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Ghost in the Shell, otherwise known as GITS, has viewers follow Major a female cyborg agent, whose job is to safeguard the national security of Japan. Along with her team, she takes on mission after mission, digging deeper into the political structure that has set up society. In other words, Ghost in the Shell throws us into a futuristic world that considers the impact of technology on society in all possible forms. From relationships to self-identity to political powers, GITS makes us question what advancement really entails.
So, when you’re looking for an anime like Ghost in the Shell, you are looking for an anime with two primary things. You want an anime with strong female characters. You want a female lead whose mission in life is not to end up with the main guy. You want an independent character who is placed in a role in which to strike at society. The second thing you are looking for is an anime that approaches the world with a highly critical eye. You want something that questions what advancement means, especially in terms of technology, and what direction we're heading in. As the earlier list, which you can find below, captured shows with such factors as well, you need to give it a look through.
Similar Anime to Ghost in the Shell
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: Apr. 2003 – Sep. 2003
Texhnoloyze takes us into an apocalyptic world where most humans have taken on cybernetic components. It follows the journey of the underground fighter Ichise making his way in the city of Lux, where three major factions fight for control over the city.
As it details a young man’s journey of self-discovery in a world that has become detached from its roots, it also shows the collapse of society’s highest peak. It is carefully analytical in its portrayal of the society, which one can understand very quickly through the vertical scale of the main city, Lux, an underground city. It represents a sudden and unstoppable growth that may have grown too big and too fast for its own good. This is especially evident in how the city seems to be in a lot of disrepair.
The show also depicts how identity can be warped due to technology and the promises it can guarantee. In many ways, these are shown in promises of longevity and strength that humans are not quite prepared for. As an anime like Ghost in the Shell, you shouldn’t expect anything less than a world that has been molded by corruption and technological advancement.
2. Black Lagoon
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2006 – Jun. 2006
Black Lagoon starts off with a white collar, office worker named Rokurou Okajima, who is acting as the spokesperson for his company in a trade deal. Well, the funny thing is that this job was given to him, because it’s essentially a black-market deal and he can basically be taken and killed as collateral. He does have a tad of luck though as the mercenary group he’s making the trade with, the Black Lagoon company, actually has a slightly soft heart and protect the poor sap instead of doing away with him. Though Rokurou is given the option of returning back to normal life, he instead joins the crew and is referred to as Rock.
Black Lagoon is easily one of the anime most like Ghost in the Shell. First off, both, have incredible female leads who kick ass and in many ways run the show with their abilities and personalities. Admittedly, Revy’s personality is about as different as the Major’s as you can get. Major is calculating and inquisitive while Revy is gun-ho and asks questions…never. Though, Black Lagoon’s setting is also visually different, it still captures similar issues of corruption. Each episode displays a world that built upon an infrastructure of the disenfranchised. It is powerful and makes you thinking twice about everything.
Black Lagoon Trailer
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: Oct. 2012 – Dec. 2014
Psycho-Pass follows Akane Tsunemori as she becomes an Inspector for the police enforcement of Japan. In this world, Japan has become one of the most advanced societies in the world as it has become self-sustainable and uses the Sibyl system as a means to ensure safety and job growth. On the outside, everything looks good, but as Akame dives into the infrastructure of the society, she finds out that things are not so pretty.
This anime can also be found on the other list, as it really is one of the most recent anime like Ghost in the Shell. They both focus on futuristic worlds where technology has infected the discovery of identity. In fact, Pyscho-Pass’s season one antagonist is essentially trying to break apart the Sybil system because of how it determines life and does so without any true feeling. They both are also insightful enough to show that despite the corruption of the system, there are benefits that people enjoy, and to take down the system would result in the dismantling of such joys.
Both also feature strong female leads. Admittedly, in the first season of Pscyho-Pass, Akame takes backseat to Kogame. However, by the end of that season and the later additions to the series, we see Akame taking the lead and really pushes forward the plot.
Any Anime Like Ghost in the Shell ?
4. Serial Experiments Lain
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jul. 1998 – Sep. 1998
When a 14-year-old girl receives an email from a classmate who recently committed suicide, life gets flipped on its head. Lain Iwakura is our protagonist in this world, and after receiving that email she becomes entangled in the Wired, a virtual world of communication. The more she is exposed to the Wired the more her world begins to peel apart.
