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Halex

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Ghost in the Shell - Watching Guide

This franchise comprises different installments that are somehow standalone and while they could fit into a timeline, there are enough inconsistencies/differences to make them alternative/parallel worlds. This is my recommended order for watching the series.
1 Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell

Must Watch! This film is so ahead of its time that even today fits perfectly at current anime standards. The intricate plot, the futuristic designs and the philosophy and ideas presented in this work have created a timeless Masterpiece that has influenced movies like The MatrixAvatar & Surrogates to name a few. Not to mention its latest live-action adaptation with Scarlett Johansson. There is no question that this film has greatly influenced the sci-fi genre and helped bring anime into the attention of everyone.

The dub sounds ok, but "The dub completely changes an enormous chunk of the lines in the movie, mostly for no other reason that I can see but to make it more edgy." -XenophonTheAthenian

Chronologies: Each installment of the series have a slightly different character design for the Major and this also marks a different timeline or parallel/alternative world, as they don't fit perfectly in a chronology due to some inconsistencies. This also means that each installment could also be considered standalone as you don't need to watch anything prior in order to understand their story. The different timelines so far are:

The World of Ghost in the Shell & Concepts (It may contain spoilers).

Regarding the Live-Action Movie, this installment combines some classic, recognizable scenes from the different anime movies and TV Series and merges the storyline of some of those installments, especially some chapters of Stand Alone Complex, but at the same time it focuses mostly on the action and visuals rather than a philosophical intensive plot, which have always serve as the basis for the storyline and which, in my opinion, is what separates the franchise from all other works. So in short, the live-action movie is not a good introduction to the Ghost in the Shell franchise, nor it does justice as a good installment, it's just an average Hollywood Movie, not bad, but not great either.

2 Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

Optional but Recommended. Continuation of the original movie storyline. Although is not as great as the first movie and barely moves the story forward, focusing more in a new case by Batou. It does have excellent visuals and still poses great philosophical questions about the psyche and what makes us human.

3 Ghost in the Shell 2.0

Ghost in the Shell 2.0

Skip. This is the same story as the original movie but remade with now outdated 3d/CGI and different music. It is not an improvement on the original, which is still unmatched, unsurpassed.

4 Ghost in the Shell: Arise

Ghost in the Shell: Arise

Watch. While chronologically, this series is a prequel to both the original movie storyline and Stand Alone Complex (SAC), it could also be considered standalone and you don't need to watch anything prior in order to understand this story.

This series shows the beginning of Public Security Section 9 and how the Major form her team. It's a great introduction to the characters, which were barely introduced in Stand Alone Complex (SAC), so that is why I recommend watching this series in between, although it was released at a later time.

This series has an excellent balance of action, philosophical questions, and thrills. Each chapter (or border) is a self-contained story but there is also an overall plot building over toward its conclusion in The New Movie. This is a worthy addition to the franchise and a must-watch for any sci-fi fan.

The dub is awesome!

5 Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Alternative Architecture

Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Alternative Architecture

Watch Only Episodes 9-10.

This is the same as Ghost in the Shell: Arise, but split in time for TV. They include Border 5: Pyrophoric Cult, which you should watch between Arise and The New Movie

The order of the TV Series is slightly changed starting with Border 4, 1, 2, 3, 5. I rather recommend you watch the film series, which is in chronological order and won't split the story in 2. Then come back to see Border 5 (Episodes 9, 10) before you watch The New Movie.

The dub is awesome!

6 Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie

Watch. Continuation & Conclusion for Arise timeline.

The dub is awesome!

7 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Watch. This is one of the most intelligent series you'll ever see. It will require your undivided attention and you'll be glad you did. The title says it all, with complex concepts and ideas this is a thinking viewer's anime and the way they are explained through the story makes the series a masterpiece.

This series has slower pacing than the Original Movie & Arise, which also lets you explore their world, technologies & philosophical questions a lot more than the other installments. While some stories are episodic, there is also the main plotline following "The Laughing Man" case, which was also condensed into a movie (see below).

"With no strong flaws, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a very impressive anime that knows it's fundamentals and plays to the strengths it has. It's never trying to be something it's not or appeal to people who wouldn't be interested. This is a thinking viewer's anime with some great moments of action and a little bit of humor. I was hooked from the opening moments of the first episode and left wanting more by the time I saw the closing moments of the last. There's a high value for rewatching this series and I can finally understand the classic status that this superb anime is given by most." -UncannyDoom

The dub is very good!

8 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig

Watch. Continuation of Stand Alone Complex (SAC) timeline, and has the case of the "Individual Eleven" as the main plot, which was also condensed into a movie (see below).

The dub is great!

9 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - The Laughing Man

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - The Laughing Man

Optional. This is the equivalent of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex main plotline "The Laughing Man".

While I recommend you watch the whole series, especially if is your first time if you just cannot get into the show, want to watch the main plotline consecutive to understand it better, or just want to skip the short story episodes, then this is perfect for you. It's also great when rewatching the series.

The dub is great.

10 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Individual Eleven

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Individual Eleven

Optional. This is the equivalent of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig main plotline "Individual Eleven".

While I recommend you watch the whole series, especially if is your first time if you just cannot get into the show, want to watch the main plotline consecutive to understand it better, or just want to skip the short story episodes, then this is perfect for you. It's also great when rewatching the series.

The dub is great.

11 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society

Watch. Continuation & Conclusion of Stand Alone Complex (SAC) Timeline.

The dub is great!

12 Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045

On Development. Netflix announced that a new Ghost in the Shell anime is coming — Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 which will be directed by  Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed), and Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex). Netflix doesn’t reveal any additional details, other than to say that it will be released sometime in 2020.

13 Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Logicoma Specials

Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Logicoma Specials

Skip, unless you really, really like Logi/Tachi/Uchi-koma Humor.

14 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Tachikoma Days

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Tachikoma Days

Skip, unless you really, really like Logi/Tachi/Uchi-koma Humor.

15 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig - Tachikoma Days

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig - Tachikoma Days

Skip, unless you really, really like Logi/Tachi/Uchi-koma Humor.

16 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - The Laughing Man - Tachikoma Days

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - The Laughing Man - Tachikoma Days

Skip, unless you really, really like Logi/Tachi/Uchi-koma Humor.

17 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Individual Eleven - Tachikoma Days

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Individual Eleven - Tachikoma Days

Skip, unless you really, really like Logi/Tachi/Uchi-koma Humor.

18 Ghost in the Shell: Uchikomatic Days

Ghost in the Shell: Uchikomatic Days

Skip, unless you really, really like Logi/Tachi/Uchi-koma Humor.

19 Ghost in the Shell: Arise border:less project - WORKING HIGH

Ghost in the Shell: Arise border:less project - WORKING HIGH

Skip, it's just a commercial promo.

20 Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Another Mission

Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Another Mission

Skip, it's just a commercial promo.

21 Ghost in the Shell: Nyuumon Arise

Ghost in the Shell: Nyuumon Arise

Skip, it's just chibi filler comedy.

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