The Best Anime Like Ghost in the Shell – and Where to Watch Them

When people think of 90s cyberpunk anime, Ghost in the Shell is sure to come to mind. It is regarded as one of the finest anime and science-fiction films ever made, inspiring the extremely popular Matrix series and receiving praise from director James Cameron, describing it as “the first truly adult animation film to reach a level of literary and visual excellence.” This film seamlessly weaves sci-fi action and philosophy, following a cyborg public-security agent on the search for a mysterious hacker while discussing concerns of self-identity in a technologically driven world. The animation was also monumental for its time, blending the use of traditional cel animation and new computer-generated imagery (CGI).

Surprisingly, before gaining a cult following, the picture was considered a box office disaster. It wasn't until its release on home video that it became a hit. Here are some lesser know gems and other influential anime to satisfy fans of this cult classic.



This 1988 anime was adapted from a manga written by Ghost in the Shell's author Masamune Shirow. Fans of Shirow's tech-focused themes should definitely watch this one. The premise follows humanity's reconstruction after World War III. A police officer and her cyborg sidekick combat terrorism in their experimental metropolis, which is home to humans, cyborgs, and bioroids. Bioroids are genetically modified creatures designed to serve humanity and are in charge of the city's administration. This futuristic city was built to be a utopia, yet it feels more like a prison to some.

The anime was produced by Gainax (Neon Genesis Evangelion) and draws its characters and setting from Shirow's manga. However, the plot departs completely from the source material, creating a brand new adventure.

It is available to stream on Amazon Prime, Peacock, and Tubi.

Battle Angel

Battle Angel Alita OVA

This 1993 OVA is recommended for fans of the cyberpunk genre. An amnesiac cyborg girl is restored by a junkyard doctor in a Frankenstein-esque story. After the doctor revives her, the cyborg, who goes by the name Gally, begins anew in a world where every day can be a battle for survival.

Battle Angel, also known as Gunnm, was created as a two-part OVA series. It was directed by Hiroshi Fukutomi, and co-produced by KSS Inc., Movic, Animate, and Madhouse (Hunter x Hunter). It is adapted from the manga series Battle Angel Alita written by Yukito Kishiro, drawing most of its inspiration from volumes 1 and 2.

It is available to stream on YouTube.

Serial Experiments Lain

The story centers around Lain, a teenager living in suburban Japan. Her life appears to be fairly routine, but a closer look at her middle-class family reveals some concerning things: her older sister Mika is withdrawn and distant, her mother is constantly nitpicking her daughters' unladylike behavior and her father is only interested in computers. With her poor family life, it is not surprising that Lain is socially isolated from most of her classmates and struggles in school. Conflict arises when a series of strange events begin to unfold. Several students, including Lain, receive an e-mail from a deceased student, introducing Lain to the interconnected virtual world of "The Wired."

Like Ghost in the Shell, Serial Experiments Lain combines the use of traditional hand-drawn animation and digital effects. The promotional images don't do this series justice, the artwork is hauntingly beautiful. Lain's eyes are drawn in an intense manner where she often appears stunned or startled, much like how the audience feels as the story unfolds.

Serial Experiments Lain is an original anime television series created in 1998. It was directed by Ryūtarō Nakamura, written by Chiaki J. Konaka, and produced by Triangle Staff. It is available to stream on Funimation and rent on Apple TV.


paprika atsuko chiba

This 2006 film is credited for inspiring the hugely popular Inception. In the not-too-distant future, a newly developed technology known as the "DC Mini" allows Doctor Chiba and her team to view people's dreams. Outside the research center, someone begins to use the machine illegally, and it is suspected that this is the work of the enigmatic, spritely Paprika. Psychological themes flow throughout the film with titular character Paprika declaring, "the Internet and dreams are similar. They're areas where the repressed conscious mind escapes."

Paprika is directed by Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue) and produced by Madhouse. The film is based on the 1993 novel of the same name written by Yasutaka Tsutsui.

It is available to rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu, and YouTube.


Set in a cyberpunk future, human civilization has advanced to the point where all aspects of society have merged with technology. This aims to solve all of man's problems, but it leaves humanity vulnerable without and to technology. When a virus forces the system to spiral out of control, it triggers the cyborg defense to embark on a mission to destroy all humans in the city. As a result, the main character Killy must find the Net Terminal Gene, the genetic key to the "Netsphere," to regain humanity's control of the city before it is too late.

The 2017 anime is a Netflix original produced by Polygon Pictures (Star Wars: The Clone Wars). It was adapted from the manga series written and illustrated by Tsutomu Nihei from 1997 to 2003.

Blame! is available for streaming exclusively on Netflix.

Wonder Egg Priority

Asuma Flirts With Kae In Kiss Him Not Me

Many people have made comparisons between this show and Serial Experiments Lain, and it does appear to be a colorful variation of the latter. Following the suicide of her close friend, Ai Ohto, a junior high school student, takes a leave of absence from school. One night as she is walking home, she follows a strange voice that leads her to a gachapon machine that dispenses a "Wonder Egg." Ai is dragged into a dream realm in which a girl emerges from the Wonder Egg, whom Ai must defend against a swarm of creatures known as "Seeno Evils." When the voice tells Ai that saving enough people in this world might bring Koito back, she vows to keep buying Wonder Eggs and safeguarding the people who live inside them. Along her journey, Ai meets three other girls who appear to be in a similar situation.

This original series was directed by Shin Wakabayashi and co-produced by CloverWorks (Darling in the Franxx), Aniplex, Nippon Television, and D.N. Dream Partners. The story was written by Shinji Nojima and features exceptionally beautiful character designs by Saki Takahashi.

It is available to stream on Funimation and to rent on YouTube and Google Play.

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