Recommendations: Sci-Fi (11)

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[Description]: Heavily characterized by their futuristic settings, technological advancements, and scientific terminology, science fiction shows attempt to portray often drastically different yet conceivably imaginable worlds. These shows are often very dialogue heavy and full of immersive, scientific concepts and jargon. Space, planets, robotics, and machines are all common subjects of the genre and the forward-facing perspectives of these shows often lead them to be very imaginative and philosophical. Links to spoiler-free reviews of all of the shows that have them are included.

11. Neon Genesis Evangelion

Episode Count: 26 Episodes (24-minutes each)

Studio and Year: Gainax, Tatsunoko Production; 1995 – 1996

Details: One of the most famous anime of all time and an important staple in the history of the medium, Evangelion revolves around Shinji Ikari and the pilotable mech, Evangelion Unit-01. In the world of the show, humanity has been pushed to the brink of annihilation and live in a subterranean dome. Humanity’s only remaining hope of combating the Angels that besiege them are the Evengelion units and their pilots. Shinji’s average life is disrupted when he is forced into becoming a pilot and shouldering the fate of the world with his actions. There is a reason why Evangelion is so heavily discussed and analyzed even today and that is because it is absolutely ripe with symbolism and narrative intricacies. Psychological, highly interpretative, and often exceedingly strange – Evangelion is something you just have to witness to fully appreciate. I recommend End of Evangelion as an accompaniment.

Recommendation: Tentative

10. Eureka Seven

Episode Count: 50 Episodes (24-minutes each)

Studio and Year: Bones; 2005 – 2006

Details: Eureka Seven focuses on Renton Thurston who lived a boring, uneventful life until a robot mech called the Nirvash type ZERO and its pilot Eureka crashed through the roof of his house. Upon learning that Eureka is a member of Gekkostate, a group of renegades whom he idolizes, he opts to follow through on his dreams and join them. This all marks the beginning of an epic, coming-of-age, action adventure which heavily focuses upon Renton and Eureka’s characterization and how they grow and shape one another. It’s the show’s grand narrative and its emphasis on character development which makes it so worthwhile but it’s also well-animated and supported by a very iconic soundtrack.

Recommendation: Tentative

9. Toaru Kagaku no Railgun

Alternative Title: A Certain Scientific Railgun

Episode Count: 48 Episodes; 2 Seasons (24-minutes each)

Studio and Year: J.C.Staff; 2009 – 2013

Details: A spin-off of the Toaru Majutsu no Index series, Toaru Kagaku no Railgun centers around Misaka Mikoto, one of Academy City’s only ‘Level 5’ espers. She is an Electromaster type esper, capable of controlling electricity and firing off her titular ability – the railgun. The show details Misaka’s daily life with her friends and the various plots and developments they get caught up in. Like the main series, Toaru Kagaku no Railgun features its own exploration of Academy City and its darker underside and it continues to feature and investigate many characters from the main series. I recommend watching the show’s parent story first to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the side stories and interweaving plots of Toaru Kagaku no Railgun.

Recommendation: Tentative

8. Top wo Nerae 2! Diebuster

Alternative Title: Gunbuster 2

Episode Count: 6 Episodes (30-minutes each)

Studio and Year: Gainax; 2004 -2006

Details: Conceptualized as Gainax’s 10th anniversary project, Diebuster encapsulates all the action, lunacy, and spectacle that the studio has come to represent. Diebuster is the story of Nono, a young robot girl, who dreams of one day becoming a space pilot. After an encounter with Lal’C Melk, one of the teenage pilots named Topless who pilot giant mechs called Buster Machines, Nono manages to pursue her dreams by joining her company. Together, Nono and the Topless protect the world from hoards of aggressive space monsters. While Diebuster is an action-packed, over-the-top, chaotic show by itself, some of its best elements stem from how it parallels its prequel show: Gunbuster which I highly recommend watching beforehand. If you’ve liked the animation and themes of other Gainax shows then Diebuster is not one you want to pass up.

