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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.
Ergo Proxy trailer
- 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.
Akira (アキラ) Japanese Theatrical Trailer 1
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!
Mardock Scramble: The First Compression trailer
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!
Bubblegum Crisis - US Preview Anime Eigo
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!