The Ultimate List – FandomSpot

The Ultimate List – FandomSpot

June 13, 2022


In dystopian fiction and hard sci-fi, the world can feel all too cold when everyday life is characterized by oppressive systems and increasing dependence on computers and AI.

Then again, the best sci-fi stories (like both Blade Runner films) masterfully use this backdrop to highlight the need for human emotions.

With that in mind, this list is about anime projects that weave elements of both sci-fi and romance to tell one-of-a-kind journeys.

From giant robots and alien races to twin-tailed female androids and time travel, these shows are a fresh escape from the humdrum moments of real life.

 

15. Metropolis

What do you get when you put Osamu Tezuka (creator of the first anime Astro Boy), Katsuhiro Otomo, and Rintaro together?

Metropolis is a film in which industry veterans and early Madhouse went all out.

In the titular city, humans and robots coexist — but a utopia it is not. The tension between groups from both sides is palpable, and it feels like a big disaster is looming.

On the other hand, Kenichi Shikishima and Tima provide a glimpse into a peaceful and accepting future. But what can a young boy and a mysterious (and immaculately designed) android do against impending chaos?

I’ve seen Metropolis many times since its release in 2001.

The twists and characters could’ve been more fleshed out, but its final sequences, animation, and art direction continue to be some of the most iconic in anime.

 

14. Plastic Memories

Plastic Memories anime screenshot

Tsukasa Mizugaki just wanted to land a job after repeated failures.

However, he didn’t expect SAI Corp to give an unusual task: Retrieve androids known as Giftias when they’re about to expire, forget everything, and become violent.

Due to his work, the 18-year-old land meets Isla, a socially withdrawn female android who only has less than three months to live.

Has she always been this reclusive? And what does the future hold for these two MCs if they fall in love?

If Metropolis has Tima, then Plastic Memories has Isla.

Both beautiful androids will change the life of a kindhearted guy. This romance uses sci-fi to look into concepts of morality and emotional growth among sentient machines.

 

13. Castle in the Sky

Castle in the Sky anime screenshot

How would you react if you saw a girl falling from the sky?

This is how Pazu met Sheeta for the first time. Her kidnappers and a band of air pirates (Captain Dola and her sons) all want her crystal heirloom, so the two youngsters flee together and set their sights on Laputa, the fabled floating castle.

Pazu comes from a mining town while Sheeta lives in an idyllic valley. Despite their contrasting locations, the two orphans grew up to be equally kind and gentle.

Anyway, I knew I’d love this movie the moment I saw the steampunk airships and background art, so the flying castle and the wholesome chemistry among the protagonists were icing on the cake.

Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa is my first Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki film. Even without nostalgic value, I’d still highly vouch for this film. It’s exhilarating, colorful, and masterfully combines sci-fi and fantasy to tell its big-hearted adventure.

 

12. Kaiba

Kaiba anime screenshot

In Kaiba, the powerful and the weak live far away from one another. The former lives in the skies while the latter resides below. Society has mastered how to digitally store, transfer, and modify memories, but only the elites reap the benefits while the poor sell their bodies to survive.

Moreover, the titular MC barely talks and has a huge hole in his chest (literally).

Yet Kaiba’s silence speaks not just of his confusion due to his memory loss but also of his innate gift to understand how others truly feel.

What is his real identity and purpose? Likewise, who’s the girl in his locket?

And how do these questions relate to the show’s larger philosophical and social themes?

With help from legendary studio Madhouse, Masaaki Yuasa crafted a dystopian story that nonetheless celebrates humanity’s empathy.

To this day, it’s one of the most surreal and artistically uncompromising original projects in anime.

 

11. WorldEnd

WorldEnd anime screenshot

After being frozen in ice for half a millennium, Willem Kmetsch was finally freed from his petrification. It should’ve been a celebrity occasion for one of the world’s most valiant heroes.

However, he soon learns he’s the only human left alive.

Feeling lost and alone, the young (but simultaneously old) MC does random tasks to get by. But one day, he chanced upon a group of Leprechauns, all of whom are merely seen as living weapons by the military and even by themselves.

Over time, Willem grows fond of them.

