Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex TV Poster Image

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Violence + profanity + skin = adult-skewing anime.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The group works as a team to combat "evil," but there are mixed messages, as some on the team have a sordid past and use violence to achieve good.


Guns, fist fights, someone is hit on the head with a gun, kidnapping, and more.


The main female character's shirt is open, revealing almost all of her chest.


Quite a lot of profanity for basic cable (even for Adult Swim): "Rat's ass," "helluva," "kick in the ass," "crap," "damn," "son of a bitch," "fat head," "loser," etc.


There are video games and a movie related to the storyline/characters.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this futuristic series is very popular with teen and adult anime fans. Based on the manga by Masamune Shirow, the show is centered on the merging of man and machine and what that merge entails for technology -- the good of mankind, or a new breed of highly advanced criminal? The dialogue can get pretty profane for basic cable, characters are constantly afraid for their lives, and the main female character is usually busting out of her shirt with cleavage. Because of its intricate storyline and its connection to a line of films, books, and videogames, the show's popularity is only growing for older audiences. Parents, meanwhile, should beware of language and violence.

What's the story?

GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX follows the characters of Public Security Section 9, a special task force determined to solve high crimes committed against the Japanese people. Most of the team members are human-machine hybrids, and each brings their own skill and history to the group. The year is 2030, and humanity has been redefined thanks to technology that can blend man and machine, but innovations like the cyberbrain -- which enables the hacking of a person's mind -- crime has become more sophisticated. Law enforcement must evolve, too, which leads to the creation of Section 9 -- an advanced team made up of former cops, military personnel, and criminals. Squad leader Major Motoko Kusanagi (voiced by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) is a clever cyborg who's troubled by her past and (as mentioned) sports huge cleavage; other characters include second-in-command Buttetsu Batou (Richard Epcar); Togusa (Crispin Freeman), who doesn't have any cybernetic advancement; and Daisuke Aramake (William Frederick Knight), the strict chief of police who's fiercely loyal to his team.

Is it any good?


The appeal of this dark, intricate anime series is its highly complex use of technology-focused content interwoven with the plot, characters, and visuals. For the novice anime fan, it will likely be hard to follow for the first few episodes. And if you have young anime fans in the house, know that the show is part of the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim line up for good reason -- profanity and violence are both frequent, and the central female character has a propensity for busting out all over (pun intended).

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the idea of humans enhanced by machinery. What kind of support could that kind of technology provide for humans? What do you think people's potential ethical or moral concerns about something like that might be? Parents can also address the show's strong language. How does that add to or detract from the show? And what message does it send to have a strong female character who's so scantily clad? For teens interested in anime, parents could discuss its origins and other programs worth pursuing.

TV details

Premiere date:November 7, 2004
Cast:Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, William Knight
Network:Cartoon Network
Genre:Science Fiction
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD

This review of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was written by

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Teen, 16 years old Written byOff the Record March 18, 2013

View is Way Off the Mark

Although I will concede to the prevalence of violence and occasionally sexual images in Ghost in the Shell, the merits of the anime are completely skirted over in Common Sense Media's review. Ghost in the Shell is not your typically blood-sex-and-gore show, but makes a genuine effort to explore the theme of what, precisely, makes something human in our increasingly technological world. Even the title is a reflection of the view that the person is a 'ghost' and the body is the 'shell'. The language isn't anything that a middle school student isn't already hearing regularly, and the show promotes a positive message by showing acceptance of differences in the team's blend of cyborgs and 'naturals', and also demonstrating the characters acting to correct their past mistakes and coming to terms with themselves. The show isn't particularly confusing unless you're fairly brain dead, although it does touch on more complex philosophical concepts. However, these are not necessary to understand the plot. Overall, Ghost in the Shell is an anime with great storytelling, excellent visuals, stunning action sequences, good characterization, brilliant theme exploration, and a positive message that shouldn't be set aside because of some objectionable content.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written byUltra Magnus December 12, 2014

Most Philisophical Robots in TV History

"Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alon Complex", as many have stated, is amazingly thought-provoking, and with the right audience, becomes one of the most interesting Sci-Fi series instantly. It is much like a futuristic version of crime television shows, but also gives the audience an opportunity to think more deeply about the subjects dealt with in the show. Unlike other brain-dulling Sci-Fi shows like Star Wars in which most of the enjoyment is derived from lasers, flying ships, and CGI, "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" brings a new light as to how Sci-Fi fans look at Futuristic technology. Each episode is unpredictable, but not to a chaotic extent: one episode could be a huge firefight, and another could consist entirely of users on the internet having an ordinary live chat. Obviously, being a crime-show, "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" has its share of violence, but only a select few episodes consist of mostly violence and most episodes do not use violence as the main source of entertainment. If your child is mature enough to handle violence and a few small sexual references and they have the patience for a very complex show, then "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" is perfect for any Sci-Fi fan curious about the future.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Adult Written byHonestReviewSam July 29, 2011

Very good but lots of adult content.

The character swear alot, blood flys everywhere, and there is quite a bit of skin and some nudity. At its core though, it is quite a very good, intelligent, and complex show. Not for kids unless they are very mature. If you want to preveiw the worst this show can throw at you, go to, go under the anime A-Z, go to the G section and select Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Watch episodes ten and eleven (though this is mainly for the full body shot of a nude angel statue than anything other not found in episode ten). If you thing your kids can handle that, they can watch the whole season no problem. [Edit] Before, I was watching this show online with very low resolution. Since, then I have purchased the DVD and watched it and noticed a bit more nudity (male and female) and the F word written upside down on a stair rail in the last episode. Because of that, I'm bumping it up to a pause for kids age 17 instead of the pause kids 16.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing