Science fiction anime are often out of this world when it comes to ideas. They have some of the best world-building in anime despite recycling some tried and tested sci-fi tropes like spaceships, mechs, and plots more twisted than octopus wirings. In fact, some of the best anime (those that create trends and legacies Hollywood directors go crazy for) are often set in a sci-fi universe.

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For that matter, there is no shortage of sci-fi anime. After all, the limit goes beyond the sky when it comes to science fiction and anything is possible as long as the story and characters are compelling. They can also be perfect for bringing a novice into the anime wonderland. Here are the 10 perfect sci-fi anime you shouldn't miss; some are old space operas, while others are more recent space oddities.

Updated on March 16, 2020 by Sid Natividad: As usual, more and more sci-fi anime have flooded the market ever since this article was first published in 2019. Hence, we just help but add more to this list-- some of the newest and freshest titles that you surely cannot miss. In addition to the classics and certified heavyweights listed below, these are our recommendations for the sci-fi anime you cannot miss in your lifetime.

15 THE PROMISED NEVERLAND

One of the latest titles on this list, The Promised Neverland is a chilling post-apocalyptic adventure featuring orphans who were being raised as livestock for literal bloodthirsty demons/monsters. The first season of the anime is a brutal and unapologetic mind game that will surely stress you out and keep your brain cells active.

Being produced by Crunchyroll, The Promised Neverland also has sky-high production values and animations that convey the horror on the characters' faces as they discovered and adapt to hopeless situations each episode. At the moment, it only has one season but the second is expected to arrive this year.

14 DR. STONE

Speaking of post-apocalypse, Dr. Stone is another anime that does that genre well and combines it with real-world science quite well. It centers around the compelling journey of Senku Ishigami, a boy genius and science prodigy as he awakens to an Earth where everyone has been turned into stone.

Now, it's up to Senku and his newfound (or newly resurrected friends) to rebuild millions of years of human progress with nothing but his stock knowledge of science as well as trial and error. You'll find plenty to like in this unique shonen anime where the protagonist is more brains than brawn and more pragmatic than idealist.

13 PARASYTE: THE MAXIM

You've probably heard of this one already. Parasyte: The Maxim is an odd and disturbing anime centered around aliens that burrow into the brains of their humans and turn them into living weapons. It's basically Venom but with more body horror and less edginess. The protagonist of the anime, Shinichi Izumi, gets reluctantly bonded with one of the aliens.

Both of them reached a mutual agreement that they need each other to survive though Shinichi does try to wrestle with the alien's murderous thoughts quite often. Turns out his parasite wasn't that competent and failed to take over his brain. Now it's up to Shinichi to defend other humans from similar parasites.

12 MADE IN ABYSS

Don't be fooled by the childish art style and the cute characters, Made in Abyss is a dark underworld romp that competes well with The Promised Neverland when it comes to the foreboding sense of dread. As the title says, this grim anime is all about the Abyss. It's a deep and dark chasm where only the toughest explorers and spelunkers dare to venture.

It just so happens that something piqued the curiosity of the anime's protagonist (Riko). It was a sentient robot named Reg and Riko was sure that whatever or whoever made Reg could only be found in the depths of the Abyss. Oh, and Reg is also an amnesiac, meaning both of them have to recover his memories somewhere down the Abyss.

11 SPACE BROTHERS

Now for something more feel-good, we recommend Space Brothers. It's a nice change of scenery from all the darkness and the monsters in the previous sci-fi anime entries. Space Brothers centers around, as you might have guessed, two brothers who swore to each other back in their childhood that they would become astronauts.

Fast forward to adulthood, reality happens and their paths in life diverged. However, the dream is still intact and both of them very much wanted to be astronauts still. Hence, the anime follows their journey as they try to fulfill their childhood dreams in a combination of comedy, slice-of-life, and sci-fi in one heartwarming seinen mix.

10 EUREKA SEVEN

A lot of things initially don't make sense in Eureka Seven. However, that's a pretty standard beginning to most anime. There's an ongoing war between renegades and a militaristic regime, a girl with special abilities, mechs with hoverboards, and a mouthy boy named Renton Thurston whom the story usually revolves around with.

Oh, it also takes place in the year 12,005, approximately 10,000 years before humanity was forced to move somewhere else due to a weird sentient creature which merged with Earth. Beneath all the absurdity and odd exposition, Eureka Seven is a beautiful and operatic spectacle with great music that usually unfolds during its mech battles.

9 CODE GEASS

For some who have outgrown the angsty and melodramatic teenage protagonist stereotype, the two seasons of Code Geass can be outlandish. Still, back when it was first released, it was among the top anime for its target age group. Code Geass was essentially Death Note but with sci-fi and a dozen other themes and ideas (including that of Gundams) crammed into what teenagers can consider a masterpiece. The anime took place in an alternate reality where Britain never stopped invading everything and eventually owned the whole world.

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The main protagonist, Lelouch, is British royalty in hiding who was chosen (of course) as a vessel for the weird power called "Geass." It has different effects depending on an individual's desires or character. For Lelouch, it was the power to hypnotize or control someone. This led to him essentially becoming a masked superhero and leader of the Japanese rebellion against Britannia's tyranny.

