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Headscratchers / Ghost in the Shell

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  • I'll start off, I guess: - Who fronted the cash for the Major's prosthetic body? Her parents were dead from the plane crash, and the fact that no one came to see her during her coma appears to indicate she had no extended family. Here in the United States, the insurance company would probably yank the plug on a patient like that, citing cost. Somebody high-up must have wanted her alive, then paid for the operation, the body, and the extensive training/modification.
    • Seems to me that she was a test subject for a full-body prosthesis. So, I'd assume that the manufacturer fronted the cash, seeing how tests are necessary to sell a medical device. She was in ideal test subject for a full-body prosthesis, having been severely injured in the crash.
    • Good point, I hadn't considered that. Still, it would seem odd that a company would just do this without seeking some major (excuse the pun) compensation in return. Given the industry she got into, a military or government sponsor seems more likely.
      • The compensation was most likely the right to study her physical and psychological development throughout her childhood and teenaged years. That research would be worth its weight in gold, since at this time the cyborg technology was entirely new.
      • Any company performing research in a tech with such obvious military applications probably has a government grant that would fund part of the research.
      • And whether it was getting military money or not, test subjects get paid. They're never expected to pay for the privilege of being test subjects, especially when the test already requires giving both arms and legs, and every other working piece of her body. The first few people they asked probably refused.
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    • You're forgetting that this is in Japan, not the U.S., they have universal health care.
      • In that case they would have definitely yanked the plug on her.
      • This assumption is a mixed case of sloppy research and pure propaganda to Americans by U.S. Conservatives.
      • Public healthcare is extremely caring, especially to the most serious conditions. It's those whose conditions aren't deemed serious enough for significant treatment who can suffer from public healthcare, not those who would die without treatment. This troper knows examples of small towns nearly going bankrupt and forced to seek extra funding from the government when one of their residents gets a rare, life-threatening condition that is still treatable.
      • While the above is true, the Major received a rather advanced prosthetic body. However, at least in the anime, it seems to be implied that she was one of the first people to become a full body cyborg. Perhaps it was less a matter of someone paying for her body and more the opportunity of a perfect test candidate for the procedure. It's probable working for Public Security is also a way to sort of pay off the debt.
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    • This leads into something else that was never explained, to my knowledge - where did the Major learn her kung-fu skills? Did she just download it all using the jack in her neck like Neo? Or did she train for years? If so, where and with whom? What led her to Section 9?
      • Consider that she's a top of the line cyborg, and hence stronger and faster than even other cyborgs. With that in mind her skills are good, but not that impressive. Similarly any semi-pro racer in a fast car could be expected to beat an F1 driver in a go cart.
      • It's often mentioned that the Major's greatest skill is her adaption to her prosthetic body. Apparently it requires great work and training to fully master cybernetic prosthetics, but if you can do that, just about every motoric skill comes just a matter of having the right software.
      • She has worked for many masters before. Her previous occupation was apparently the Department of Defense, but at least in the manga she was originally a freelance operative. Most of her past is deliberately shrouded in mystery, as she's pretty much deleted her original identity, even to the point of actually forgetting her "real" name.
      • 2nd Gig reveals that the Major has had a rather long career in the military (she was already a hardened vet when Batou was just a newbie). It's likely that in return for the prosthetic body, she had to serve in the military.
      • Not quite. It's highly unlikely that a child could sign such a contract, or even have a guardian sign it. Also, it's heavily implied in this episode that the Major is an irregular, who poses as a simple grunt for the sake of an important task of delivering a tactical nuke. No-one knows a single thing about her save for her unusual talent, and she's capable of recruiting an enemy soldier on the spot! At this time she most likely works directly for the Department of Defense under a false name and rank.
      • This assumes that the deal came with a legal contract that had to be signed. The military doesn't necessarily have to bother with such things.
