What are the best sci-fi anime movies & series?
Sci-fi is widespread in anime, and there is no shortage of incredible anime series and movies that fit into this genre.
However, some sci-fi animes stand out from the others due to memorable characters, superb writing, animation style, or a combination of the three.
If you’re looking for a great science fiction anime to watch, here are some of the best of the best that you should definitely add to your watchlist.
The Best Sci-Fi Anime Movies & Series
Our ranked lists are created by researching and rounding up information from the most reputable web sources.
Here’s our list of the 10 best sci-fi anime movies and series:
Telling the story of the fourth Holy Grail War, which takes the shape of a magical tournament to the death, this anime is incredibly popular, and for good reason.
With seven mages and their resurrected souls of legendary heroes that act as opponents, each must fight on behalf of their masters to secure victory and the Holy Grail.
Combining sci-fi with fantasy, Fate/Zero was praised by anime fans and critics alike for its animation, story, and soundtrack.
24. Time of Eve
This movie is absolutely beautiful, and if you haven’t seen it, but are a fan of Detroit Become Human, you’ll definitely want to check it out.
In this anime world, androids were created to be used as tools and are thus seen and treated as second-class citizens at best.
However, at Time of Eve, a cafe, humans, and androids are treated equally, making it a safe haven for the artificially created who are becoming self-aware.
Originally a six-episode anime, the film was released roughly seven months after the end of the series, and it proved to be so popular that an international Blue-ray was funded by fans via a Kickstarter campaign that ended up earning over 1000% of its target goal.
23. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, this film was originally released back in 1984 and it has stood the test of time as one of the best animes in the sci-fi genre.
With nearly all life on the planet destroyed, the remaining humans live fighting against an ever-encroaching jungle filled with poisonous plants and giant insects that is spreading across the planet.
Only one place, the Valley of the Wind, is exempt from this due to its placement by the sea.
However, despite being saved from the jungle, this peaceful kingdom isn’t immune to the crisis, and an invading military bent on driving the Earth further into cataclysm has set their sights on the Valley with only the charismatic princess to stop them.
22. Sword Art Online
In a world where virtual reality has evolved to be completely immersive, the MMORPG Sword Art Online has taken the gaming community by storm.
Allowing players to control their avatars with their thoughts using “NerveGear”, it’s easier than ever to become completely invested in the virtual world.
However, when the first shipment of the game was released, 10,000 players log on and quickly discover that they are unable to log off until they complete all 100 levels.
While being trapped in your favorite video game may not sound bad if you’re playing something like Stardew Valley, when you’re playing a battle game where death means dying in real life, things aren’t so fun anymore.
Sword Art Online is a fantastic sci-fi anime, and it even features one of the best purple-haired anime girls, Konno Yuuki, who is just an incredible character.
21. Castle in the Sky
The first film produced by Studio Ghibli, Castle in the Sky is set in the late 19th century and it follows the journey of a young boy and girl as they try to keep a powerful crystal out of the wrong hands.
This movie has everything an anime fan could want. Floating cities in a remarkably well-fleshed out world, an incredible art style, endearing characters, and a beautiful soundtrack.
When it was released, it was met with wholly positive reviews, and even now it influences the steampunk and sci-fi genres, making it one of the most impactful films and a gem of Japanese animation.
20. Full Metal Panic!
Based on the first three manga novels, Full Metal Panic! explores the life of Sousuke Sagara, a sergeant who works for Mithril, an organization that dedicates itself to destroying terrorism across the globe.
After being assigned to protect Kaname Chidori, a Whispered candidate and one of the best blue-haired anime girls, his biggest challenge becomes blending in with her high school class and protecting his true identity.
Having lived his whole life as an agent for Mithril, this is easier said than done, and between blending in and keeping Kaname safe from unforeseen threats, Sousuke finds himself struggling to maintain balance.
Full Metal Panic! is beloved by sci-fi anime fans, and since its initial release, it has been remastered and received numerous spin-offs.
19. Deadman Wonderland
If you’re in the mood for a sci-fi anime with a horror spin, Deadman Wonderland is a must-watch.
Starting off with a field trip gone wrong, Ganta Igarashi witnesses his entire class murdered after heading to the amusement park Deadman Wonderland, where convicts perform dangerous stunts for the audience’s amusement.
After being framed for the killings, Ganta is sent to the very prison that supplies acts to Deadman Wonderland and has to do his best to survive the deadly games and other sadistic inmates.
If you’re a fan of the insanely popular Squid Game, this anime is definitely something you need to watch.
18. Gantz: 0
Gantz: 0 proves that anime in CGI can be both gorgeous and engaging.
Set in a world where after death you can live again, but only if you beat an RPG-like game, Masaru Katou learns the hard way that fighting your way back from the brink of death is incredibly literal.
