Whether it’s for the top-notch fighting scenes or the hilarious comedies they bring, we have our own reasons to love Japanese animations (anime for short). However, one genre that doesn’t stand out as well as others would be the Sci-Fi genre (not to be mistaken as Mecha).
Japanese animations are well-known to show off their creativity, and the Sci-Fi genre is not something they would shy away from — showing the future possibilities of our expansion in science and technology. And sure enough, while they offer many amazing Sci-Fi films, some are still not that well-known amongst international audiences.
(Disclaimer: some words here are referenced from websites such as myanimelist.net and anilist.co.)
#1 Dennou Coil
Set in the near future, the technology for augmented reality has been developed. It utilizes these “Cyberglasses” and the internet to turn the world into a virtual reality with real-world elements. The story then focuses on a girl named Yuko Okonogi who joins her grandmother’s “investigation agency” to investigate strange occurrences within the augmented world (bugs, virus, etc.). In her adventure, she crosses paths with a mysterious girl who is an expert hacker, seeking to unlock a huge mystery in the augmented world.
Why I would recommend this film is because of its realistic (yet eerie) idea on how our augmented reality could take place. The characters’ development is slowly established throughout the series and their interactions are relatable towards the audience. The show also gets an interesting yet darker twist towards the end on top of its emotional ending.
The year is 2075, Journeying between the Earth, the moon and the space stations has become normal in mankind’s daily life. However, the progression of technology in space has also resulted in the problem of excessive space debris. The story focuses on Ai Tanabe and her team at the Technora Corporation dedicated to the removal of dangerous space junks.
Planetes portrays the vastness of space as a backdrop for the personal lives of ordinary people. Each of the main cast is unique as they have their own problems and ambitions. The film also portrays the struggles of countries and people and shows how reality could be harsher than ever as civilization becomes more technologically advanced.
#3 Girls’ Last Tour (Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou)
The thematically dense but desolate cityscape, along with the intimacy of the main duo creates a melancholic wholesome experience.
Welcome to a future where the civilization is dead, but a handful of humans are still alive. The film tells about Chito and Yuuri’s story as they wander around the ruined world that’s once filled with people. Day after day, they look for fuel for their motor vehicle and resources to keep themselves alive. But as long as they have each other, even this bleak existence feels normal to them.
While this film may show the darkest future of our civilisation out of all films listed here, it’s ironically also the most light-hearted one. It excels through simplicity and thoughtfulness. The thematically dense but desolate cityscape, along with the intimacy of the main duo creates a melancholic wholesome experience and makes it one of the best shows of 2017.
#4 Time of Eve (Eve No Jikan)
The film takes place in a time when robots have long been put into practical use, and androids are involved in every aspect of people’s lives. The story starts with Rikuo and his friend Masaki discovering a mysterious café. It displays a house rule that says: “Humans and Robots are to be treated the same.”
If you’re a fan of robots and Isaac Asimov books, then this may be the perfect show for you. Although the film starts with our two main characters, they aren’t the focus throughout the film. Every episode is essentially a short story on people and androids (the latter particularly) and their time in the cafe. While that may sound mundane on the surface, the screenplay reveals each character’s story seamlessly, precisely, and engagingly. Overall, it’s a great film to think about how robots in the future may interact with us.
#5 Space Brothers (Ucchu Kyoudai)
At its core, it’s a series about pursuing dreams, no matter how out of reach they seem.
A story that begins with two siblings with their dreams of becoming astronauts. The younger brother Hibito aims to travel to the moon while Mutta, convinced that as the elder brother he has to be one step ahead, to Mars.
Space Brothers is a simple story, but that doesn’t make it any less impactful. This series is full of heart-warming moments, comedy and a genuine passion for space exploration. At its core, it’s a series about pursuing dreams, no matter how out of reach they seem. Interested in space travel? Looking for a wholesome motivational story with realistic sci-fi setting and characters? Then this is a film you would never want to miss.
Written by Winstor Foo
Cover photo credits: Winstor Foo (from Space Brothers)