Our eternal night continues. We’re on the streets, against cyberpunk rain. A train shoots by, rattling the scene. A woman is running, in distress. Togusa’s driving home, talking to his wife on the phone. Note the end credits for this episode: this character is “Togusa’s Wife.” But it’s kind of like Chekov’s Togusa’s Wife — you see her now, she’s bound to show up later in a more important role. She can’t just show up then, we have to be reminded early that she even exists.
The running woman runs in front of the car, screaming “Help me!” A male cyborg is chasing, with a gun. The woman reaches a dead end. Train rushes by before her. The cyborg hits her, and she falls. He aims, and Togusa appears, also aiming. The cyborg had turned his pain receptors off, so those shots to his arm and leg don’t do nothing. In time, Togusa drops him, and goes to assist the victim when the cyborg shoots her dead, splattering Togusa. Our detective in turn reloads (with a special bullet loader) and he empties a clip over the title screen.
This might seem like a random Stand Alone episode to insert into the ongoing CIS/refugee debacle, but it’s not the usual irrelevant moment. And we’re back to focusing on Togusa, who’s put on trial, in a sense. It’s tricky because he fired twelve rounds into the guy’s body, and the guy’s lawyer is the DA who specializes in cyber-body-related crimes. I… how is that a specialty?
But this guy tells his client that it was just a malfunction, right, that he shot that lady on accident (after chasing and beating her) and then attempts to frame Togusa as the bad guy — a cyber-racist with an inferiority complex. His wife knows better, and is immediately understanding, but more importantly, the Major knows better, and attempts to give him a line out of the court during the trial. Togusa, however, doesn’t take the easy way out.
I love the scene when the DA is grilling Togusa about the gun he uses. He asks him if the gun is standard-issue, if it’s got a higher clip capacity… It’s a very Kafkaesque scene for Togusa. Someone’s finally getting on him about his use of weapon, in a life or death situation. This is probably what Togusa’s anxiety dreams look like when the Major catches him practicing on the range.
Every once in a while the DA will go over the line, and the prosecutor is like “objection!” prompting a “sustained,” from Judgebot 3000, a woman at the bench connected to three Jameson model cyborgs. That’s the most Twilight Zone thing in Ghost in the Shell.
Section 9 has Togusa’s back, and they’re digging up dirt on the DA. The Major concludes he’s got connections to Gouda. And in fact, the prosecutor on the Yakushima case is here, and they’re all in collusion — he’s become a CIS agent.
Togusa makes a stunning move by declaring he’s quit Section 9!! The Chief, the Major, and Batou are sitting in the audience — Batou’s like… “moron.” But then he starts saying things that make sense, that he’s seen a lot of these cases in accordance with an upswing in prosthetics: people conspiring on cases such as these to hide defects. I won’t stop until I’ve blown the whistle on all of you!
It isn’t about defending this homicidal cyborg, who’s later found to be guilty enough for a real trial later on, it’s about representing the interests of corporations, and these happen to align in opposition to one man, our buddy Togusa.
But if Togusa was running in autistic mode during the entire shindig, how did he know all this stuff that Section 9 found out about? Well, turns out the Major had used a ‘ghost infiltration key,’ essentially speaking through him — without his consent.
To be honest, this episode is sort of silly in places. It’s not exactly a realistic courtroom drama, and this appeal to another genre airs the show’s inadequacies when pushing beyond the norm. The norm is so good! Why dip into hinter-territory? And the silliness cap is the end reveal that as revenge for… giving Togusa a hard time, Boma ran the DA off the road and put him in a coma!
Or just injured him, but it might as well be coma. So vindictive, you Section 9 kids.
Now, this isn’t my favorite episode ever. I think it’s always good to get a glimpse at another corner of the universe, like seeing what regular homicides look like with the involvement of cyborgs, rather than these terrorist-related killings, but on a theoretical level, I think that framing a real interrogation of Section 9 morality with actual interrogation, with a trial, is a smart idea.
Unfortunately, it’s Togusa, who’s the least morally challenged (even as the family man, he’s probably got more bodies on him than a Chinese cemetery). So the episode isn’t really about investigating the ethics of what he does, and in fact instead just affirms it.
I just wish that Section 9 had a little bit of introspection to go along with it. There’d be more drama there. But this is an old lament. It just takes an episode like this to remind me of how much fertile ground there is for 3rd Gig.
It’s not even a bad episode, either. It’s just sandwiched by a series of very good episodes, some of the best Ghost in the Shell out there. Where does average media stand in relation to great Ghost in the Shell? No contest. Next episode in fact, we get an extended flashback to the Major’s youth. But don’t act too shocked — it’s from someone else’s perspective. Still wonderful, nonetheless.
Tell me your secrets!