Sci-fi is a pretty common genre for anime to explore. Listing them all would take hours and the creation of a rather decent-sized novella. To save you all the agony of reading me drone on for an eternity, I’ll just give you a list of what I think are the 5 science fiction anime you should watch before you kick the bucket. And believe me, these ones are good.
Sci-Fi Anime #5. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
At 5th on our list, we have Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.
Ghost in the Shell is a cyberpunk sci-fi anime franchise created by Masamune Shirow that began with the original Ghost in the Shell anime film back in 1995. The SAC series though, takes place in a different continuity than the film, and is regarded as its own separate universe. The Ghost in the Shell: SAC series began in 2002, and lasted for 2 seasons that spanned 52 episodes. 2 OVS were made that summed up each of the seasons, with slightly more content added. It was then followed up by a TV-film sequel called Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society in 2006.
SAC takes place in a world where cybernetics and robotics have gone haywire, but mostly in the fictional Japanese city of Niihama circa 2030. The story centers around the men and women of Public Security Section 9: a special operations task force made up of former military and police officers. Led by one Major Motoko Kusanagi, their job is to investigate various crimes that happen in the city, no matter how horrible they are and who commits them. This includes members of their own government, which in true cyberpunk fashion, lands them in very hot water when they eventually stumble upon a corruption case of epic proportions. Cue internal fighting and a near-civil war as Section 9 disturbs the water in a storm of gunfire and glittering brass.
As if that’s not enough, there’s a mysterious hacker going around plastering his logo in the oddest of places. Imbedded in this logo is an odd message. For those of you who don’t want to get a headache reading spiraling text, it reads: “I thought what I’d do was I’d pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes”. What does it mean? Well, you’re just going to have to watch and find out.
Plus, SAC has one of the best openings of any anime in existence. It perfectly captures the anime’s themes and genre, while also having a pretty catchy song to boot. The song is “Inner Universe” by the late Origa, in case you’re interested.
Is good cyberpunk your thing? Then look no further than Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and forget that there was ever a live-action adaptation in the first place.
Sci-Fi Anime #4: Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
At 4th on our list, we have Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is a mecha/military sci-fi (and near-space opera, in my opinion) anime that launched back in 1995. It’s part of the Gundam franchise, which is basically all about great military sci-fi stories amidst giant robots fighting each other. It went on for 49 episodes before ending in 1996. However, a 3-part OVA was released in 1997 called Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz that continued the story, and gave a more satisfying conclusion, in my opinion.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing takes place in a distant future where mankind has extensively colonized the Solar System. Clusters of enormous space stations orbit Earth at each of the 5 Earth-Moon Lagrange points, and a new calendar era is even used in-story to mark this called After Colony (AC for short).
Unfortunately, as fantastic as this setting is, not all is well in this new universe. In this future, the nations of Earth have banded together into a gigantic military alliance United Earth Sphere Alliance. This might sound like a good thing, but unfortunately, the purpose of this alliance is to oppress the space colonies and suppress any resistance from them. This includes actually blowing up rebellious colonies, and the thousands to hundreds of thousands of innocent lives in them. To top it all off, the one colonial leader who wanted a peaceful independence for the colonies (Martin Luther King Jr.-style) was shot dead by an assassin.
Understandably, the colonies are pissed about this. Very, very, very pissed. So pissed that their response is to train 5 young men as soldiers, build 5 giant war machines for them to pilot, and then send them to Earth disguised as meteors to start a guerilla war with the UESA. Well, when peace stops working, it’s time to bring out the swords. Or giant mecha. Whichever works.
And all this is set to “Just Communication” by the J-pop duo Two-Mix. Maybe it’s just the nostalgia talking, but the music really fits the themes of war that pop up in the opening.
Any interest in military sci-fi? Want to see the desire for vengeance clash with the need for peace? Or do you just want to see giant robots fighting other giant robots? Then head over to Crunchyroll and catch Mobile Suit Gundam Wing for the first time, or just to relive your childhood memories of watching it on Toonami.
(Numbers 3 and 2 contained on following page….)