The Ending Of Ghost In The Shell Explained
Nothing says iconic '90s anime quite like 1995's "Ghost in the Shell." It's one of the best anime movies of all time and a quintessential part of the cyberpunk genre that has had a far-reaching influence past just animation.
In an adaptation of the original manga, "Ghost in the Shell" imagines a future in which humans are enhancing their bodies with technology, but can be hacked and manipulated with altered memories. Among them is Major Motoko Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka), a cyborg working for a black ops government organization called Section 9 that's intent on taking down the mysterious master hacker known as the Puppet Master (Iemasa Kayumi).
The action is spectacular and inventive, but the movie is more known for its deep dive into complex philosophies of what it means to be human. The characters talk about their "ghost" like it's their soul or consciousness, while the titular "shell" is their body, which can be modified or completely artificial. In the end, Kusanagi's questioning of herself leads her to take a different approach while confronting the Puppet Master ...
The Puppet Master is an AI made by the government
In "Ghost in the Shell," we first hear of the Puppet Master as having hacked into an interpreter, potentially to use her to assassinate people meeting with the Foreign Minister. He's been meddling in various foreign affairs, utilizing his unparalleled hacking abilities to manipulate people, often by altering their memories. At first, the team at Section 9 assumes the Puppet Master is a human, but in actuality, the Puppet Master originated as a program created by Section 6 under the name Project 2501.
Section 6 created it to interfere with foreign affairs, but he developed his own consciousness and rebelled. They then trap him in a cyborg body, but he escapes and makes a spectacle of himself in order to get closer to Section 9 and, more specifically, Major Motoko Kusanagi. However, Section 6 wants to cover their tracks and keep people from learning about Project 2501, so they send helicopters to shoot and destroy him. Unfortunately for them, they are just a little too late.
Kusanagi finds herself and merges with the Puppet Master
While the Puppet Master and Section 6 are the primary antagonists of "Ghost in the Shell," much of the film is about Major Motoko Kusanagi reckoning with her own humanity and individuality (or lack thereof). Many people in this future world have had technological alterations done to their body, but Kusanagi has a fully artificial cyborg body — save for a few human brain cells tucked somewhere in her robot brain.
She's wracked with uncertainty over who she is, and whether or not she counts as a person, often thinking about being someone else. Her colleagues all want to capture or kill the Puppet Master, but she wants to learn about herself from him. They finally meet in an abandoned natural history museum, where Kusanagi rips herself apart in an attempt at disabling the tank protecting him. It's an intense moment that shows she still has her limits, despite her cyborg body, but also hints that she's come to value her ghost more than her shell.
When Kusanagi "dives" into the Puppet Master, he proposes that the two of them merge into one being. Curiously, Kusanagi says she wants a guarantee she will still be herself, suggesting she's found some meaning in who she is. However, the Puppet Master argues that all things change and trying to stay the same limits her. He feels incomplete because he can't reproduce, but he and Kusanagi merging is akin to them reproducing because it results in a new being.
Section 6 breaks the party up, guns ablazing, but Kusanagi makes her choice before it's too late. Batou puts her ghost in a new shell when he attaches her head to a new cyborg body. When she speaks to him, she reveals that she did merge with the Puppet Master and is now neither Kusanagi nor Project 2501, but something new.
The merge is evolution past humanity
"Ghost in the Shell" is packed to the gills with complex themes and philosophies, from humanity's relationship with technology to the question of "what is life, anyway?" to the necessity of change for growth. Kusanagi's merge with the Puppet Master is akin to evolution, emphasized by the imagery of the Tree of Life on the museum's wall being destroyed by bullets.
In an interview with The AV Club , Director Mamoru Oshii said, "[B]efore, people tended to think that ideology or religion were the things that actually changed people, but it's been proven that that's not the case. I think nowadays, technology has been proven to be the thing that's actually changing people." Oshii certainly was all in on the philosophy, as he added, "The producers often say, "Instead of using all these philosophical phrases, why don't you change this into an action scene?" But I don't do that."
