead of horizontally as is the case with the P-90 and expends its empty shells to the side like a conventional weapon.

Since she has a full cybernetic body, she is not certain her ghost, or her soul, retains any humanity. In fact, she speculates on the possibility that she is entirely synthetic, with artificially generated memories designed to fool her into thinking she was once human. She goes scuba diving for relaxation, although she is so heavy that she would sink like an anchor if any malfunction in her buoyancy devices were to occur. Her fatalistic attitude towards her diving thoroughly confounds Batou. Throughout the movie, she seeks to find answers to her questions and finally meets the Puppet Master, a rogue AI who became sentient and who is similar to her in its quest for existential meaning. In the climax of the film, Kusanagi and the Puppet Master "merge" to form an entirely new entity that exists free of physical boundaries and propagates itself through the Net.

Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence

Innocence, picking up three years after the events of the original movie, focuses on Batou, who in the Major's absence has himself become brooding, withdrawn, and plagued by existential angst. Though she is referred to repeatedly in dialogue, the Major herself does not make any sort of appearance until Batou hears her voice in the convenience store, delivering the cryptic warning that he has "entered the Kill Zone."

Later in the film, the Major makes her first "true" appearance in Kim's manor, where she breaks into the hallway component of Kim's looping false memories and inserts herself (represented by the little girl prosthetic body she inhabited at the end of the first movie), providing clues to alert Batou to Kim's attempted ghost-hack on himself and Togusa.

Near the end of the film, the Major's ghost finally returns in person to help Batou on the Locus Solus gynoid factory ship. Using a satellite transmission, she attempts to download her ghost into one of the Hadaly gynoid production models - however, due to the insufficient memory of the gynoid's e-brain, she is only able to download a fraction of her full ghost into the doll. (She notes with marked disdain that the gynoid had barely enough memory for her combat protocols.) Her personality has not changed much from the first movie - she still retains her fondness for philosophy and her considerable skills in battle, though she has also gained the Puppet Master's formidable hacking abilities. In a climactic sequence strongly reminiscent of that in the first film (right down to the musical score), she tears apart her mechanical body in the process of opening the ship's CPU hatch in order to hack into it. After successfully locking down the ship and uncovering the truth behind the conspiracy, Kusanagi prepares to once again disappear into the Net, but reassures a despondent Batou that whenever he logs in, she will always be beside him.

Ghost in the shell: Stand Alone Complex TV anime

The Major retains much of her personality and spunk from the manga in the anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and its followup Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG, although she isn't disrespectful toward the Chief like she is in the manga. As in the original manga and unlike the movies, where she had black hair and blue-grey eyes, she now has blue-purple hair and red-violet eyes.

Stand Alone Complex

File:Motoko Outfits.JPG

Major Motoko Kusanagi's formal introduction in the first season comes during the first episode, when Section 9 is called in to resolve a hostage situation at a Geisha house. Throughout the series, The Major maintains her signature commanding presence and authority. The Major could best be described as a loner, relying very little on outside help to accomplish her goals. Among the various members of Section 9, Kusanagi is usually the one Chief Aramaki singles out to accompany him on official and off the record business.

About half-way through the first season, Kusanagi starts having reservations about the use of the Tachikoma sentient tanks, which have begun showing signs of individuality and curiosity not befitting their use as combat weapons. When Batou's Tachikoma escapes Section 9's Tachikoma storage facility and proceeds to go on an unauthorized joy ride through the city and spends the day with a young girl looking for a lost dog, Kusanagi begins to seriously contemplate having them returned to the lab. This feeling is further increased when the tank that was supposed to be watching her back wanders off. Ultimately, she decides to have them stripped of the weaponry and sent back to the lab that manufactured them for analysis and further work.

During the last of the episodes of the first season, Kusanagi, like the rest of the members of Section 9, becomes a target of Narcotic Suppression Squad (NSS) agents and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces (JMSDF) after discovering the truth behind the Laughing Man scandal. She is first targeted by the JMSDF, who damaged her prosthetic body, forcing Kusanagi to seek much needed repairs. During her prosthetic body swap, an NSS agent attempts to kill Kusanagi, but fails after the real Laughing Man saves her. After Section 9 is disbanded, its various members are captured by shock troopers of the Umibozu (an unofficial JMSDF special forces unit adept at paramilitary operations) until only Batou and Kusanagi are left. It was only after the three remaining Tachikoma sacrificed themselves to save Batou that she realises that their individuality made them better weapons. She even speculated that they might have gained ghosts, becoming truly alive. As Batou and Kusanagi attempt to leave the city, Umibozu commandos ambush and subsequently arrest Batou, and supposedly assassinate Kusanagi.