      • Despite of its corruption and failings, Japan in GitS is still a modern justice state. Such scenario is highly unlikely, as it would result in de facto enslavement of an individual who would be put in a perfect position to take revenge for such slight. The most likely scenario still is that the experimental treatment was paid by the cybernetics company that was in need of test subjects, and was in position to make great profit once the prosthetics had proven useful.
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    • I'd rather like to know where she gets all of the cash for the cars, penthouse apartments, weapons, and technological stuff - how much can a police officer, even one working for a super-secret branch of the Home Affairs Ministry, possibly make? Certainly not enough for three or four fully furnished safe houses in prime locations, not to mention the spare bodies and the well-stocked garage of the house that got trashed at the end of the first season of SAC. SSS implies that she rebuilt and restored her own fleet of tachikomas, for goodness' sake. Bank heist? Payoff from a huge lawsuit? Or does she just do really, really high-profile consultant work on the side or something?
      • Well, maybe as an expert hacker she takes poor lonely money sleeping in dead accounts and gives it a loving new home. Plus the countless methods of rounding small 0.0's of Yen, Dollars or Pounds in large accounts really adds up...
      • She's arranged safe houses and assets for herself for years before leaving Section 9 - she may not even have legally bought those properties. They might have just dissapeared from all the files, and the original owners "forgot" that they ever owned them in the first place. As for the Tachikomas, this troper is pretty sure that their physical forms were just taken from the Section 9 storage - they weren't destroyed at all in the previous season, after all. She just found and preserved their minds.
      • Secret Police tends to be one of the best paying jobs around. The other theories are certainly possible, but it's also possible that they really just pay her that much.
      • Also, given her shady past, the Major may have accumulated a large cash reserve through freelance or mercenary work.
      • Perhaps her parents were wealthy and she inherited a large sum of money when they died.
      • Which would also cleanly explain why she could afford the top-of-the-line body in the first place. Most likely explanation so far.
      • The simplest answer is that she's a smart investor - this troper knows several millionaires in their early 20s who managed to strike it big by a combination of luck and savvy investing.
    • In some of the manga (e.g., Man-Machine Interface), she's shown as an independent operative who's such a good hacker that she commands top dollar for her skills, contracting out to high-profile clients. It's also explained in the first movie (and at least implied in SAC) that she, Batou, and the others receive their top-quality bodies, parts, and maintenance through their jobs with Section 9, but the existence of several safehouses and various equipment implies that they're either siphoning some funding for personal use or are doing well with previous freelancing or side jobs.

      As to who paid for the major's cyber-bodies while she was a child, the medical-research explanation makes the most sense to me. The company would profit handsomely from future sales (which would require health ministry approval based on demonstration of the technology's safety and efficacy). (A parallel to OCP's motivation in RoboCop comes to mind.) Also, since she had no family, the company probably also had a hand in influencing in her career development, pushing her to see how far her limits would be with this new technology.

  • In Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, exactly how did Batou and Togusa even know to go after Kim? (You know, the creepy, doll-obsessed hacker who'd been hacking Batou throughout the film.) I've watched the movie three times, and as far as I can tell, one minute they're traveling to the region where Locus Solus is headquartered (I was also a bit confused about the "Northern frontier" referred to, but presumably it's in the contested region between Japan and Russia), then there's a parade, and the next thing you know Batou's beating up old contacts to find Kim. Were we just supposed to assume the two were doing legwork during the parade that Oshii didn't care enough about to show us? (Not inconceivable, given Oshii's predilection for philosophical rumination over plot mechanics.) Or was Batou assuming that since Kim was one of the few hackers skilled enough to get past his protections and was in physical proximity to Locus Solus, he must be working with them? Or was there something else I missed?
    • As far as this troper was able to figure, Batou simply knew that Kim was in town, and wanted to ask his professional opinion about Locus Solus, since he's an expert, and presumably has plenty of contacts in the area. That's essentially what happens when they first meet. It's generally a good tactic to find out as much as possible about the situation when you're in a hostile territory, and any potentially friendly contact who can give you some briefing is a bonus. Kim just happened to be in cahoots with the company, and was trying to take out Batou by the orders of his superiors.
