Shinatama

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Shinatama

An SLD specifically designed to interface with Konoko, the pink-haired Shinatama is one of the most tragic characters of the game.

Advisor to the Heroine

Initially, Shinatama acted as the informant to Konoko via their neural link. At this time, her personality was similar to a bright and happy child, and she considered herself a sister to the up-and-coming TCTF agent. She was also assigned the task of monitoring Konoko's Daodan Chrysalis. It was later discovered that she falsified these reports in order to protect Konoko.

Shinatama also alluded to the Chrysalis indirectly by informing Konoko that hyposprays might affect her differently then other people. This, along with her warning the young agent about Comguys and the Deadly Brain clearly indicated their relationship was more then military professionalism. Her youthful personality was also demonstrated by her panicking when the Deadly Brain flooded the network with self-portraits.

The Syndicate Assault

Soon after the incident with the Deadly Brain, Muro, Barabas and a team of Strikers and Bombers raided Vago Biotech for "gene surgery equipment." Shinatama continued her role as advisor to Konoko, but of more particular interest was the fact that the SLD process was completely explained in the data consoles. Muro and his crew escaped with the equipment, Konoko hot on their trail.

At the chase took Konoko to the airport, Shinatama reported, horrified, that Muro and his troops were killing off civilians at an alarming rate. Konoko managed to follow Muro and plant a homing device on his escape plane. Muro, however, was informed that she was neural-linked to an SLD, prompting him to conduct an immediate assault on the TCTF headquarters...

Kidnapped, Tortured, and Blown Up

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A massive group of Strikers, Bombers, and Furies led by Barabas assaulted the TCTF headquarters with astonishing speed and precision. Not only did they turn off the main defenses, they also blew a few critical rampways to the ground. Barabas himself managed to reach Shinatama, ripping her out of her alcove in the main computer. Konoko rushed to save her, but only just saw her getting handed off to Muro.

The SLD was taken to a nearby ACC by Muro, who plugged her into the generator, running thousands of volts through her body. He amusedly commented that her pain threshold was nonexistent. Having obtained the information from her, Muro left her in a highly damaged state. Konoko, who had come to rescue what she considered her only friend, was unable to move her without furthering the damage.

Shinatama attempted to inform her about the Chrysalis and its impact, but only managed to pass on Konoko's real name, Mai Hasegawa, and the fact that there was something inside of her, before she received a self-destruct signal from Griffin. She attempted to slow it down, allowing Konoko a chance to escape, but the explosion was unavoidable. She was presumed dead. But Griffin had other plans.

Resurrection and Second Death

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Griffin had known from the beginning there was a high possibility the Konoko would spiral out of control, and had planned accordingly. He had designed the Omega Bunker complete with a Deadly Brain frame, and retrieved the shambled remains of Shinatama from the explosion site. He wired her up into the frame, giving her access to all the defenses and using her familiarity with Konoko as a critical part in his defense program.

When Konoko confronted Griffin, he retreated into the bunker, forcing her not only to combat TCTF agents, but her friend as well. Shinatama, aware that she was helping to kill the person she viewed as a sister, begged for death all the while. Eventually, Konoko managed to shut down all the defense mechanisms, and Shinatama broke free of the frame, walking toward Griffin with all the speed her skeletal body could muster.

Griffin shot her.

Shinatama Bot

A custom character concept developed by Samer. The idea is Shinatama got rebuilt / resurrected into a more combat-able body ... Perhaps as a way for Griffin to redeem himself after Konoko spared his life in the bunker.

Added value

It is interesting to note that the only being Konoko ever cared for, plotwise (with the near-exception of Kerr), is : a) not really human, technically; b) basically a part of Mai herself.

Simulated life

An SLD's body is made of synthetic tissue about as complex as that which makes up the human body. The brain's complexity, in particular, is remarkable. For all we see, robots (electronic brains) only serve as work force in Oni, while tactical thought and fast reflexes are left to human-like brains (humans, cyborgs, Deadly Brains, and SLDs).

It's important to note that an SLD's brain and body are biological (as opposed to robots, SLDs are grown, not built), and that their brain is not physically "donated" by a human (as is the case for a Deadly Brain or a cyborg).

SLDs are standalone biological lifeforms. Modeled after Man, but with no human parts. Engineered to a large extent, but still wholesome individuals rather than results of a series of patches and upgrades.

Human-primed

The biomass of an SLD's brain is able to imitate the neural structure of a human brain, but the nurturing process is sped up dramatically, and goes as follows :

  • There's the senseloop, somewhat akin to popular concepts of computer-assisted learning. High input of data, which help the SLD to compensate for the lack of memories.
  • And there's the priming, which at the time of Oni requires an SLD to be patterned after an existing human brain (that's true for Shinatama and Tankers).

Fact is : Shinatama was primed with such a human "seed". And she was patterned after no one else but Mai. They don't share memories (not like Mai has a lot anyway), but Shinatama's emotional pattern, at the core, is not synthetic. It's human, and it's Mai's.

Backup of Mai's innocence

In a way, while the human Mai got corrupted by her upbringing at the TCTF (as a "violent cop") and the implantation of the Daodan Chrysalis (which further catalyzed violence), Shinatama retained her innocence integrally through it all. Interesting point is : that innocence, too, was no one else's but Mai's.

Thus Shinatama can be seen as a backup of Mai's "true nature", before her personality got alienated by her adolescence, early adulthood, life at the TCTF, and Daodan symbiosis. Her death would mean the complete destruction of that backup.

