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Batou (バトー Batō) is a main male character in the Ghost in the Shell series, the second best melee fighter in Section 9, and is the second in command under Major Motoko Kusanagi. While his name is officially romanized as "Batou", in some copies of the first film's subtitles and credits, it is spelled "Bateau" (the French word for "boat").
Ghost in the Shell Manga:
Batou originally appeared in the manga authored by Masamune Shirow, serialized in Kodansha's "Young Magazine Pirate Edition" from 1989 to 1991. Shirow's characterization of Batou, and indeed the other members of Section 9, is notably more light-hearted than the characterization used in Mamoru Oshii's films of the same name. He frequently jokes with Motoko, Togusa, the Tachikomas, and practically everyone else who crosses his path. His serious side becomes much more pronounced in an episode of the manga where Yano, a trainee of Batou's, is murdered by a cyber-criminal named Koil Krasnov. Batou loses his temper and impulsively calls up Section 9 Chief Aramaki, demanding an explanation for Yano's death, then storms off announcing (in the English translation), "That . . . Koil is dead meat!" Unlike S.A.C., where in a similar situation Batou spares the life of an ex-C.I.A. operative, Batou makes good on his threat and personally terminates Koil. His appearance and style of dress varies considerably over the series' run.
In Ghost in the Shell 2: Man/Machine Interface, Batou makes only a token cameo appearance, and is hardly recognizable. His head is shaved, and he is dressed in a simple black outfit. His sense of humor remains intact though. During a psychic monitoring of the virtual contact between Motoko Aramaki and another entity on the net, the psychic states, "Something of substance, something fruitful has passed between them," to which Batou remarks, "A persimmon maybe?" This prompts Aramaki to issue an ultimatum: "If you can't be serious you can leave the room." He also asks to link with the psychic when she suffers a similar experience to Motoko's contact with the Puppet Master, but is vetoed.
Ghost in the Shell Films
The Batou of Mamoru Oshii's films is very different from the one in the two series, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG. In the Ghost in the Shell film and its sequel Batou is much more subdued, even to the point of brusqueness. In the first movie, Batou is depicted having a white crew-cut similar to the manga, while in the second movie Batou has a short ponytail. In the films and both anime seasons, Batou's dubbed voice is provided by voice actor Richard Epcar. Likewise in Japanese, Batou's original voice has always been provided by Akio Otsuka.
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
Batou is the central character of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, which centers around his reaction to the disappearance of Major Motoko Kusanagi at the end of the first movie. Director Mamoru Oshii comments that the investigation is really secondary to the plot. What is most notable about Batou's emotion in Innocence is his lack thereof; for the most part he expresses nothing whatsoever. In fact, the commentary on the Innocence DVD touches on the fact that it is Batou's lone companion, a Basset Hound named Gabriel, that express almost all of the emotion in the entire movie. When Batou is required to leave in order to continue his investigation, Gabriel is taken to Togusa's family to take care of, much to the delight of Togusa's young daughter and dread of his wife. Ishikawa, Batou's senior, chides him for keeping such a high-maintenance dog since he is a single man in a dangerous line of work. It is left up to the viewer to decide exactly what feelings Batou has or had for the Major, but there is rampant speculation that the movie is, at least in part, a love story. After he shot his own right arm as a result of brain-hacking, it was replaced with a new DNA-matched prosthetic with a two shot shotgun hidden inside. Batou is depicted as being tougher than in other Ghost In The Shell incarnations, as seen in his ability to shoot two live grenades and survive and his gigantic leap down the shaft of the Locus Solus factory ship. In both theatrical films, Batou carries a gun dubbed a Jericho 942, based on the real Jericho 941 made by IMI but chambered for .50AE. In Innocence, he is also seen with a compact S&W pistol and a small semiautomatic shotgun. Other sources, including the Innocence prequel novel "After the Long Goodbye" note that Batou's S&W pistol is chambered for the .40 S&W cartridge.
Ghost in the Shell TV: Stand Alone Complex
However, in the two Stand Alone Complex series, Batou's personality is more like that in the manga version. He is an outgoing joker, but one with a quick temper. Being emotional and not as calm as the Major, Batou shows anger at injustice and cruelty, to the point of seeming downright hotheaded at times. He sometimes shows impatience with Section 9's rookies, such as Togusa, to the point of rudeness, and jokes with him constantly.
