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Tomorrow, what will you be? This question has spurred the imagination of mankind for eons, with each writer taking his predictions of the future and twisting them to serve his own purposes. Will there be flying cars in the next twenty years? Will there be a World War 3 in the next fifty? Will man finally understand what women are thinking?
None of these are easy questions and each one of them brings up an interesting concept for a future where tanks are flying over a city in the old world, bombarding it with round after round of anti-mater ballistics. We imagine that the robots we’ve built will one day control our very existence. Whenever we think of the future, we don’t always picture the best outcome.
The future is not always a wasteland of our mistakes, sometimes the future holds vast achievements that we, as mankind, have wrought through hard work and understanding, shining cities, flying through space to orbit a new star hundreds of light-years away. On that world, we will have our first encounter with an alien life form, other than our mother-in-law, where we will start to grow an intergalactic alliance of human and nekojin.
In this anime list, I will explore where no man has gone before… wait, I can’t say that. I will look at ten futuristic anime. However, I will not include anime where mecha robots rule, ie no gundam. In this list, not all of the anime will be new anime and I’ll try to grab several from each different possible future. These anime will not be the usual top ten best list that you are use to, but something more deep that I hope you can enjoy.
10. Cowboy Bebop
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 1998 – April 1999
About a hundred years in the future, mankind has colonized the rest of our solar system and much further. Starship captains can use hyperspace shortcuts to get from Earth to most of the new colonies. Cowboy Bebop follows the life of Spike Spiegel an outlaw, a cowboy and an ex-yakuza as he tries to make a living on the starship owned by his buddy Jet Black. Jet was once a cop when he was injured on the job, losing the usage of his left arm in the shootout. Jet had since replaced it with a robotic arm and it is almost like his real one.
As Spike and Jet travel through space capturing criminals, they start to gather a small following of hanger-on’s in the form of a data dog, a bad luck woman and a mad hacker, which causes Spike to lose it a little when he realizes what has happened.
Cowboy Bebop is an older anime, but it has survived the test of time and has become a true icon of what any anime should be. The future that Cowboy Bebop shows us is how with courage we can still achieve greatness.
9. Musekinin Kanchou Tylor (The Irresponsible Captain Tylor)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: January 1993 – July 1993
Well, you’re done with school and can’t find a job, so what do you do? Well, Justy Ueki Tylor, age 20, decides to join the United Planets Space Force after seeing an advertisement one night. He plans to enjoy an easy life where all of his meals are free, where you uniform and daily necessities are all free. There is nothing to worry about, right? What about a war? Well it’s an easy way to rise up through the ranks and become an important man, high up in the military. Well, through odd happenstance, Tylor is thrust into a war and within months of him joining the United Planet Space Force, he becomes the captain of the starship Soyokaze.
The Irresponsible Captain Tylor shows us another way that mankind has spread his wings and expanded the human race. It shows us a new way of traveling, the hyperspace jump. The anime also shows us how one man, no matter who he is, can change the path of the future with what he believes.
8. Seihou Bukyou Outlaw Star (Outlaw Star)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: January 1998 – June 1998
Space is a dangerous place and no one knows this better than those who have lost loved one to its cold embrace and Gene Starwind is one such person. When he was young, an arm ship attacked the ship that his father was piloting, destroying it within seconds. Genes’ father only had time to shove Jin into an escape pod, saving Genes’ life. Years later, Gene has grown up and is running an odd job company with his friend Jim Hawkins. When they are called out on a job, Gene is thrust back into space on a job that could cost him his life or maybe just his sanity.
The future is not all about spaceships and star travel. Outlaw Star shows us a darker side of outer space and how robots can alter one’s life.
7. Sidonia no Kishi (Knights of Sidonia)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2014 – June 2014
The bell rings and it’s time for History class. Today your teacher is teaching the class a little bit of ancient history, something that has happened a thousand years ago, something that you already know because it’s the reason that you and your family live in Sidonia, a seed ship from earth. A thousand years ago an alien race, called the Gauna, destroyed our solar system causing mankind to scatter among the stars in hope of survival. Sometimes, the Gauna come back and attack. Those times are scary and you shake in the shelters. Luckily the Knights of Sidonia ride out in their Gardes each time the Gauna attack.
What most people don’t realize is that the world has come to the edge of destruction many times before now. Most people know that the dinosaurs were whipped out by a meteorite striking the earth 65 million years ago, but what they don’t realize is that has happened a couple more times in the past, with the biggest one being the size of a planet smashing into our own and creating the moon. Luckily the only creatures on earth were the fire elementals, who thrive in those situations. The idea of a Seed Ship is a common concept with Science Fiction media, with it being one of the best ways to insure that our species live on when we are gone and turned to dust.
6. Eureka Seven
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: April 2005 – April 2006
It is always said that one should never meet their heroes, because the real person is so much different from the stories told about him. When young Renton finally meets the heroes that he has read about in the Ray=Out magazine, he soon learns that they are not simplistic rifters surfing the trapar, as he once thought. They are a highly trained mercenary group that he ends up joining and almost bringing the world to an end. At least life is no longer boring.
