Ghost in the Shell, if nothing else, is a genre-defining series for what cyberpunk truly is. While other series have to rely on massive batches of filler episodes to milk as much money as possible out of fans, the fans of the Ghost in the Shell series are always loyal and for that reason alone, the series has survived well beyond its initial anime incarnation more than 20 years ago. We will skip over the train-wreck that is the 2017 Hollywood adaptation while talking about this article. Be it the psychological questions posed the viewers, the kickass action scenes, or the diversity of the characters assembled under Chief Aramaki in Section 9, there is something for everyone and all fans can agree with that. Whether the team is hacking into someone, shooting up villains, infiltrating terrorist organizations in Niihama City, someone somewhere from Section 9 is on the screen and you get to learn more about how they think and act.
Since the installment of Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society, the timeline for the story has become a bit blurred. This could possibly be a reference to the fact that the only thing that makes a human, human in this series is the ghost, and even then, what is human and what is robot are sharply questioned. First up, we had the ARISE OVA’s come out which gave us the backstory to the original 1995 Ghost in the Shell movie. Next, it was broadcast as a TV anime, and then later in 2015, the OVA series was given a non-chopped up, linear story in the form of a movie. Then if things could not get /any/ better, a few weeks ago, it was announced that new part of the series is coming. It has been confirmed to be an anime project, but we just do not know if it is going to be an actual TV anime, OVAs again, or another movie or movies. Either way, the colorful cast is just one important aspect to this series, and today, we count down the top 10 most kickass characters in this series. When you are done with this update, be sure to check out the original as well below! Let’s go!
Cranking in at #10 is a character that most people might not remember right off the bat, but Azuma joined Section 9 as part of the 2nd Gig season and by the time Solid State Society arrived he was basically to Togusa what Togusa used to be to Batou. Azuma was brought in from the Japanese Military Intelligence Department and actually sees one of his fellow newbies, Yano, die in a raid on a false location of Hideo Kuze’s faction. He can be a bit uptight but that could merely be nerves or the fact that he is surrounded by much more experienced field agents and his seniors at all times.
Borma really begins to shine in 2nd GIG. He shows up in the first season of Stand Alone Complex, but his skills as an explosive weapons enthusiast as well as his skills as a bomb detonator, are what bring him in at #9. Borma is actually a jack of all trades and is shown working with a lot of other members within Section 9. He helps Ishikawa when they are doing cyber-hacking and viruses, Saito for anything related to sniping, and Pazu for anything else. Two fun facts are that Borma like Azuma, is ex-military as well and that Borma is the only Section 9 member to ever be shown regularly carrying heavy machinery.
In season one, he is more of a muscle guy and does support, but 2nd GIG is where you really can see what he is good for. He has cyber optics, but it is not clear if they are the same as Batou’s. Either way, if you ever need to blow someone up, he is your guy.
Of course, this is not canon because we cannot have nice things, but the rumor within the series is that before Pazu was picked up by Section 9, he ran in various yakuza circles which means that the police knew of him. He picked up a nasty habit of chain smoking while with the yakuza, allegedly, and he was/is a massive slut. He claims that he never sleeps with the same woman twice, and then it comes back to get him in 2nd GIG when an ex-lover injects her personality into a replica of Pazu and then fights him.
Yeah we know, it’s weird. But the cool, kickass part of Pazu is that he too can do a lot like Borma. He usually is the muscle on the streets as we always see him just after he has finished kicking someone’s ass, or just as he has started. It seems like that Yakuza past may still work in his favor when he needs to lay the hurt on. Either way, he’s pretty kickass.
If you look up the word “badass” in the dictionary, there will be a picture of Saito next to it. The sniper expert known for his Hawkeye prosthetic eye that he has allows him to zoom in on foes even more clearly. Though it is not perfect as it is shown in Stand Alone Complex to be hackable. That being said, Saito is always skulking around somewhere or setting up his gun to be able to take someone out. This is why we get a full episode into his backstory when he was a mercenary and you see just how he got pulled into Section 9.
