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For the 2019 edition to this list, we wish to once again explore 10 selected titles in regards to what the future holds. Arthur C. Clarke once said that science fiction paves way for science fact, and this has been intriguingly true for the past century. If you read Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, which was published a century before man landed on the moon (or for you conspiracy nuts, Area 51), you’d be surprised what the original novel got right in regards to the science (ok, so anime isn’t exactly famous for applying accurate use of science). Anime, on the other hand, has been capable of demonstrating the same power of predictions. So, what are some futuristic anime we can share this time and how they can pave way for the future? Read our new top 10 to find out!
- Episodes: 1 (feature film)
- Aired: July 16, 1988
Yes, we are kicking off this list with a classic, Akira. We feel we need to include an older title to emphasize why this list is important. Akira takes place in 2019 and it originally premiered towards the end of the eighties. Thankfully, World War III didn’t happen, but when you watch it now, it’s very surprising to see how it still relates to Japan now. For starters, Tokyo is getting the Olympics in 2020 like in the movie! But it goes beyond predicting the Olympics. In Akira, we see a fully militarized Japan and in recent years, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (despite the name, it’s a right-leaning party) and present Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have been pushing to militarize Japan and even consider abolishing Article 9 of their constitution, which denounces war and prevents them from officially having a military!
On paper, Japan doesn’t officially have a military, but what they presently have is something you can call a National Guard, or the Japanese Self Defense Forces. In Akira, we see what an officially militarized Japan could do to the nation, as it brings back an old Imperial Japan mentality. Many domestic and international critics of the LDP’s plans to militarize feel that’s exactly what it could lead to, and start a new war when you take into account present tensions with its neighboring Asian nations, who are still upset at Japan over World War II.
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: October 12, 2012 – March 22, 2013
As we shared in previous articles in relation to Psycho-Pass, it can be called The Minority Report of anime. Instead of using psychics that can (almost) accurately predict a crime before it happens, what if the system in place is an AI that scans brain waves and depending on your emotions, it could predict that you have the intentions of committing a crime. Depending on the algorithm it could deem you dangerous and the police could be sent to execute you on the spot! OK, that’s a little extreme, but are you aware of China’s “social credit” system?
It is pretty much another pinko commie scheme of control in order to get people to obey! If for example, you don’t have enough social credit, then you are banned from traveling, staying at hotels, enrolling in certain schools, and get a slow internet connection! If you don’t comply with the so-called norm, then you’re subjected to such punishments. Of course, we want society to be safe and be kind to one another, but does it have to take a government program with severe punishments to get there? That’s not a free society, but one controlled by fear. Considering how many nations owe money to the Chinese, who’s to say that they won’t take advantage of that and implement it there?
8. Space Dandy
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: January 5, 2014 – March 27, 2014
We understand this is merely a comedy, spoof, and homage to older space opera anime, but Space Dandy does offer some unique insight to where our future could be headed. NASA, JAXA, SpaceX, and other universities and research facilities are investing so much into space research now more than ever, and there is still so much that we don’t know. There may come to a point that mankind has to migrate to space and we could come in contact with other lifeforms. Just like how Earth has its baddies and how you can collect bounties on them like Dog the Bounty Hunter, that’s what our titular Space Dandy does as well. Maybe one day, we may have to implement such a system.
Not only does it explore outer space, but it explores alternate realities as well. In recent years, some scientists have shared that the possibility of alternate universes in addition to our own can exist. So, is there an alternate universe like Space Dandy or any other anime out there? While it may seem ridiculous now, who’s to say in a few centuries or millenniums for now that we find a portal or gateway to such a place? What would our alternate selves be like? Could there be a version of us as Space Dandy in one universe, or as Dr. Gel, his arch-nemesis, in another? With the way the theory of the multiverse is now, that could be possible!
7. Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans (Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans)
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: October 4, 2015 – April 2, 2017
In the next coming decade, SpaceX and its CEO, Elon Musk, wish to colonize Mars. However, if Mars is going to have some kind of presence for mankind’s future, we can learn something from Iron-Blooded Orphans, where Mars has numerous economic sanctions to the point that its children (with most of them being orphans needing to provide for themselves and their younger siblings) are forgoing an education to find employment as child soldiers for private security companies. When Elon Musk does get to Mars, where will it find itself politically and economically? If humanity’s presence on Mars does not find itself sanctioning itself independently or relying on Earth’s nations for economic prosperity, it could find itself in a world of trouble for its children.
In addition to aiming for Mars, Elon Musk has also announced that he wants to make mechs, or giant robots. Will his mechs be for military use? Or for building his Mars colonies? Or for making tunnels? Will they come with flamethrowers? With the way things are going now, Mars’ future in relation to humans and the Earth need to be taken into consideration as to how it can and must advance.
6. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- Episodes: 49+
- Aired: April 7, 2013 - Ongoing
OK, we know what some of you are thinking: Is Attack on Titan really a futuristic anime? As you watch the anime, there are some clues to suggest that it could be, but when you take into account some recent events, it does justify the ambiguity. Since the rise of Donald Trump’s political career, his plans to build a wall along the US/Mexico border (and have Mexico pay for it? But spoilers, in a way, the Titans did pay for the wall) have been a great source of controversy to the point it shut down the government for a record period of time. Though Trump and his supporters aren’t exactly wanting to build the wall out of fear of Titans, but when you see this anime, you get an idea of what the walls truly represent and you can apply that to what a wall in real life could do.
If Trump does pursue building a wall, it could cause more harm than good to those near it, and have them exposed to the dangers of what is going on around that area (as it is seen with the people who live in the most outer section of the walls). Naturally, we don’t want to give a one sided view of the issue. We can agree that a wall could keep the nation safe (when you take into account how some of the border towns are legitimately dangerous) as it did for the people of Attack on Titan for over a century. But eventually, all walls are going to crumble whether it would take a day or a century. As the series progresses, you also see what incompetent leadership can do to the nation and it could serve as a warning for those that continue to follow such people.
5. Megalo Box
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 6, 2018 – June 29, 2018
While Psycho-Pass shows what too much government control can do, through Megalo Box, we see how a world controlled by corporations could potentially go. Those with money can live the city life as recognized citizens, but for those with no money, they live on the desert outskirts where they have no claims to not just citizenship, or the benefits that come with them. We see this with Junk Dog, who later takes the name Joe, to represent the everyday person after seeing it on a billboard. Due to Joe’s present situation, everyone keeps telling him he can’t get anywhere and that he needs to stay in his place. However, after taking abuse from both “the man” and even his own coach, he takes matters into his own hands to prove his own worth to the system and to himself.
So, if you thought a lack of government oversight was bad, just imagine what happens to boxing when you don’t have a state run commission . As it turns out, the corporate sponsored Megalonia boxing tournament has no weight classes, no age limits, no other medical requirements, and 3-minute rounds until the last man standing. Plus, contestants wear augmented gear to enhance their performance, so we’re guessing there’s no drug testing either. The only requirement to enter is that you have ID, which Joe doesn’t have but he gets it through illegal means. Through this anime, it shows that if self-interest corporations run things, then people of different classes will be severely segregated. However, it still shows if you work hard and make sacrifices, you can still make it no matter what your background is and it’s on you to make that change for yourself and society.
4. Koukaku Kidoutai: Stand Alone Complex (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 1, 2002 – October 1, 2003
Without a doubt, when it comes to futuristic anime, Ghost in the Shell is a necessary inclusion. Though we previously covered ARISE, we felt it was best to include its first TV adaptation, Stand Alone Complex. As to how it relates to the future (and the present), you see how technology is abused by the government and how ordinary people can be consumed by it, which is a contemporary topic now more than ever since we are connected to the net 24/7 thanks to cell phones and tablets. What makes it distinctive is to how it parallels with modern day issues, some before they became significant, and they could be a bigger issue in the not too distant future. For the first season, it largely covers The Laughing Man case, which took inspiration from a 1984 kidnapping/extortion case involving Katsuhisa Ezaki, the president of Glico, the confectionary company known for making Pocky. As to how The Laughing Man relates to the future and real life, it paved way for how someone who was trying to help the people of a nation expose government (and corporate) corruption, but ends up as the villain due to their manipulation.
