7 Best Cyberpunk Anime of All Time
Greatest Cyberpunk Anime Series and Movies of All Time
There are a lot of genres in modern anime, and some renowned anime series and anime films come under less known categories that only anime freaks recognize. A representative niche genre is cyberpunk, which generated as a novel genre at first and has been intergraded into Japanese animations around since around the 1990s.
Many cyberpunk anime are set in a sci-fi world giving weight to describing human psychology. They also have themes of integrations between mankind and artifacts including computers and network.
As a recommendations list for cyberpunk beginners, here are 7 best cyberpunk anime series and anime movies of all time containing the classic franchise and the modern series.
1. Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell (攻殻機動隊) is the most famous and popular cyberpunk anime franchise of all time around the world. It started as an anime movie directed by Mamoru Oshii in 1995, and the first anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex aired with 26 episodes in 2002-2003. It was followed by 2nd GIG, the second season of the anime series, in 2004-2005, the film Solid State Society in 2006 and Ghost in the Shell: Arise that consists of 4 movies released between 2013 and 2014.
The setting of Ghost in the Shell is a fictional Japan after 2030, where the science technology including cyborgs and cyberbrains is highly developed. Public Security Section 9 including the main member Major Motoko Kusanagi, who is a female cyborg, works to prevent crimes.
Akira (アキラ), one of the top-rated anime film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, is the best Japanese cyberpunk movie. It was originally made as a manga written by him and its anime movie adaption was released in 1988. The anime movie was made with the climax story exactly different from that of the manga, based on the first 3 volumes that had been published by 1988.
Akira is set in Neo Tokyo in 2019, where Tokyo is destroyed due to the outbreak of WWIII. There are two main characters in Akira: a leader of the Bosozoku group (Japanese biker gang) named Shotaro Kaneda and his childhood friend Tetsuo Shima. The story unfolds first when Tetsuo gains a supernatural power after a motorcycle accident.
Psycho-Pass (PSYCHO-PASS サイコパス) is a popular modern cyberpunk anime series, which also comes under the genre of psychological thriller. The anime series started in 2012 and there are three seasons of the anime series and five anime movie titles released so far.
Psycho-Pass is set in Japan in 2112, where citizens are controlled by Sibyl System. The futuristic computer network quantifies their psychological states and personalities. The numerical number is called Psycho-Pass. The thriller and cyberpunk anime focuses on the members of Unit One of the Ministry of Welfare Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Department.
4. Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop (カウボーイビバップ), categorizes as not only cyberpunk but also action, suspense and so on, is one of the most famous anime series worldwide. The Sunrise’s anime consists of 26 episodes airing in 1998, which was followed by an anime movie Cowboy Bebop: The Movie in 2001.
The setting of Cowboy Bebop is the space in 2071, where the bounty hunters including Spike Spiegel and Jet Black. They travel around the space in a spaceship called the Bebop, meeting other imperfect crews and combating against criminals.
5. Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain is a well-known psychological thriller anime to anime freaks, also categorized as cyberpunk. It has been watched not only in Japan but worldwide since it aired with 13 episodes in 1998. The same-titled video game for PlayStation was made at the same time.
Serial Experiments Lain revolves around a 14-year-old middle school girl named Lain Iwakura, which has the theme of a concept “collective unconscious” introduced by Carl Jung. The psychological thriller is set in a fuzzy world mixed with the virtual world called Wired and the real world, where some supernatural paranormal phenomena happen.
6. Akudama Drive
A new original cyberpunk anime series Akudama Drive (アクダマドライブ) was completed by the famous anime studio Pierrot, consisting of 12 episodes broadcasted in 2020. It was produced by renowned staff including the director Tomohisa Taguchi who is also known for Persona 4: The Animation (2011) and Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War (2022).
Akudama Drive is set in an alternative Japan, where the western region called Kansai becomes the subordinate state of the eastern region called Kanto. The crime story focuses on Akudama, who are experienced criminals infest in the politically depressed Kansai. They are asked to attack a Shinkansen (bullet train) by a talking black cat, which results in a major event of the cyberpunk anime.
Puprika (パプリカ), categorized as cyberpunk, science fiction and psychological thriller, is one of the best works directed by a Japanese animation director Satoshi Kon, who is also famous for Perfect Blue and Tokyo Godfathers. Based on Yasutaka Tsutsui’s novel published in 1993, it was made into the anime film adaptation in 2006.
Puprika centers on a female psychiatrist Atsuko Chiba, who offers therapy to clients who are plagued by nightmares by intervening in their dreams with a newly-invented device DC Mini. The story proceeds when it is found that the DC Mini devices are stolen by someone.
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