The best sci-fi anime: what to watch to get acquainted with the genre

This article was published in the 185th issue of The Universe Space Tech magazine. It was written by Anna Volkova, journalist

Anime are cartoons designed not only for children but also for an adult audience. They often raise the same issues as books that are considered classics of world fiction. However, many serious fans of sci-fi are still prejudiced against anime. To change this, we have created a selection of the best full-length anime films and series about future technologies and space adventures.

Japanese animation has been actively developing since the early 1960s. However, more or less serious science fiction themes appeared in the second half of the 1970s. And in the 1980s, it produced many examples of this genre that were not only as good as Hollywood films, but also inspired US directors to create new works.

The most famous example is Mamoru Oshii’s feature-length animated film Ghost in the Shell. It was this film that once inspired the Wachowski brothers to create The Matrix. And in 2017, it was made into a Hollywood film starring Scarlett Johansson. However, it is far from being the only example of science fiction in anime.

So we recommend you to watch the following:

Memories (1995)

A sci-fi anthology that combines melancholic depictions of life in post-industrial Japan and the world beyond. The best part of it is considered to be the episode Magnetic Rose, which deals with the work of space scavengers who disassemble old satellites and spaceships that have failed and are drifting around the universe as new garbage. There we have the reassessment of life when possessions have lost their value, a search for the meaning of existence, and even hints of mysticism. However, the main motif of The Magnetic Rose is the world of delusion, so easy to get trapped in when you are nostalgic for the past. It is this motif that refers us to the classic cyberpunk dilemma and makes the first story in Memories of the Future so relevant.

Cowboy Bebop (1998)

This space western is set in 2071, when the Earth is practically abandoned, and its inhabitants are scattered across the universe, looking for a better life on other planets. However, despite the enormous changes, the profession of a bounty hunter has only gained relevance, so the main characters waste no time in travelling across the galaxies in search of criminals. This anime primarily encourages reflection on the concepts of justice, good and evil in an overdeveloped world where the usual boundaries of ethics have long since been erased.

Ergo Proxy (2006)

Unlike the two previous anime, Ergo Proxy is set on an Earth that bears little resemblance to the planet we know. After a terrible man-made catastrophe caused by humanity, it has ceased to be habitable, and the survivors live in dome cities with android autonomous vehicles. In such an environment, questions of the value of human life and empathy are becoming increasingly relevant. However, the population of the domes continues to be most interested in the eternal question: who created us and why? And the answer to this question is hidden in deep space, which the inhabitants of the poisoned planet have long since ceased to dream of. In addition to the fascinating plot, Ergo Proxy contains many allusions and references to famous works of art, which adds to the anime’s charm.

Space Adventure Cobra (1982)

This is a slightly less tragic anime than the above, but it is impossible not to include it in the list, because it has everything that sci-fi animation is so loved for: the endless space filled with unknown criminals, spaceships drifting among the stars, hard dilemmas solved by a strong-willed protagonist. The plot is based on the adventures of a spaceship captain who fought pirates but lost his memory and now exists in the same body as a meek corporate employee. But one day, the past knocked on the door through a virtual reality helmet, pulling Cobra out of his comfortable existence (reminiscent of the 1990 cult film Total Recall, isn’t it?).

We wish you a pleasant viewing experience!