Violent nurturing

Not only is Shinatama an extract of Mai's nature, she was also directly affected by Mai's nurturing, except for the most physical part of it (field action) and of course the Daodan symbiosis. "I've seen everything you've seen, felt everything you've felt".

If you think of Shinatama as a backup of Mai, then Shinatama's point of view is a bit disturbing : it's as if the innocent Mai was following the evolution of an increasingly messed-up projection of herself, live, non-stop, in subjective view and in such detail that she's virtually right there in the middle of the action, where people are killed and things are blown up.

Thus, another characteristic trait of Shinatama's innocence is that she's in a non-stop senseloop made of the violence actually encountered and generated by Mai : the human she was patterned after.

Shinatama never killed anyone, and still her existence is filled with that half-virtual violence. Violence unto Mai is violence unto Shinatama. Violence by Mai... for Shinatama, is like seeing through the eyes of a maniac/murderer, seeing her own hands kill people, not being able to look away, not being able to do anything but watch.

In that, Shinatama is very different from other legal SLDs (who coordinate firemen and such). Not only does she oversee the operations of violent cops, she sees through the eyes of one such violent cop, who additionally happens to be a projection of herself. A projection in space, but also in time.

Not growing up

We don't know at what point Shinatama was brought into existence. It would seem that she and Konoko have known each other for a while, possibly since the very moment Mai was "adopted" by the TCTF.

Shinatama's body doesn't age, and her emotional patterns had no reason to evolve much, either (save for the violent nurturing above). If she was patterned after Mai when Mai was, say, seven... then that explains her "annoying" childish ways.

It also brings about an interesting consideration... At the start of Griffin's Daodan project, Mai and Shinatama are like twin sisters (more like clone sisters, actually). It doesn't take long, however, until Mai outgrows Shinatama and becomes a "big sister" for her. Eventually, we end up with a Mai about three times the age of the one who used to be her biotech twin.

That's an original way to look at their "family" relationship, and how it evolved over time. How did Mai feel about "leaving Shinatama behind"? How did Shinatama feel about Konoko "drifting away" from her?

More than family

There's a complicated emotional bond between Mai and Shinatama, that goes beyond partnership or even the usual concept of family. No wonder Shinatama "fixated" on it.

The way Mai and Shinatama share nature and nurturing, one of them physically implicated and evolving, the other almost out of space and out of time, is an appealing element of Shinatama's background, and also of Mai's.

Free will and rationality

While subject to something like Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, it is clear that nothing's clear about an SLD's degree of initiative, free will, or even rational thinking (which is the only guarantee of predictability and control).

Thus an SLD can not, technically, disobey a direct order, but it can circumvene an ill-stated directive. And Shinatama had been doing just that when falsifying her reports on Konoko : that would mean that lying, for instance, is not ruled out by an SLD's design.

As for irrationality : for example, there was an objective reason why Shinatama disobeyed Griffin in the Omega Bunker (emergency overrides had been switched off without Griffin knowing), but why did she start walking towards him in the first place?

That "Omega Security Mode" just doesn't make any sense... It would seem that Shinatama's complexity, her uncommon emotional background, her inner conflict (between innocence and violence), and possibly Mai's "conflicting input", made her behave in an irrational way.

That goes back to the Daodan as loss of control. Extremely sophisticated individuals such as legal SLDs, by their very depth, are prone to escaping prediction and control.

However, if the scientists were to master every aspect of Shinatama's design, she wouldn't have been more efficient than an average computer or android. There's an unavoidable risk here, and the best one can do is to acknowledge it.

One characteristic of the human mind is abstract thought, and if some of it filters into an SLD's brain (and it does), why couldn't they get subjective, or illogical, or crazy?

That "excessive humanity" in man-made machines is often addressed in sci-fi. Non-trivial approaches are rare, though. All the more appealing to read a lot of complicated stuff into the SLD concept...

Pain and Death

How much can Shinatama suffer and how many times can she die?

Whether she experiences actual bodily harm, or is subjected to Konoko's, she can take a lot more than a regular human being, or so it seems.

However, it's not clear whether her "innocent nature" is unaffected by violence, pain and, ultimately, death. Does she remain an accurate backup of the still-human, seven-year-old Mai no matter what happens, or is a little bit of Mai (and humanity) stripped away every time Shinatama experiences stress, pain, physical harm or "death"?

If it's the latter, just what happens to Shinatama if her synthetic, simili-human body and brain is damaged, then completely destroyed, and all that remains is her projection in "cyberspace" (to which she was wired all her life)? What could be the features of that projection?

Disembodied Soul

(apart from theology, the name echoes a humorous concept of Bungie's : this is not too funny, though...)

Without an anchor to her pattern donor or to humanity as a whole, without even her synthetic brain (which made her apt to experience human emotions after having been "taught" what they were), there's a good chance that Shinatama will distance herself from mankind and become more calculated, bitter, cold and cruel.

Her free will, and her ability to circumvent orders, will most probably remain, but without a "sister soul", her motivations will be somewhat disconnected, "by default", from human-like emotional stakes... She will go progressively out of phase with mankind, becoming a side observer and a critic (or worse) rather than "part of it".

Hikari

Owldreamer's concept of Shinatama, now an electronic ghost, creating a flesh-and-blood avatar of herself is appealing in the way that the avatar can be seen as the disembodied, seen-it-all Shinatama's anchor to humanity and to Mai. Hikari's own inner universe is yet another field of investigation, but she's already a powerful character through what she means to Shinatama : without an anchor such as the neural link to Mai, or an avatar such as Hikari, Shinatama is the Disembodied Soul described above.



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