The Ghost in the Shell series is comprised of several movies and animated TV series.

TV series:


For someone completely new to the series, what order should these be watched in? (Are the movies even important to the animated series?)


5 Answers 5


Here's the order:

  • Ghost in the Shell (set in 2029) from 1995 or its 2008 remake Ghost in the Shell 2.0
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (set in 2030) - The Laughing Man, a feature-length OVA summary of S.A.C.
  • Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG (set in 2032) - Individual Eleven, a feature-length OVA which retells the events of S.A.C. 2nd GIG, altered to focus on both the Individual Eleven investigation and the relationship between Hideo Kuze and Motoko Kusanagi
  • Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (set in 2032)
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex − Solid State Society (set in 2034) from 2006 or 2011 in 3D
  • Ghost in the Shell: Arise OVA series (set in 2027). It's a prequel telling the origin story of Section 9 - Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Alternative Architecture is a recompilation for television of Ghost in the Shell: Arise.
  • Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie is a movie set after Ghost in the Shell: Arise that is a continuation of the plot of the Pyrophoric Cult episode. The original movie's plot follows directly after this movie.
  • Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 is the next and latest anime and follows all the other seirse for this anime series

The only unclear part is about where S.A.C. 2nd GIG and Innocence go in relation to each other, because they are both set in 2032. 2nd GIG is the second season of S.A.C. and should probably be watched directly after it.

The GitS movies, SAC-series and Arise OVA are all different interpretations of the source material/manga.

Ghost in the Shell/2.0 and Innocence are set in the same universe, and I would recommend to watch them first as they have the strongest story and production values.

The SAC-series has it's own separate universe and is more of a crime series where the movies are more philosophical.

The Arise OVA-series is also completely separate from both the movies and series, but somewhat serve as a spiritual prequel to both.

  • Regarding the SAC / GITS 2 relationship... My understanding is that, chronologically, SAC (both series) should come before the original GITS and GITS 2: Innocence. In SAC Motoko is present through all the series. Minor spoiler alort: at the end of the GITS movie she leaves, and her absence is continued in Innocence.
    – MBender
    Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 7:07
  • 1
    Where does the new movie (2017) go in this list? Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 22:16
  • The new movie has huge alterations over the source material for what can be known from the trailer, but most likely can work between GITS and Innocence, with some licenses - i.imgur.com/4c8xY08.png Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 18:59
  • Hey, isn't the first and last elements in your list referring to the same movie ? I just downloaded a movie called "GITS The new movie (2015)" (which matches your last bullet) but it also matches your description as ending where the 1995 movie starts (your first bullet)
    – kuvic
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 17:18
  • 2
    @LorenzoBoccaccia Now that it's out (for some time now), yes, the latest live action movie has significant differences. Mostly they can be summarized as saying that the development of full conversion cyborg technology was pushed up ~20 years (relative to Motoko's age). Instead of being one of the first full conversion cyborgs when she was a child, she's now one of the first full conversion cyborgs in her late teens to early twenties. Cyberization is still pretty new to the world. The movie focuses on events approximately one year after her conversion. Commented May 8, 2017 at 5:38

There are actually two completely different continuities that aren't strictly compatible with each other, considering what happens with the Major.

Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell: Innocence are in a separate continuity. Watch these two first if you like movies better.

SAC and SAC 2nd Gig are basically season 1 and 2 of the TV series. Watch these two first if you like TV shows better. Solid State Society is a movie in the same continuity as the TV series set after both seasons. Laughing Man and Individual Eleven are actually just compilations of the "complex" episodes of SAC and SAC 2nd Gig, respectively. You don't need to watch it if you watch the entire seasons.

Arise is a prequel story to all of the above. It doesn't quite fit either existing continuity. It's a similar set of themes, but told in more of a miniseries approach that doesn't maintain a status quo between episodes. Watch this first if you like binge-ready streaming shows better.

  • 1
    I'm way late here, but Arise is in a very different universe compared to the SAC series, at least. For example, their stories differ in how Kusanagi got her prosthetic body, and how the characters first met each other.
    – JoL
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 20:23
  • Thanks for the correction @JoL. When I first answered this, Arise wasn't even released yet, and it seemed like it was just a prequel story. I've updated my answer to make it clear that it's not really in either existing continuity.
    – meustrus
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 20:50

Personally, I think the following chronological timeline works best for story purposes and character arcs, but only if you ignore a few specific points, such as the dates specified in the films.

To me, it makes more sense as:

  • Ghost In The Shell: Arise
  • Ghost In The Shell (original or 2.0)
  • Ghost In The Shell: SAC - The Laughing Man
  • Ghost In The Shell: SAC, 2nd Gig - Individual Eleven
  • Ghost In The Shell: Innocence
  • Ghost In The Shell: Solid State Society

Yes, they're in 3 separate continuities, but they can basically work this way.


Chronological order in this case is perfect. Ghost in the Shell (movie, 1995) will introduce you to the Masamune Shirow's cyberpunk world and to the director Mamoru Oshii. Innocence (2004) will actualize the 1995 contents with the same director and then SAC (2005) will develop single relevant social and political aspects (e.g. the episode Automated Capitalism) deeply, describing a vivid world you can only partially understand without seeing previous works.

  • 1
    There's a couple things missing here: When you say SAC, which one are you referring to? "Stand Alone Complex", "SAC 2nd Gig", or "SAC 2nd Gig - Individual Eleven"? Also, where does Arise come into play, and what about Solid State Society?
    – Cattua
    Commented Mar 16, 2013 at 21:11
  • 1
    The first Stand Alone complex season. After that I stop to watch the franchise so I cannot give you first-hand information about what is following SAC, including the second season called 2nd Gig. I'm sure of the order of the titles I listed though.
    – chirale
    Commented Mar 16, 2013 at 21:31

Watch the original movie first. Arise if you are young and need backstory and canonical chronological OCD. S.A.C is really great and if someone was on a time budget, watching this alone would justify the series and world that truly exposes corruption, future technology and potential criminal activity along with deep socio-political introspective. If you like The Newsroom and the fmv's of Metal Gear Solid, you will like S.A.C. 2nd gig was good too. Nothing beats the original. And Arise is a good modern adaption of the world. Plus sheds some light on Major's past.

  • 3
    Welcome to Anime and Manga SE. The question asks which order the OP should watch the Ghost in the Shell works in. Your answer doesn't really address that question, it's more of a commentary on your opinion of the works. Please edit to suggest a viewing order; for example, would you suggest watching the movie, then SAC, then Arise? If so, why? Although we can sort of guess from your opinions, it's too fuzzy to be a really good answer.
    – Torisuda
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 7:05
  • This is your first answer but I am not sure I understand what you mean. Some things that could help make your answer better is by elaborating more and making it more detailed and also clear in detail/format. :) Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 7:13

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