Sometime after the broadcasting of Stand Alone Complex, Wikileaks and Edward Snowden exposed corruption within the US government and they both became enemies of the state. However, considering that they were trying to share information with the American people as to what the government was, does that really make them a bad guy? They leaked that info for the American people, and not to an enemy of the state. Of course, it all comes back to manipulation of information/facts by those in power. In the end, The Laughing Man was really a good guy and his true motivations are a very excellent indicator of many realistic issues in regards to modern technology, lobbying, corporate/government corruption, and so on to the point that it qualifies as its own article.
3. Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2202: Ai no Senshi-tachi (Space Battleship Yamato 2202: Warriors of Love)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: February 25, 2017 – March 1, 2019
Donald Trump’s idea for a wall is one thing, but what about his idea for a Space Force? If so, such military might is portrayed in Space Battleship Yamato 2202, the re-make to season 2 of the original series. In maybe less than 200 years, we may encounter life on other planets. Some will be friendly, and there are others that will be hostile, and we may have to agree with The Donald that a Space Force is going to be necessary in such an instance. As a matter of fact, even astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson agrees with the idea!
Tyson happened to previously share that the US kind of already has a Space Force with the United States Space Command, which is presently under the authority of the US Air Force. Just like how the Air Force branched off from the Army Air Corps after World War II, there may be a time when the United States Space Command may require to be recognized as its own separate branch as space exploration (slowly) expands in the coming centuries thanks to the efforts of SpaceX and NASA. But if there is an intergalactic threat, the next question is, how do we make space battleships? Just like how the Yamato is a sunken WWII ship retrofitted for space travel, will Trump’s Space Force use old Navy ships and subs as spaceships as well? And will there be another life form benevolent enough to share us their technology?
2. Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 6, 2006 – July 29, 2007
What if the Britannia Empire (which we are to assume was based on the old British Empire?) never lost the US War of Independence? This is what Code Geass partially explores as we see an alternate future of what would happen if that Empire never dissolved. So, we got mechs, bizarre powers of the eye called geass, and other super power nations (like the European Union and The Chinese Federation), but eventually, all empires crumble either by their own flaws or rebellions of its oppressed, which is what Code Geass portrays. Ironically, Lelouch, an exiled prince of the Britannia Empire, assumes the moniker of Zero, who uses his natural tactical genius to lead the Japanese into a rebellion. Beyond all of its crazy future tech, what it ultimately teaches us is what it means to have quality leadership.
As the series progresses, Lelouch makes some serious sacrifices as to how he can make his plan work 100%. In a way, with how the ending to the second season is executed, you can somehow reasonably equate it to the crucification of Jesus. He was willing to carry the weight of man’s sins and sacrifice himself for them. This anime shows that in the future, we as a race, can one day unite if we are willing to make sacrifices and take responsibility for our sins. Perhaps it’s going to take the example of just one man, or a savior, who is willing to sacrifice himself for the good of all, and it could happen if we’re still going to fight one another for senseless reasons.
1. Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Die Neue These -Kaikou (Legend of the Galactic Heroes: The New Thesis – Encounter)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 3, 2018 – June 26, 2018
Like Code Geass, Legend of the Galactic Heroes does explore old school imperialism but in a very different sense. Through this series, you see how mankind is still at war over differing philosophies, but explores it in a very different way. Though both history and pop culture as a whole have portrayed empires as evil, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is willing to play devil’s advocate. As you watch this series, you do see that democracy is ideal, but it is imperfect if and when we elect the wrong people, but as long as we keep having elections, the change we seek can come. But in an empire ruled by an undisputed leader, with the proper leader who genuinely cares for the people, that change and progress for the lower class can come at a faster pace as opposed to going through checks and balances.
