Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Motoko Kusanagi figure

Right, it’s time to get back to work. The review queue is impressive: scads and scads of Tony figures, a couple of Asukas (but – strangely enough – no Reis), and a bunch of Seven Deadly Sins figures that I never seem to know how I want to photograph. We’ll start off looking at this girl, one Motoko Kusanagi of Public Security Section 9, who is dressed to kill in her own unique way. One can surmise that Scarlett Johansson won’t be wearing anything like what Major Kusanagi is wearing here.

Motoko Kusanagi figure

Motoko is the heroine of Masamune Shirow’s magnum opus Ghost in the Shell. The 1995 motion picture adaptation brought the series into the mainstream, or at least as much of the mainstream as anime had penetrated at the time, and its reputation has grown over time. A well-received two-season television anime titled Stand Alone Complex aired in the mid-2000s, and an American film adaptation is in the works, starring the aforementioned actress (presumably as the Major, but perhaps not; little seems to have been decided as far as the production goes).

Motoko Kusanagi figure

This figure is manufactured by Union Creative, a company that I’m not particularly familiar with. They produced a figure of the horror-themed Miku Hatsune derivative Calne Ca a while back that I was somewhat interested in, but it was fairly expensive and I didn’t feel too compelled to buy it.

Motoko Kusanagi figure

The major stands about 24 centimeters in height. No scale size is given for Motoko, but her somewhat-realistic body proportions make her look about 1/7 scale in appearance. She’s ready for display right out of the box; no assembly or disassembly is needed aside from placing on her wedge-shaped base.

Motoko Kusanagi figure

This figure is based on Motoko’s appearance in the first season of Stand Alone Complex. Although Ghost in the Shell is always closely identified with Shirow, the quirks of his character design sensibilities weren’t all that obvious in the anime, and they’re even less evident here. This figure adapatation of Motoko presents a fairly realistic look, with normal-sized eyes rather than the large, vaguely insect-like look that Shirow favors. There’s not a lot of emotion to be read in Motoko’s face; she has a very blank expression that is a bit different compared to other figures of her, which typically portray her as stern and poised.

Motoko Kusanagi figure

On the other hand, the fashionable pose that she’s striking isn’t entirely something one would imagine Motoko doing in the series, either. One of the hallmarks of Shirow’s style are elongated female bodies and Motoko does have very long legs and a tall torso, but she has a curvy, adult build rather than the slender, spindly limbs typically featured in the manga-ka’s work.

Motoko Kusanagi figure

Motoko’s costume consists of thick thigh-high socks, a high-cut leotard, and a leather jacket, shrugged down to reveal a bare shoulder. It’s a great outfit that looks completely undignified but comes together well anyway.

Motoko Kusanagi figure

Her leotard has a thong back which completely reveals her backside; it’s still undignified and it still looks great. Motoko wasn’t really much of a sex symbol in the original anime film adaptation but her Stand Alone Complex design reflects a common theme in cyberpunk – sexy, highly-skilled female combatants clad in tight, shiny clothes. Molly in William Gibson’s seminal novel Neuromancer is one of the progenitors of this concept and The Matrix’s Trinity is perhaps the best-known, and it shows up in numerous other sci-fi anime as well, including Ghost in the Shell contemporaries like Gunnm, Bubblegum Crisis, and Armitage III.

Motoko Kusanagi figure

In terms of technical quality, Motoko looks pretty decent from a typical viewing distance but not nearly as good when inspected up close. Small pitting is evident, particularly in her hair and in the top bands of her thigh-highs. The paint job is serviceable, being neither conspicuously bad nor impressively detailed.

Motoko Kusanagi figure

I’d say this is a decent figure that is made more attractive due to the fact that Motoko hasn’t gotten many figures, despite having existed for over twenty years as the central character of one of the most famous and influential manga and anime series ever created. The technical problems are definitely present, but are perhaps forgiveable, and her overall look is appealing, as long as one doesn’t mind her placid facial expression. Overall, I’m reasonably happy with this figure, particularly considering that this is amongst my favorite version of all of Motoko’s incarnations.

Motoko Kusanagi figure
Motoko Kusanagi figure
Motoko Kusanagi figure
Motoko Kusanagi figure
Motoko Kusanagi figure
Motoko Kusanagi figure
Motoko Kusanagi figure
Motoko Kusanagi figure
Motoko Kusanagi figure
Motoko Kusanagi figure
Motoko Kusanagi figure
Motoko Kusanagi figure
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11 Responses to Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

  1. ary says:

    Nice photos! I’m not sure what to think of Motoko’s expression– I almost like it just for the novelty. Also, I’m curious– did you end up getting the Amikuni figure of Asuka? I’m pretty fond of her overall and I’d love to know what you think, if so.

    • Tier says:

      Thanks! Yeah, in fact I did; I should take pictures of her already, and the Alter Asuka, and the Kotobukiya Asuka that I’ve got somewhere here …

  2. Zerogriffo says:

    Great figure and great pics… I love the anime!