    • Also, at the end Batou said that he knew who was who tampered with his brain in the convenience store. He probably suspected it at least so he went to Kim to confirm.
  • Another for Innocence. Why were the 'gynoids' so tricked(pun intended) out? This probably falls under Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids, but its a little jarring how they were giving the Major and Batou trouble.
    • Well, take just about any robot nowadays (Asimo withstanding) and control it to kill someone, and you'll have difficulty taking it out unless you hit the control surfaces, pneumatic/electric lines, or gears/moving parts (and successfully dislodge/jam them). You can't just really fill it with holes and expect it to die. So, take a more sophisticated robot, designed to last many years without extensive overhauling, and tell it to attack, and, well, that's a problem. If all the systems have tertiary backups, you need to do a ton of damage to take it out. If you still think they'd be too namby-pamby, remember that in the mid-90's lots of kids lost hair after their parents had to rip "Baby Eats Your Hair When You Stick Your Hair Into Its Mouth And It Gets Caught In The Gears" off their heads. After bashing them with hammers.
    • Granted, there's that. But the gynoids were supposedly civilian models, as compared to combat cyborgs like the Major and Batou. I would think it would be little bit of overkill to design them so tough. After all, that's what spare parts are for.
      • These were incredibly expensive specialty items sold in secret to an elite clientele. That's probably the only sort of thing in this world, or the future, that will be "built like they used to"; planned obsolescence is actually a bad idea in this situation. And again, they weren't particularly tough — you can put a few rounds through a Tickle Me Elmo and it'll still work fine.
    • Batou was a legally powerful Cyborg on what amounted to a fancy police force. If he had been in a chassis designed for open warfare, he'd have looked more like one of those suits of powered armor. Being in Section 9 probably made getting that gun arm easier, though. Incidentally, didn't the Major show up by taking over a Gynoid?
      • That actually bothers me most — it's believable that a huge number of competently-built gynoids would be a problem for Batou, but why would any of them be built with the upper body strength to handle a big gun, as Kusanagi does? I'm even willing to stretch and accept that the lower body strength (enough to take off a dude's head with one kick!) is a structural necessity for real fancy bipedalism; I don't know what materials are involved, whatever. But if you're designing sex dolls that can fire assault weapons one-handed you pretty much deserve what you get.
      • Gynoids are presumably built to last a fair amount of time, and unlike humans their "organs" don't regenerate, so they'd be built with extra strength and structural integrity, allowing then to degrade for a longer amount of time before rigorous maintenance was needed.
      • There is also the possibility that the parts used for movement etc. were chosen by the principle of "okay, what is the cheapes thing we can put here that fills the specs" and as minaturized parts probably are more expensive/complicated to manufacture you could end up with a part more powerful than strictly needed.
  • Okay, in the Git S setting, people can hack brains. It doesn't happen often, but why the hell does anyone leave wireless, or even wired, ports in their brain? Why can't anyone seem to disable the damn things? Sure, constant internet is cool, but they could still build smartphones with that technology, dumbasses.
    • That's what autistic mode is for.
    • Because it's an incredibly rare occurrence, like bank-account hacking in real life. Billions of people have brain implants, but only some thousands ever get hacked. The stories just happen to concentrate around the people who get hacked, since there wouldn't be excitement otherwise. It's a bit like asking why people drive cars, even though they can die in a traffic accident.
    • I always assumed brain-hacking was extremely rare, but the series just happens to be about the security force who deals with that kind of things. It's like watching CSI and wondering why everyone is looking at dead bodies.
    • You'd think a country that can produce anatomically-correct catgirl sex-dolls would be able to produce a decent firewall program.
