Sci-fi can fit into multiple anime genres, whether it be horror, action, comedy… hell, even romance. Come on… who hasn’t had a “thing” for some cybernetic human from the future with the capabilities of mass destruction? Be honest…
No matter what genre it falls into, this type of anime has unique features that make it obvious it’s science fiction. Whether it's set in another dimension or features a warrior alien race planning to take down the Earth, sci-fi anime has that special something that makes it stand “out of this world.”
The following, in no particular order, are some of my picks for the best sci-fi anime.
The self-proclaimed “crazy” mad scientist, Rintarou Okabe, indulges himself in his hobby of inventing prospective "future gadgets" with his fellow lab members. Their most promising contraption yet, a machine dubbed, the Phone Microwave, suddenly can send emails to the past, altering the flow of history. With this comes shouldering the burden of holding the key to the realm of time. “Is so cool! Sonuvabitch!”
It’s the year 2071, and the Earth has become uninhabitable. Because humanity now resides in different areas throughout the galaxy, outlaw bounty hunters, referred to as “Cowboys,” attempt to keep peace at bay. Two of these cowboys, Spike Spiegel and Jet Black, along with their crew of collected allies, embark on adventures to chase bounties and collect rewards aboard the spaceship Bebop, leading to some great space exploration and sci-fi adventures.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
It's the year After Colony 195, and war between the Space Colonies and Earth has begun. To give the colonies an edge, they send 5 young soldiers, trained to perfection, to Earth in the most powerful of Mobile Suits-Gundams. With their arrival, the tide of the war changes as they battle against the Earth forces and the Colonies of their origin.
One Punch Man
One Punch Man is an action/adventure sci-fi epic about a superhero, Saitama, who can kill anyone with a single punch—not one enemy is able to defeat him in battle. Because of this, he becomes extremely bored, thinking there’s no fun in fighting anymore because he defeats his foes so easily.
This all changes with the arrival of Genos, a 19-year-old cyborg, who wishes to be Saitama's disciple after seeing what he is capable of. Genos proposes that the two join the Hero Association in order to become certified heroes that will be recognized for their positive contributions to society, and Saitama, shocked that no one knows who he is, quickly agrees. And thus begins the story of One Punch Man, an action-comedy that follows an eccentric individual who longs to fight strong enemies that can hopefully give him the excitement he once felt and just maybe, he'll become popular in the process.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
In 2015, 15 years after half the world population was killed, unidentified invaders called “Angels” begin to attack humankind. As their weapons are useless against them, humankind has created the ultimate all-purpose humanoid weapon “Evangelion.” The only exception is, the minds of a group of 14 year-olds are the only capable method for operating this weapon and stopping the Angels.
Parasyte: the Maxim
Parasitic aliens have descended upon Earth and begin to eradicate humanity by burrowing into the brains of living beings. Once their hosts are infected, the “parasites” have total control over their mind and body, morphing into many different terrifying forms in order to kill unsuspecting prey.
Shinichi Izumi, a sixteen year-old high school student, is unknowingly infected, but the parasite fails to reach his brain, ending up in his right hand instead. Unable to relocate, the parasite, now named Migi, has to rely on Shinichi to stay alive. The two need to learn to coexist, as well as defend themselves in the silent war between parasites and humans.
In the 22nd century, Japan enforces a new system of examining a human’s mental state for signs of criminal intent, known as their Psycho-Pass. To reduce crime, anyone harboring the slightest ill-will is subjugated by Inspectors, who uphold the law, usually by lethal force. Those with an honest desire to uphold justice slowly learn that the system is corrupt and question whether this is the right way to enforce the law and what can be done about it. This addresses the fact that the concept of society achieving anything like perfection is—and always will be—an illusion.
Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex
In the not so distant future, mankind has advanced to a state where complete body transplants from flesh to machine is possible, allowing humans to gain both physical and cybernetic abilities. However, criminals take advantage of this new technology leading to the increase of disastrous crimes. In response, the Japanese Government establishes Public Section 9, an independent police force, to deal with it. The story revolves around the team’s efforts to take down an A level hacker, nicknamed “The Laughing Man” who is wreaking havoc on Japan.
Persona 4: The Animation
In a small Japanese town, a group of high school students learn of a chain of mysterious killings that occur on foggy days. At the same time, rumors about a strange television channel—dubbed the "Midnight Channel"—spread like wildfire; when staring into their TV screen at midnight, a person may see their soul mate.
After watching this “Midnight Channel” they encounter an alternate dimension, overrun with dark entities called “Shadows.” Realizing the link between the hidden dimension and the murders, they attempt to combat this threat by using physical manifestations of their “true selves” called “Personas.”
This is an awesome comedic sci-fi anime, directed by a famous director, Shinchiro Watanabe. The Space Dandy, an alien hunter, rockets around space with an A.I. robot vacuum named QT, finding and registering as-yet-unknown species of intergalactic creatures.
I really recommend you check out some of these shows, as well as the many others that are out there in the anime world. Sci-fi gives you not only adventures in other worlds, dimensions, and cultures, it also gives you an adventure of the mind, as you ponder the thought, “Can or will this really happen someday?”