There are quite a few anime like Ghost in the Shell, and there is a good reason for that. The movies made an impact that was unlike anything people had seen. What made the film popular was that it reflected their era, an edgy cyber-punk world with a bleak outlook on life. The protagonist, Motoko Kusanagi, helps as our navigator in a world where the very sense of self is questioned.
Needless to say, the impact it has on the audience leaves them with a craving for more, but there are so many movies and shows franchises. But worry not, there are quite a few shows that bring you the feel of the anime, and someone even outdoes it.
The list below is not a ranking list by any means. But we highly advise watching the first one because if you watch others on the list before, the immersion will break the moment you try to watch the first entry on the list. Though the plot animation did not age well, and it hasn’t been out for long. (While there is one entry in the list that is bound to go down as classics even though it is a prequel to a non-japanese game.) So without further ado, here are the Top 20 Anime Like Ghost In The Shell if you like the series.
1) Ghost in The Shell: Sac_2045:
Hear us out, and we know the anime is not what many of the GiS( Ghost in the Shell fans) would recommend, but there is a catch. Anime as a medium is capable of more than telling a story through dialogue. It can create visuals and scenery that are out of this world; whether it be Fantasy or Sci-fi, the medium has the potential to be at the top in this. This is where this anime fails, and we won’t say the story alone makes up for it. But, if you watch this first over others, you won’t find it as much of a chore when you come to it later. The story is worth watching even if anime isn’t, and the visuals are a good source of memes too!
2) Ergo Proxy:
Ergo Proxy is what you may call the spiritual successor of the dystopian series. Like Ghost in the Shell, the series has a female protagonist who is set to do work for her higher-ups. But where Ghost in the Shell dealt with the morality of what made someone human, Ergo Proxy takes a different route. The main character ends up in a spiral of conspiracy that puts her at odds with her employers, and now they want her gone because she knows the truth.
3) Terror In Resonance:
One thing about this list you will notice is there are a lot of animes that were directed by Shinichirō Watanabe, director of Cowboy Bepop. The same goes for this title, and it has the same uniqueness when it comes to the music that is in every show he directs. The story takes place in Tokyo, which has been under attack by the terrorists, a 2000’s thing you don’t often see these days ( Lycoris Recoil takes place in a similar era). The show has character deal with characters on the clock dealing with an organization for whom destroying Tokyo seems all but fun.
One of Gen Urubachi’s greatest works, and right after Madoka Magika. The series is another look into future dystopia that has a system that works similarly to total recall. In this world, the aptitude of a person to be good or bad is defined by their Psycho-Pass index, once it goes up, it doesn’t come down. What follows is a group of officers who are out to track these criminals and apprehend them for doing crimes. But the world will go into disarray when a naive young recruit sees humanity and a chance to retribute for all the supposed criminals.
5) Serial Experiments Lain:
If you want something like Ghost in The Shells but set in the present-day era( or closer to it), look no further than Serial Experiment Lain. This is one of the shows you can’t just watch and be done with, it has layers and layers of plot that requires multiple rewatches. It is also a good way to learn what the Japan of the ’90s looked like or how computer looked like when it was plugged with so many wires.
Akira was one of the biggest anime when it came out, and a flop. But the franchise soon garnered a cult following leading to its massive popularity that can be felt even today. Like Ghost in the Shell, the anime takes place in the future but focuses on the biological side of technology rather than the psychological and philosophical. The anime is known for its grotesque scenes that can hardly be found today, the action also lives up to the modern-age animes counterparts. And if that wasn’t enough, the iconic scenes get referenced as a homage to the anime.
7) Darker Than Black:
One of the greater achievements in the 2000s for the bones studio. Though the studio is known for making shows like My Hero Academia and Full Metal Alchemist and many more, this original series gave them an edge to become the powerhouse they are today. Much like most entries on the list, the story takes place in a fictional version of Tokyo that is about to go through another change. The show is mature compared to many shows Bones have created, this series is also one of the top animes that the studio has created.
No series under Shueisha( the company that has big three and many hits under its name) make it to the list, except one. Gantz. Following a plot that is like Ghost in the Shell and game into the mix, the story is an action drama filled with emotional moments and suspense. Anyone into gaming ( which should be a lot of people these days), will enjoy the RPG except for the story and how that intervenesino the plot. The story as a whole is wild but that is the kind of thing we don’t see often these days.
9) Bubblegum Crisis:
A series that is very similar to Ghost in the Shell and yet different in so many ways. The show focuses on an all-female squad that deals with threats posed by rogue robots and sometimes even humans. These aren’t run-of-the-mill girls, they are battle-hardened warriors that wear exoskeleton suits to fight off threats that come their way. The show is not only like Ghost in the Shell but shares similarities with Neon Genesis: Evangelion. A character even resembles Asuka with the red-clad suit she wears.