      • They can - a firewall that will kill the offender who tries to dive into other people's brains without permission. That's why Ghosthackers are incredibly rare - throughout the series fewer than five individuals are shown capableof of hacking people's Ghosts, the Major included, and only a few more who can just break into the artificial implants. That's not common in the show's world - it's only common for the protagonists, because their unit exists to counter such cyber-terrorism.
      • I'm having a hard time imagining a tech tree where "decent firewall" is a prerequisite for "anatomically-correct catgirl sex-dolls".
      • Indeed. Remember, this is Japan we're talking about. Rule 34 takes precedence over virtually everything.
    • I assumed that the hacking was based on knowing secret backdoor keys into the programs, that only the government and lisenced software producers knew about. If there wasn't a legal requirement people would just switch the ports off when not in use. (Maybe they think they have)
    • I'd like to add a little detail to the brain-hacking topic: in the first episode of SAC 2 (just an example; it happens in more situations), the Major hacks one of the terrorists who was in autistic mode. How? Well, the cyber-brain was closed, true, but he still had ears and eyes. That means the only true "unhackable" would be... someone completely isolated inside his own mind, without any way of receiving data (or pain). For computers, it's quite easy to see: if you close all the ports, you cannot surf the net... but there are still the USB ports, the keyboard, the CD-reader and (for the really old or complete), the floppy disk. There is, after all, a reason because all that important info was stored in paper the first time we see the document with the Muray Vaccine receptors in the fist season.
    • I'm not the original poster, but it bugs me to the great extent. No, really. Every time I watch it, it bugs me. Even if there are only several people in the world who can hack brains, it's still hardly believable and borderline Nightmare Fuel. In this futuristic world there are people who can literally take over all senses of every single person who is nearby. Hello, captain Aizen, long time no see. They can also photoshop themselves on-the-fly out of every camera's video stream. All this regardless of whether the object being hacked is online or not. What the heck is this? Also, how can one possibly explain the fact that the firewall can kill the hacker?
      • In the SAC universe, literally everything is networked together, since society values convenience over security. It's not completely implausible for master hackers like the Major and the Laughing Man to manipulate a person's artificial senses. Also, attack barriers apparently work by sending a signal back that fries whatever is trying to hack it. Since most people use their own cyberbrains for hacking, they die when their cyberbrain gets fried by the barrier. Of course, there are ways to counter it, since the Major seems to have equipment that keeps her brain from getting fried when she hits an attack barrier.
      • It would be impossible to kill a computer with an internet signal that way in real life, but obviously cyberbrains are different. With a real computer you might try to destroy it by sending the hard drive wild and damaging instructions that might cause it wear out a little early, but with a cyberbrain that can control a person's senses, all you have to do is transmit an experience so intense that blood-pressure causes death in moments. Even so, it still bugs me that your cyberbrain can only be fried that way when you are trying to pass a barrier and not any other time.
      • It might be possible to fry a real-life computer. If given enough flaws in the system, one could, for example, force remote machine’s BIOS to critically overclock the CPU and literally melt it.
      • Some real-life PC viruses can cause hard drives to overwrite their Master Boot Records (MBR), killing the drive by making it inaccessible, and I've read that it's possible to make the drive heads physically damage the drive. Also, remember that the recent STUXNET virus targeting Iran was designed to alter the behavior of programmable logic controllers that run physical processes, leading to real physical damage in those systems. It's completely within the realm of possibility in GITS that a defense barrier could back-hack a cyber-brain involved in a dive (apparently a process that requires opening up a wide data channel between attacker and target) and, through appropriating the attacker's power control systems, fry the attacker.
      • They can be fried at any time, though apparently only through a physical connection, not over wireless feed. However, it's only legal to have such deadly security measures in people's cyberbrains and highly secure government files.
      • Also, note that most people are still ordinary humans with cyberbrains - cyborgs haven't completely taken over the population demographics (yet). Togusa is all human except for his cyberbrain, and the only people who've hacked him over the series (Laughing Man, Major, Puppeteer) were all Wizard-class hackers. This suggests that the average hacker lacks these skills.