In WWIV, due to his carelessness and eagerness to shoot the major, she lured him out of hiding. However, this proved to be misdirection for him as glass destroyed his eye and she stabbed him arm. Thus, his Hawkeye and his left arm are the only cyberized parts of his body. Still though, if you need someone picked off from a distance, this kickass sniper will get the job done.
Ishikawa is the vehicle through which we learn a lot of the plot and developments within the Ghost in the Shell series. Ishikawa is always in the office working and hacking or developing viruses/antidotes. Laid-back and easy-going, Ishikawa is the information specialist, he is a hacker after all, and looks like he is the oldest member of Section 9. Don’t let that fool you though as he could hack into your brain and leave you a drooling pile of nothingness in seconds.
He is a very heavy smoker and we know he probably likes Pizza as there is at least one scene of Borma bringing pizza into the office for them. Ishikawa, like Saito, does not have a lot of cyberization, so he can find himself between a rock and a hard place sometimes. That being said, he just needs a computer terminal and he is off. Don’t underestimate this hacker. Age is nothing but a number.
We did slightly struggle to debate whether or not the Tachikoma belong on this list since they are the least human-like of everyone else. Though since what is human and what is machine can be legitimately argued here, we did decide to go ahead and include everyone’s favorite, arguably sentient think tanks. The tachikoma, known as fuchikoma in the manga, are a bit different and have come in a few different variations. The most popular one, the blue models, are used for the Stand Alone Complex series. You do see Uchikoma at the end of 2nd GIG after the tachikoma sacrifice their souls? AIs? to stop a bomb.
Finally, you get the pre-evolved version, and the most basic, the Logikoma, in the Arise franchise. The tachikoma have bright, curious personalities due to the fact that they are to learn from their environment around them and the experiences that they have. Batou and the Major love riding around in them when in pursuit due to their speed, maneuverability, and their ability of optic camouflage. Eventually, they are de-commissioned by the Major in Stand Alone Complex after one gets out and learns about the world only to come home and share the data with the other tachikomas. Before they know it, they are all essentially a cloud. Connected to each other, they lose the ability to differentiate who originally thought something or experienced something. This leads Section 9 to be worried that they could disobey.
After being decommissioned they are sent off to work in other places, but when the Major and Section 9 are betrayed by the government for looking too far into the Murai Vaccine scandal, three tachikoma come back. They selflessly sacrifice themselves to save Batou and the Major allowing them to escape by using the bomb in their… mouth… trunk… thing. Yeah. They do return in 2nd GIG and it is clear that Section 9 needs the tachikomas more than they realize and are glad to have them back.
Other than Batou, Togusa is the most prominently shown male character in the entire GITS series. A lot of people have their hang-ups about Togusa because he is not cyberized other than his brain and he has moments where he is just too physically weak to do a lot. However, he is the one who takes charge to look into the Murai Vaccine and the Sunflower Society. Togusa is a risk taker, which is shocking for having a wife and a child at home. In fact, he is the only member to be married.
After the Major flees to the net and Batou has to deal with his feelings, it is Togusa who takes up the lead of Section 9 in Solid State Society. Togusa tends to be rather emotional and, shall we say it, human in the series which is a stark contrast to everything robotic and cyberized around him. He also too only carries his standard-issue Seburo M5 revolver which means he puts his life on the line constantly. However, that does not stop him from being any more kickass due to the fact that he likes to play a game of chicken with death. His M5 has not failed him yet, and we hope that it never will.
3. Chief Daisuke Aramaki
Love him or hate him, but Chief Daisuke Aramaki is an ornery old man who will have his way no matter what. He is often called “the old ape” by Batou due to the fact that in the manga, he looks like he could be half-monkey. Aramaki formed Section 9 in Arise and leads it through its disbanding in Stand Alone Complex, only to have it brought back through his political connections in 2nd GIG. Aramaki is fiercely loyal to his team, loyal to justice, and is willing to work Section 9 like it is a pack of dogs. The man is shrewd and always ready for a good chase.