The story can be defined as a modern take on Olympus with things spiraling out of control. Many entries on our list are long-form shows with multiple episodes, not Appleseed. Taking inspiration from Christianity as well as old greek, the show uses the names of the myths and sets up an intricate plot where their idea of human belonging is questioned. And like many cyberpunk stories, the main villain is the government that wants to run the world.
11) Cowboy Bebop:
Cowboy Bepop has become one of the most legendary animes of all time. The show is popular to this day and along with Trigun, it has unrivaled status as the fan favorite in the community. Like Ghost in the Shell, the anime takes place in an advanced future but the character motifs and drama are on a different level. Not saying it’s better but it doesn’t work the same way as GiS. The show is slow-paced with music that holds up to this day. Speaking of music, you will fall in love with Jazz music after watching this anime.
12) Knights of Sidonia:
Long after the destruction of the earth, there is a spaceship that wanders the universe after it escapes from the lifeform that destroyed the plane. The story is about a fateful encounter with the threat once again after our protagonist, Nagate, learns to pilot a guardian and comes out to the upper layer of Sidonia. Oh, and the spaceship has a culture similar to Japan and is divided into layers, while the population is asexual and the species is continued by genetic engineering. Why is that? A thing that makes the show a must-watch else it will be a spoiler.
Planetes, literally meaning wanderers is a Sunrise anime about space exploration where the earth is ready to take on Jupiter. This all is a front( except the literal meaning part) as the show focuses on realism to explore issues that could be taking place in the future. This is not for those who are wanting escapism in the anime as it is filled with socio-economic and environmental issues that affect us today ( and talked about to an insane degree by some people). But, if realism is your cup of tea you will like this anime, maybe the most out of all on the list.
14) Neon Genesis Evangelion:
It could be said that the two series have a lot of similarities when it comes to themes. A case of identity while the threat of world safety looms over the character’s head. And this is also a good way to show that there are many ways to tell a theme with varying degrees. Like Ghost in the shell, Evangelion focuses on threats that require tremendous willpower to go through. Apart from that Neon Genesis is a character-driven show that will have you on the edge of your seat. It is also one of the best anime in the Mecha genre.
15) Cyberpunk Edgerunners:
This is a new entry in the list of many creators out there. The show became an instant hit and even revived the game it is the prequel of. Like Ghost in the Shell, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners focuses on a dystopian future that is riddled with the question of self and what it means to have human connections. Although, if you are someone who can’t handle endings that leaves you wishing things would have been different, the show might not be for you. But then again, it’s stories like those that make you come back at it over and over again.
16) Space Battleship Yamato 2199:
As the name suggests, the anime takes place in the future and a galaxy far far away! Not really, but we couldn’t help mentioning the famous quote. The show is set in space with a crew set out on incursion in the unknown domains of space. The premise is closer to Star Trek than Star Wars, with the futurism of Ghost in the Shell in the mix. Although, the politics are played in an entirely different way in the show.
17) Space Dandy:
Made by the same team behind Cowboy Bepop, the series is a retake of the show through a comedic lens. And just like Cowboy Bepop, the show has music that is unique and is worth listening to outside the anime. Unlike the space cowboy, Space Dandy is more American as the comedy takes inspiration from the American media. The show is an adventure in the outer galaxy with unique characters who does nothing but get in trouble.
18) Macross Plus:
Macros Plus was one of the greatest Mecha anime of its time. Just like how Isekai is the most used genre of today’s time, Mecha was the norm in the old days. The series was released as OVA of eight episodes and follows multiple timelines. This show is also the first break of Cowboy Bebop’s director after which he only became better with each episode. The show is like Ghost in the Shell in the aspect of the way it reimagines the future that reflects the present’s worries about technology.
19) Legend of the Galactic Heroes:
A space opera anime that takes place in the future like Ghost in the Shell. What makes the show unique is the medium it was presented through at the time it came out. Most of the anime got their recognition due to being televised or being a big spectacle on the screen. This light novel did not follow in those footsteps. The series was disc only, and with that only it gained an audience that made it popular in the medium. No series has come close to repeating this feat and never will, as the times have changed due to the era of streaming services.
20) Eureka Seven:
There are a few anime that can be credited with bringing a big audience to the medium, Eureka Seven is one of them. Taking place in the far future, the characters are in a desolate land where there is little to no technological advancement.
Renton lives a boring life and wants nothing but to get out of his mud hole and explore the world. His wishes come true when Zero crashes into his room with her pilot Eureka. Renton falls for the pilot and pursues the life he had always wanted.