    • In the second manga, Man-Machine Interface there are such security personell in Poseidon Industrial, consisting of people who appear to have personal prejudice against cyberbrain augmentation.
    • As noted above, ghost hackers and similar are rare among the population (editing in real time was a sign of the Laughing Man's genius) so it's relatively rare. More importantly there is convenience, all communications (basically telepathy) and mission data require cyber-brains, and it would be expensive and less efficient to have form alternative systems. I agree that doesn't explain the lack of occasional naturals for support when dangerous hackers are involved though.
    • An organization that specializes in opposition of cyberterrorism has no need for an individual who has no access to cybercomm, no hacking abilities and no external memory device. The cons outweight the pros. A member who would be of absolutely no use in their main field of inquiry, and severely impaired combat abilities would be of little use in Section 9. And there is no point in taking a part-time employee for such task, both because their competence would also be impaired, and more importantly, no member of Section 9 has ever been hacked when they have been specifically prepared for such an occurrence.
  • Okay maybe I'm just missing the point here, but what was the connection between the original GITS manga and Man-Machine Interface? I've read both of them and honestly I can hardly see how they're in the same continuity, the same universe even. I'm as confused as I would have been if I had watched End of Evangelion without a plot synopsis... what relates the two? And does anybody have a good plot synopsis for Man-Machine Interface?
    • The main character of Man-Machine Interface, Motoko Aramaki, is the Major's "daughter", an artificially created individual, made from cloned tissue and cybernetics and given memories from her "mother", as well as people who were hijacked by the Puppeteer. She isn't the only one either, as others are also encountered during the story. The Major and Motoko Aramaki meet at a late point of the story, as well. As for the synopsis, making one would be tedious, since like the original manga, Man-Machine Interface contains several smaller stories loosely bound together. The closest thing to a main plotline revolves around the mysterious file left by the late Professor Rahampol, which proves to be blueprints for creating a species of sentient artificial life-forms. In the end both Motokos decide to cooperate in creation of this new life-form, and at least the Major fuses her consciousness with it, resulting in the surreal scenery seen in the epilogue. It's worth noting that the prologue and the epilogue happen back to back, both taking place after all the rest of the events in the book.
  • I'm a little unclear on who is causing what to happen during the climax of Innocence. For starters, who released the gynoids in the Locus Solus ship and caused them to go berserk - Motoko, Locus Solus, or Kim? It seems to be implied that Kim's death triggers a "latent virus" in the security chief's cyberbrain that releases the gynoids and loads their combat software (why do they have this in the first place?) - presumably as a countermeasure in case Locus Solus ever betrayed him? It's kind of unclear. It seems unpikely that LS would have done it themselves, since the LS scientists all seem to be surprised by the gynoids' sudden release and several of tgeir own security personnel end up dead as a result. If Motoko was responsible, that seems like a hell of a lot of overkill just to keep LS distracted. So I'm pretty sure it was Kim, but again, that entire sequence is confusing (awesome, but confusing).
    • Kim's cyberbrain is locked during the final sequence. Togusa uses him as a glorified firewall. It's ambigious, but it seems that Motoko releases the gynoids in order to get access to one of them, but this causes the "virus" that makes them go out of control to activate as well, and they all go in a rampage. It seems that the scenario is the result of several different actions coming together to an unplanned catastrophe. Mr. Folkerson programmed the gynoids to become free of their restraints and go crazy, so that the authorities would be called to investigate, and the children would be rescued, but he didn't account in the possibility that someone would activate them all during the said rescue. Motoko needed one to infiltrate the ship from the inside, but she had to take the risk and activate them all to do it.

  • In the opening of the 1995 movie, why did that one guy's head explode after he was shot?
    • Because they were delayed explosive rounds for taking out cyborgs — first embedding themselves through any subdermal plating and then exploding with enough force to guarantee the destruction of whatever organics they still have left in them.


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