This is seen when he visits an ex-lover in Europe and the bank they meet at is taken over. They are all able to get out thanks to Aramaki’s careful planning and intuition that the Major would find him. The best strategist in the series and second only to the Major, that is why he is here at #3. A good leader needs to be pretty kickass to dole out orders to the Major and hot-headed Batou.
Batou is the lead male character in the Ghost in the Shell series and is second-in-command under the Major. Batou appears at the beginning of the franchise and continues to be popular all the way throughout the franchise. Batou is a kickass muscle-head who has gone fully cyborg. He loves weapons, bombs, fast cars, and a basset hound named Gabriel. Batou truly outs himself as being more of a kickass muscle-head than a thinker when the Major calls him out on all of the weight training equipment he buys and he says that he likes it. He does not need it, but he purchases it anyway. Either way, Batou is fast on his feet, and more often than not “breaks” or shoots the perp before Section 9 can get to them.
A former ex-ranger, which has to be very similar to a Navy SEAL, is where his past lies and we find out how gruesome it was in Stand Alone Complex. This allows him to stay calm during most situations unless he feels that something is unjust and then his temper will flare up greatly. Batou is the one they call in when they need some muscle. Excellent with firearms, hand-to-hand combat, and more, Batou is not someone whom you should ever cross. You may be picking up your teeth afterwards. A fun fact is that while Batou busts Togusa’s balls over his Revolver, Togusa does the same to Batou over his love of old muscle cars.
1. Major Mokoto Kusanagi
Is it really any surprise that the focal point of the entire series, Major Mokoto Kusagani, is number one on our list of kickass characters? A quick backstory is that she was in the military as a major when Aramaki scouted her. After joining up, she recruited the members one by one to be her hand-picked team aka Section 9. Full-cyborg, she is a super class-A hacker akin to the Laughing Man from Season 1. Rather than be brash and loud or dull as many female leads in anime are, the Major is always cool, calm, and collected. She has no problem diving into other people’s cyberbrains as well as hacking or using force to get what she needs. She is truly a formidable opponent in any fight that she finds herself in and will not hesitate to take you out should you stand in her way of her goal. Smart too, the Major is very intelligent and knows how to use every last thing to her benefit. The one flaw, one could say, is that the Major is curious.
This is what allows her to link with the puppet master in the first movie and thus her body is destroyed, but this also happens in other seasons like when she dives into a strange brain that a tachikoma found and finds herself inside of a movie theater to witness a very touching scene. Whether she is barking orders from that sexy uniform she is always sporting, diving into someone’s brain, surfing the web, hacking, slashing, or shooting, the major is one badass female and a kickass leader.
The Major brings our list to a close and while we are sad to forbid this list goodbye, it was fantastic to revisit it now that a new installation in the series has been announced. We never know what we are going to get next with Ghost in the Shell, but one thing is for sure, we are waiting with baited breath for more, but we can always get into this fascinating series with its kickass characters over and over again. Are there any characters that you would have added? Be sure to let us know below. Till next time!
With the development of the live action movie as well as Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Alternative Architecture having been recently aired, people are beginning to revisit Ghost in the Shell once again. One of the most influential anime of all time with its cyberpunk setting, philosophical themes and cool action sequences, it’s no wonder why the 1995 animated movie made the impact that it did on an entire generation in the West. Teen and young adults were suddenly interested in anime as a medium for great storytelling and entertainment. But above all else, Ghost in the Shell was able to achieve lasting status not only by continuing these themes in Stand Alone Complex, but also properly developing the characters in this established world in order to draw people in even more.
In anime with a lighter tone, there’s sometimes little tension because you may feel you already know what the outcome will be. But in anime like Ghost in the Shell, there’s plenty of legitimate tension, as Section 9 defends New Port City from the likes of various hackers and terrorists. Both the good guys and bad guys fully commit to a certain choice or action in order to make ends meet, making all of them that much more kickass. Here are the top 10 kickass characters in Ghost in the Shell.