At times, he is also shown to be a voice of reason and concern for the Major, to the point that she admits she can confide in him. Both seasons of the anime, like the movies, hint at some romantic tension between the two, particularly near the end of each Gig. This tension is touched upon, briefly, in the Solid State Society movie, where Batou admits that he's been covering up any of the Major's appearances in cases prior to the Puppet Master case. The movie closes with Batou's arm around the Major, although it's doubtful that the gesture is foretelling of any relationship between the two.
Batou had served in a military special forces team before entering Section 9. Most of his body is comprised of cybernetic prosthetics. Despite the fact that exercise will do his cybernetic body parts no benefits, Batou lifts weights as a hobby. Based on several of the Stand Alone Complex episodes, Batou seems to have served in the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force at some point before he joined Section 9. It is suggested several times that he held a JGSDF Ranger qualification. His unit was involved in World War IV and was deployed to South America alongside Motoko Kusanagi, where they accidentally stumbled across an American Imperial Navy unit conducting a covert operation codenamed "Project Sunset", which consisted of soldiers earning the trust of communities and then carrying out war crimes, spreading terror and chaos in the enemy ranks. Batou's eyes are grey and clearly prosthetic, and are standard cybernetic equipment issued to Ranger Special Forces operatives.
In episode 1.16, "Ag2O", it is presented that Batou is married and has a 6 year old son, but since his mission was to spy on Zaitsev and get close to him, most people rightfully assume that this was part of his coverstory, and no mention of it is made again. NOTE: The woman in the picture that is supposed to be his wife, looks like the Major, and the child she is carrying looks remarkably like Togusa's Child. This also revealed the name "Buttetsu" as his last name, but this is very likely also a forgery.
In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Batou is the favorite of the Tachikomas because he showers them with care and affection. He has even dubbed one his "personal" Tachikoma, refusing to operate any other on an assignment and treating it with organic oil, both habits which culminate in problems. Later in the series the Tachikoma's AI starts to develop rapidly, which is attributed to a mutation in a protein chip caused by Batou's natural oil. Also, as Batou treats them as individuals as opposed to interchangeable units, they begin to view themselves as such, which contributes to the development of their AI.
Near the end of Ghost in The Shell Second Gig Batou engages Hideo Kuze in combat but he is defeated when Kuze immobilizes Batou's right leg and subsequently impales Batou with a pole. Kuze tells Batou that the only reason that Batou lost was because of "minor differences in motivation".
From the second series (Second GIG) it appears that Batou was the second one the Major recruited to Section 9, preceded by Ishikawa and followed by Saito. Batou also had the same hair cut that he had in the second Ghost in the Shell movie. In Stand Alone Complex, Batou's standard sidearm is a FN Browning BDA9 customized to fire .45 ACP (called FN Hi-Power M7), not the 5.45 mm Seburo M5, the standard Section 9 sidearm. In 1st Gig episode 15, he is also shown evaluating the "GLOCK 33 Advanced", a reference to the "GLOCK 26 Advanced" airsoft gun manufactured in Japan by Tokyo Marui. The Glock 33 does exist, chambered for .357 SIG, but not in the customised "advanced" form depicted.
~ According to Tachikomatic Days of episode 21 in S.A.C. (Season 1), Batou has a beer after his bath and takes out his cybernetic eye balls before going to sleep. The next Tachikomatic Days (episode 22), that states that Ishikawa has a glass of milk after his bath and takes off his beard before going to sleep. Information presented in Tachikomatic Days are likely of dubious canonicity.
~ In episode thirteen of 2nd GIG, his rank badge says he may have been a Sergeant in the Army Rangers. In the final episode of 2nd GIG, Batou confronts a group of Rangers from Public Security Section 4, all of whom have artificial eyes identical to his own.
~ While Batou appears to be a full cyborg in the anime, dialogue in the manga implies that he is not. After making a remark about the duration of Kusanagi's relationship with her boyfriend from Section 1, Batou's forehead is struck by a mug of coffee (thrown by the Major) and, as he staggers away, Batou wonders if he should go full cyborg as well.
~ Batou's original incarnation in the manga is considerably more comical than his anime counterpart. His eyes - though prosthetic - often bulge comically when he is alarmed, and when they do small dot-pupils appear in the middle. After Major Kusanagi is targeted by an assassin and ends up in hospital, Batou becomes paranoid and suspects that a bomb has been planted in his car. He proceeds to dismantle the vehicle in the middle of the road outside the hospital, leading him to have an amusing arguement with an ambulance driver.