Recommendation: Tentative

7. Ergo Proxy

Episode Count: 23 Episodes (25-minutes each)

Studio and Year: Manglobe; 2006

Details: Ergo Proxy is an aesthetically dark, philosophical, adventure through a dystopian world brimming with themes and subtext. The story begins in the domed, utopian city of Romdeau where Re-L Mayer investigates a series of murders committed by AutoReivs under the effects of the sentience-giving Cogito Virus. In her pursuit of information she comes into contact with the newly escaped monster known as Proxy. Along with Vincent Law, an immigrant AutoReiv Control Division employee on the run and framed for his involvement with the Cogito Virus incidents, and a companion AutoReiv by the name of Pino, Re-L begins to unearth the mysteries of Romdeau and the enigmatic creatures known as Proxies as the trio venture towards Vincent’s birthplace of Mosk. Though its narrative requires a little mental legwork to make sense of, the show’s world and ideas are quite compelling. You can read a spoiler-free review: here.

Recommendation: Tentative

6. Toaru Majutsu no Index

Alternative Title: A Certain Magical Index

Episode Count: 48 Episodes (23-minutes each)

Studio and Year: J.C.Staff; 2008 – 2011

Details: When the worlds of magic and technology collide, what results is the action-packed, extremely entertaining show Toaru Majutsu no Index. The show is set in the technologically advanced Academy City where students developing psychic abilities make up most of the populace. The narrative primarily revolves around the supremely unlucky Kamijou Touma, a level-0 esper whose sole ability is to negate other supernatural abilities by touching them with his right hand. When a young girl named Index Librorum Prohibitorum appears on his balcony one day, Touma’s life is endangered by a group of magicians seeking to capture her. What follows is a fantastic blend of science fiction concepts, a fascinating exploration of magic and technology, and fun-filled adventure narrative starring a large cast of incredibly memorable and awesome characters.

Recommendation: Tentative

5. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Episode Count: 52 Episodes; 2 Seasons (25-minutes each)

Studio and Year: Production I.G; 2002 – 2005

Details: In the year 2030 cyborgs as well as the use of prosthetic bodies are common and humanity has become integrated in ways it has never been before. In this technological world, Section 9, a secretive special-ops force, works to solve various crimes. Headed by Chief Aramaki Daisuke and Major Kusanagi Motoko the team investigates a variety of cases as well as the mysterious Laughing Man incident involving a renowned hacker of formidable skill and possible government corruption. The show invests itself in a myriad of different cases throughout and divides the episodes that focus on the Laughing Man incident (Complex) and those that focus on more self-contained stories (Stand Alone). GitS:SAC presents an incredibly interesting investigation into the inventive world design of Ghost in the Shell as well as some very philosophical and compelling individual stories. You can read a spoiler-free review: here.

Recommendation: Strong

4. Steins;Gate

Episode Count: 24 Episodes (24-minutes each)

Studio and Year: White Fox; 2011

Details: Steins;Gate is a sci-fi thriller story that centers around Rintarou Okabe, an eccentric, self-proclaimed mad scientist. Okabe and his friends spend their days inventing bizarre gadgets and tinkering with technology. Chief among these devices is the phone microwave which only mutated bananas into green ooze until a string of occurrences led to their discovery that the microwave could send phone messages to the past. The subsequent narrative details Okabe’s journey through time and alternate worlds and the dramatic implications of his ordeals as well as those of the rest of the cast. Famously slow to get going, Steins;Gate is well-worth worth sticking with and once it picks up its almost sure to hook you with its characters, gripping plot developments, and intriguing sci-fi elements.

RecommendationStrong

3. Psycho-Pass

Episode Count: 33 Episodes; 2 Seasons (25-minutes each)

Studio and Year: Production I.G; 2012 – 2013 / Production I.G, Tatsunoko Production 2014 – 2014

Details: Set in the distant future of 2112, Psycho Pass explores a society without crime, monitored by the ever-present Sybil System which scans each citizen’s mental states and determines their likelihood to commit crimes. The resulting analytical number is called their Psycho-Pass. When one’s crime coefficient exceeds a certain number, the individual is tracked down, apprehended, and killed if necessary by the Public Safety Bureau’s Investigation Division. Inspectors like rookie Tsunemori Akane use handguns called Dominators and a team of latent criminals called Enforcers to enact the Sybil System’s justice and uphold the law. Psycho Pass is a fascinating, highly provocative, and gritty exploration of a captivating future society. It explores philosophical concepts such as liberty and justice and the ramifications a presence like the Sybil System has on civilization.

