If there's one genre of anime that gives nerds—and pop culture fanatics too--both in the east and in the west something to cheer about, it's science fiction. There’s something comforting in the fact that on a global scale there are people who share similar concerns about the fate of the human race and its place in the universe. Here is a list of the best titles that colors a world in shades of gray surprisingly vibrantly.
Score 9.17, MAL Ranking 3 | Aired Spring 2011 | Produced by White Fox
Of all the anime out there that features time-travel merely as a plot-device, Stein's;Gate excels in actually delving into the concept itself. Moreover, with a cast of awesomely written characters, it breaks free of its visual novel roots (save for those few dating episodes), creating a sci-fi anime thriller that makes the seemingly impossible concept of someone traveling through time actually seem like a legitimate possibility. Its realism and emotional heft - not to mention the amazing story - means Stein's; Gate definitely has earned its number one spot on this list.
Score 8.83, MAL Ranking 22 | Aired Spring 1998 | Produced by Produced by Sunrise
With a universe that features a futuristic culture that has achieved interplanetary travel and other planets have been colonized (and Earth is basically considered a backwater has-been), Shinichiro Watanabe’s magnum opus lends itself to some darn good space-exploration and sci-fi adventure.
Score 8.87, MAL Ranking 17 | Aired Fall 2015 | Produced by Madhouse
One Punch Man is an action adventure sci-fi epic about a man who can kill anyone with a single punch—and yet somehow is classified as a low-ranking superhero. How does that work? It's extremely funny, has epic action scenes, and features the most gloriously bald protagonist ever seen in anime.
Score 8.60, MAL Ranking 67 | Aired Fall 2014 | Produced by Madhouse
Brain-eating parasites of unknown origin have started assimilating themselves into the human race by attaching themselves to human hosts. When one parasite fails to take the brain of a high school boy, it is instead forced to consume and take over his hand. Now, with two brains and one body, Shinichi and his parasite companion are pulled into the silent war between parasites and humans.
Score 8.52, MAL Ranking 95 | Aired Fall 2012 | Produced by Production I.G
Psycho-Pass demonstrates the dangers of a rigid, morally righteous system. At first, the possibility of a society controlled by a computer program that can stop crime before it happens sounds nice. But the show’s original writer, Gen Urobuchi, addresses the fact that the concept of society achieving anything like perfection is - and always will be - an illusion.
Score 8.35, MAL Ranking 115 | Aired Fall 2002 | Produced by Production I.G
Following the success of its first feature film, SAC takes the questions it asked about the human condition to new places. By expanding the universe the film created, this sci-fi anime further explores the way cyborg Motoko Kusanagi views the world and her place in it as the squad leader of Public Security Section 9.
Score 7.07, MAL Ranking 3090 | Aired Winter 2011 | Produced by A-1 Pictures and Ordet
In this world, people don't have to work and are able to spend all day on a computer while real-world avatars called "doppels" move about in reality for them. The only catch is people have to trade their free will as human beings to the organization that makes this all possible using something called the "fractale system".
Score 7.59, MAL Ranking 1297 | Aired Winter 2011 | Produced by Studio Pierrot and David Production
Based on a sci-fi comedy manga by Togashi Yoshihiro, this one features on an alien who shows up one day in a high school transfer student's new apartment. While most aliens who come to Earth do their utmost to keep under the radar of humans, Baka flat-out admits to being an extraterrestrial.
Score 7.65, MAL Ranking 1134 | Aired Spring 2012 | Produced by Sunrise
In this gloriously animated virtual world adventure, Haruyuki is given the chance to use an application called “Brain Burst” which accelerates a person’s brain waves to a point where time seems to stop, and is subsequently drawn into a dangerous world where users of Brain Burst fight against each other.
Score 7.65, MAL Ranking 1093 | Aired Fall 2011 | Produced by AIC A.S.T.A.
In a small Japanese town set in the country, a group of high school students encounter this alternate dimension, overrun with dark entities called “Shadows”. In order to combat this threat, physical manifestations of their “true selves” called “Personas” help them in the fight.
Score 7.78, MAL Ranking 887 | Aired Spring 2003 | Produced by Madhouse
This anime invites us into the world of the underground city 'Lux', a moribund metropolis slowly falling into ruin. With this mechanized, seemingly sentient city on the verge of crumbling to ruin, one young man with cybernetic limbs and a clairvoyant young girl just might be the ones to save it.
Score 7.79, MAL Ranking 876 | Aired Fall 2014 | Produced by Toei Animation
In the not-so-distant - or perhaps very distant - future, creatures with advanced technology known as “Neighbors” invade the human dimension. Humanity’s only hope is an organization called Border, a small army wielding advanced, specialized weaponry in order to fight the encroaching threat.
Score 7.79, MAL Ranking 780 | Aired Winter 2014 | Produced by Bones
This is an awesome comedic sci-fi anime, directed by a famous director Shinchiro Watanabe. The Space Dandy, an alien hunter, rockets around space with an A.I. robot vacuum named QT, finding and registering as-yet-unknown species of intergalactic creatures.
Score 7.89, MAL Ranking 699 | Aired Spring 2014 | Produced by Polygon Pictures
In a bleak future where Earth has been destroyed by a monstrous alien species known as "gauna", humanity has been forced to make its last stand on arks called “seed ships”, out in the vast regions of space. Humanity's only defense are the pilots who fly out and fight the beasts in their mechs known as "guardians".
Score 7.95, MAL Ranking 590 | Aired Spring 2003 | Produced by Gonzo
Two vanship pilots on the planet Prester are drawn into the bloody battle between the countries of Anatoray and Disith, and ruling at the center of it all is the corrupt and ennobled "Guild", led by the wicked Maestro Delphine.
Score 7.98, MAL Ranking 545 | Aired Summer 1998 | Produced by Triangle Staff
A young girl named Lain begins to peel back the hidden world of the online Web, and how much it blends with what we consider to be reality. In that sense, the anime asks all kinds of questions: Is God hidden in the Internet? Is Lain God? If not, who is Lain really, if she even exists?
Score 7.99, MAL Ranking 530 | Aired Winter 1998 | Produced by Sunrise
Bounty hunter Gene Starwind and his sidekick - Jim Hawking - embark on an adventure upon the eponymous Outlaw Star, not only seeking the coveted and mysterious “galactic leyline”, but also colliding with a vast variety of characters, alien worlds and races.
Score 8.04, MAL Ranking 472 | Aired Winter 2006 | Produced by Manglobe
Those who survived the decimation of the Earth due to the effects of pollution have enclosed themselves in domes. In one such dome called Romdo, artificially intelligent androids called “autoraves” get infected with something called the “cogito virus”, where they become self-aware. Underneath it all, a strange, god-like being of myth called a “proxy” has awakened, seeking the truth of its own existence in the midst of this broken world.
Score 8.32, MAL Ranking 209 | Aired Spring 1998 | Produced by Madhouse
On the barren planet of Gunsmoke, humanity is trying for a second chance at establishing a place for itself in the cosmos, getting their electrical power from beings called “plants”. One such plant walks and talks freely as though he too were human: he’s Vash the Stampede, as known as the humanoid typhoon, a character with a painful past, seeking to carve out a path for humanity where it can live in peace without the need for violence and bloodshed.
Score 8.39, MAL Ranking 162 | Aired Fall 2003 | Produced by Sunrise
This sci-fi anime takes place in a future where going into space is no longer a novelty, and exists as an everyday thing. Even though it doesn’t delve into any deep, angsty, existential sci-fi tropes à la Blade Runner, it still manages to give a smart, heart-warming, and at times emotional look into the lives of...space garbage men and women.