One of the essential elements of anime is its ability to take average fantasy concepts like sci-fi and turn them into exciting sagas. Whether it’s a post-apocalyptic future or the discovery of alternate dimensions, sci-fi anime has been known to take fans on a wild ride of the unknown while introducing several scientific possibilities of “what’s to come” for the human race as we continue to move forward to the 22nd century. Sci-fi anime like Gundam have inspired real-life engineers to recreate some of the most popular phenomena in anime to bring those far-fetched concepts into reality. As the saying goes, “Art imitates life, and life imitates art,” and when it comes to sci-fi anime, this statement couldn’t be more accurate.
If you’re curious to see what direction humanity is headed toward in the distant future, then here are some sci-fi anime recommendations to help open your mind and feed your imagination for what may be looming on the horizon.
B: The Beginning
This Netflix original is without a doubt one of the craziest sci-fi animes in recent years. The story follows the legendary investigator Keith as he tries to track down the superhuman vigilante serial killer simply known as “Killer B.” As Keith and the rest of the investigative team uncover more clues, they begin to realize that their true enemy isn’t Killer B, but rather a mysterious criminal organization working behind the scenes to achieve their nefarious objectives, which may ultimately change the world.
B: The Beginning is a suspenseful thriller that blends sci-fi and mystery into a well-rounded, mature action saga for history books. If you enjoy detective films like The Bone Collector or Seven, then this is an anime that will play to those sensibilities.
Funimation’s newest addition to their fall lineup, Scarlet Nexus is set in the near future of an alternate reality where humans have evolved to use telekinesis as a form of fighting against mindless mutants known as the Others. Two members of the OSF (Other Suppression Force), Yuito Sumeragi and Kasane Randall, find themselves intertwined in a fate that will eventually have one kill the other in order to save humanity from impending doom in the more distant future. However, as they each dig deeper into the events leading up to that fateful day, they find that everything they were ever told in the past was never quite what it seemed.
Filled with action and suspense, Scarlet Nexus will immerse you in a world of time travel, ESP, and scientific advancement. It’s absolutely another perfect sci-thriller to add to your list.
Another Netflix original, Eden is a sci-fi anime film that begs the question, “what if there weren’t any other humans and robots ruled the world?” Naturally, Eden answers that question as it follows the story of two maintenance robots who awaken a baby human girl from stasis and raise her in secret from the other robots who believe that humans are obsolete. As she grows up, the baby known as Sarah begins to question her existence and the current state of the world. Determined to find the truth, she recklessly explores the land as she searches for answers to the past.
A wonderful tale of the human condition and our interaction with robots in the distant future, Eden is a colorful CGI look into a possible scenario of our impending fate as a new wave of artificial intelligence continues to rise in our reality.
This one is an oldie but a goodie. In the near future, humans have discovered a fourth dimension⏤which they call Dimension W⏤that holds an infinite source of energy. To control this new energy, humans develop devices known as Coils to link and use the power of Dimension W.
By 2071, black market Coils are everywhere, and it’s up to ex-soldier Kyouma Mabuchi as a Collector (think bounty hunter) to track down anyone with the Coils in their possession. One day, he accepts a contract that introduces him to Mira Yurizaki, an android connected to the Coils themselves, and all hell breaks loose. Now stuck together due to crazy circumstances, Mira and Kyouma try to figure out the mysteries of Dimension W.
Dimension W takes you on a visual roller coaster ride into the unknown with many memorable characters that help develop the story as it progresses, giving it quite an immersive feel. If you’re looking for a wild plunge into the sci-fi genre, you’re going to love Dimension W.
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Another wild sci-fi ride is Outlaw Star. Set in the far future and deep reaches of space, pilot Gene Starwind and his kid sidekick Jim Hawking have a jack-of-all-trades business that takes them on the craziest of adventures. When a mysterious woman named Hilda hires them to steal a spaceship (which they later name the Outlaw Star), their adventures grow even more dangerous as they face pirates, assassins, and even a space race to keep their newly owned ship flying onward. Now the crew just has to stay alive long enough to reach their ultimate goal, the Galactic Leyline⏤a coveted phenomenon said to grant its participants ultimate power.
Outlaw Star is often funny, action-packed, and consistently keeps you engaged as each episode introduces new characters and stories to awe and inspire. As the Outlaw Star travels to different worlds, it continues to explore the vast possibilities of space and its unexplained mysteries. This is one sci-fi title that has great replay value, as you might not catch everything in just the first watch.
Sword Art Online
One of the longest-running and most popular in the sci-fi genre, Sword Art Online is the perfect anime for all you big gamers out there. Set in 2022 (wild, right?), a massive virtual multiplayer online role-playing game (VRMMORPG) called Sword Art Online gets released to the public. Thanks to special helmets called NerveGear, players can access all five senses in the game to make it a truly immersive experience. A young beta tester, Kirito Kirigaya, dives into the game’s cyberspace for the first time, only to find that he and thousands of other players can’t log out. To make matters worse, if their avatars die in the game, their brains will also be destroyed by the NerveGear that logged them in. As their bodies remain motionless in real-time, the players have no choice but to use their gaming skills in a traumatic fight for survival.
An impressive look into the future of gaming and the human mind’s capabilities, Sword Art Online is well-balanced with loads of action and great storytelling. If you love video games and are curious to see how far VR can go, then this is a good sci-fi title to put in your collection.
Another popular sci-fi anime that’s considered one of the OGs of the genre, Cowboy Bebop is a neo-noir style anime set in the year 2071 where humanity has left Earth to colonize other planets and moons around the solar system. Thanks to a rise in intergalactic crime, the Solar System Police have contracts with bounty hunters called Cowboys to chase down criminals and bring them back alive in return for a reward.
This can sometimes become a problem for the bounty hunters of the spaceship Bebop because, with Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, and Faye Valentine in the mix, things don’t always go as planned. During the series, their adventures usually bring costly consequences that leave them without any money or food. Along the way, they uncover secrets about each other that impact their little family in the Bebop, but through it all, they always find a way to have each other’s backs.
Cowboy Bebop is another excellent peek into humanity’s possible future now that independent space travel is becoming more of a reality. If you want to get a fantastic, albeit fictional, idea of what that might look like, you’re going to want to see Cowboy Bebop.
With A.I.s slowly becoming a part of everyday life, that age-old fateful question always looms overhead: “what if humans became enslaved by the same robots they built to be smart as them?” Creator Yasuko Koyabayashi attempts to answer that question with the post-apocalyptic Casshern Sins. Set in a world where robots have subjugated humanity after becoming self-aware, Casshern Sins follows the story of the robot warrior Casshern as he tries to survive the end of the world and remember who he was a hundred years ago. As a poisonous gas ravages the Earth’s atmosphere and slowly forces the robots to rust and corrode, humanity is on the brink of extinction and can no longer reproduce, leaving both parties to succumb to the impending end of the world eventually.
Fortunately for Casshern, his cyborg body doesn’t break down thanks to his ability to regenerate from any injury, even corrosion. Unfortunately, this also makes him the target of many robots who believe devouring him will save them from a slow corroding death. Roaming the land in hopes of recovering his memory, Casshern fights frequent battles to protect the few remaining humans on Earth and the friends he’s made during his journey, while his body tries to repent for something his mind has forgotten long ago. It’s another sci-fi anime you won’t want to miss and will be keen to revisit.