“Heterochromia” (short story) by Gakuto Mikumo
English Publication History: Ghost in the Shell: Five New Short Stories (2017, Vertical)
Original: Japanese (金目銀目), 2017
Translated by uncredited, 2017
Synopsis: Partly cybernetic herself, after Yuki Misaki is almost killed in an assassination attempt on the person she was supposed to protect, she ends up getting saved by Motoko Kusanagi, the Major in flesh and bone, or rather, in silicon and titanium. Yuki replays her rescue time and again, fantasizing about the physique and components of her savior. When respect begets worship, only one further step can be placed: imitation. After four years, Yuki, though nefarious contacts, is able to match the Major component for component, and to show thanks to her supplier, she’s willing to do a hit.
Analysis: By being saved by the Major, Yuki reflects, “She saved my life, and at the same time trampled on it. Simply by being, a superlative concept cannot but affect other beings. My persona was smashed beyond repair by her” (64). My the Major’s godliness, Yuki takes on the image in order to give the most flattering praise of imitation. However, this imitation is only physical, one would say superficial if it weren’t for the replacements on her muscle, organs, and skeleton. The only thing that remains of Yuki is her ego, which she says, “I’ve no need for it now … I don’t recognize its value” (65). This ego-castration, all-for-nothing prostration is Yuki’s ultimate act of worship.
Review: This is a pretty cool little story wrapped in the guise of a mentally scarred yet inspired protagonist. In order to shake it up a bit, the timeline isn’t linear, but jumps back and forth between Yuki’s near-fatal accident and her reverie of idolization. Towards the end, it’s a solid action sequence a lá Ghost in the Shell, which isn’t complete without a roundhouse kick or ghost-hack. Its thirty pages present a tight, clean, fun, and momentous impact.