Kusanagi's words to Batou in the final scene emphasize this theme of progress. Her journey through the movie is full of imagery of reflections, as she contemplates her own identity and thinks about being someone else. She dives into the ocean for a little hope, and her dive into the Puppet Master is for a similar reason. In the last scene, we view Kusanagi's reflection in a mirror through her own eyes, before she references the words she thought on the boat and completes the saying: It's a Bible verse about being limited in understanding and seeing only a reflection of the truth, but having the knowledge that a day will come when that understanding is expanded. Kusanagi, who felt so confined before as someone who's not quite human and not quite computer, finds freedom in her new form. Now, she can traverse the sea of information.
Ghost in the Shell inspired Hollywood
Despite a lackluster box office record , "Ghost in the Shell" has been hugely influential on Hollywood. Most obviously, the Wachowskis were inspired by it when making "The Matrix" — the iconic green digital rain comes from the "Ghost in the Shell" opening credits, and the plug at the back of the neck calls back to Kusanagi's similar attachment. Beyond them, filmmakers James Cameron and Steven Spielberg are known to be fans, according to The Guardian .
When talking about "The Matrix" and "Ghost in the Shell" with IGN , director Mamoru Oshii said, "I don't really think it's about who stole what from whom, but there was a time when Japanese animation borrowed a lot from American filmmaking, so it's a mutual relationship ... There was a time in Japan when every anime movie borrowed from '2001: A Space Odyssey' or 'Blade Runner' or 'The Terminator.'"
Since 1995's "Ghost in the Shell," the franchise has expanded to include a sequel and several series in the same setting, though with a new continuity. It even got its own live-action remake in 2017, with Scarlett Johansson as Major Kusanagi (aka Mira Killian), which featured callbacks to the original with its many Easter eggs . Despite its stunning visuals, critics and fans believe the 2017 movie doesn't capture the esoteric, yet enrapturing soul of the original.
Ultimately, "Ghost in the Shell" leaves a lot up for interpretation, so do with it what you will.
Ghost In The Shell Ending Explained: The Next Stage Of Post-Human Evolution
This post contains spoilers for the ending of "Ghost in the Shell."
At least twice throughout its 82-minute runtime, Mamoru Oshii's 1995 anime film adaptation of "Ghost in the Shell" quotes from a biblical passage. On a boat in the fictional New Port City circa 2029, Major Motoko Kusanagi, voiced by Atsuko Tanaka in Japanese and Mimi Woods in the English dubbing, hears a whisper from her "ghost" and says, "For now, we see through a glass, darkly." This same line is referenced in the title of "A Scanner Darkly," with that book's author, Philip K. Dick , having penned the source material for "Blade Runner," a notable influence on "Ghost in the Shell." (Though set in Japan, New Port City more resembles Hong Kong, which inspired the look of both films. The key word "replicant" also appears.)
Toward the end of the movie, Kusanagi quotes again from the passage in 1 Corinthians more at length, saying, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things." The irony is, "Ghost in the Shell" ends the opposite way, with Kusanagi becoming a child and putting away adult things (namely, her cyborg body parts, some of which she's ripped off, or which snipers have blown off, after her climactic confrontation with a spider tank).
So, what are we to make of Kusanagi becoming an even younger, doll-eyed cyborg in "Ghost in the Shell?" The movie's chase scenes and action set pieces belie a deeper meditative quality, and it has an ending that might really fry your cyber-brain, especially if you're trying to parse the sci-fi technobabble through subtitles while keeping one eye on the arresting imagery.
Enter the Puppet Master
Based on Masamune Shirow's 1989 manga series , "Ghost in the Shell" puts Kusanagi and her partner Batou on the trail of a phantom hacker dubbed the Puppet Master. Described as "the most unique hacker in the history of cyber-brain crime," the Puppet Master uses phone lines to "ghost-hack" people and get them to carry out offenses. In the cyberpunk future "Ghost in the Shell" envisions, people's brains are encased in hardware that enables them to access the internet — and, in turn, be accessed and controlled from outside.
One of the Puppet Master's victims is a garbage man who has fake memories of a family that doesn't exist implanted in his mind. Things like this are a "violation of cyber-brain policy," we're told, but they go along with the Puppet Master's original programming.
