Ghost in the Shell is one of the iconic anime series, especially when it comes to investigative, crime, futuristic/cyberpunk, and Sci-Fi genres.
Given this explosive mix of genres, we are 100% sure that if you have watched it, you are looking for other similar series to add to your watchlist.
And that’s precisely why we’re here today to recommend our selection of anime like Ghost in the Shell that you simply can’t miss if you loved it.
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12. Black Magic M-66
Black Magic M-66 is a 1987 Sci-Fi movie that shares many similarities with Ghost in the Shell.
At the beginning of the story, a military transport helicopter crashes during a storm, carrying two M-66 combat robots.
The protagonist is Sybil, a freelancer who regularly monitors military frequencies for work. Upon learning about the incident, she hurriedly heads to the crash site, only to find that the capsules containing the robots are empty, and the robots have vanished.
But is it truly just an accident, or is there more to the situation than meets the eye?
Investigation, cyborgs, Sci-Fi, and a futuristic setting incredibly unite these two series.
In fact, both works are based on the creations of Masamune Shirow, so the similarity is quite self-explanatory.
11. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners and Ghost in the Shell have different plots and premises, but it was still mandatory to include it in this list for a reason: Cyberpunk: Edgerunners boasts one of the best cyberpunk settings of recent years.
As a prequel to the game Cyberpunk 2077, this anime follows the story of David Martinez.
In Night City, a futuristic metropolis, David attends Arasaka Academy to fulfill his mother’s dream of reaching the top of the world’s leading security corporation.
But things changed when a street gang incident left him devastated.
He then implanted Sandevistan cyberware for superhuman speed and strength, to get revenge on his enemies.
Witness his journey as he fights to survive the dangerous, corrupt system while never backing down from any fight.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners also leans more on action, plot twists, and character relationships than Ghost in the Shell, which focuses on mystery, investigation, and moral themes.
But if you loved the cyberpunk elements of the latter, Edgerunners will provide you with the exact same vibes, if not better.
10. Black Lagoon
Black Lagoon, on the other hand, could safely be considered a more action-focused version of Ghost in the Shell’s investigative component.
Its story follows the story of Rokurou Okajima, a regular businessman who is taken hostage during a business trip to the crime-ridden island of Roanapur.
When his employer refuses to pay his ransom, he has no choice but to join the mafia-pirate gang called Black Lagoon, transforming from an ordinary man to a ruthless criminal.
Both of these series also share a deep political background and a strong, well-written female protagonist.
But as a difference, we must point out that Black Lagoon lacks the Sci-Fi and cyberpunk elements that are characteristic of Ghost in the Shell, and that’s a big one.
9. Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song
At first glance you might not realize it, but Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song and Ghost in the Shell also share quite a few similarities.
The story is set in 2056 when humanity invented androids.
Created to spread happiness by singing, Vivy is an android who travels the world singing in different shows. But when the situation requires it, she can also be a skilled fighter, despite being programmed to be nonviolent.
But when another android arrives one day from the future with terrible news, the plot begins to thicken.
Let’s start with the most obvious similarity: both anime feature excellent female main characters. Moving on, both are set in a Sci-Fi and futuristic world and have introspective themes.
The key difference, on the other hand, is that Ghost in the Shell is heavily focused on mystery and investigation.
Metropolis is a 2001 anime movie that we can consider, in simple terms, as a lighter version of Ghost in the Shell, so consider it if that’s what you’re looking for.
The protagonist is private investigator Shunsaku Ban, who accompanied by his nephew Kenichi, travels to the city-state of Metropolis to investigate an alleged human organ trafficking operation.
But this is just the beginning of a complex web of mysteries that will soon unfold.
Metropolis is obviously inspired by Ghost in the Shell, and this can be seen in the enormous similarity between their themes and plots.
Both are investigative anime set in a future with cyborgs and robots, and they both explore the theme of what makes a human actually human.
Returning to the initial discussion, Metropolis approaches this theme in a simpler and more direct way, getting straight to the point without delving into symbolism and deep discourse, unlike Ghost in the Shell.
Texhnolyze is simply perfect to watch after Ghost in the Shell for its incredible futuristic setting with the presence of robots and cyborgs.
The series is set in the deteriorating underground city of Lux, where substance abuse has become prevalent.
The focus of the story is on Ichise, an orphan turned bounty hunter who has prosthetic limbs, as well as his companions Yoshi, Onishi, and Ran.
Together, they witness significant events that will shape the destiny of the city.
Texhnolyze unfortunately lacks the fantastic investigative component of Ghost in the Shell, but it still manages to present a plot rich in psychological insights, morals, and symbolism.
6. Mobile Police Patlabor: The Movie(s)
We’ve used the first movie as an example due to space constraints, but you can consider all 3 Patlabor movies as similar to Ghost in the Shell, as they form one cohesive story.
