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Motoko Kusanagi

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
by yo go re

For Western audiences, their first exposure to "Japanimation" (as in, something distinct from average "cartoons") was Akira. And their second was probably Ghost in the Shell.

In a futuristic, post-cyberpunk Japan, Public Security Section 9 is an elite counter-terrorism unit specializing in cyber-warfare, tasked with high-profile or politically sensitive responsibilities. Operating under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Section 9 is more of a police unit than a military one, though many of its members have special ops backgrounds. Section 9's existence is unknown to the public at large.

Section 9's squad leader is Major Motoko Kusanagi, a full-body cyborg. Cybernetic augmentation is commonplace in the world of Ghost in the Shell, and all that's left of the Major's organic body is her brain and a little bit of spinal column. And her name is just as fake as her body: "Motoko" (素子) literally translates as "elementary child" (elementary as in "basic unit," not as in "grade school"), and Kusanagi is the famous Grasscutter sword; her name is the Japanese equivalent of calling a character "Plain-Jane Excalibur."

This figure is ostensibly based on the Ghost in the Shell TV series, Stand Alone Complex; at least, that's what the packaging claims. But in GitS:SAC, The Major wore an outfit that looked like this - lingerie and a motorcycle jacket. It wasn't until the sequel/second season, Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2nd Gig, that she started wearing lingerie, a motorcycle jacket, and pants. The jacket on this figure is a separate piece, just like on the toy Artemis reviewed, but it's not removable - there are no bare arms to replace her sleeves.

Since The Major has been fully inorganic since age 6, her body is really just a thing, an item; specifically, it's a standard, mass-market model, which means there are any number of women walking around out there with her same face. This was chosen so she could be inconspicuous, like an undercover police officer driving a Dodge Stratus instead of a Dodge Charger (though her style of dress would seem to undercut that effort). Of course, that's just her outer shell - the interior systems are all top-of-the-line stuff that's not available on the civilian market. So that you can change her expression, she has three faces: angry, neutral, and yelling. Much like Mega Man and his helmet, you first have to remove the front of Motoko's hair to swap the faces; and to add more variety, Figma has given us an alternate piece of hair to plug in - one blowing to the side in the wind, making poses more dynamic.

And pose she can! Just like Figma Samus, Motoko's chock-full of useful articulation. She has hinged toes, swivel/hinge ankles and knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, a balljointed waist and chest, swivel/hinge/swivel wrists, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge and balljoint shoulders, and a swivel/hinge head. There's also a joint of some sort at the bottom of the neck, perhaps a balljoint or a hinge with swivels above and below it; we can't say for sure what it is, because it's all the way under her jacket, but it moves around, and that's the important thing. All the joints move smoothly, and the figure itself is assembled from such light pieces that the joints easily hold whatever poses you put her in.

According to official sources, The Major stands 168cm tall - for those of you who don't have your slide rules handy, that's 5'6" (in a real system of measurement) or .987 smoots (in an equally obtuse and useless one). The toy is just a hair below 5½" tall, making her nearly in a perfect 6" scale. Of course, thanks to the persistent size creep most 6" toylines undergo, she looks much smaller than that. But again, that's not a problem with Motoko, it's a problem with every other toy we'd be comparing her to.

She comes with three accessories: a Seburo M5 handgun and a Seburo C26A assault rifle with a separate silencer. Both of those are fictional guns invented for the series, and their distinctive designs have been re-created expertly here. She also comes with four additional pairs of hands: beyond the two fists she's wearing in the tray, she has a pair with splayed fingers, a pair for gripping, a pair to hold the C26A, and a pair to hold the pistol (she's a righty - in both those cases, the left hand is shaped to provide a stabilizing grip).

There's one more extra in the package, and it's a weird one. She comes with an extra pair of boobs. Yes, boobs. They swap out just like her face does. Why include a second chest? Because the breasts are slightly more squashed together, allowing her arms to get closer together, thereby facilitating two-handed gun poses. Utterly weird choice, isn't it? And yet, here we are.

We also get a clear hexagonal display base with an articulated arm - and it's got a little add-on piece at the tip to add another bend to the piece, to better accommodate whatever poses you want to give The Major. Don't want it? It's removable! And before we forget, there's a baggie with some little black thing in it; it's a replacement wrist joint, in case you need it.

McFarlane Toys once made a Ghost in the Shell action figure, but it should come as absolutely no surprise that this one is better in every way. Also a ton more expensive, but the price is commensurate with the quality. GitS isn't quite the watershed that Akira was, but it's still an important film. And this figure may be based on Stand Alone Complex, but it's still nice to get a toy of Major Motoko Kusanagi that's in scale with other figures.

And wearing pants.

-- 05/02/15

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