No matter how far we advance into space or with technology, this anime masterfully shows human nature may never change in relation to conflict and search for power. It does a great job of balancing as to how both a monarchy/dictatorship and democracy can be used for good and bad. Will humans be out of control to the point that we need one guy to keep everything in check? For all we know, that guy could be the second coming of Jesus. Or, will we always need to use a system of representatives elected by the people for the people? Either way, people are taking big chances with both systems and that abuse of power will always be there. The ultimate question is, do you want a dictator that actually helps the people (and allows free speech such as people protesting against him without the fear of being executed)? Or an elected government by the people who end up abusing their power? There is no definitive good or evil in this series but it all depends on not just the what in terms of leadership, but ultimately, The Who.
Though any works of art that depicts the future may not be an accurate prediction, if there’s one thing that solidifies them, they are certainly a product and a critique of the original time periods they were created in. Some are about corporate greed, a failing education system, present day addictions and the present state of society as a whole. What we listed for this edition can be related to what is going on now and if we don’t make any changes soon, it’s probable we may end up where some of these anime are now. The original Ghost in the Shell and Akira movies may have related to society upon their debuts, but when you look at where we are now, it’s quite amazing to see what they portrayed has now come to life. Maybe we’re not cybernetic or using children for psychic soldiers, but as Akira predicted, Tokyo is getting the Olympics in 2020, and as Ghost in the Shell predicted, humans have a unique connection to technology more than ever. In addition to what we listed, what are some futuristic anime that you recommend? Please leave a comment!
Tomorrow, what will you be? This question has spurred the imagination of mankind for eons, with each writer taking his predictions of the future and twisting them to serve his own purposes. Will there be flying cars in the next twenty years? Will there be a World War 3 in the next fifty? Will man finally understand what women are thinking?
None of these are easy questions and each one of them brings up an interesting concept for a future where tanks are flying over a city in the old world, bombarding it with round after round of anti-mater ballistics. We imagine that the robots we’ve built will one day control our very existence. Whenever we think of the future, we don’t always picture the best outcome.
The future is not always a wasteland of our mistakes, sometimes the future holds vast achievements that we, as mankind, have wrought through hard work and understanding, shining cities, flying through space to orbit a new star hundreds of light-years away. On that world, we will have our first encounter with an alien life form, other than our mother-in-law, where we will start to grow an intergalactic alliance of human and nekojin.
In this anime list, I will explore where no man has gone before… wait, I can’t say that. I will look at ten futuristic anime. However, I will not include anime where mecha robots rule, ie no gundam. In this list, not all of the anime will be new anime and I’ll try to grab several from each different possible future. These anime will not be the usual top ten best list that you are use to, but something more deep that I hope you can enjoy.
10. Cowboy Bebop
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 1998 – April 1999
About a hundred years in the future, mankind has colonized the rest of our solar system and much further. Starship captains can use hyperspace shortcuts to get from Earth to most of the new colonies. Cowboy Bebop follows the life of Spike Spiegel an outlaw, a cowboy and an ex-yakuza as he tries to make a living on the starship owned by his buddy Jet Black. Jet was once a cop when he was injured on the job, losing the usage of his left arm in the shootout. Jet had since replaced it with a robotic arm and it is almost like his real one.
As Spike and Jet travel through space capturing criminals, they start to gather a small following of hanger-on’s in the form of a data dog, a bad luck woman and a mad hacker, which causes Spike to lose it a little when he realizes what has happened.
Cowboy Bebop is an older anime, but it has survived the test of time and has become a true icon of what any anime should be. The future that Cowboy Bebop shows us is how with courage we can still achieve greatness.