Recommendation: Strong

2. Dennou Coil

Episode Count: 26 Episodes (25-minutes each)

Studio and Year: Madhouse; 2007

Details: Dennou Coil is about a group of kids who live in a technological city where wearing augmented reality glasses allows their wearers to see and interact with a digital landscape layered over the reality of the city. The story follows Yuukko Okonogi and the friends she makes after moving to the city as they go about their daily lives and explore the various mysteries of this semi-digital world. Dennou Coil is a wonderfully imaginative and charming show about exploring these concepts of augmented reality and the dramatic story revolving around the digital world’s enigmatic ‘corrupted space’. Themes of coming-of-age and friendship make the show very endearing to watch and it is without a doubt one of the most underappreciated anime in the genre.

Recommendation: Must-Watch

1. Shinsekai Yori

Alternative Title: From the New World

Episode Count: 25 Episodes (22-minutes each)

Studio and Year: A-1 Pictures; 2012 – 2013

Details: Shinsekai Yori takes place in a distant future where humans possessing psychic abilities called Cantus live in a quiet, strictly-governed society. In the town of Kamisu 66, 12-year old Watanabe Saki awakens her abilities and enrolls in a school for psychic development along with her friends. Shinsekai Yori is about Saki and her friends’ coming-of-age story as they learn about their own Utopian society and what dark truths the elders have kept hidden from them. This show is an absolute masterpiece of world-building. Perhaps no other show is as thoroughly inventive and insightful when it comes to portraying a foreign world and how humanity shapes its own history and evolves over time. Accompanied by one of the most stunning soundtracks in anime, Shinsekai Yori is an ingenious story full of incredible ideas and developments all throughout.

Recommendation: Must-Watch

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5 thoughts on “Recommendations: Sci-Fi (11)

  1. Ah, hell yeah Dennou Coil better be on this list!

    Neon Genesis Evangelion all the way down at #11? Wow! That’s a bold move. I know it has a penchant for being either a love it or hate it title, but putting what many consider a cult classic that low is pretty astounding. Especially below—

    T-Toaru Majutsu no Index…

    I mean… uh? Did you actually like that show? ‘Cause… wow. I’m a little surprised right now. I went through three or four episodes and immediately labeled it “cliché garbage.” Is there something later on that makes up for the series? Because from what I saw, I almost giggled at its inclusion on this list.

    Railgun, though, is a different story. Hear it’s a lot better, but more on the cusp of slice-of-life than sci-fi adventure.

    Rest of the list plays out as usual. Little surprised Ghost in the Shell isn’t a little higher. Never even HEARD of #8. What’s that all about? Kinda like Gurren Lagann?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d attribute my placement of Eva to thinking that its super important to see as a staple of anime and that it has a ton to read into and think about but that I don’t actually enjoy it that much. Index, next to Kyoukai no Kanata, is probably my other oddest recommendation among all the genres. Depending on when you watched it, it might seem more generic than it actually is because it originally kind of set the standard for what shows of its ilk would be like. Countless light novel adaptations mimic the successes of Index to a worse degree and thus Index in retrospect looks additionally cliche and run of the mill. It certainly has weak elements but the reason I enjoy it as much as I do and why I recommend it is because it does what all those knock-off shows and novels tried to do a good deal better. I think its a lot of good fun and while it’s no critical gem I’d consider it entertaining if nothing else. GitS:SAC is definitely an enjoyable show but I think it spreads itself too thin in how it focuses on so many different ideas. It’s very much in the style of GitS to do so but I would have enjoyed a more unified theme which the show occasionally stabs at. Diebuster in my experience is a lot like TTGL for a number of reasons and because it finished airing right before the latter started up its influence is pretty clear. It’s kind of this loose sequel to Gunbuster which came some 20 years before it. It’s pretty much just distilled Gainax insanity with some endearing themes and parallels aimed at the original work. Pretty fun show.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As one of my favourite genre of anime, I pretty much love everything on this list. It’s heartening to see so many of my favourites listed, especially From the New World – definitely in my top 3.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Stand Alone Complex is great. I actually prefer it over the original movie. Steins;Gate is brill too. Can’t wait for Steins;Gate 0 to come out over here. Speaking of visual novels, I downloaded Psycho-Pass Mandatory Happiness for the PS4 the other day. The reviews have been positive so I have high hopes for it.

    Liked by 1 person

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