A regular sci-fi movie fan may not like an animated sci-fi movie because sci-fi anime shows, in general, tend to be a lot more serious and thought-provoking than the others.
This is mainly because most of them explore possibilities and limits of certain ideas such as exploring outer space, newer forms of technology and fictional phenomena such as time travel.
As a result, exploring these mature themes and combining them with well-developed characters, an emotional impact, and a well-balanced story have resulted in some of the most popular anime films of all time.
However, whether you’re a new fan of anime or have been watching animation films for a long time, chances are you’re already familiar with the defining titles of the sci-fi genre: Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Bebop et all.
Keeping that in mind, we have chosen the Top 5 anime sci-fi movies.
It’s 2026, 11 years after the development of immersive “cyber-glasses” that have turned the internet into an augmented reality of sorts, Yuuko Okonogi and her family have just moved into Daikoku City, the technological center behind the creation of a new “virtual world”.
It is here that she meets Yuuko Amasawa, an expert hacker of the new virtual environment that has developed and is chasing a big mystery.
While not as philosophically deep or as intense as Ghost in the Shell, Dennou Coil is meticulously planned with its slow build-up of the world and the characters that live in it.
Directed by Mitsuo Iso, who worked on animation for another sci-fi giant, Neo Genesis Evangelion.
On the overall, Dennou Coil is futuristic enough to bring something new, but at the same time is grounded enough to the point where it seems as if the technology is within our reach, something that makes the show seem that much more real.
Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain nails the darker and more ominous tone of sci-fi anime. Lain Iwakura is a 14 year old girl who doesn’t really use technology and yet somehow ends up being taken to a strange virtual world known as the Wired.
As events begin to go out of Lain’s control, the line between reality and virtual becomes more blurred and the very meaning of consciousness starts to be called into question.
There are a lot of difficult ideas to comprehend when regarding this series but Serial Experiments Lain is the anime to watch if you’re into the type of sci-fi anime that makes you think a lot both during and after it is over.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes
A rather different take on the “space exploration” category of sci-fi, this film stands out in terms of the epic struggle between two opposing sides in what seems like a never ending war.
However, with the war being set in outer space, an extra dimension is added that can’t be achieved compared to a war being fought on Earth as the setting itself is used in multiple ways to better convey the moods of various characters and their personal struggles.
It also helps to explore the ramifications of warfare in general and the difficult decisions Yang Wen-Li and Reinhard von Lohengramm have to make. Another great sci-fi setting for a show focused on other subjects.
Cowboy Bebop defined the popularity of the anime space western genre and Trigun and Outlaw Star continued its success in their own ways. However, in recent years. the creator of Cowboy Bebop is back with Space Dandy, the brand new iteration in the space western genre.
There’s definitely more of a sci-fi element in terms of the various aliens and worlds Dandy and his crew encounter as opposed to just the various outlaws Spike, Jet, Faye, and Ed met.
Be that as it may, if you loved Cowboy Bebop for its exploration and badass cast of characters and want to watch something very similar but with more aliens and alien tech, then it doesn’t get much better than Space Dandy.
Undoubtedly, one of the most popular sci-fi anime film to have recently been released and for good reason. Time travel is a tricky concept to approach, but it doesn’t get more sci-fi than your main character considering himself a mad scientist only to accidentally create a device that can actually achieve time travel.
Not to mention the fact that both the positive and negative outcomes of time travel are explored in depth while at the same time helping to further develop the core cast of characters.
Finally, in the end, while Steins;Gate has become very popular in the sci-fi genre, it’s certainly for good reason and is worth watching if you’re a fan of the genre.