Ghost in the Shell is a classic that has influenced countless Sci-Fi and Cyberpunk works in both Japan and the Western world. Fans of Ghost in the Shell should check out the 2002 animated series Stand Alone Complex for its in-depth exploration of politics and philosophy. Other anime series such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Steins;Gate, and Ergo Proxy all share the complex themes and philosophical tones of Ghost in the Shell.
Ghost in the shell is a classic that has influenced countless other anime series over the decades. Since its debut in the 1995 film directed by Mamoru Oshii, based on the manga by Masamune Shirow, the franchise has been one of the most influential in the world of Japanese cyberpunk. However, there’s only so much Ghost in the Shell content out there, so for fans who want more, here are anime that can deliver on a similar level.
Fans of the show who haven’t seen the 2002 anime television series, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex should definitely watch it, as it’s about as classic as the show gets at this point. The series is profound and, like the film, deals with complex topics such as politics and philosophy. But there are many other works, even outside the cyberpunk genre, that share these characteristics with Ghost in the Shell, and they make the perfect complement.
10 Neon Genesis Evangelion – Philosophy wrapped in despair
Created by Hideaki Anno, produced by Gainax
Evangelion tells the story of Shinji Ikari, a young boy brought into an organization whose goal is to defeat the Angels that constantly attack humanity by his father. Ordered to pilot one of their machines called an EVA unit, Shinji discovers the horrors of conflict. Meanwhile, a secret plot is being formed, deeply religious and philosophical. The tone of Evangelion is a bit more somber than Ghost in the Shell, but the series still deals with many of the same concepts of what is considered human and What does it mean to be human?. Fans of Ghost in the Shell should enjoy Evangelion’s unique philosophy filtered through depression.
Watch on Netflix
9 Steins;Gate – Perspectives on human nature
Created by NitroPlus, manufactured by White Fox
Steins;Gate is an anime based on a visual novel, about mad scientist Rintaro Okabe, who one day discovers that it is possible to send messages back in time, changing the future and thus the present. However, things quickly escalate until Rintaro is assigned by the future to prevent the outbreak of World War 3 by ensuring that a certain scientist survives. This series covers several major political and corporate angles from cyberpunk media, as well as focusing on the effects that new technology can have on the world at large.
Watch on Crunchyroll
8 Legends of Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These – Politics and war take center stage
Created by Yoshiki Tanaka, produced by Production IG
Legend of the Galactic Heroes, like Ghost in the Shell, is animated by studio Production IG and is also a science fiction series, although this time set in space in the distant future. It tells the story of two warring nations, the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance, focusing on a high-ranking figure from each side in the war: Reinhard from the Empire and Yang from the Alliance. Politics plays a heavy role in Legend of the Galactic Heroes, even drawing comparisons to Ghost in the Shell, as these characters must overcome the difficult situations they find themselves in while trying to live up to their conflicting ideals.
Watch on Crunchyroll
7 Proxy Ergo – Philosophical Cyberpunk
Written by Dai Sato, produced by Manglobe
Ergo Proxy tells the story of Re-l, an inspector in a post-apocalyptic future where humans live alongside robots called AutoReivs. When several AutoReivs suddenly develop sentience and go on a killing spree, Re-l is tasked with finding the truth and along the way, he discovers a much larger plot is being hatched. . Ergo Proxy has a very cyberpunk toneand focuses heavily on philosophy, such as what it means to be self-aware and how far humans are willing to go to preserve species.
Watch on Crunchyroll
6 Psycho-Pass – Dystopian Future and Government Enforcement
Written by Gen Urobuchi, produced by Production IG
Another cyberpunk series from Production IG, Psycho-Pass is set in a dystopian future where people’s emotional states are constantly assessed as a means of fighting crime and if the numbers get too high , officers will be dispatched to stop the person before they commit a crime. . However, rookie cop Akane Tsunemori soon discovers that the system they put so much trust in may have a major flaw that could destroy society. The series revolves around philosophy and psychologyexplores what it means to be a “criminal” in a world that arrests people based solely on their emotional state.
A new Psycho-Pass movie, Psycho-Pass: Providence, was released in July 2023.
Watch on Crunchyroll
5 The Big O – A growing mystery gradually unravels
Composed by Keiichi Sato and Kazuyoshi Katayama, produced by Sunrise
The Big O is a 1999 series about Roger Smith, a wealthy negotiator in the mysterious world of Paradigm City, who has control of a giant machine known as Megadeus, eponymously named Big O. The citizens of Paradigm City have lost all memories of the past 40 years, and no one even knows if life outside the city still exists. Much of the series focuses on the mystery of how and why Paradigm City lost its memory, a plot that gradually comes together as Roger becomes involved in other negotiations. Its mystery discovery structure is somewhat similar to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complexand it’s intriguing enough that fans will be hungry to find out the answer.
4 Paranoid Agents – The Mystery of the Truth
Composed by Satoshi Kon, produced by Madhouse
Paranoid Agent is an intense thriller that can be a bit difficult to explain at first. The film follows several characters, including detectives Keiichi Ikari and Mitsuhiro Maniwa, and the character designer responsible for the famous Maromi character, Tsukiko Sagi. The story focuses on the attacks of a mysterious figure known as “Lil Slugger,” who attacks people with a baseball bat. As the detectives investigate, they discover more and more unbelievable things and somehow they all seem to be related to Tsukiko. The mystery aspect is what makes Paranoid Agent most similar to Ghost in the Shell, and the series is certainly not afraid to get weird.
Satoshi Kon is largely known for his films, such as Paprika, Perfect Blue, and Millennium Actor, which also have some similarities with Ghost in the Shell.
Watch on Crunchyroll
3 Appleseed XIII – Sister series to Ghost in the Shell
Created by Masamune Shirow, produced by Production IG
Appleseed XIII is inspired by the manga by Masamune Shirow, the same artist who originally created Ghost in the Shell, making it a sister series. Set in a city called Olympus after the fall of World War III, it follows Deunan Knute, a young woman of mixed race who is a member of Olympus’s elite special forces and her partner (both romantically and at work), Briareos, who has been completely roboticized. Appleseed XIII deals with many of the same ideas and themes as Ghost in the Shell, specifically around what it means to be a cyborg. With heavily mechanized government agents involved, the similarities are simply too great to ignore.
2 Bubble Crisis – Cyberpunk, 80s style
Created by Toshimichi Suzuki, produced by Artmic and AIC
Bubblegum Crisis was Ghost in the Shell long before that series existed as a manga. An OVA series released between 1987 and 1991, Bubblegum Crisis tells the story of the all-female mercenary group, the Knight Sabers, who use powerful armor to fight against artificial lifeforms. Like Ghost in the Shell, Bubblegum Crisis’s heroines often find themselves hampered by politics and infighting that has nothing to do with them. Although the original OVA series never ended, it remains a classic of the cyberpunk genre and it has spawned subsequent remakes to complete the series.
Watch on Tubi
1 Lain Serial Test – Deep dive into the network
Composed by Yasuyuki Ueda, produced by Triangle Staff
Serial Experiments Lain is a rather creepy series, with elements of psychological horror, but at its core are the main questions that make cyberpunk what it is. When one of Lain’s classmates commits suicide, the kids in the class all receive emails from her, informing them that she is now online. While most consider it a sick joke, Lain is intrigued and investigates, delving into the world of computers and networks (here called The Wired). Lain deals with conspiracy theories, what it means to be human in the modern worldand complex philosophical and religious ideas.
Watch on Funimation