Certain anime subgenres succeed in engrossing viewers with their compelling stories and appealing future aesthetic. One of these is the cyberpunk subgenre, which offers glimpses into dystopian worlds where technology and society interact in fascinating and frequently uncomfortable ways. The best cyberpunk animestands out among the collection of cyberpunk jewels because it captures the essence of the subgenre in all its complexity, intensity, and brilliance.
Accel World official cover Accel World delves into themes of school life and romance, centering its story on Haruyuki Arita, a top-tier gamer. However, his status is challenged by Kuroyukihime, the student council vice president whose name is linked to "Snow White". She introduces Haruyuki to Brain Burst, a program that accelerates brainwaves.
This acceleration is achieved through battles in an augmented reality fighting game. Triumphing grants more acceleration, while defeat means losing access to Brain Burst. United by their goal to reach level 10 and meet the creator, Kuroyukihime and Haruyuki venture into Brain Burst. Accel World consists of 24 episodes and one season.
Gunslinger Girl official cover
The young Italian women of Gunslinger Girl are rescued from hospitals by the Social Welfare Agency, who then give them robotic bodies. Despite being part machine, these females undergo extensive training to become lethal assassins for the government.
Even so, they're nonetheless capable of experiencing emotions like love and need for care. The plot of the show revolves around the girls' attempts to reconcile their human nature with their enhanced skills. There are a total of 13 episodes between the show's two seasons.
Texhnolize official cover
The city of Lux, featured in Texhnolyze, is an underground utopia with fantastical elements. There are three factions vying for power in this metropolis. Organo is a criminal organization that employs a unique form of robotics called Texhnolyze.
The Salvation Union is another organization that has issues with Organo. Racan is a group of young people who exploit Texhnolyze for their own ends. Ichise, the protagonist, is a robot with mechanical arms and legs that fights.
He's an Organo member who meets a future-seeing girl named Ran. To prevent Lux from descending into civil war, they band together. There is just one season of the anime totaling 22 episodes. Ergo Proxy official cover
Mystery and psychology come together in Ergo Proxy. The city of Romdo is included in the story, and it is located under a dome. Because of the emptiness outside the dome, this city is the only place where humans still live.
AutoReivs are humanoid robots designed to aid people. However, these robots are infected with a virus that gives them human-like intelligence. A woman by the name of Re-I Mayer is looking into this virus. In the process, she learns about Proxies, which are similar to mythical creatures. The anime only has one season of 23 episodes. The Animatrix official cover
Fans of The Matrix will also love the science fiction anthology film The Animatrix. It expands upon the world established by the first Matrix film and also establishes connections to it.
Several short stories are featured in the film. One features swordplay in a digital recreation of feudal Japan. In yet another, humans and computers wage a massive conflict that traps both sides in a world similar to that shown in The Matrix.
The Animatrix was created by the same team responsible for The Matrix. It features nine separate tales that all explore the intersection between humanity and technology in one way or another.
Paprika anime official cover
There was an anime film called Paprika that had a cyberpunk feel before Inception. A seasoned detective in the dream world is on the hunt for a dangerous terrorist. This villain has stolen a technology that disrupts sleep and gives people horrible dreams, which has serious consequences.
You may want to watch the film more than once, since it will challenge your thinking. It's a must-see for anyone who enjoys intricate narratives paired with eye-popping imagery. Ghost in the Shell official cover
Ghost in the Shell, like Akira before it, was essential in introducing Western audiences to mature Japanese animation. Tough female protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi and her staff at Public Security Section 9 are the focus of this novel.
In the progressive and international Niihama City, they battle corruption and terrorism. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, an anime adaptation, contains more action sequences and more develops the Section 9 team's characters than the film.
In the desert planet No Man's Land, there's a guy named Vash The Stampede. He's all about peace and doesn't want any violence on his conscience. But there's a huge $60 billion reward for catching him.
People call him the "Humanoid Typhoon," and he loves doughnuts. Even though lots of bounty hunters and killers are after him because of the money or their history, Vash is determined to stick to his no-violence beliefs. The movie Trigun shows how he forms friendships and deals with really tough situations, all while his troubled past comes to light. Cyberpunk: Edgerunner official cover
There's an anime called Cyberpunk: Edgerunners set in the world of CD Projekt's Cyberpunk 2077. A young man named David Martinez goes through a terrible experience and emerges from it as an innovator. These elite mercenaries and their unruly crew take on assignments that put them in harm's way.
