[Anime Culture Monday] What Goes Into a Sci-Fi Anime? [Definition, Meaning]

Sci-Fi anime, a lot like space anime, takes a look at our own realities, just… enhanced. If you have ever wanted to fly, there’s an anime for that. If you have ever wanted to be a space pirate, space police officer, or a space bounty hunter, there are anime for that. Maybe you want to watch the world around you crumble as a futuristic dystopia is brought to its knees, there is an anime for that. Sci-fi is about taking what is fictional in our reality, and applying science to something that, for the most part with anime, seems like something that could be plausible. However, it’s hard to say what sci-fi anime is a great place to start. So we decided that we would recommend four essential anime for those who are new to anime or just not sure where to start. Let’s go!

It’s not Rocket Science… or Is it?

Sci-fi anime are almost always set into the future. Why? Because that way, whatever is being presented in the story seems more plausible. In fact, it’s not even the story that needs to be plausible, but all the facets of it. Supercomputers, AI tanks, cyborgs, enhanced weapons that borrow from satellites and more are just some things that could be a part of our futures and yet we do not know. Heck, in 30 years, it could be humans who are cared for by robots and not other humans. One thing is for sure though, regardless of all the enhancements and advances that both technology and humanity will make, there will always be criminals. It’s just a matter of who is the actual criminal here.

Koukaku Kidoutai Stand Alone Complex (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex)

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: Oct 2002 - Oct 2003

Set just a few decades into the future, humanity has more or less merged with robots and technology to the point that it’s getting harder and harder to tell who is human and who is robot. Not to mention, too, humanity can go online without even doing anything besides diving from the comfort of their own chair or bed. This means though, that criminals also take advantage of this situation. This includes hacking, cyber terrorism, or even hacking someone via remote to kill someone else. In order to handle the extra difficult cases, a team is assembled of mercenaires and called Section 9. Led by one of the most mysterious and dangerous of them all, Major Motoko Kusanagi and her superior Daisuke Aramaki work around the clock to ensure the safety of Japan from all sorts of assailants. However, when a super class A hacker who calls themself The Laughing Man starts a spree of crimes, Section 9 begins to dive deeper and deeper into a very dangerous web.

The great thing about Ghost in the Shell, or GITS, is that this sci-fi anime honestly seems like something that could happen in the future. Rather than flying through the sky in our cars or teleportation, technology has advanced more for humans individually than as a whole. Cyber brains are now a thing making internet access available to everyone. Tachikoma start out as obedient robots, only to gain some sort of self-awareness in their programming to learn more about the world around them. Criminals have also evolved like we mentioned previously and tracking some individuals down can be an incredibly difficult task. Not to mention too, it’s entirely possible to transfer your consciousness to another body as shown multiple times within the series. For a sci-fi anime that is as deep as it is well-written, dive on into the GITS series. You won’t regret it.


  • Episodes: 22
  • Aired: Oct 2012 - Mar 2013

The face of justice and the concept of right and wrong has evolved beyond human decision, set far into the future, Psycho-Pass tells the story of a Japan who was tired of making decisions for themselves, so what they did was design a supercomputer system known as the Sibyl System to monitor the entire population. This is done through cameras being everywhere. Working under them is the new version of the police known as inspectors. They are joined by enforcers. The Sibyl System measures the latent criminality of an individual known as one’s Psycho-Pass. If it goes beyond a threshold, the weapons that they carry can shoot going from something as simple as stun to vaporization. When Akane Tsunemori joins on though, she starts to wonder, thanks to her enforcer Shinya Kougami, just how accurate and just the Sibyl System actually is…

Psycho-Pass is another excellent crime drama that takes a look at a Japan that was simply too lazy to govern and rule itself. They made a system and then let that system take over running the ins and outs of daily life so that the people themselves could go on. A dystopian world is something that sci-fi anything loves to tackle and Psycho-Pass is no different. With weapons that can evolve in an instant, there is supposedly no room for human error. It’s just that by sacrificing freedoms in a world that is completely different from what we expect, certain limitations are placed making humanity itself and what makes us human significantly more difficult to define.

Psycho-Pass Trailer:

Nothing Better Than a Destroyed World!

Something that sci-fi anime loves, and we pointed it out earlier, is a dystopian world. The reason that characters end up in this dystopia that masquerades as a utopia is because humans have destroyed Earth to the point that it is no longer inhabitable. Thus, we flee to space, other planets, under the surface of the Earth, or sometimes inside special towns where we do not go out of. Time passes, and humans forget about the outside and end up clinging to the new society to give them structure and order. This is our fatal flaw because when we forget our pasts, we also forget how we got ourselves into this mess thus the collapse of society again is inevitable. Either way, with Earth being laid to waste, it’s only a matter of time before yet again, we as a race are brought to our knees.

Ergo Proxy

  • Episodes: 23
  • Aired: Feb 2006 - Aug 2006

Romdo is a domed city where humans coexist with their servants known as AutoReivs. One cannot go outside because we are told that stepping outside would mean certain death. So, humanity goes along reproducing inside this dome and practicing being a functioning society. Re-l is the granddaughter of the ruler of Romdo meaning that she has a lot more freedom than someone who is an inspector should. However something happens one night and Re-l is attacked at home, but somehow left unharmed? She begins investigating while also being dispatched to look into something known as the Cogito Virus. The Cogito Virus, which comes from the “cogito ergo sum” phrase, causes the AutoReivs to stop listening to their humans. At the same time, an immigrant comes to Romdo and is trying to fit in. His name is Vincent, but it seems everywhere he goes, problems and troubles abound. There’s also something called a Proxy and by the time that Re-l catches wind about them, it’s already too late.

Here, a lot like with Psycho-Pass, we have a world where everything seems to be utopian with robots helping people, technology and medicine at the finest it has ever been. But, as soon as someone decides to take a look under the surface, it’s clear that there are many, many problems plaguing society. Re-l’s journey is similar as as soon as she steps out of Romdo, there is a stark contrast to what she is being shown. Pino is another example of sci-fi elements as she has been infected by the cogito virus and thus is self-aware. Not to mention too, cars just seem to glide around and there are those unique ships like the one that Re-l and company travel over the surface of the world on.

Ergo Proxy Trailer:

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed this look at Sci-fi anime. Please keep in mind that this is a starting place, not something where we are declaring that these are the endalls of sci-fi anime. There are other great shows to be discovered after this one like Parasyte, Steins;Gate, Cowboy Bebop, Accel World, Texhnolyze, Sidonia no Kishi, planetes and more. If you have something positive to contribute or have another show that you think newbies to anime need to check out for a sci-fi anime, then be sure to leave a comment down below. Thanks so much for reading this introductory article. Till next time!

ergo-proxy-wallpaper [Anime Culture Monday] What Goes Into a Sci-Fi Anime? [Definition, Meaning]


Author: Nagareboshi

American by birth; international by choice. I am trying to bring attention to one of my favorite causes; me. I translate by day and write by night. Aspiring polyglot. My dream would be to be the personal translator for Amuro Namie. Other than that, my hobbies include languages, weightlifting, sleeping, karaoke, GOOD coffee and music. When I’m not doing any of the above, I am most likely laughing hysterically at Willam Belli videos or EV farming. I ain’t gunna Rupologize for it neither. Waifu are Shirai Kuroko & Euaerin.

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