This is especially true for the first 2 movies, both directed by Mamoru Oshii, the same director as Ghost in the Shell, and here we have the first key commonality.
Tokyo is undergoing a huge redevelopment program that involves old suburbs being demolished and human-made islands being constructed in Tokyo Bay under the Babylon Project.
This Project is known for utilizing Labors, robots created for the express purpose of doing work, giving the architects and construction crews the possibility to more efficiently progress development.
But the whole thing starts soon to go sideways when a key figure in the Project’s conception is found dead after committing suicide under mysterious circumstances.
Yes, Patlabor involves mecha, and Ghost in the Shell has cyberpunk elements like cyborgs and robots, which is a significant difference. But even when considering these distinctions, there are still substantial similarities.
Both series feature a mystery and investigative plot written to perfection, with a deliberate and measured pacing that takes its time to unfold the story, and they both cover moral complexities.
5. Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade
Jin-Roh and Ghost in the Shell are strikingly similar, except that Jin-Roh doesn’t have the same cyberpunk elements and is alternate history.
To begin, both series involve Mamoru Oshii, albeit in different roles.
Both titles revolve around special forces closely intertwined with their nation’s political forces, and they examine the psyche of their characters, especially the protagonists. Finally, both series are mature and aimed at adult audiences.
The plot takes place in an alternative version of Japan during the ’50s and revolves around the protagonist Kazuki Fuse, who is a member of the Kerberos Panzer Cops, a counter-terrorist organization.
Kazui’s inner self is put to test when he refuses to shoot a young terrorist that ends up detonating a bomb in front of him. She killed herself in the process and damaged the reputation of the Kerberos.
He visits the girl at the cemetery and meets her sister by chance. The 2 begin to develop a weird and complex relationship.
Meanwhile, a sinister conspiracy is brewing deep in the labyrinth of the police system, pitting a secret group of extremists against the politically inclined bureaucrats of the police force.
Psycho-Pass and Ghost in the Shell are strikingly similar in so many ways. Both are set in a future where science has evolved in a realistic way that has profoundly changed society.
The main focus in both is on investigation and crime/police themes, with very strong moral and psychological influences that will test your way of thinking.
Psycho-Pass is set in a futuristic society where it is possible to monitor and control an individual’s mental state and personality.
With those data, it can be assessed the probability of a person committing a crime or not, the so-called Crime Coefficient, and arrest the individual before the crime is even committed.
The significant difference lies in the fact that Psycho-Pass lacks the fantastic cyberpunk atmosphere of Ghost in the Shell, unfortunately.
4. Ergo Proxy
Ergo Proxy is an anime that can be quite regarded as a modern heir to Ghost in the Shell given its enormous similarity and inspiration drawn from the latter.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future where survivors live under a dome city called Romdo, to get shelter from the lethal and toxic climate.
To help with mankind’s recovery, AutoReivs, humanoid-like robots, have been created to assist people in their day-to-day lives.
But these automatons have begun contracting an enigmatic disease called the Cogito Virus which grants them self-awareness.
Both Ergo Proxy and Ghost in the Shell center around an excellent female protagonist and both are set in an excellent futuristic cyberpunk world with androids and robots.
To add to the similarities, they both delve into the theme of what makes a human, delving deep into the morality of this topic.
There was no doubt that Akira would appear on this list and deserve one of the top spots too.
In the ’80s, the city of Tokyo has been destroyed by a boy with mysterious psychic powers, and the government is forced to take him into custody as World War III rages on.
In 2019 the Japanese capital was rebuilt into a new city called Neo-Tokyo and it is riddled with crime, violence and acts of terrorism.
Tetsuo Shima, a member of a criminal gang is starting to develop weird abilities after a mysterious encounter so the government seeks to capture him to prevent another apocalypse.
Let’s get it straight: if we’re talking about futuristic, Sci-Fi vibes with a touch of dystopian, few anime can compete with Ghost in the Shell and Akira, which is why you should watch both.
Although we remind you as always, Akira is NOT cyberpunk. It’s also more action-oriented, while Ghost in the Shell relies more on investigation and psychological themes.
1. Serial Experiments Lain
And finally, the first place on this list of anime like Ghost in the Shell could be none other than Serial Experiments Lain, as the two are essentially a parent and its child, complementing each other.
The story starts with the tragic suicide of Chisa Yomoda, a high school girl.
This event seems to elicit little reaction from those around her until some of her classmates start receiving messages claiming that Chisa is still alive and has found freedom in the Wired, a virtual world.
One of the recipients of these messages is Lain Iwakura, a quiet and introverted 14-year-old girl who embarks on an investigation into this event.
Serial Experiments Lain adopts many of Ghost in the Shell’s themes concerning technology, the computerization of the world, and more, and then builds upon them to create its own distinctive narrative.
It does so by delving into visionary themes, which go a long way toward adding an avant-garde twist to Ghost in the Shell’s more action- and investigation-oriented narrative, making it its perfect successor.