Each day we develop new technology to help our daily lives. The humans of Eureka Seven managed to tap into an aether plane and using that power to give their machines the power of flight. Not like our everyday flights across country, these machines can be a simple wave board and people can surf the aether.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2014 – September 2014
The future is not tomorrow, the future is now. Mars has been colonized and has succeeded from the Earth. Those who moved to Mars are now calling themselves Martians and attacked the Earth fifteen years ago. We have gained a state of tranquility, but that tranquility was shattered when Princess Asseylum is assassinated when she came to Earth for peace talks. Now the second Mars/Earth war has begun and Earth doesn’t look like it will win.
The future is now with mankind looking to send manned missions to Mars within the next 20 years. I missed man walking on the Moon, but I am glad I’ll be around to witness this amazing feat. With each leap man takes into the stars, we are taking another step into the future that we’ve all seen and read about in many different futuristic anime and novels.
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 1998 – September 1998
The desert is a harsh place to live, not a place where mankind can really thrive. A desert planet is not a good candidate for a seed ship convoy carrying the last remaining humans from the planet Earth to settle on. Yet, somehow the ships turned towards the planet and started to crash some time ago. Years later, humans are not only alive but are making a good life on the new home of mankind. Towns that were built near the wrecks of this seed ships were able to connect to the plants and use the energy that they provide to make life even better. Life is good for some, but for others, it’s a hard life.
Trigun is another staple for anime. The future it shows is a dystopia where we are not living out perfect lives, but we are living each day one day at a time trying to make it to another day. The plants that they use for power are biologically engineered plants that live off of the sun and water, like any other typical plant. Scientists today are working on incorporating the genes that deep sea animals use for illumination into plants… Almost like an alternative to streetlights I guess.
3. Eve no Jikan (Time of Eve)
- Episodes: 6 ONA
- Aired: August 2008 – 2009
You know that cute girl you ran into at the coffee shop the other day? Well, I hate to break it to you, but she is an android; no, not the phone that your friend has, but an android that looks, sounds and acts like any other human most of the time. Does that scare you? Do you think it’s not natural that androids can have a life of their own without listening to your every order? Humans created androids and we should be able to have them do anything we want them to do.
People have been thinking along these lines for generations. It hasn’t always been about androids and technology. In our history, we have put both women and people of other races on a level less than we are, making them less than humans. With the advent of robots, this kind of discrimination would only grow. Time of Eve shows us the darker side of mankind and how we feel superior to anything we create and how we will discriminate against anything that makes us scared. How we will hate the things we don’t understand and how we will cause others to hurt and bleed to fulfill our own selfish narcissism.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2008 – July 2008
Memories are fleeting, always being replaced with new ones and you are always forgetting where you left your keys. What would you do if those memories could be stored and you could call upon a specific one to relive a happier time, or buy a memory of a trip to Africa, where the person went on a wild safari? It would be safe, wouldn’t it?
In a world where memories are traded, bartered and sold, who would you become? Would you lose your self-of-sense and start wondering the world endlessly trying to remember? Kaiba wakes up one day with a hole in his chest and not a memory in his head. The only thing that gives Kaiba a clue about his past is a simple medallion with a picture of an unknown lady. Now he has to travel the galaxy on a hunt for who he is.
Today scientists are working on deep brain stimulation (DBS), a method to recall memories that were once lost. DBS has a good chance to help those with Alzheimer disease and similar ailments that affect ones’ mind. The technology is promising, but as you can see in Kaiba, it can take a turn for the worse and become a nightmare instead of a miracle.
1. Koukaku Kidoutai: Arise (Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Alternative Architecture)
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: April 2015 – June 2015
It wasn’t that long ago when we couldn’t help those who have been in an accident and paralyzed for the rest of their lives. We had to stick them in chairs and push them around. Luckily we know we can put the human brain into a cybernetic body and the person can have a new full life. With our technology now, kids no longer have to spend their entire lives in bed from a simple birth defect.
Robotics has helped the evolution of mankind, nothing bad can happen. Unless, someone who has a new robotic body commits a crime that normal people can’t solve. Not to worry too much, we have Section 9 that deals with most of the big cases.
With the evolution of technology, crime will also evolve to include the new technology. You don’t see gangsters running around with knives and nightsticks anymore, they have guns, and the real dangerous ones might have explosives. One part of the future that we can predict is that humans will do anything they can to mess it up.
Governments will also go to the full extent to help stem the bleeding and make better police departments that are capable of dealing with the problems that new technology brings. This is something that the Ghost in the Shell franchise has shown us time and time.
The future is never predictable; we make guesses on what might happen and what won’t happen. Scientists predict that within 20 years, we will reach a tipping point with artificial intelligence and how we deal with it might show us a future we don’t want. Out of the ten different futures listed above, which future would you like to live in and why? For myself, I would love to live in the world of Ghost in the Shell. It would allow me to expand my knowledge of the world by slipping off my skin and diving into the World Wide Web, drifting through the aether, gathering bits of facts that have been covered up and pulling together truths that have evaded mankind for generations.