9. Musekinin Kanchou Tylor (The Irresponsible Captain Tylor)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: January 1993 – July 1993
Well, you’re done with school and can’t find a job, so what do you do? Well, Justy Ueki Tylor, age 20, decides to join the United Planets Space Force after seeing an advertisement one night. He plans to enjoy an easy life where all of his meals are free, where you uniform and daily necessities are all free. There is nothing to worry about, right? What about a war? Well it’s an easy way to rise up through the ranks and become an important man, high up in the military. Well, through odd happenstance, Tylor is thrust into a war and within months of him joining the United Planet Space Force, he becomes the captain of the starship Soyokaze.
The Irresponsible Captain Tylor shows us another way that mankind has spread his wings and expanded the human race. It shows us a new way of traveling, the hyperspace jump. The anime also shows us how one man, no matter who he is, can change the path of the future with what he believes.
8. Seihou Bukyou Outlaw Star (Outlaw Star)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: January 1998 – June 1998
Space is a dangerous place and no one knows this better than those who have lost loved one to its cold embrace and Gene Starwind is one such person. When he was young, an arm ship attacked the ship that his father was piloting, destroying it within seconds. Genes’ father only had time to shove Jin into an escape pod, saving Genes’ life. Years later, Gene has grown up and is running an odd job company with his friend Jim Hawkins. When they are called out on a job, Gene is thrust back into space on a job that could cost him his life or maybe just his sanity.
The future is not all about spaceships and star travel. Outlaw Star shows us a darker side of outer space and how robots can alter one’s life.
7. Sidonia no Kishi (Knights of Sidonia)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2014 – June 2014
The bell rings and it’s time for History class. Today your teacher is teaching the class a little bit of ancient history, something that has happened a thousand years ago, something that you already know because it’s the reason that you and your family live in Sidonia, a seed ship from earth. A thousand years ago an alien race, called the Gauna, destroyed our solar system causing mankind to scatter among the stars in hope of survival. Sometimes, the Gauna come back and attack. Those times are scary and you shake in the shelters. Luckily the Knights of Sidonia ride out in their Gardes each time the Gauna attack.
What most people don’t realize is that the world has come to the edge of destruction many times before now. Most people know that the dinosaurs were whipped out by a meteorite striking the earth 65 million years ago, but what they don’t realize is that has happened a couple more times in the past, with the biggest one being the size of a planet smashing into our own and creating the moon. Luckily the only creatures on earth were the fire elementals, who thrive in those situations. The idea of a Seed Ship is a common concept with Science Fiction media, with it being one of the best ways to insure that our species live on when we are gone and turned to dust.
6. Eureka Seven
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: April 2005 – April 2006
It is always said that one should never meet their heroes, because the real person is so much different from the stories told about him. When young Renton finally meets the heroes that he has read about in the Ray=Out magazine, he soon learns that they are not simplistic rifters surfing the trapar, as he once thought. They are a highly trained mercenary group that he ends up joining and almost bringing the world to an end. At least life is no longer boring.
Each day we develop new technology to help our daily lives. The humans of Eureka Seven managed to tap into an aether plane and using that power to give their machines the power of flight. Not like our everyday flights across country, these machines can be a simple wave board and people can surf the aether.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2014 – September 2014
The future is not tomorrow, the future is now. Mars has been colonized and has succeeded from the Earth. Those who moved to Mars are now calling themselves Martians and attacked the Earth fifteen years ago. We have gained a state of tranquility, but that tranquility was shattered when Princess Asseylum is assassinated when she came to Earth for peace talks. Now the second Mars/Earth war has begun and Earth doesn’t look like it will win.
The future is now with mankind looking to send manned missions to Mars within the next 20 years. I missed man walking on the Moon, but I am glad I’ll be around to witness this amazing feat. With each leap man takes into the stars, we are taking another step into the future that we’ve all seen and read about in many different futuristic anime and novels.