  3. Ad says:

    Hey Tier. I had a question that’s not particularly related to this blog post.

    What deputy or shipping service do you use that allows you to purchase all of the pornographic and loli goods you’ve gotten from smaller Japanese stores that don’t ship outside Japan. I’ve been using Tenso for my Vita games and such and it’s worked fine but I’vs only purchased from Amazon Japan and they say that they don’t ship porn or obscene goods to other countries.

    • Tier says:

      Uhh, that’s a good question. I used to use Yokatta but they seem to have fallen off the face of the planet, or so I last heard. If I need to order something via proxy, I usually use Shopping Mall Japan. They’re a little expensive, though, and their bulk shipping thing really doesn’t save you any money versus a direct shipment from Japan, in my experience, so I’m kinda looking around for another service. They’ve always been pretty good to me in terms of reliability and quality of service, though, and they definitely do buy and ship hentai stuff with no problem.

  4. wieselhead says:

    Never was a big fan of GIS, cyberpunk isn’t made for me.
    Recently I liked Ghost in the Shell Arise with a younger version of Kusanagi. I really like her casual appearance in the red leathersuit, the very tomboyish look works very well with her beautiful eyes.

    The figure you’ve reviewed is nice, in contrast to the trained body her face is surprisingly cute. Nevertheless she has a few strange angles where the face is less convincing.
    Her outfit is nice, but I feel the urge to see her naked XD

    turning anime into real movies is not always so good, one reason is also the lack of fanservice, once I saw the Space Battleship Yamato real movie and nearly cried when I saw the nurse Makoto, she wasn’t pretty a all ;(

    • Tier says:

      I’m really not expecting too much from the Ghost in the Shell film, though it would be nice if it turned out well. I have to admit that the only anime to live action adaptations I’ve ever seen were all hentai flicks, and they were pretty weird XD I wonder what the actresses who played the taimanin girls thought about acting out their scenes in odd-looking latex outfits while being poked with tentacle props.

  5. Tsunami3k says:

    Though it’s a bit off and non-committal, I’m not upset with her face; it’s a suitably embellished amalgamation of her various historical renditions. Sure her lips err just a tad towards porn-starlet but she still maintains a demure composure nonetheless. While this outfit is certainly a spicier variant of the Vice figure of Motoko that I got back in the day, it’s not quite different enough to make this a must-have though, IIRC, this had a “trans-cloaking” variant which could be compelling. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t offer a single figure with swappable legs for a marginal premium.

    Even still, the draw of either would be that pose. It could be fairly criticized as not being super-elaborate but it’s very deftly executed with the hand on one hip and partially peeled-off jacket look which would be freakishly easy to make a misstep and come off as extremely awkward or unnatural yet it instead succeeds brilliantly with a very rare Tsukasa Hojo vibe that I don’t recall ever seeing in a figure.

    Well, there I go again, talking myself into another of your figures….dammit.

    I see that you’ve used your perennial favorite “metal wall” background. If I were to cast my vote into the non-existent ballot box, I’d love to see a weathering mini-tutorial at some point (or really any “behind-the-scenes” entry before 2015 is out). No pressure but I really do love those beyond measure. I sold my 5DMk2 last summer [stupidly] anticipating the “eminent” release of the Mk4 so I’m living vicariously through you until the Mk4 comes out or a Black Friday sale compels me to snag a Mk3 or a 5Ds.

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, I don’t think I’d call this a must-have, unless one were a big huge fan of Motoko in her SAC outfit. There just aren’t a lot of choices there, which is unfortunate for one of the better-known characters in anime culture. Hopefully she gets a few more figures before the film comes out and the live actress’s appearance replaces Shirow’s design in the minds of figure collectors.

      Yeah, I really like this background; it goes well with a bunch of figures that I have and it’s extremely easy to photograph. Yeah, a construction tutorial would be a good idea, maybe I’ll do something like that. It’s very much a simple process (basically instead of painting strokes, you just jab the brush bristles at the surface of whatever you’re painting). I must admit I have paid little attention to the camera industry in the last half year or so (mainly because I haven’t taken as many pictures as I want to, but the detachment from gear obsession has been extremely refreshing), but it looks like camera prices are plummeting. I’ve thought once or twice about picking up one of the big megapixel 5D cameras but it’d be hard to move away from my EF-S lenses.

  6. Tsunami3k says:

    Oh and for your prior preorder post, though our tastes nearly matched save for a couple of the thicker lasses, I got a huge laugh out of your Super Pochako assessment; an excellent summation of her…”assets”.

    • Tier says:

      I recently found out there is another fatty Super character from Nitroplus. On one hand, I can’t really criticize the characters much as I’m thirty pounds overweight myself, but on the other hand, the characters are really grotesque and I wonder how well those figures are selling.

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