He’s become a paternal figure to many — except to Chtholly Nota Seniorious.

Willem and Chtholly are similar not just in age but also in tactical and combative might, crucial to fighting the Seventeen Beasts. Is there a chance for their romantic feelings to blossom in this time of great peril?

 

10. Martian Successor Nadesico

Martian Successor Nadesico anime screenshot

A little over 25 years ago, Xebec released Kidou Senkan Nadesico, a hilarious yet genuinely phenomenal original mecha series.

Akito Tenkawa is a culinary wonder from Mars who bears nanomachine implants that allow him to pilot robots with relative ease.

When he loses his home and parents (and the Red Planet, in general), he goes to his childhood friend Yurika Misumaru’s titular corporate battleship.

In Nadesico, Akito becomes both a chef and extra pilot.

In addition, the goofy captain Yurika is overjoyed since she’s been in love with (and possessive of) him for a long time.

As the ship’s eccentric but otherwise competent crew members work to save Mars, the show pokes fun at the tropes and clichés of space sci-fi and mecha shows with remarkable wit.

Despite being a parody, Martian Successor Nadesico doesn’t take shortcuts in storytelling, worldbuilding, character writing, and social commentary.

 

9. Eden of The East

Eden of The East anime screenshot

In this original sci-fi series from Production IG, a select few Japanese individuals are luckily (or unluckily) chosen to protect and improve Japan.

Collectively known as the Selecao, they each have billions of yen on their phones — and it’s up to them how they help the nation.

Higashi no Eden works precisely because of its ridiculousness.

From Akira Takizawa being naked in public in Washington DC as he encounters Saki Morimi for the first time to an assembly of thousands of NEETs, you can never be exactly sure how each episode and movie progresses and ends.

Granted, the romance aspect isn’t that captivating nor fully given much attention by the time you reach the final film Paradise Lost, but the award-winning TV series is still worth the watch.

 

8. Orange

Orange anime screenshot

It’s the beginning of Naho Takamiya’s second year in high school when she stumbles upon a mysterious letter — supposedly written by her 26-year-old self. Initially, she dismisses it until it becomes clear that it’s filled with accurate predictions.

Apparently, her older self wrote it because she doesn’t want the 16-year-old Naho to live with regrets like her.

Provided with specific details and optimal courses of action, the determined yet anxious Naho Naho now has a chance to create a new future, one where Kakeru Naruse still exists.

In this adaptation of the best-selling shoujo manga, time travel isn’t for preventing some world-ending catastrophe. Rather, the present and the future are interwoven to beautifully portray the lifelong bonds among six dear friends.

 

7. Eureka Seven

Eureka Seven anime screenshot

Similar to Eden of the East and Kaiba, Eureka Seven is an original project that stars a naive but selfless young lad who ends up piloting a giant robot.

Renton Thurston is certainly a relatable character to many viewers.

His grandfather wants him to be in the same profession when he grows up. On the other hand, his late father is greatly admired as a hero. Thus, the boy protagonist faces familial pressures from two older male figures.

Then there’s the titular and mysterious Eureka. She’s his co-pilot of the Nirvash type ZERO and is part of the Gekkostate, the organization that Renton has always dreamed of joining. Also, he’s head over heels for her.

Anyway, the sequels aren’t that fantastic, but there’s a good reason why the 50-episode first installment is the recipient of many awards for its writing, character design, and overall excellence.

 

6. Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team

Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team anime screenshot

Finding love in war isn’t new in fiction.

Still, the execution of this classic romantic dilemma in The 08th MS Team is remarkable.

Here, the young and charismatic Shiro Amada of the Federation has been smitten by Aina Sahalim, a top pilot from the Zeon Forces.

In a heavily forested land in Southeast Asia away from space (where they usually fight), these MCs must confront their internal struggles. Can they become happy together when their allegiance requires killing one another?

Unlike the first Mobile Suit Gundam or even MSG SEED and Wing, the Dai 08 MS Shotai OVA is a more compact offering at 12 episodes. Despite this, its characters and overall story are just as—if not more— compelling, multi-faceted, and refreshing in the context of the Gundam franchise.

