The Second Version

11/06/07

Unusual Character Development

Steven cites Ubu Roi (a blogger I never read before today, but heard about lots of times) in a post where the former praises his last acquisition, Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars.

I haven't watched that even if it sounds interesting; hell, of the series that Steven would suggest I only own Excel Saga (and I'm glad I do) and I am in an agreement with someone to get me Vandread.

Anyway, both Ubu and Steven like series with character development and where the main characters learn something. I confess I'm not so strict: for me, egaging characters do not really have to change. But there is a case of character development that I find extremely interesting and egaging: the evolution of Tachikoma in Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex (Be warned that spoilers are likely).

The main characters in that series do not change a great deal throughout the series (but we learn more about them ), but the Tachikoma end up being radically different.

These beings begin their existence as small, four-legged sentient battle tanks intended to provide Section 9 with support fire, rapid personnell transport and some other capabilities. At the beginning, their personality is a curious mix of chattiness, childish cheerfulness and curiosity, fearlessness and obedience, and pretty well developed intellect. Their memories are periodically synchronized so that all of them will share the same experiences.

Batou is the member of Section 9 most affectionate to the Tachikoma, and one in particular, while the others regard them as just machines - the Major's opinion remains mysterious until late. Soon, Batou's favourite tank begins to show signs of unusual behaviour. The incident is thought to be caused by Batou giving the Tachikoma natural oil as a gift instead of the prescribed lubricant; the Major thus bans the practice.


But it's not enough: (Jeez, I messed up the chronology) One particular Tachikoma, Batou's favorite, continues developing indipendent spirit, quick-wit and something resembling emotions, which show particularly during his escape and errands around the city. The incident is thought to be caused by Batou giving the Tachikoma natural oil as a gift instead of the prescribed lubricant; the Major thus bans the practice. Later, during an intense firefight the Tachikoma develops a case of battle ecstasy (and greatly enjoys his nose-mounted Gatling gun).

Soon thereafter, the evolution of Tachikomas into individual, self-conscious beings is nearly complete: they develop indipendent personalities (the leader, the one reading paper books and more), the ability to trick and deceive (or at least they try; Kusanagi is no fool) in order to reach goals which have nothing to do with their programming and orders. They discuss the differences between humans and machines - and how extensive cybernetics is blurring the line - and in a statement that leaves Batou speechless, even metaphysics, comparing the concept of god to the concept of zero.


And the Tachikomas also ponder the differences between analog (organic) and digital life, and what it actually means to have a"ghost" - read, soul. And individual vs. collective memories, in a further exploration of what was the main them of the first Ghost In The Shell Movie.

The Major does not like it: she is afraid that the Tachikomas may develop a self-preservation instinct and become exceedingly insubordinate - traits not compatible with their combat roles. So she sends them away to be examined and overhauled.

But the story is not over. When Section 9, and especially Batou, are facing a most dangerous enemy, the remaining Tachikomas heed the call and gather again. Two of them had been turned into laborers while one was still being examined in the lab.


They all head out to where Batou is desperately figting enemies equipped with powerful combat suits, and when the fight turns for the worst, the Tachikomas demonstrate a capability no one could guess: self-sacrifice; deliberately chosing death to save their loved Batou. And that makes them complete individuals, though in a different kind of body.

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