8 GUNDAM SEED

Being one of the most successful mech toy franchises, Mobile Suit Gundam had to be in this list. There's a lot of shows about them, but Gundam SEED stands out as one of best Mobile Suit Gundam anime, which also comes with decent animation for today's standards. You can bet it has no shortage of lasers, space wars, and teen drama.

This time around, the star of the Mobile Suit Gundam anime is Kira Yamato. He's not a human, though, but rather part of a genetically-modified super-human race called "coordinators." As you can imagine, he's good at anything he does, and that includes piloting the signature Strike Gundam. He's also an important figurehead and as a neutralizer in the war caused by the divide between the natural humans and coordinators.

7 STEINS;GATE

Originally a video game, Steins;Gate was adapted into an anime TV series in 2011. It has no mechs, visitations to other planets, or space battles, but it deals with sci-fi's most convoluted idea ever: time travel. So, if you fancy the kind of plot where anything is possible but also impossible at the same time, then go ahead with Steins;Gate.

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Oddly enough, the events and the plot that happen in Steins;Gate are all due to self-proclaimed "mad scientist" Rintaro Okabe. He managed to invent a time machine out of a microwave oven. A confusing chain of events soon follow and Okabe had to undo a lot of the damage he caused just to bring back the woman he loved.

6 PSYCHO-PASS

If you loved Minority Report, then there's no reason you shouldn't check out Psycho-Pass. It's essentially an anime Minority Report but involves a less futuristic society in Japan. Still, that doesn't make it any less sci-fi; it's actually categorized as cyberpunk, which pretty much falls in the sci-fi category.

Its resemblance to Minority Report lies in the same system of society that the plot revolves around: a calculated assessment that can predict crimes and criminals before they happen. This makes the job of law-enforcement personnel a bit easier. They are called Enforcers here and two of them, Shinya Kogami and Akane Tsunemori, have their work cut out for them in this anime.

5 TRIGUN

Trigun is one of the oldest sci-fi anime here and is an irreplaceable classic. Why it doesn't rank much higher on this list is due to the fact that it isn't sci-fi exclusively. Moreover, it's actually quite hard to categorize Trigun with any genre other than action. It melds together steampunk, spaghetti Western, and sci-fi elements, but it works, and memorably so.

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The anime chronicles the misadventures of Vash the Stampede, a fugitive and "outlaw" with a six billion double dollar bounty on his head for the destruction of the city of July. The problem is, Vash doesn't even remember what he did due to retrograde amnesia. Too bad that doesn't stop bounty hunters from pursuing him even though he's really a kind person who helps people.

4 TENGEN TOPPA GURREN LAGANN

Gurren Lagann puts most Shonen anime to shame. After watching something as heroic, energetic, and inspiring as this, you'd have a hard time feeling anything else from any other Shonen anime. It's only 27 episodes long, but that's enough for this sci-fi post-apocalypse anime to last you a lifetime of good memories and motivating quotes that you'll find yourself repeating after watching it.

It follows the story of Simon, a simple boy living underground with all the others after a beastmen race defeated the humans and forced them to hide. By chance, Simon happened upon an old mech, which became his ticket out of his underground home and into the wasteland. He eventually has to save this wasteland along with his brother and any survivors they find along the way.

3 NEON GENESIS EVANGELION

Fun fact: Neon Genesis Evangelion was created by the same people who also created Gurren Lagann. However, it actually came before and is an insane puzzle of a plot and story. A race of giant beings whom the humans called "Angels" awakened on Earth and began causing all sorts of mayhem. The only line of defense against them are bio-machine mechs called Evangelion that can only be piloted by temperamental or unstable teenagers. Lovely.

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The protagonist is the iconically imperfect Shinji Ikari. His father cares little for him and he's a troubled teenager, which somehow makes him the perfect candidate for an Evangelion. It's hard to actually pinpoint what makes Neon Genesis Evangelion so good. For the most part, it's usually the deep and interesting characters that carry the story. Also, the ending will usually leave you traumatized or perplexed. Pick one... or both.

2 GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX

Hollywood owes a lot to Ghost in the Shell. It was the anime which inspired the Wachowski brothers to create The Matrix, one of the best action and sci-fi films of all time. Of course, its prime inspiration, the Ghost in the Shell anime films, is also no slouch and has become an international sensation. It was one of the strongest cyberpunk (and for that matter, sci-fi) titles in media.

Thankfully, it also comes in anime series form, specifically Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. As usual, it follows the exploits of the android protagonist, Major Motoko Kusanagi, which takes her mission to mission against hackers, cybercriminals, and other androids with an overarching sinister plot eventually unfolding.

1 COWBOY BEBOP

The hit 1999 anime Cowboy Bebop is so popular that it has become synonymous with sci-fi anime. Suffice to say, it's probably the flag-bearer of such an anime sub-genre. Throughout the years, numerous sci-fi anime have attempted to take the crown, but Cowboy Bebop remains king. Like Trigun, it also combines many genres but in a much smoother way, as if the world of Cowboy Bebop was lived in and vastly diverse.

The premise is pretty simple: it's about a rag-tag group of hungry bounty hunters trying to get by. Each episode has a self-contained story of its own told in the perspectives of the four main characters of the anime (five if you count the dog, Ein). Cowboy Bebop has everything: memorable characters, animation that's better than most anime today, and a great narrative. Not many anime have been able to come close in terms of quality. Not to mention that jazz music; the very first time you hear it, you'll surely be sold.

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