Let’s take you back to a simpler time. You run home after a long day at school eager to watch one of your favorite shows. With a snack in hand and maybe an action figure you tune in to Toonami to watch another epic, animated and episodic space opera, filled to the brim with action and weighty ideas that you pretended to understand.
When discussing the genre of science fiction people tend to gravitate to the Blade Runners, the Star Wars franchise, and perhaps even the Alien Movies, while shows like Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, and The 100 are fan favorites.
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However, most people tend to completely overlook the science fiction animated shows coming out of Japan. While some might write these shows off as childish or limited because they are animated, we can assure you that they are not.
Usually based off of Manga (comics) some sci-fi anime is almost cinematic in nature filled with beautiful scenery, over the top action sequences and even very nuanced approaches to both Eastern and Western philosophy.
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If this is your first time or if you are simply looking for a new series during the summer months, here are 11 science fiction anime that you should definitely watch this summer.
Now first on the list is Trigun. The show itself is a space western, centered around the main character Vash the Stampede, a quirky outlaw who has a $30 trillion bounty on his head. Though the premise seems simple, this older anime has a plot line that will equally have you laughing, crying and engage all throughout its journey in this futuristic desolate world.
Trigun beautifully explores the ethics of nonviolence and how hard it is to practice compassionate ethics in a very violent and cold world. Only 26 episodes, Trigun is a fan favorite and is considered one of the greatest anime across many genres.
Cowboy Bebop is one of the coolest animes that you can watch period. The show follows the episodic adventures of an easy-going bounty hunter and his partners as they venture from planet to planet. The show itself is packed with great cinema references and has a soundtrack that will stay with you for a while.
Like many of the shows on this list, Cowboy Bebop is packed with some heavy messages. Yet these philosophical ideas are not thrown in your face and are done with such nuance you may not even notice as you journey through each action scene, drama-filled moment, meditative scene, and comedic interaction.
Now they're a lot of Gundam Series, yet Gundam Wing has a special place in a lot of hearts of a lot of millennials today. If you appreciate great action and admire mechanized robots, you should definitely give this show a chance.
Mobile Suit Gundam takes place in a not too distant future where a tyrannical regime rules over the countless space colonies with an iron fist. The only hope for the colonies is five elite soldiers and their legendary weapons called Gundam.
Each episode is well written and filled to the brim with great action sequences. You should definitely add this one to your list.
Probably one of the most quirky sci-fi anime on this list, Space Dandy is both weird and endearing. The clueless protagonist travels around in a spaceship with a fastidious robot and sentient ferret-like alien for companions. The show is filled with great comical adventures and is great if you are looking for something light-hearted.
Psycho-Pass is an anime that could drive an entire philosophy and ethics course. The main characters very literally insult each other by occasionally quoting famous philosophical works. The premise of the anime is a little familiar taking place in a world where technology tells you if you are going to commit a crime or not.
Technology reads the psychology of your brain and gives you a pass… or not. The anime show is a great detective series that seems not too far off from our future. The show itself explores free will very well.
Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell is one of those films that is constantly referenced throughout the film, even getting a remake recently. Now the remake was horrible. Yet, the Ghost in the Shell animated story is a masterpiece exploring what it means to be human in a world of ever-increasing human-machine hybridization.
Though some the philosophy can slow down the plot, it does greatly serve it, opening the doors to great storytelling, character development, and of course action sequences.
Outlaw Star is another great show that merges the ideas of a space opera and space western effortlessly. The show itself embodies a lot of the themes and ideas that people like in the shows mentioned above like Cowboy Bebop and Trigun.
The anime takes places during the "Toward Stars Era", a time period where space crafts can travel faster than the speed of light. The story follows Gene Starwind and his motley crew as they journey to find the legendary treasure the Galactic Leyline. This anime blends awesome action sequences with great character development. Think of it as pirates in space.
The Cyborg 009 anime follows nine regular humans who are kidnapped and experimented on, resulting in their transformation into powerful cyborgs with the eventual aim to dominate robot warfare. The team eventually band together to fight against the organization that kidnapped them with hopes of preventing a massive world war.
This anime is a great exploration of how robots could be used to augment humans, something the researchers are starting to explore even now.
Space Pirates? Quirky Romance? Tenchi Muyo follows a hapless boy who finds himself in a love triangle with women from outer space. The story evolves as Tenchi fights off unwanted girls and equally battles galactic threats.
The Big O
What would happen if Batman piloted a giant robot? This is basically the premise and selling point of Big O. The stylish anime takes place in a time where no one remembers anything from the past 40 years ago because of a tragic event. While Roger Smith looks for answers from his past he is met with resistance, eventually triggering some very memorable battles.
Sword Art Online
Sword Art Online is a sci-fi anime that is very relevant to today’s evolving gaming landscape taking place in a world driven by VR. Technology throws you into the VR video game where you everything relatively normal, aside from the fact you basically cannot escape the MMORPG world until you fight your way through the various environments against constant threats and other players.