Ghost in the Shell Watch Order

Ghost in the Shell Watch Order

Ghost in the Shell is one of the most iconic cyberpunk sci-fi anime. Originating as a seinen manga series penned by Masamune Shirow, it unfolds the narrative of the fictional counter-cyberterrorist organization Public Security Section 9. The central character, Major Motoko Kusanagi, spearheaded this group, and the storyline unfolds in mid-21st century Japan.

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The anime series was released in 1995, inspired by the 1989 manga of identical nomenclature. Ghost In The Shell offers a fresh perspective on the intricate dynamics between humans and machines.

Ghost in the Shell in Order

Animation studio Production IG has produced several anime adaptations of Ghost in the Shell. These include the iconic 1995 film and its sequel, television series from the early 2000s and the serialized Ghost in the Shell: Arise.

1. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

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  • Episodes: 1 Movie (1 hour 22 minutes)
  • Released: November 18, 1995

The first movie based on the Ghost in the Shell manga by Masumane Shirow was directed by Mamoru Oshii in 1995. They took the original complex storyline from the comic and simplified it, focusing more on the serious sci-fi elements than the sillier aspects. The setting was also changed from Japan to a futuristic city inspired by Hong Kong.

What made the animation stand out was how they blended traditional hand-drawn art with fancy digital effects – something pretty novel in those days. This combo of old-school animation with high-tech polish helped Ghost in the Shell become a massive hit, even topping the Billboard video charts at one point – practically unheard of for a Japanese anime title.

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The Wachowski siblings have said the cyberpunk world of Ghost in the Shell was a huge influence when they made their iconic Matrix trilogy soon after. So, in many ways, Ghost in the Shell kicked down the doors for anime, crossing over to find a wider audience globally. Even today, it remains one of the most acclaimed and well-known anime films worldwide.

2. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002)

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002)

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  • Episodes: 26
  • Released: Fall 2002

In response to the evolving landscape of technology-related crimes and body engineering, the Japanese government formed Section 9, an autonomous police unit. This elite team, headed by Daisuke Aramaki and Motoko Kusanagi, specializes in handling highly sensitive cases spanning various social strata.

As Section 9 takes on diverse criminal challenges, a formidable adversary emerges as a level A hacker known as “The Laughing Man.” This enigmatic foe propels the team into a perilous pursuit and evasion game.

3. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG (2004)

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG (2004)

  • Episodes: 26
  • Released: Winter 2004

After successfully resolving the “Laughing Man” case, Section 9 is reinstated by Japan’s newly elected Prime Minister, Youko Kayabuki. The primary objective is to counteract the looming menace of cyberterrorism.

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A radical group named “The Individual Eleven” emerged, instigating acts of terror across Japan. Motoko Kusanagi, Daisuke Aramaki, Batou, and other Section 9 members delve into investigating this new threat. Simultaneously, the Japanese government grapples with a crisis involving foreign refugees seeking asylum after the Third World War.

As the special operations team encounters Gouda Kazundo, a key figure in the Cabinet Intelligence Service, suspicions arise. There’s a growing belief that Gouda may be connected to the refugee crisis and The Individual Eleven, prompting Section 9 to dig deeper into the situation’s complexities.

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4. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)

  • Episodes: 1 Movie (1 hour 39 minutes)
  • Released: March 6, 2004

In this sequel to the 1995 anime film, Section 9’s Batou takes the lead as Major Motoko Kusanagi goes missing. His mission: investigate a series of gruesome murders involving malfunctioning gynoids or sex robots.

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As Batou gets into the case, cryptic messages from the damaged gynoids raise questions about the true cause of their malfunction. The plot thickens with suspicions of politically motivated murders and the presence of illegal “ghosts,” leading Batou and his partner Togusa into a complex web of conspiracies.

The investigation unfolds against a backdrop where the lines between humans and machines blur, and the distinction between reality and perception becomes hazy. Battling unusual and perilous adversaries, Batou and Togusa navigate a futuristic world filled with machines and living dolls, yet lacking in humanity.

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, making it the sole anime to achieve this prestigious recognition.

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5. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society (2006)

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society (2006)

Episodes: 1 Movie (1 hour 48 minutes)
Released: September 1, 2006

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In 2034, two years have passed since Motoko Kusanagi departed from Section 9.

Togusa has assumed team leadership, which has expanded significantly in personnel. The newly reinforced Section 9 is confronted with intricate incidents, and investigations point to a hacker known as Puppeteer as the mastermind behind the unfolding chain of events.

Amidst the unfolding chaos, Batou, pursuing the case independently, crosses paths with Motoko. His departure was marked by the cryptic words, “Stay away from Solid State Society.”

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The captivating incidents that Section 9 grapples with gradually interconnect in an almost artistic manner.

6. Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (2008)

Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (2008)

  • Episodes: 1 Movie (1 hour 23 minutes)
  • Released: July 12, 2008

The original Ghost in the Shell film by Mamoru Oshii is returning to Japanese cinemas in five editions titled Ghost in the Shell 2.0.

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This version will incorporate new computer graphics and digital effects for selected scenes. Most original cast members have reunited to create a new 6.1 surround sound recording.

Randy Thom, an Academy Award-winning mixer/editor known for his work on projects like Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, The Incredibles, and The Right Stuff, has overseen the new soundtrack. The soundtrack features Kenji Kawai’s original music, and the final mix has been crafted at Thom and Lucas Digital. Skywalker Sound Studios in California played a pivotal role in the production process.

7. Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Border 1: Ghost Pain (2013)

Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Border 1: Ghost Pain (2013)

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  • Episodes: 1 Movie (58 minutes)
  • Released: June 22, 2013

The story unfolds in 2027, a year after the fourth non-nuclear war concluded. In the aftermath, New Port City faced challenges when a self-propelled mine struck the city. Amidst the chaos, a military member involved in arms trade bribery was murdered.

During the investigation, Daisuke Aramaki from the Public Security Section encounters Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg hacker working with the military’s 501st Secret Unit. Batou, a man with vigilant eyes, suspects Kusanagi’s involvement in the bombing.

Meanwhile, Togusa, a detective from Niihama Prefectural Police, is pursuing his own dual case involving a shooting homicide and the murder of a prostitute. Motoko herself becomes a subject of scrutiny by the 501st Secret Unit’s leader, Kurutsu, and a cyborg agent.

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8. Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Border 2: Ghost Whispers (2013)

Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Border 2: Ghost Whispers (2013)

  • Episodes: 1 (56 minutes)
  • Released: November 30, 2013

Now relieved of her duties in the 501st Organization, Motoko Kusanagi faces the challenge of following orders from Aramaki. A hacker targets Logicoma, prompting Batou to seek assistance from former army intelligence officer Ishikawa and ex-air artillery expert Borma.

Meanwhile, Kusanagi endeavors to enlist the skills of sniper Saito and undercover cop Paz into Section 9. The two factions find themselves in a competitive situation while working on a case related to a man implanted with false memories of a refugee transport operation.

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9. Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Border 3: Ghost Tears (2014)

Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Border 3: Ghost Tears (2014)

  • Episodes: 1 Movie (58 minutes)
  • Released: June 28, 2014

Motoko and Batou try to stop a terrorist organization bearing the symbol of Scylla. Meanwhile, Togusa investigates the murder of a man who had prosthetic limbs manufactured by the Mermaid’s Leg company.

10. Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Border 4: Ghost Stands Alone (2014)

Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Border 4: Ghost Stands Alone (2014)

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  • Episodes: 1 Movie (59 minutes)
  • Released: September 6, 2014

Set in the winter of 2028, during the postwar reconstruction, New Port City experienced rising tensions due to demonstrations against foreign cartel interests. This escalation led to a shooting incident involving riot police.

The catalyst for these events is a cyber brain infection unleashed by the terrorist known as “Fire Starter.” Motoko Kusanagi’s independent offensive unit relies on its ghosts to handle the situation and pursue its own form of justice.

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Within the incident’s complexities are figures like Emma and Burinda Junior. As Kusanagi deals with the unfolding events, she gets closer to understanding the motives of these two enigmatic ghosts.

11. Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (2015)

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (2015)

  • Episodes: 1 Movie (1 hour 40 minutes)
  • Released: June 20, 2015

In 2027, a year following the conclusion of the non-nuclear World War IV, Newport City is shaken by a bomb blast that claims the life of a significant arms dealer with potential connections to the enigmatic 501 Organization.

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Daisuke Aramaki, a Public Security Officer, recruits the talents of Motoko Kusanagi, a skilled hacker utilizing a full-body cyber prosthesis, to delve into the investigation and uncover the truth behind the incident.

12. Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 (2020)

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 (2020)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Release: Spring 2020

Ghost in the Shell is fully animated using CGI, depicting the early days of Section 9’s mission.

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Recommended Viewing Order of Ghost in the Shell:

After examining the release order provided earlier, Ghost in the Shell comprises four distinct storylines when grouped.

  • Ghost in the Shell (Movies)
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
  • Ghost in the Shell: Arise
  • Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045

Each of these narratives unfolds independently and lacks any chronological connection regarding the storyline.

While it’s theoretically possible to watch them in any sequence, I suggest starting with the original 1995 film by Mamoru Oshii for your initial viewing. Additionally, Standalone Complex is well worth following.

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Author - Rohit
I am Rohit, an author at Otakukan. I was born and raised in Banglore, India. I have always loved watching anime and reading manga. In college, I started writing my own stories and creating my own characters.