After the Puppet Master's ghost, or consciousness, is trapped in a new cyborg shell at Megatech Body (the same company that manufactured Kusanagi's current form), we learn its true nature as Project 2501, "a life form that was born in the sea of information." While Kusanagi is an agent of Section 9, another Public Security department, Section 6, created Project 2501 as a tool for industrial espionage and data manipulation.
Kusanagi's boss thinks the Puppet Master is human and has left his real body a lifeless husk somewhere, now that he's stranded in this new one at Megatech. But as the Puppet Master explains, "There will be no corpse, because until now, there was never a body." It's not a man; it's a machine, a computer brain that became self-aware as it "wandered the various networks" and took a special interest in Kusanagi, a fully cyborg individual with whom it had something in common.
"Ghost in the Shell" influenced "The Matrix," and you can definitely see echoes of it across that film's acupuncture needles, green lines of code (or digital "Matrix" rain), and images of people jacking into a neural network via plugs on the backs of their necks. In "The Matrix Reloaded," there's also the recurring image of a gun-toting woman falling backward through the air from a skyscraper window.
Kusanagi, like the Puppet Master, is post-human: someone whose body is a "full-replacement" shell. Her ghost, which the movie likens to a soul using the Japanese word tamashii , has been inserted into a new cyborg frame, leaving her disconnected from her former self. Throughout the movie, this leaves her in a state of ontological uncertainty, questioning the very nature of her own being with statements like, "the real me died a long time ago," and, "Maybe there was never a real 'me' to begin with."
It also means traditional concepts of gender and race maybe no longer apply to Kusanagi. This is something the live-action remake of "Ghost in the Shell," starring Scarlet Johannson, would explore further with its controversial plot involving a Japanese woman in a white woman's body . In the anime Kusanagi, we see the potential for the trans allegory that "The Matrix" would later become for writer-directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski .
Though "Ghost in the Shell" has some typical, scopophilic moments of fan-service nudity, having Kusanagi strip down naked when she activates her thermoptic camouflage and turns invisible isn't just about fetishizing women's bodies. As she struggles to lift the lid off the spider tank, every muscle in Kusanagi's mechanical body bulges, making her look more masculine, like a weightlifter, and thereby complicating the sexualization of her as an object of feminine desire.
Neither the Puppet Master nor the Major
Project 2501/the Puppet Master is the answer to the question, "What if a computer brain could generate a ghost and harbor a soul?" As it lobbies for political asylum as an autonomous new life form, it argues that human memories are as good as fantasy and that, "the DNA you carry is nothing more than a self-preserving program itself." If the garbage man can be rewired with the virtual dream of a family, who's to say anyone's memories are real?
Though a virus would pose a threat to the Puppet Master, it lacks true humanity in that it can't die naturally or beget unique children. It can only copy itself, so it wants to prevent its own extinction by merging with Kusanagi and bearing "offspring into the net itself." This it manages to do before Section 6's snipers destroy both their bodies.
Luckily, Batou is able to save Kusanagi's cyber-brain and outfit it with a new child-sized cyborg shell that he got on the black market. He explains that the Puppet Master case has been covered up as the work of a terrorist and that it "ended in a draw" between Section 9 and Section 6. Meanwhile, Kusanagi has been reborn into a new body, her voice now gravitating between a child's and her old recognizable adult voice.
"Here before you is neither the program called the Puppet Master, nor the woman that was called the Major," she tells Batou. As the credits roll and composer Kenji Kawai's score gives way to U2 and Brian Eno's "One Minute Warning," the audience has witnessed the next stage of post-human evolution, while Kusanagi and the Puppet Master's daughter is left to look out over the city, pondering where she might go in the "vast and limitless" net.
6 questions I have after watching Ghost in the Shell
The live-action re-interpretation of Ghost in the Shell hit cinemas last week and now we’ve all had a chance to see it (what do you mean you haven’t seen it yet? Go away now because spoilers ), let’s talk about the burning questions we need answered. How many more cyborgs are there out there? Was Major actually Asian all along? Is Kuze ‘dead’ or has he just been uploaded to the Cloud? I try to answer all this and more below.