After Section 9's fall, Togusa sets out to assassinate the man responsible for its dissolution when he is intercepted by Batou, who brings him back to the team's new headquarters. Here, all members of Section 9 are revealed to be alive and in good health, including Kusanagi, and the first season concludes with the reinstatement of Section 9.

As in the manga, Kusanagi maintains her provocative dress, wearing nothing more than thigh-length boots, a strapless leotard with no trousers, and a leather jacket, as except in cases where this is inappropriate; during such times she will usually appear either in a tan military officer's uniform with markings that denote her rank as a Major, or in a black and grey tight-fitting combat suit that the team uses on its raids and other paramilitary operations (see top picture). In rare cases, Motoko will adopt other styles of dress appropriate to her surroundings, such as a London police officer and a garbage lady. She still maintains a dim view of sexism in all forms and methods; even going so far as to empathize with sex robots, despite how she herself dresses.

Kusanagi's personal life is not alluded to much in the first season, although the events of the episode "Missing Hearts" suggest that she underwent cyberization at a very early age (approximately age 9), and that she had trouble adapting to the use of the body which resulted in her inadvertently breaking one of her favorite dolls and crying at the same time. In that same episode, Kusanagi has a friendship with a female nurse although it is unclear whether that relationship is platonic or romantic.

2nd GIG

The second season begins much like the first, with a hostage situation and Section 9 (unofficially) on the scene. After receiving the permission of Prime Minister Kayabuki, Kusanagi orders Section 9 in to resolve the conflict. The scene climaxes with a shot right out of the original film. In accordance with the deal Prime Minister Kayabuki made with Aramaki before the raid, Kayabuki fully reinstates Section 9 for their success in resolving the situation without losing any of the hostages. In a surprising move, Kusanagi reverses her earlier position on the Tachikoma mini-tanks and reinstates them as members of Section 9. This may be due in part to the heroic sacrifice of three of these units to save Batou at the end of the first season. The Tachikomas clearly retain their old impishness, as one plays a 'gotcha' prank on Batou, who had a real soft spot for the blue tanks.


About a third of the way into the second season, Kusanagi — fed up with the way Section 9 is being used by Kazundo Gouda and his Cabinet Intelligence Service[1] — undertakes a risky sorté to infiltrate the CIS’s computer database. With the aid of the Tachikomas in their new net agent forms, the Major gains access to the central CIS database and learns that the CIS is behind a recent series of terrorist events in Japan, and also confirms that Section 9 is being manipulated in an effort to sway public opinion against the growing refugee population in Japan. This information, along with the other events in the series, leads Kusanagi to suspect that Gouda is attempting to overthrow the Japanese government, or at the very least, shake it up in such a way as to advance his position in it.

Shortly after Kusanagi’s infiltration of the CIS database, the Individual Eleven, a terrorist organization responsible for a violent string of attacks on unsuspecting Japanese citizens and vital government interests, surfaces in Nagasaki. The group makes one short speech atop a skyscraper before committing mass suicide by mutual decapitation with katanas. Aramaki, acting on his suspicion that Gouda had something to do with it, orders Section 9 to launch a full-scale investigation into Gouda in an effort to tie him to the Individual Eleven. The investigation comes to a head when the remains of a nuclear power plant was discovered buried in Nagasaki; Kusanagi, with the aid of other Section 9 members, secures the plutonium fuel rods to tie it to a CIS-run nuclear reactor excavation project, thereby linking Gouda to the nuclear plant operation and the Individual Eleven incidents.