Serial Experiments Lain was written by Chiaki J. Konaka, who was also behind the story of Texhnoloyze. As a writer, her focus clearly pursues the ways we perceive reality and how technology has affected the way we interact with the world about us. This makes the anime like Ghost in the Shell in so many ways. In what ways can technology directly and indirectly affect our daily lives? What information, false or true, are we being introduced to through technology and how is that changing us? Are we being overloaded with information? Who is controlling the influx of the media and for what reason? These types of questions are the foundation of each show, while they look at the changes in political and social infrastructure due to the connectivity of the web.
Serial Experiments Lain Trailer
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Nov. 2006
Paprika is a journey into a dream world, and it is fantastic. It follows the story of Dr. Atsuko Chiba, who has been the primary scientist involved in the creation of the DC Mini, which allows someone to travel into the subconscious of the other. The hope in creating this technology was for it be used to analyze and resolved subconscious issues in people. Well, this invention gets stolen and mental warfare is being waged on unsuspecting citizen instead. Now it is the doctor’s job to capture the thief.
Paprika is an anime like Ghost in the Shell because it dives straight into the dangers of technology. It brings us into a world where a massive scientific breakthrough is the cause for concern. Such ideas are discussed heavily in Ghost in the Shell and deeply reflect the human condition. We have a tendency to create things that we are not ready for. The main character is also a fully fleshed out character who goes through a pretty thorough examination of her own conscious and identity. The Major also walks a similar path as each mission, mystery, or event leads to more questions about what it means to be alive. Essentially, ideas about what makes up reality is heavily considered in both of these shows as everything single aspect of society seems to cover something up.
6. Rakuen Tsuihou: Expelled from Paradise
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Nov. 2014
Rakuen Tsuihou: Expelled from Paradise brings us into a world where people have left their human bodies behind in order to be relocated as digital beings in DEVA, a space station orbiting Earth. To be clear, they are abandoning their bodies, because a disaster has ravaged Earth. In DEVA, people are free from hunger and death and so live in relative peace until a hacker starts terrorizing the system. That’s when the government sends Angela Balzac to track down this criminal.
Expelled from Paradise is this list’s final anime like Ghost in the Shell. The similarities between the shows are pretty straightforward. We have a skilled and powerful agent of law, who goes through a world that consistently makes her consider her position in the world. They both also detail worlds of corruption that are explored in depth. We see how the decrepitude at the bottom corresponds with the luxuries at the top. In other words, the care-free life is obtained through the fact that others are left to suffer. In this way, both incorporate a political commentary through their narratives.
Expelled from Paradise Trailer
There you have it. All of the shows listed, both on this list and the one below, are anime like Ghost in the Shell. All of them provide an intricate depiction of technology that forces the viewer to consider their own relationship with the computer/TV they are using to watch the program. In other words, all of these anime can become very meta.
Ghost in the Shell (GITS) is a franchise which has something for everyone. Set in the not-too-distant future, most of the developed world have undergone “cyberisation”, enhancing the brain and body with machine parts. It’s a time of great progress for humanity, but there are those who exploit this new technology, known as cybercriminals. Enter Section 9, an intelligence organisation devoted to preventing cybercrime. The series follows badass cyborgs Motoko Kusanagi and Batou, backed up by a team of weapon specialists and hackers, as they investigate conspiracies and solve cybercimes.
This article bases recommendations on original movie, the Stand Alone Complex series and the latest series, Arise. The movie is a cult classic which has influenced pretty much every cyberpunk anime since, SAC is a crowd-pleaser which departed slightly from the dark tone of the original movie and Arise is the slickest yet, combining smooth visuals with kickass action and an incredible soundtrack. Let’s take a look at Ergo Proxy!
Similar Anime to Ghost in the Shell
1. Ergo Proxy
- Episodes: 23
- Aired: Aired: Feb 2006 - Aug 2006
In a post-apocalyptic future, mankind lives in domed cities scattered around the globe. One of these cities, Romdo, is controlled by a shady elite, and androids called AutoReivs are employed to assist humans in everyday life. When AutoReivs start going mad after infection with the Cogito virus, Real Mayer is asked to investigate. In the process her fate becomes intertwined with the mysterious Vincent Law, and the monsters known as the Proxies.
Though not exactly a cyberpunk series, Ergo Proxy shares a lot of the futuristic and philosophical elements of Ghost in the Shell. Real Mayer is similar to Kusanagi in looks, and the fact that she is a total badass. Fans of GITS will also enjoy the dark tone of the series.
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: Oct 2012 - Mar 2013
Psycho-Pass follows Akane Tsunemori as she begins her career as an Inspector for the Enforcement Division. Set in the near future, all citizens are under constant surveillance by a giant supercomputer known as the Sybil system. Criminals are now detected before they commit a crime, based on their Psycho-Pass, which is a measure of everything in the mind, including emotions, thoughts and fears. The series follows Akane as she loses her naivety in a cruel dystopian world, and discovers a terrible secret at the heart of this “perfect” world.
Psycho-Pass bears much similarity to Arise, being episodic, but having an overarching plot which links everything together in the end. The two also show a future world where humans have become incredibly dependent on technology, and where virtual interactions are increasingly dangerous. Fans of the original GITS movie will also appreciate the dark plot and gory action.
Psycho-Pass Season One - Official Trailer
- Episodes: Movie
- Aired: Jul 1988
Akira is set in the aftermath of World War III, and follows Kaneda and Tetsuo, two friends who are part of a biker gang in the post-apocalyptic chaos of Neo-Tokyo. Kaneda is confident and a natural leader, but Tetsuo is shy and often bullied. When military experiments awaken Testuo’s latent psychic powers, he sets out to take revenge on his past tormentors.
The parellels between Akira and the original GITS movie are striking. Both are feature gorgeous hand-drawn panels, and have a dark cyberpunk aesthetic which excites fans even today. Akira features an incredible, twisting plot, and fans of GITS will enjoy the brutal gore of SWAT teams going toe-to-toe against powerful teenage psychics.
Any Animes Like Ghost in the Shell ?
4. Darker than black (kuro no keiyakusha)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 2007 - Sep 2007
Hei and Yin are “Contractors”, individuals who developed psychic powers after the appearance of the mysterious Hell’s Gate. The duo, and many others like them, are kept secret by the world’s governments, whilst working in the shadows to perform tasks which no ordinary human can.
Darker than Black is for anyone who enjoyed the style of Stand Alone Complex and Arise, but are also fans of fantasy series. Both franchises focus on individuals who are different from the rest of society; Contractors have psychic powers, and Motoko’s team are pretty much all full body cyborgs (both sets of characters are also damn cool!). Darker than Black is also (as the name suggests) pretty dark, and the plot is similar to GITS in that each episode features a new storyline, which all link up at the end of the series. Fans of SAC will also enjoy the Darker than Black’s killer soundtrack which is also by Yoko Kanno.
5. Mardock Scramble: The First Compression
- Episodes: Movie
- Aired: Oct 2010
Set in Mardock, the First Compression takes place in a city stalked by a plague of brutal murders. In a last-ditch attempt to clean up the city, Scramble-09 has been enacted, which allows investigators to revive murder victims to aid their investigations. When Ruth Balot is revived as a full-body cyborg, she has only one thing on her mind; revenge.
Mardock Scramble at first seems to be heavily influenced by Ghost in the Shell, but definitely manages to maintain its own identity and though both franchises have a female lead, the actual characters couldn’t be more different. That being said, GITS fans will enjoy the dark, cyberpunk world which Mardock Scramble plunges viewers into. Particularly appealing are the art style and awesome future tech!
6. Bubblegum Crisis 2032
- Episodes: 8
- Aired: Feb 1987 - Jan 1991
It’s 2032, and MegaTokyo is faced with a menace. Boomers are near-invincible androids which are designed to perform menial tasks around the city. The problem is, they’re beginning to go haywire and attack people all over the city. The series follows a team of femmes fatales known as the Knight Sabers, as they face off, armed to the teeth, against a horde of crazed androids.
Bubblegum Crisis is a cult series from the 90s, which will appeal to anyone who enjoyed Motoko Kusanagi’s badass antics in GITS. Both are set in a sprawling metropolis, in a world where the technology humans rely on can go horribly wrong. Bubblegum Crisis explores human identity in the cybernetic world, set to a backdrop of intense action!
I’m a massive fan of Ghost in the Shell! My personal favourite is the original movie, but I enjoyed the slickness of Arise, and am so psyched for “The New Movie” to be released outside Japan! How about you? Think I’ve missed anything? Stick it in the comments!