1. Just how many cyborgs like Major are there?
We know that Major was not the first because of Kuze, but we also know that there were many ‘experiments’ before Major because Dr. Ouelet told her so when she confronted her. It’s a safe bet that a lot of them never made it past the operating table, especially in the early stages, but if Kuze survived what was done to him and even managed to escape, who’s to say that there aren’t more out there? And given Major’s reaction to finding out about her ‘siblings’ it wouldn’t be a stretch for her to want to find out what happened to them, would it? If we get a sequel, perhaps it will see Major seeking out other cyborgs and helping them reclaim their lost lives.
2. Will Major return to work for Section 9?
Something tells me that Major won’t be too keen on returning to work for District 9 now she knows that her ‘memories’ of her family dying in a terrorist attack are fake. Having said that, her skills (like the fact that she’s nearly indestructible) make her the perfect weapon so I can’t really see her working in a kitchen either. Perhaps Major will continue to fight crime in her own way by seeking out those responsible for what happened to her and her friends (don’t tell me Cutter was working alone) or maybe she could even lead a cyborg revolution?
3. Where is Kuze now?
I know it looks like he died but given the fact he was connected to the internet and he asked Major to go to a ‘special place’ with him, I think there’s a strong possibility that Kuze uploaded himself online before his cyborg body was completely destroyed. This would be more in line with his original anime storyline which saw him infect the internet without actually ever taking physical form. Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of Kuze.
4. Is Major actually Asian then?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere you can’t have failed to notice the controversy surrounding the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Major, a Japanese character in the original anime and manga. Quite rightly, Johansson and director Rupert Sanders have been dealing with accusations of whitewashing from day one, but the movie actually revealed that Major was Asian all along when she is reunited with her Mother. We even see a young (Asian) Major being kidnapped in a flashback which would seem to confirm that it’s simply her Shell that appears Caucasian. So, does this make her Asian? I honestly don’t know, but it does lead us onto another question…
5. Why would Major’s Shell be Caucasian at all?
Even if it is just Major’s Shell that is Caucasian, why would Dr. Ouelet and her team create Caucasian Shells when the brains they’re using come from Japanese citizens and the movie itself is set in Japan? Well, the obvious answer is that Dr. Ouelet herself is Caucasian and so she created Major in her own image, but this does also raise the question of why the majority of the cast aren’t Asian despite the Japanese setting. You could argue that Sanders intentionally created a futuristic setting which sees the world as more of an international melting pot… but you could also argue that the studio just felt an all-Asian cast wouldn’t have made much money.
6. Is Ghost in the Shell 2 in the works?
As with any blockbuster, as soon as it’s released, questions start over whether they’ll be a sequel or not. However, as with any blockbuster, it usually depends on how well the movie performs at the box office on whether it will get that sequel, and Ghost in the Shell hasn’t done that well. I did ask Sanders if he had any plans to work on another Ghost movie and his answer was optimistic: “I think the Ghost universe is vast and infinite, and I think if people like the story… relate to the story and want to see more then [yes].”
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Lauren O'Callaghan is the former Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar+. You'd typically find Lauren writing features and reviews about the latest and greatest in pop culture and entertainment, and assisting the teams at Total Film and SFX to bring their excellent content onto GamesRadar+. Lauren is now the digital marketing manager at the National Trust.
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Den of Geek
Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Ending Explained
The latest entry in the Ghost in the Shell canon introduces many complex concepts, all of which raise interesting questions for season two.
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The following contains spoilers for Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 .
Netflix’s new Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 is the latest addition to Japan’s popular Ghost in the Shell series. For decades Ghost in the Shell has provided thought-provoking and creative looks into topics like artificial intelligence and the dangerous advancement of technology. It’s one of the more acclaimed cyberpunk anime that are out there and the series’ Major Motoko Kusanagi has turned into a figurehead for the genre. This new anime continues the series’ exploration into society’s gradual subjugation by technology and Section 9’s efforts to fight off and prevent these new advanced threats.
Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 has Kusanagi and her team face their biggest challenge yet as the world heads closer to singularity and artificial intelligence reigning supreme. The prevalence of “post-humans” and other invasive forms of technology push Section 9 to act fast or else the government may be taken down and the world gets even further away from healing. There are a lot of fires to extinguish in this season of SAC_2045 , which means it’s easy to get lost in this technological madness and miss some of the finer details of the finale.
What Are Post-Humans?
Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 plays around with a lot of new dangers that plague the world in the fifteen years that have elapsed since the last Standalone Complex series. An event known as the Global Simultaneous Default has led to an alarming advancement of technology and artificial intelligence that’s essentially the singularity. The most dangerous effect of all of this are “post-humans,” who become the predominant threat that Section 9 faces in SAC_2045. Post-humans operate with a level of precision and power that even makes fully synthetic robots look meek in comparison. They’re the ultimate killing machines.
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The origins of these post-humans is initially unclear, but Section 9 slowly learns that this process is the result of an invasive level of hacking and infection. Unwilling humans are essentially programmed into sleeper assassins who are being used to take out important individuals in the government. Section 9 is able to take out a couple of these post-humans, but there are at least 14 of them that they know about that they need to locate and eliminate.
What Is Think Pol?
The final episodes of Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045’s first season revolve around a new dangerous piece of software that’s known as Think Pol. Think Pol—and the extension software that grew out of it, Peep Hole—are a form of spying and surveillance app that began with the altruistic intentions of exposing individuals who have done wrong. Think Pol is created by Takashi Shimamura and its name is a reference to Thought Police and a greater Orwellian influence of preventing crime before it’s able to happen. Shimamura wants to do good with Think Pol, but the software is quickly manipulated and used as a tool to enact mob mentality. This makes it a major priority for Section 9 during their post-human hunt.
Why Does Togusa Experience Shimamura’s Past?
Togusa becomes a major player in the finale of SAC_2045 due to how he interacts with and attempts to decode and retrieve data from the software that Takashi Shimamura has left behind. It turns out that the software is encoded with a dangerous virus that tries to infect and take over Togusa’s brain when he attempts to analyze the data. Section 9 discovers that Shimamura’s software was designed to recover an important memory of his that was lost. However, further research reveals that the software isn’t just meant to retrieve lost memories, but to specifically conjure up nostalgia over a lost person or moment of time. Togusa survives the attempted infection, but due to his exposure with the software he also finds himself subject to Shimamura’s nostalgia. He’s stuck living through his past as he attempts to determine what’s important about this repressed memory.
What Is Takashi Shimamura’s Lost Memory?
The important lost memory that Takashi Shimamura has repressed and is so eager to retrieve charts back to his original creation of Think Pol (which at the time he refers to as a “game”). During this time from his youth he was living with his younger cousin Yuzu and her family. The two of them are largely left to their own devices and they learn about an airborne trooper who’s landed near their home and taken up refuge there. Shimamura’s curiosity gets the better of him and he spies on some corrupt government officials carrying out war crime executions. Yuzu eventually gets discovered and when the two kids are nearly executed for being loose ends, the airborne trooper shows up and saves them.
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Many deaths ensue and both Takashi and Yuzu are traumatized by the vicious murders that they see. Tragically, stray fire happens to take out Yuzu and this devastating experience sets Takashi on the path to carry out 1984’s message, avenge his relative, and change the world. He leaves with the airborne trooper, abandons his roots, and sets on a new path.
What Is The Significance Of Orwell’s 1984?
George Orwell’s 1984 becomes a crucial text in SAC_2045 , particularly in regard to Takashi Shimamura’s inspiration for creating Think Pol in the first place. Shimamura first encounters Orwell’s 1984 when he investigates the house of the airborne trooper. Shimamura later tries to return the book, but gets caught by the trooper. Rather than punish Takashi, the trooper lets him keep the book and reiterates its message about how it’s hard to live in a place when you can’t abide by its unfair rules. He tells the young boy to read the book to learn “everything that will happen in the world.” This brief moment for Shimamura turns into a formative experience about not just trying to buck the system, but how he inadvertently creates the oppressive structure that he’s adamant to prevent from happening in the first place.
Where Does Togusa Disappear To?