Tasked with eliminating aliens in the center of Osaka, Masaru needs to learn how to work with his companions, face his fears, and survive so that he can return to the land of the living and to his younger brother.
This action-packed anime is simply incredible, and the main protagonist is both compelling and relatable. While the premise may sound far out, it’s easy to follow along and get caught up in the well-written story.
17. Elfen Lied
Elfen Lied is the type of sci-fi anime that you’re going to want to have tissues handy for because it definitely can get sad at times.
Following the life of Lucy, a human born with a small pair of horns and invisible telekinetic hands, who undergoes terrible inhumane experiments at the hands of the government.
One a mutant with the personality of a normal girl, Lucy is broken by the barbarous experiments, leaving her unstable and with a split personality.
While the sci-fi element of this anime is present, the overarching highlight is on the characters themselves and it acts as a commentary on how, sometimes, humans are the real monsters and not some fang-toothed beast.
16. Darker than Black
This anime has an incredibly unique premise which helps to set it apart from all the rest on this list.
Set in a world where two portals, Heaven’s Gate in South America and Hell’s Gate in Japan, have wreaked havoc on the world and released individuals called Contractors who have traded their humanity for special abilities.
In post-apocalyptic Tokyo, Hei –an infamous Contractor — and his companions from the Syndicate organization work to uncover the mysteries of Hell’s Gate and a plot that endangers the Contractor’s existence.
This sci-fi anime is a must-watch for those who want a great dark story filled with conflicted characters.
15. Ergo Proxy
When it comes to cyberpunk dystopias, Ergo Proxy is one of the best.
Set in another post-apocalyptic world where androids and humans coexist peacefully until a virus makes the androids self-aware driving them to commit a series of murders against humans.
If you want an anime with a straightforward story, then this may not be for you, as the series delves heavily into Gnosticism and philosophy, forcing viewers to think critically about everything that is going on.
While some people think this makes the show pretentious, for fans of the series it only makes it more engrossing and entertaining.
14. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Fans of mecha series love Gurren-Lagann, and once you watch it, it isn’t hard to understand why.
Focusing on a battle between the remnants of humanity who have been forced into underground villages and the beastmen who now rule the surface, this show has a little bit of something for everyone.
The characters are also amazingly engaging, and Yoko is someone that anyone in the market for a red-headed waifu will love.
13. Code Geass
Featuring one of the best green-haired anime girls, C.C., Code Geass is possibly one of the most popular sci-fi anime series of all time.
Set in an alternate reality, this show follows an exiled prince who receives the power of absolute obedience from the mysterious C.C.
Using this power, he attempts to topple the Holy Britannian empire via mecha battles.
This science-fiction anime is a must-watch for fans of the genre, and between the anime, manga, audio CDs, and novels, you’ll have plenty of content to dive into once you get hooked.
12. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
The sixth installment in the Gundam franchise, this anime focuses on a war in the distant future where Earth is battling its orbital colonies.
Although it was released in 1995, the animation is amazing, and the space battles hold up to even the newest animes in terms of grandeur and scale.
The cast of characters and their mechs will also keep you on the edge of your seat, and you’ll have a hard time turning away from this series once you turn it on.
Another old-school anime that is still getting great reviews today, Trigun is a classic and it combines sci-fi elements with gunslinging brilliantly.
This anime follows Vash, a villain also known as the humanoid typhoon, as he traverses the wasteland planet of Gunsmoke with a huge bounty on his head.
The only problem is that Vash is the furthest thing from a villain as possible and, instead, is actually a giant softie who tries to avoid violence whenever he can.
While adventuring around the planet, Vash and his friends encounter numerous life-or-death situations, and he is forced to face his own agonizing past and test the limits of his morality.
Chock full of interesting characters and an outstanding storyline, Trigun is a classic that you have to watch at least once.
10. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Time travel is a staple in science fiction, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time explores what happens when an average high school girl finds out she can travel through time.
However, as fans of sci-fi know, messing with time travel always has consequences, and while playing with her newfound powers, Makoto Konno learns this lesson the hard way, and things quickly become much more complicated.
Not only is this anime gorgeous, but the story is rich and the characters feel incredibly relatable and real. This movie is definitely worth watching if you have an hour and a half to kick back, relax, and enjoy it.
This anime is perfect if you want a sci-fi series with a disturbing twist.
Based on the award-winning manga, this story starts off with a parasitic alien species coming to Earth and taking over host bodies by burrowing into the brains of their victims.
However, 16-year-old Shinichi Izumi ends up with a parasitic alien in his right hand after it fails to take over his brain.
The parasite, named Migi, has no choice but to rely on Shinichi for survival and the unlikely pair end up forced to work together and defend themselves from other parasites who want to eradicate them.
The parasites in this anime are so unsettling, but once you start watching, you just can’t look away.