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 1998 – September 1998
The desert is a harsh place to live, not a place where mankind can really thrive. A desert planet is not a good candidate for a seed ship convoy carrying the last remaining humans from the planet Earth to settle on. Yet, somehow the ships turned towards the planet and started to crash some time ago. Years later, humans are not only alive but are making a good life on the new home of mankind. Towns that were built near the wrecks of this seed ships were able to connect to the plants and use the energy that they provide to make life even better. Life is good for some, but for others, it’s a hard life.
Trigun is another staple for anime. The future it shows is a dystopia where we are not living out perfect lives, but we are living each day one day at a time trying to make it to another day. The plants that they use for power are biologically engineered plants that live off of the sun and water, like any other typical plant. Scientists today are working on incorporating the genes that deep sea animals use for illumination into plants… Almost like an alternative to streetlights I guess.
3. Eve no Jikan (Time of Eve)
- Episodes: 6 ONA
- Aired: August 2008 – 2009
You know that cute girl you ran into at the coffee shop the other day? Well, I hate to break it to you, but she is an android; no, not the phone that your friend has, but an android that looks, sounds and acts like any other human most of the time. Does that scare you? Do you think it’s not natural that androids can have a life of their own without listening to your every order? Humans created androids and we should be able to have them do anything we want them to do.
People have been thinking along these lines for generations. It hasn’t always been about androids and technology. In our history, we have put both women and people of other races on a level less than we are, making them less than humans. With the advent of robots, this kind of discrimination would only grow. Time of Eve shows us the darker side of mankind and how we feel superior to anything we create and how we will discriminate against anything that makes us scared. How we will hate the things we don’t understand and how we will cause others to hurt and bleed to fulfill our own selfish narcissism.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2008 – July 2008
Memories are fleeting, always being replaced with new ones and you are always forgetting where you left your keys. What would you do if those memories could be stored and you could call upon a specific one to relive a happier time, or buy a memory of a trip to Africa, where the person went on a wild safari? It would be safe, wouldn’t it?
In a world where memories are traded, bartered and sold, who would you become? Would you lose your self-of-sense and start wondering the world endlessly trying to remember? Kaiba wakes up one day with a hole in his chest and not a memory in his head. The only thing that gives Kaiba a clue about his past is a simple medallion with a picture of an unknown lady. Now he has to travel the galaxy on a hunt for who he is.
Today scientists are working on deep brain stimulation (DBS), a method to recall memories that were once lost. DBS has a good chance to help those with Alzheimer disease and similar ailments that affect ones’ mind. The technology is promising, but as you can see in Kaiba, it can take a turn for the worse and become a nightmare instead of a miracle.
1. Koukaku Kidoutai: Arise (Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Alternative Architecture)
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: April 2015 – June 2015
It wasn’t that long ago when we couldn’t help those who have been in an accident and paralyzed for the rest of their lives. We had to stick them in chairs and push them around. Luckily we know we can put the human brain into a cybernetic body and the person can have a new full life. With our technology now, kids no longer have to spend their entire lives in bed from a simple birth defect.
Robotics has helped the evolution of mankind, nothing bad can happen. Unless, someone who has a new robotic body commits a crime that normal people can’t solve. Not to worry too much, we have Section 9 that deals with most of the big cases.
With the evolution of technology, crime will also evolve to include the new technology. You don’t see gangsters running around with knives and nightsticks anymore, they have guns, and the real dangerous ones might have explosives. One part of the future that we can predict is that humans will do anything they can to mess it up.
Governments will also go to the full extent to help stem the bleeding and make better police departments that are capable of dealing with the problems that new technology brings. This is something that the Ghost in the Shell franchise has shown us time and time.
The future is never predictable; we make guesses on what might happen and what won’t happen. Scientists predict that within 20 years, we will reach a tipping point with artificial intelligence and how we deal with it might show us a future we don’t want. Out of the ten different futures listed above, which future would you like to live in and why? For myself, I would love to live in the world of Ghost in the Shell. It would allow me to expand my knowledge of the world by slipping off my skin and diving into the World Wide Web, drifting through the aether, gathering bits of facts that have been covered up and pulling together truths that have evaded mankind for generations.