Just more than four years ago I caught nearly all of the English dubbed version of the anime Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The Adult Swim programming block of the Cartoon Network was once a wonderful opportunity.  By November 2006 they broadcast the entire first season of the program minus the humorous shorts at the end (It is difficult to say I watched an entire program if the tv station cuts off the end, after all). In spring 2007 they finally broadcast similarly cut episodes of Ghost In The Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG, which was the second season. My cable situation rendered me only able to watch the first episodes of that program.

The Tachikoma “Think Tanks” were not loved by me for their characterization(s) which collectively and generally could be described as “cute” or “cutesy” but they had a certain charm to me because of their visual. These things are walking sentient tanks!

Removing the philosophical or narrative implications of the Artificial Intelligence aspect I really love the light blue metal mini-tanks. This description fits:

They normally operate as independent units and receive orders from human agents, but they can also be directly piloted from a cockpit in their abdomen.

Tachikoma have four legs and two arms. They can move by walking, or they can drive at high speed by using the wheeled footpads on each of their four legs… Each wheel appears to be angled and omnidirectional, allowing the Tachikomas to move in any direction with their holonomic drive system. Other abilities of the Tachikoma include jumping great distances, sticking to vertical or inverted surfaces, engaging a thermoptic camouflage mechanism, and grappling/rappelling using their adhesive string launchers. Tachikoma maintain control of their legs while using wheels to drive down a road, and shift their weight around turns. They can also roll briefly on to two legs while driving to avoid an obstacle or pass through a narrow space. To make balance easier, they can move their heavy abdomens with a ball joint. Their movements when walking and jumping were modelled [sic] on a jumping spider.

Holonomic drive system” likely refers to a type of motion control apparatus.  “Thermoptic camoflage” refers to an invisibility macguffin that in the original anime linked to cartoon nudity.  In describing the robot tanks I left out stuff like motivation or personality or character history.  Forgive me but the inner child which is the catalyst/hinge on which my enjoyment of this stuff is based only cares about the action sequence possibilities of the armored sometimes-vehicles, and not characterization.  Apparently true fans like the “childlike wonder” of the “characters”.  Que sera sera.

Examples of the season one design:

Michael Fichtenmayer constructed, painted, reviewed, and photographed a model of a Tachikoma from Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG, manufactured by Wave.

Fanart (quality fanart no less) illustrates the popularity, or at least the design, quite well.

Ghost in the Shell: Tachikoma by ~Okaria on deviantART

Tachikoma – Unfinished by ~Mercilless on deviantART

Tachikoma by ~arrghman on deviantART

And somewhere out there exists the joke motivational poster with a screenshot from Stand Alone Complex.  Oh wait, here it is.

If you click the link you will get a know-it-all woman-child of poor judgment telling us that it is not art.  In reality it is simply bad art.