One of Section 9’s older team members, Ishikawa specializes in traditional hacking as opposed to invading someone’s cyberbrain like other members of Section 9. However, that doesn’t mean that he can’t, as evidenced by his ability to hack into multiple elderly people’s cyberbrains at his pachinko parlor in order to gather heavy data. Despite being the one whom sees combat the least as well as having few (if any) cybernetic enhancements, Ishikawa can still hold his own a fair amount in a fight, as evidenced by surviving his multiple injuries and being able to handle certain weapons (probably from his experience serving in South America with Batou). Ishikawa best assists the team overall with his explanations as to what exactly the team is getting into. With a laid-back approach, talented hacking skills, and an appearance far from the typical one of a technology expert, Ishikawa is certainly kickass in his own right.
The team sniper for Section 9, Saito is one of the members with the fewest cyber implants, possessing only a prosthetic left arm and Hawkeye, a specialized cybernetic left eye. Usually pretty stoic, Saito lets his sniping speak for him; his accuracy was already incredible even before his cybernetic eye was installed, and with the ability to sync up with satellites to determine the most accurate shot, one would have to possess incredible skill to not get hit by any of Saito’s shots. With a strong and silent demeanor, a unique past with the Major that leaves his teammates unsure of its authenticity, and an overall unmatched sniping talent, Saito is not someone to mess with.
8. Kazundo Gouda
The main antagonist in the 2nd season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Kazundo Ghoda is an extremely shady character who enjoys leaving an impression of some kind on whoever he meets. Ghoda suffered a terrible accident that resulted in half his face being scarred, yet chose to keep it that way instead of repairing it because he liked how unsettling it was for people to see him. Despite his inferiority complex and his desire to one up the Laughing Man, Ghoda is ultimately responsible for the emergence of the Individual Eleven as well as the conflict that takes place between Japan and the refugees. Ultimately his desire for chaos is his undoing, and rather than surrender to Section 9, Ghoda goes out in kickass fashion with the major having to resort to her machine gun in order to stop him once and for all.
An old-fashioned cop, Togusa is kick-ass in the sense that he does the same job as Batou and the Major without having undergone a cybernetic replacement of any kind save for the cyberbrain, putting him more at risk for injury. Being the only member with a happy family to look after, Togusa brings a different perspective to Section 9 with his by the book approach, refusal to fall to corruption, and overall positive outlook. Togusa also has a different weapon of choice from the rest of the team, favoring a Mateba Autorevolver as opposed to the standard-issue Seburo M5. Despite these differences from the rest of the team, however, Togusa can hold his own in a combat situation, especially during the Sunshine Society Massacre. Togusa is arguably the one responsible for cracking the Laughing Man case mainly due to cracking some of the key information, such as what he learns while spending time at a mental institution tied to the Laughing Man. Whatever your opinion may be, Togusa has certainly proven that he can be kickass when the time calls for it.
6. Chief Daisuke Aramaki
Despite his age and not being involved in combat himself, Chief Daisuke Aramaki knows how to get things done in order for his team to be as effective as possible in getting the job done. Throughout the series Aramaki puts his reputation on the line because of his faith in Section 9, such as telling the Prime Minsister he will be the one held responsible if Section 9 fails to succeed in rescuing the hostages at the Chinese Embassy from the Individual Eleven. With many different connections throughout the levels of government as well as a thorough knowledge of the legal and political rules and regulations, Aramaki is perfect in bending as many of them as possible and creating the best strategy no matter what the situation, even taking it upon himself to act without authority if needed. Most of all, Aramaki knows how to keep his composure in a hostile situation, as evidenced by his handling of the wine bank robbery in regard to both keeping the rest of the hostages safe as well as convincing the thieves to surrender. Definitely the most kickass character in Ghost in the Shell when it comes to authority figures in government getting things done.
