Ultimate Pop Culture Wiki
Laughing Man
Ghost in the Shell character
Laughing man logo.png
The Laughing Man logo
First appearanceGhost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
In-universe information

The Laughing Man (笑い男, Warai Otoko) is a fictional character and the primary antagonist of the animated series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. His voice actor is Kōichi Yamadera, while he is voiced in Bandai Entertainment's English dub by Steven Blum.


The Complex story arc of Stand Alone Complex focuses on the Laughing Man case, and on a medical/governmental conspiracy tied in to the fate of the Laughing Man. The Laughing Man is an expert hacker, able to hide his physical presence by editing himself out of video feeds and cybernetic eyes, concealing his identity by superimposing an animated logo over his face, and hijacking cybernetic brains altogether, all in real-time.[1]

The character's name is taken from the title of J. D. Salinger's short story, The Laughing Man. The Laughing Man logo is an animated image of a smiling figure wearing a cap, with circling text quoting a line from Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye (see below). The Laughing Man's actual name, as far as can be ascertained, is Aoi (アオイ), meaning Blue in Japanese. In the last episode of the first season, his red hat has Aoi patched on the inside; while in episode 11, "Portraitz", the director of the vocational aid center calls him by this name when introducing him to Togusa.

Logo design[]

The Laughing Man logo was designed by Paul Nicholson, a London-based designer for graphics and clothing company, Terratag. Nicholson was asked to read a short story by J.D. Salinger, "The Laughing Man," and to base the logo on that. The story revolves around a boys' after-school organization called the Commanche Club. The Commanche Club's Chief often brings the boys to Central Park for baseball games, and these games are the source of the baseball cap featured in the logo. The text given to Nicholson by Production I.G. read: "I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes." The phrase is an excerpt from The Catcher in the Rye, also by Salinger. Nicholson said of the latter, "At first this text made no sense but now, having seen the whole series, I can understand the relevance to the character."[2]

Salinger references[]

Other references to Salinger's book The Catcher in the Rye include the red hunting cap that the real Laughing Man wears backwards and the baseball mitt with poetry written on it the laughing man carries while under the guise of a patient at a vocational aid center. Another is his reference to "phonies," a term used frequently by Rye's Holden Caulfield. He also frequently uses the phrase "sonuvabitch" said in the style of Holden. Lastly, when Motoko Kusanagi enters the Laughing Man's library near the end of the series, the camera zooms on her hand moving over the phrase "Fuck you" written on the railing. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden says "You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write 'Fuck you' right under your nose."

Another reference taken directly from J. D. Salinger's short story "The Laughing Man" occurs in episode 11, titled "Portraits/In The Forest of the Imagoes". In this episode a child at a vocational aid center refers to a character named Chief who is going to visit, Chief is the name given by the children to The Laughing Man as well as the main character's childhood idol in the short story.[3]

Another reference taken from The Catcher in the Rye is in episode 12 "Escape From". This episode focuses on the Tachikomas, "think" tanks that are employed by Section 9. Batou's personal Tachikoma wanders off in this episode and becomes acquainted with a little girl. This little girl tells the Tachikoma a story called "The Secret Goldfish" which is actually from the first page of Rye. "The Secret Goldfish" is a short story that Holden Caulfield's older brother D.B. writes before he becomes a "prostitute" writing for Hollywood movies. Later in this same episode, there is a poster that reads "Go See Bananafish" in the cyber-brain theatre. This is a reference to "A Perfect Day for Bananafish", another of Salinger's stories. Finally in the same episode, Batou expresses his fondness of Marx Brothers films, although not from the story, Salinger is a known fan of the films.

In episode 22, Motoko Kusanagi (Major) herself quotes The Catcher in the Rye when speaking to the Laughing Man by referring to Wilhelm Stekel, who is quoted in J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye as saying, "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one" (p. 244).

Pop culture[]


The Laughing Man stickers in support of the EFF; Guy Fawkes imagery is a part of the package.

The Laughing Man logo has been co-opted by pop culture in advocacy for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the loose hacktivist collective Anonymous (using the latter's motto "We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.").[4]

In the Flashpoint episode "Run, Jaime, Run" a logo used by the character Jaime Dee resembles the Laughing Man logo. Jaime Dee is a nod to J. D. Salinger, who wrote the short story "The Laughing Man."

See also[]

  • Anonymous (group)
  • Glico Morinaga case
  • Philosophy of Ghost in the Shell


  1. "Lawrence Person reviews Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex". Review. Locus Online. 15 January 2006. Retrieved 12 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "The Laughing Man - Ghost In The Shell: Standalone Complex's Hacker Logo". Interview. Otaku News. 29 November 2004. Retrieved 12 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Salinger, Jerome. "The Laughing Man". Nine Stories. The New Yorker. Retrieved 14 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. http://discordiacultureshop.storenvy.com/products/1734001-the-laughing-man-anonymous-version-vinyl-sticker-3-pack