Akira is a legendary anime movie, and anyone who loves Japanese animation should watch it.
Created in 1988, this film follows a young boy with psychic powers who rips his way through Tokyo and kickstarts the beginning of World War III.
To stop him from destroying anything else, he is imprisoned forever. However, a new psychic emerges in the future, leading to a desperate manhunt.
The main characters of this story are the driving force, but the visuals leave little to be desired. Despite being released over 30 years ago, Akira still holds up as one of the most influential animes of all time.
7. Mobile Suit Gundam
Another shonen anime with giant robots, this series is set in a futuristic world where war between the Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation is at the forefront.
With battles featuring giant robots in outer space, engaging characters, and a distinctive storyline, this series is one that you need to watch for yourself to experience the full impact of the show that revolutionized mecha anime.
6. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Yet another mech series, Neon Genesis Evangelion, is a must-watch for sci-fi fans looking for a great story with a brutal plot.
Taking place years after a cataclysmic event, monstrous beings called “Angels” begin to invade Tokyo, threatening human existence.
To combat this threat, humanity turns to a mysterious organization called NERV and their giant humanoid robots called Evangelions.
Along with the great plot, this series also features wonderful characters, including Asuka, who is by far the best long-haired anime girl ever.
5. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Forget the failed Paramount movie, and stick with the original anime, which is leagues better than whatever Hollywood was trying to do.
Ghost in the Shell is set in the near future where robotic augmentations are common, which leads to increased physical prowess in humans.
Unfortunately, criminals are making the most of this technology and using to carry out their nefarious deeds.
However, these criminals are left unchallenged, and members of Public Security Section 9 are tasked with taking them down.
If you enjoy the police cat and mouse games shown off in Death Note, then Ghost in the Shell is something you should definitely check out.
Another series that tackles time travel, Steins;Gate, follows mad scientist Okabe, as he develops futuristic gadgets with his fellow lab members.
However, things quickly become strange when the team discovers a phone they’ve created can send emails back in time to alter history.
Needless to say, things get complicated, as messing with time never turns out the way you hope.
Psycho-Pass is a beautiful anime and it’s brilliant in its simplicity.
Taking place in a world where a machine can immediately determine whether or not someone is guilty or if they have criminal intent, the very concept of justice gets turned on its head.
With inspectors who uphold the law with lethal force, the main character, Akane Tsunemori, is left to question what justice is, and whether or not the current system of corruption can truly uphold it.
Despite having a simple premise, Psycho-Pass is truly one of the best sci-fi anime series available.
2. Outlaw Star
This anime tells the story of Gene Starwind, a young man who always dreamed of flying his own ship out to the stars.
However, not all dreams pan out the way they are planned, and Gene finds out the hard way when he accepts a job from a treasure-hunting outlaw.
Suddenly tasked with protecting a mysterious girl, Gene is sent into the unknown aboard the Outlaw Star and into a galaxy full of pirates, bounty hunters, mages, and catgirls. (One of these things is not like the other.)
If you’re a fan of space adventures, this anime deserves to be added right at the top of your watch list.
1. Cowboy Bebop
Many of you may have seen this coming, but we had to give the top spot to this amazing anime.
Cowboy Bebop, with its unique animation style, captivating characters, story, and toe-tapping jazz music, is by far the best anime in the sci-fi genre.
Following the crew of the Bebop in a world where humanity has colonized many planets in the solar system, this show is incredibly balanced between comedy anime and action.
Carefree and laid-back, Spike Spiegel is perfectly complemented by the pragmatic and boisterous Jet Black, and watching them chase bounties across space is incredibly entertaining.
The antics of Edward, one of the best red-haired anime girls, is also a highlight, and her eccentric personality has endeared her to fans across the globe.
If you haven’t given in and watched this anime yet, now is the time to get caught up!
There is no shortage of incredible sci-fi anime movies and series, but these 25 are ones that all fans of Japanese animation need to watch at least once.
Standing out from the rest with their stories, animation, and characters, these movies and shows are truly titans of the genre and deserve all the love they can get.
Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best sci-fi anime movies and series:
- Cowboy Bebop
- Outlaw Star
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Mobile Suit Gundam
- The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
- Code Geass
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
- Ergo Proxy
- Darker than Black
- Elfen Lied
- Gantz: 0
- Deadman Wonderland
- Full Metal Panic!
- Castle in the Sky
- Sword Art Online
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
- Time of Eve
If you enjoyed this article, check out some of our other anime lists:
- The 25 Best Bearded Anime Characters
- The 25 Best Bald Anime Characters
- The 25 Strongest Anime Characters
- The 25 Best Naruto Characters
- The 25 Best One Punch Man Characters
- The 25 Best Dragon Ball Z Characters
What’s your favorite sci-fi anime? Leave a comment below.
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