Science fiction is an established genre, and it’s more than laser swords, ships, and time travel. This stuff is cool, but it’s also about human nature, ethics, technology and looking to the future to comment on our present. All the best sci-fi stories do, even with the most fantastical releases like star wars.
Anime is no stranger to diving deep into science fiction. Indeed, much of the sci-fi we love today was heavily influenced by classic anime from the 80s and 90s, like Akira and ghost in the shell, which remain the pinnacles of the medium to this day. Netflix has plenty of great titles in this regard, and many of them rank among the best the genre has to offer across all mediums.
“Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”
One of science fiction’s best subgenres is speculative fiction, which looks at the world through the lens of what might have been. Code Geass is one example, following a world where the United States lost its War of Independence and Britain – now called Brittania – took control of most of the known world. In this robot-dominated future, the series follows a young exiled prince who works to free Japan from Brittania as revenge for the murder of his mother.
While it has been compared to Death threat for its equally morally questionable protagonist whose increasingly difficult decisions send him down a dark path: the big difference, however, is that Lelouch never stops fighting for the greater good. While his actions may end up being too questionable for some, it’s the fact that he fights fascism at every turn that makes him compelling and likable.
Widely regarded by anime fans as one of the best shows ever made, cowboy bebop is a clever vision of the future that follows a group of bounty hunters, or “cowboys,” as they traverse the solar system for their next paycheck. The problem? They are bad at their jobs and rarely seem to win.
It features amazing world-building that slowly feeds you information at a steady, thoughtful pace. The show keeps you glued to your screen with its kaleidoscopic style: it blends neo-noir, Western, and dramatic storytelling and sets it against the backdrop of a complex sci-fi world, all set to a punchy, jazzy soundtrack. and bluesy. . cowboy bebop really is in a class of its own.
If you think these characters look familiar to you, you’re probably a fan of Fairy tale, Hiro MashimaThe previous manga about a group of adventurers in a fantasy guild. Eden Zero, his later work, was adapted as an anime on Netflix, follows a similar premise but is now in space. The show is as sci-fi fantastic as it gets, with humans, aliens, robots, time paradoxes, weird spaceships, and tons of futuristic technology.
Yet it always remains different from Fairy tale just enough to forge their own identity. It’s more of an ongoing quest, unlike that series, and the first aired season uses its space history to build a compelling and unique world unlike any other sci-fi series currently on the market.
Godzilla: singular point
Godzilla has had a resurgence lately in North America and Japan, so it was only a matter of time before Godzilla made its way to anime for the first time. As acclaimed writer Gen Urobuchi had his point with a trilogy of films showcasing a futuristic take on the material, singular point brings it back to basics with a more human take on the Godzilla mythos.
The gripping story, which involves two geniuses trying to figure out alternate realities, is written by acclaimed science fiction writer Toh EnJoe and feels more at home with the works of Philip K. Dick than anything like king of the monsters. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, you won’t see anything like it, and still manage to mix in some great monster sequences amidst its convoluted science and philosophy.
While mech shows have a reputation for being a little more nerdy, even to anime fans, gurren lagann is one of the most accessible of the group. Set in the distant future where humanity has been driven underground, our story follows a group of freedom fighters who use a mecha suit called the Gurren to fight against an oppressive regime.
What follows is the wildest, craziest series audiences can imagine, filled with expressive animations and stellar fight scenes. However, the real treat is that it never forgets the story and the characters behind it, and in the end, you’ll be crying alongside them.
kill her kill her
At first, kill her kill her doesn’t feel like a sci-fi series, but its real thing is that not only is it one, but it’s a great one to boot. Set in an alternate history where the Nazis have won World War II, the show follows a girl named Ryuko Matoi on the hunt for her father’s killer.
To say more would be to say too much, but suffice it to say that since kill her kill her is made by the madmen of Trigger and the same creators as gurren lagann that he is subtly off the rails. The action sequences are breathtaking and the real story goes in an unexpected and emotional direction that explores the ramifications of a fascist society and gender norms.
“Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans”
Whereas Gundam had many entries, Iron-Blooded Orphans is an excellent stand-alone starter that requires no prior knowledge to enjoy. Set 300 years after the “Calamity War”, Mars has been terraformed and is populated by humanity. Treated like second-class citizens, a group of young soldiers form their own security company and rebel against the government that betrayed them.
Dealing with heavy subjects such as terrorism and child soldiers, Iron-Blooded Orphans is part of by Gundam darkest entries and one of his best. Mari Okadathe writing is sublime, and Tatsuyuki Nagai skilfully directs. At 50 episodes, it gives you a ton of meat to chew, thanks to its intricate character writing and great storytelling.
‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’
The mecha to put an end to all the mechas, Neon Genesis Evangelion, is set in a world ravaged by beings known as Angels and follows young teenage pilots tasked with defending them. The defining work of the 90s in terms of anime and perhaps animation as a whole, evangelization is undoubtedly the magnum opus of Anno Hideakiwhose battle with depression influenced the making of the series.
From its simple beginning to its surreal and gruesome ending, evangelization is much more than just a mecha series. It’s also a deconstruction of the anime genre as a whole, tearing apart its mythos while telling a deeply personal story that reflects Anno’s views on life back then. Anime very rarely gets more punchy and bare bones than this.
‘Tiger and Rabbit’
Whereas my hero academia took the anime world by storm, another superhero show managed to slip through the cracks a few years earlier. tiger and rabbit presents a future where heroes are corporatized and monetized – brands put their names on heroes as if nothing had happened, and two heroes are forced to work together as part of an ad campaign.
What follows is a hilarious and satirical look at capitalism through the eyes of superhero stories while being a fun blast from an era in its own right. It nails the feeling of being a superhero and keeps it as realistic as possible while never dumbing down the ridiculous Golden Age vibes the show plays around with.
Whereas Ultraman has been running as a series since the late 60s, each series stands on its own, and its first significant anime adaptation is the same way. Although it works as a legacy sequel to the original Ultraman Starting in 1966, this new series is accessible to new fans as it follows an all-new Ultraman and his battles against aliens invading Earth.
Featuring state-of-the-art CG animation courtesy of a co-production between Sola Digital Arts and Production IG, Ultraman is one of the best CG anime on the market right now thanks to exploiting the quirks of the tokusatsu genre. Plus, it’s a great entry point for those unfamiliar with the genre and a great showcase of what it has to offer.
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