The concluding moments of the first season of SAC_2045 go out on a rather surprising cliffhanger will surely inform much of the start of season two. Togusa continues to experience the nostalgia of Takashi Shimamura’s memories, but when the repressed secret of Shimamura’s childhood comes to a head, the present and the past meld together in a mysterious way. At the end of Shimamura’s memory when the airborne trooper asks him to accompany him on his journey, Shimamura extends the same courtesy to Togusa. Up until this point Shimamura’s memories haven’t explicitly interacted with Togusa and he’s just been a silent bystander.
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Togusa appears to accept Shimamura’s offer because he disappears with him and vanishes away into the past. Togusa’s sudden disappearance throws Batou for a loop and it may be very difficult to recover him. Perhaps it’s possible for Togusa to get back to the present on his own, or maybe Motoko will need to also interact with the software and invade Shimamura’s memories in a similar way to help retrieve her lost friend.
Do Section 9 Succeed In Stopping The Post-Humans?
The final episode of Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045’s first season takes a bit of a step back from the larger post-human threat and instead focuses on the disappearance of Takashi Shimamura and the importance of his technology and how it works. Granted, fully understanding Shimamura’s secret and the intricacies of Think Pol will help in the grander mission to eliminate post-humans, but Section 9 is still far away from that point. If anything, the team is further behind than ever after Togusa disappears into Takashi Shimamura’s memories. Not only are Section 9 still left with Think Pol work to decode, but the remaining post-humans are still at large. It’s clear that the second season of SAC_2045 will continue to deal with this advanced threat, rather than introduce an entirely new story for the next collection of episodes. Post-humans have turned out to be such a satisfying group of antagonists for Motoko and company that hopefully the show’s second season will find even more creative ways to use them.
Daniel Kurland | @DanielKurlansky
Daniel Kurland is a freelance writer and comedian, who has also produced and directed short films and pilot presentations for network consideration. Daniel recently completed work…
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Ghost in the Shell 2045
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Sustainable War (episode)
Watch the first episode of the first season of Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045
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Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045 Sustainable War
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Welcome to the Ghost in the Shell Wiki
攻殻機動隊 Wiki のページへようこそ
Ghost in the Shell, a Japanese Manga and Anime franchise created by the manga artist Masamune Shirow , and filmmakers Mamoru Oshii and Kenji Kamiyama .
This wiki is brought to you by an open volunteer community of GitS fans, who strive to collect and consolidate everything known about the GitS Universe. You are welcome to join us and help by contributing to this wiki.
Warning: This wiki reveals plot details . Read at your own risk!
The Ghost in the Shell Wiki is still in its infancy. We currently have 605 articles , so there is not much information at this time. But that just means you have more opportunities to spread your love for GitS. Help us out by editing and creating more articles. You can also,
Featured Episode: Afternoon of the Machines – PAT.
Section 9's Tachikoma fleet is down for routine maintenance. While the technicians inspect the fleet, the think-tanks begin a philosophical discussion on the Individual Eleven case and the implications and motives behind it. Gradually, this discussion shifts to the topic of the self and the reason that the Tachikomas have felt the sensation of looking down on themselves. Meanwhile, Togusa, Batou, Batou's personal Tachikoma, and the Major report to SPring-8 to gather evidence collected by the staff from the ten deceased members of the Individual Eleven. While there, an explosion rocks the facility, and Batou, Togusa, and the Tachikoma dash to the scene. Having learned that a man named Asuda may have been in the building, the team regroups aboard the tiltrotor for a trip to Niihama Airport. Along the way Batou and Togusa learn from the Major that Asuda is the inventor of the Tachikoma AI, and may be attempting to defect to North America to obtain patent rights, which he cannot get in Japan as a state-sponsored scientist. Asuda is taken into custody in the airport lobby, and on the return leg of the trip to Niihama shares an important secret about the origin of the Tachikoma AI system with the team before bonding with Batou's personal Tachikoma. Asuda's information helps solve the mysterious "out of body" feeling the Tachikomas have been experiencing; it turns out that this new fleet's AI and central server are located on a satellite in space. He also admits that he had secretly inserted a program to have the Tachikomas instinctively remember him as a way to have his achievements recognized.
Read More at Afternoon of the Machines – PAT.