Edgerunners is sophisticated, polished, and packed with exciting moments. It's an excellent introduction to this genre. The environment it depicts is fascinating, and the score is spot on for this futuristic but slightly unsettling setting.
Cowboy Bepop official cover
Cowboy Bebop is one of those anime that everyone has heard of, even if they don't watch it. This popular show follows space cowboy Spike Spiegel and his band of misfits as they embark on bounty quests and develop their own identities in a space Western setting.
People were blown away by how well the first Cowboy Bebop, from 1998, combined elements from a number of various genres. The great jazz score in each episode gets your blood pumping, and the show deals with universal themes like loneliness and searching for purpose in life.
Memories anime official cover
This collection of films explores a variety of genres and approaches, but it all has one thing in common: a focus on the past. As a result, we have Memories, a cinematic compilation featuring several anime shorts.
Satoshi Kon, the surrealist genius of Magnetic Rose, is known for blending truth and fantasy in his works. It's about grieving a loss and the anguish of being left behind. The political comedy Stink Bomb is more entertaining, with echoes of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. Cannon Fodder, the collection's concluding short story, is like a scientific experiment depicting a futuristic society ruled by cannons.
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The Internet wasn't nearly as integral to our lives back in 1998. Since its existence was relatively recent (just seven years), people were confused and even afraid of it. Shy Lain Iwakura, the protagonist of Serial Experiments, is drawn into the Wired, the series' equivalent of the Internet.
The incident begins when she receives a disturbing email from a deceased classmate. As she delves farther into the Wired, she begins to confuse online and offline experiences. Conspiracy theories, odd reflections on who she is, and a general sense that she doesn't belong in this world all constantly barraging her mind.
Psycho-Pass official cover Psycho-Pass is set in a futuristic Japan where everything is controlled by a computer network called the Sybil System. This system checks each person's threat level to keep the city safe. They call this assessment of someone's criminal potential a Psycho-Pass.
The anime is heavily influenced by movies like Blade Runner and Gattaca, and it's really well done. It looks at the flaws in the seemingly perfect Sybil System and gives us an amazing rivalry in the anime world. Plus, it introduces a cool weapon called "Dominators."
In addition to the generally uplifting Studio Ghibli films, Akira is one classic work that contributed greatly to the worldwide popularity of anime. This spooky science fiction novel takes place in the fictitious city of Neo-Tokyo in the year 2019, and it features stunning visuals that contributed to the development of the Vaporwave aesthetic. Gang warfare and citizen discontent with the state are common sights in the city. Shotaro Kaneda, a biker, learns that his childhood friend Tetsuo Shima possesses powerful telekinetic abilities that threaten all of Neo-Tokyo. Kaneda must prevent Tetsuo from triggering a global catastrophe. Blame! anime official cover Blame! is a sci-fi series with a special six-episode version, but let's focus on the movie. The story is set in a futuristic world where technology is way beyond what we have now. Everything's run by machines, but there's a problem: a glitch has messed up the city's automated systems.
There's a defense system called Safeguard that goes after any humans it finds. The main character is Killy the Wanderer, and he's on a quest to find something called Net Terminal Genes. With those, he can fix the city and bring it back to how it used to be.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex official cover Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex really stands out. It came out in the fall of 2002 and is set in a far-off future. Here, people can put their entire bodies into machines through a process called full body transplants. But this technology can be dangerous if misused. That's why Section 9, an independent police unit, deals with crimes related to this tech. Motoko Kusanagi leads this group in the anime. She's up against a hacker called "The Laughing Man" who's causing a lot of trouble in Japan. The Ghost in the Shell series has sequels, spin-offs, and side stories. The Stand Alone Complex part has 26 episodes. Metropolis anime official cover
Another noteworthy entry from Madhouse is the anime film Metropolis, which adapts Osamu Tezuka's manga. This film, released on May 26, 2001, transports us to the technologically advanced city of Metropolis, where robots and humans coexist. The narrative centers around Detective Oyaji Hige, also known as Shimsali Ban, and his nephew Kenichi Shikishima.
As the story unfolds, Kenichi rescues an amnesiac girl named Tima from a laboratory, and they find themselves on the run from Duke Red, the city's ruler. Kenichi becomes Tima's guardian, and together they embark on an adventurous journey through the city of Metropolis.
As we conclude our tour into the worlds of hackers, cyber-enhanced cities, and existential musings, one anime emerges as the pinnacle of this enthralling subgenre: the best cyberpunk anime. It serves as a tribute to the potential of animation in examining the interconnections of technology and mankind with its futuristic ideas, rich storytelling, and themes that transcend time.