 

5. Macross F

Macross F anime screenshot

Macross F is an original series from 2008 featuring Alto Saotome, Sheryl Nome, and Ranka Lee in a love triangle. That component alone doesn’t make it sci-fi, right?

Thankfully, the Macross franchise is known for its eccentric combination of mecha, music, aliens, and interstellar warfare.

Essentially, the show is about 17-year-old Alto’s new journey as he becomes involved in humanity’s fight against the Vajra.

He was only supposed to perform alongside Sheryl at a concert, but his piloting skills and display of bravery upon rescuing Ranka have proven his worth on the battlefield.

Alto’s romantic affection isn’t clear in the series, but you should watch Macross F Movie 2: Sayonara no Tsubasa for a pretty solid resolution.

Both the 25-episode TV series and the aforementioned second movie are award recipients, so they’re guaranteed quality entertainment.

 

4. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time anime screenshot

Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo stars Makoto Konno, a somewhat tomboyish senior high schooler.

She’s unsure about her future, which many viewers can relate to.

One day, Makoto’s life takes a drastic turn when she realizes she could time travel.

At first, it’s all fun and games. Makoto can go back to wherever and whenever and see which actions can change the outcome. However, she inevitably learns that you don’t just mess with the temporal order — that there are drastic consequences.

With breathtaking animation, A-tier direction, and just the right amount of suspense and romance, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is proof that Mamoru Hosoda deserves to be one of the new living legends in the anime industry.

 

3. Macross: Do You Remember Love?

Macross: Do You Remember Love? anime screenshot

This nearly 40-year-old film has aged like fine wine.

Like Macross F, Do You Remember Love is concerned with humanity’s survival and defiance against extraterrestrial threats — and it also boasts a love triangle.

Hikaru Ichijou is a refreshing male MC.

Instead of being born with godlike piloting skills, he worked hard and was dedicated to aerobatics, which helped others recognize his potential as a fighter and leader.

Moreover, Hikaru is humble despite his strengths. The film does a great job showing why both the idol Minmay Lynn and the military officer Misa Hayase would fall for the same guy. Then again, can any love blossom when aliens keep pushing humans to the brink of extinction?

With hefty production from both Artland and Tatsunoko Production, this original Macross movie was in a league of its own. Huge props should be given to Shouji Kawamori for handling multiple key roles such as mecha designs, series composition, and direction.

 

2. The Place Promised in Our Early Days

The Place Promised in Our Early Days anime screenshot

In The Place Promised in Our Early Days, three ninth-graders become enthralled at the sight of the Ezo Tower, a structure unlike anything else on Earth.

After finding a military drone that they could convert into a plane, Hiroki Fujisawa, Takuya Shirakawa, and Sayuri Sawatari pledge to visit the skyscraper together one day. Sadly, the girl disappears without warning, causing Hiroki and Takuya to go separate ways as they mourn her absence.

A few years later, the guys discover the truth behind Sayuri and her significance to the tower, forcing themselves to make extremely tough decisions.

Even with grand concepts like parallel universes and international political conflict, Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho stays focused on love, friendship, selflessness, and perseverance — qualities that best define humanity.

 

1. Planetes

Planetes anime screenshot

Everyone has dreamed of going to space at some point in their life.

The same goes for Ai Tanabe, a newly hired employee at Technora Corporation.

She’s finally about to embark on her new career far out among the stars — but her job is ironically far from stellar.

Ai has joined the Debris Section, which is responsible for picking up high-risk celestial trash floating near Earth and the Moon. Despite her job’s low reputation, she’s determined to excel and learn from the rest of the staff such as Edelgard Rivera and Hachirota Hoshino.

Like Ai, Hachirota has always reached for the stars (literally and figuratively). However, his poor economic and social status severely limits his opportunities in life, so he’s resigned himself to collecting space junk.

Thankfully, Ai’s unmatched motivation is infectious, slowly but surely changing the 25-year-old’s negative mindset.

With fully realized adult characters, nuanced storytelling, and realistic inner conflicts, the award-winning Planetes is the rare sci-fi romance anime that respects the emotional intelligence of its mature audience.



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