During Section 9’s transportation of the plutonium to the SPring-8 synchrotron radiation facility for analysis, the Japanese Self Defense Army and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force are officially ordered to mobilize and head for Dejima Island, where the refugees have declared their independence. In a last-ditch effort to prevent the oncoming civil war, Prime Minister Kayabuki publicly announces plans for intervention by the United Nations. Concurrent with this announcement, Aramaki orders Kusanagi to infiltrate Dejima Island and capture Hideo Kuze, leader of the refugee insurgency, hoping that handing both him and the plutonium over to the UN inspectors will defuse the refugee situation. Shortly after this announcement, all communication in the Nagasaki area is disabled, preventing the team and Aramaki from communicating with each other. Kusanagi, realizing the seriousness of the situation, assumes command of all Section 9 members — including the Tachikomas — for the upcoming Dejima operation. Upon arriving in Dejima, the Major and her teammates become separated after a JMSDF helicopter attack, leaving Kusanagi to pursue Kuze by herself. She succeeds in finding and capturing him, but both Kuze and Kusanagi become trapped under a pile of rubble after a missile strike- it is during this that both become aware of who the other is, and their hidden history together (see below). Both were rescued by Batou, and were evacuated from Dejima by helicopter.

As Section 9 regroups from the Dejima operation, Kusanagi and Batou receive word that Gouda intends to defect to the American Empire. Kusanagi, angered by the needless loss of life on Dejima and the Tachikoma tanks as a result of the conflict, manages to gain access to the elevator Gouda intends to use to reach the ground floor. When the door opens at the top floor, she fires several rounds of her machine gun into Gouda, killing him instantly; however, she failed to stop the assassination of Kuze at the hands of an American Empire assassin.

In episode 11 of the second season, we learn that Kusanagi underwent full cyberization due to severe injuries she suffered in a plane crash when she was just six years old. Only she and a young boy survived. She was in a coma until it became apparent that she would die without undergoing cyberization. (Both of the children's parents died in the crash.) The boy had lost the use of much of his body except for his left hand, which he used to make origami cranes non-stop in order to make a wish for the unconscious Motoko to wake up. Two years later, the young Kusanagi was brought to see him after receiving her first artificial body to encourage the boy to undergo cyberization. However, the boy, not recognizing her as the same girl who had survived with him, proposed that if she could fold a paper crane with her cybernetic fingers, then he would undergo the cyberization. Motoko was unable to do so because she had not yet mastered such minute motor control, and the boy rejected the cyberization because he wanted to continue to make paper cranes for Motoko, whom he thought had died. After that day, Motoko never returned to the hospital and left him to make paper cranes, saying, "I'm going to practice making origami cranes so that I can fold them for you some day, okay?" That day, he relented and underwent cyberization, later becoming Hideo Kuze. It is not clear when Motoko finally had enough dexterity to fold a paper crane although she demonstrated the ability by folding a sugar cube wrapper into a paper crane with one hand in episode 11.

Solid State Society

The Major doesn't show up much in the first half of Solid State Society. Her first scene shows her on a building then jumping off, disappearing into the darkness. She shows up later as Chroma, CIS body, to warn Batou to stay away from the "Solid State Society." She returns to her normal body after "Chroma" re-stores herself in the recharging chamber. She is suspected of being the Puppeteer, but this is changed when she rescues Togusa from a suicide attempt. She leads Section 9 on a raid to find the Puppeteer. At the end of Solid State Society, she repeats her famous line, "The net is truly vast and infinite."

Script error


In the original manga, Kusanagi's portrayal differs from that of the movie. She has a much more vivacious and sexy personality, and early in the manga she participates in a lesbian cyber-threesome while on leave. This is apparently a "side business" for Motoko, as stated by Masamune in the back of the manga trade paperback. She has a boyfriend during a latter chapter in the manga. He works for Section One, and they have been dating for nearly seven months. Batou considers this "a new record."

Shirow noted in his poster-collection, Intron Depot 1, that "I drew an all-girl orgy because I didn't want to draw some guy's butt."

The pages were cut from the original American release of the manga, as it would have entailed giving the book an "adults only" rating. Ultimately, Shirow decided it wasn't important to the plot, and two panels were redrawn to match continuity. In the second edition, released on November 17, 2004, the scene is completely unedited.

In the animated TV series, Motoko has a similar sex life, but with a less explicit depiction. She is seen waking up in a bed with other sleeping women, presumably a reference to her business in the manga. She has no boyfriends or lovers, but she has a close relationship with Batou, and some intimacy with Kuze. She also uses herself as a honeypot on several occasions, distracting a male police officer and at one point posing as a sex doll.


  • ^ In the anime, this agency is referred to as the "Cabinet Intelligence Service", but in other GITS material it is known as the "Cabinet Intelligence Agency"


Script erroruk:Кусанаґі Мотоко

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