A first impression one might get from an interaction with these A.I. would make you wonder whether they belong in Section 9, as they tend to sound and act like 5 year old kids with the curiosity to boot. However, that would immediately change once you see them in action. With mounted machine guns, grappling hooks, the ability to walk on walls, and an appetite for destruction (especially if you mess with Batou), the Tachikomas know how to get the job done whenever things go south. The Tachikomas also have the ability to hack satellites in order to acquire their targets and show an excellent aptitude for tracking, such as when they stalk the Major. Things only get crazier when they become self-aware of their own existence, making the scenes involving their deaths in combat as well as sacrificial deaths earn even the Major’s respect. There’s nothing more badass than cute-talking machines absolutely wiping something completely out of existence.
4. Hideo Kuze
A member of the Individual Eleven terrorist organization, Hideo Kuze’s introduction in the series couldn’t be more kickass. Attempting to assassinate the Prime Minister firmly establishes Kuze’s motivations for change as well as the beginnings of why he is more antihero than villain. Later on in the series, Kuze chooses not to participate in the Individual Eleven’s mass suicide attempt; this eventually leads to him starting a revolution among the refugees in order to help them get independence. Kuze also shares a special connection with the Major as being the only survivor from the plane crash that resulted in the Major getting her prosthetic body. He even managed to win his fight with Batou near the end of the 2nd season of SAC by slicing up Batou’s gun with his knife in a matter of seconds and literally crushing Batou’s leg with his own 2 hands. As an incredible fighter and masterful tactitician, Kuze sets himself up as one of the most kickass opponents Section 9 goes up against.
3. The Laughing Man
A hacker with incredible skills as well as antihero motivations, the Laughing Man is the primary antagonist that Section 9 goes up against in the 1st season of SAC. Even though kidnapping the CEO of Serano Genomics is the only one he carried out before the series began, the Laughing Man ended up spawning multiple imitators that performed various crimes, something he never intended to happen. In addition, the Laughing Man never found out the originator of the information he stumbled upon to perform the kidnapping in the first place. However, by taking advantage of the discovery and doing what he had to do, the Laughing Man’s hacking abilities (including of ghost bodies) as well as being able to stay one step ahead of the authorities arguably made him the toughest opponent Section 9 ever dealt with. They were even good enough for the Laughing Man to be offered a place in Section 9 if he wanted. Doesn’t get more kickass than that.
At 6’1 with a very muscular cyber body and the attitude to match, Batou is one of the most kickass characters in the series. Batout tends to be the funny man, as he usually has a quip in combat situations as well as at headquarters with the other members of Section 9. He also gets along very well with the Tachikoma, givng his own an unapproved sunthetic oil until he got caught. Howver, when things get serious, Batou couldn’t be more kickass. Batou’s fights alone tend to be pretty physical and brutal, as he’s one of the strongest members of Section 9 and can hold his own against just about anybody he comes across. Batou is also a superb agent; notmany people can infiltrate the Marines and get away with it. What makes his skills even more impressive is that his stealth is superb despite having a huge prostehetic body. With excellent combat skills and a love for guns, Batou repeatedly demonstrates why he’s such a kickass character.
1. Major Motoko Kusanagi
The main protagonist of the series for a reason, Motoko Kusanagi, or “the Major”, is the leader of Section 9 due to her skills in combat, hacking, and stealth. The Major repeatedly shows how kickass she is in almost every episode we see her, whether by how she wields a variety of weapons, disables tanks singlehandedly, and takes on multiple opponents by herself in close quarter combat. Her indomitiable spirit is incredible, especially during her fight with Gayle Yasuoka, where she not only has her entire arm obliterated, she is almost crushed to death by a ginat robot. The Major also specializes in hacking and stealth, making her a legitimate threat in multiple ways. Unlike Batou, who people would expect to be kickass based on his appearance, the Major’s kickassery is all the more impressive since her appearance doesn’t give off that exact impression. Yet her display of physical and mental skills throughout both the series and the movies cement the Major as the definitive kickass character.
Whether it’s out in the field of combat or isolated alone in a room somewhere, there are multiple characters that define the term “kickass” in multiple ways. Each of their different definitions all serve as pieces that contribute as to why Ghost in the Shell is as popular as it is. Here are the top 10 kickass characters in Ghost in the Shell. What are all of your opinions? Let us know in the comments!