Christmas came early for fans of the cyberpunk sci-fi genre this season, as we got not one but two solid shows to enjoy. The first is No Guns Life, a dark SF series about a world which in which many people have bizarre cybernetic prosthetics, including the main character, a hardboiled detective whose head is literally a giant gun. It’s a sold show that I recommend a lot. We’ve also got a new season of Psycho-Pass, a great example of the marriage of cyberpunk and anime.
The new season of Psycho-Pass is a real treat, with good stories about a dark future in which police can use a technology called the Sibyl System to scan the minds of suspects to determine their Crime Coefficient, the chance that they will commit a crime in the future. As with all good cyberpunk shows, the future world the anime paints is morally questionable but visually delicious to take in, and the technology highlighted always interesting to see. I’m impressed with the huge budget Studio I.G. and Nitroplus have thrown at the show, with high-quality animation as well as extra-long 45-minute episodes.
Of course, the new season of Psycho-Pass might not be appreciated by all fans. The series focuses on some new characters, with Akane only in the background so far, perhaps because Kana Hanazawa is too expensive to include in more episodes? And the series isn’t written by Nitroplus golden boy Urobuchi Gen, which hasn’t been a good sign for shows created but not continued by him in the past.
Why Cyberpunk and Anime Go So Well Together
Cyberpunk, of course, is the genre of science fiction that tells stories about high technology in flawed societies that are often subject to domination by soulless corporations.
In the same way that anime has always had a surprisingly close collection to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, there are a lot of reasons why cyberpunk and anime go together well. Maybe it’s the way anime has always been closely tied with science fiction stories about the future, and showing us technologies we would love to have someday, like cell phones that project a screen out of a watch into the air or guns that let us determine actual guilt or innocence before they’ll let us pull the trigger.
The Top 6 Cyberpunk Anime
I asked J-List’s awesome Twitter followers to recommend their top cyberpunk anime, and here’s what we came up with!
Pronounced “Megazone Two-Three,” this was one of the most influential OAV series of the 80s. It tells the story of people living a happy like in Tokyo near the end of the 20th century…but in reality, they’re living inside a spaceship battling aliens. All of this becomes known when the main character receives a mysterious motorcycle that can transform into a robot, and he learns the dark secret of his society, ala The Matrix. The series also included the first “virtual” idol who resides inside a computer.
A smash hit with many fans over the years, Serial Experiments Lain explores many hard SF ideas including our identity as humans how that identity could function inside a computer.
Mentioned above, this anime has a dark story in which society is recovering from the effects of a great war in which soldiers were turned into cyborgs and sent into battle. The budget isn’t the highest I’ve ever seen, but it’s thoroughly enjoyable. Great OP too.
Bubblegum Crisis and A.D. Police were two connected series from the late 80s when pretty much any show had to have character designs by Kenichi Sonada if it wanted to be popular. A mecha show about cute girls who wore powerful armor while they battled robotic creatures called Boomers (obligatory joke here), it was an extended love letter to the film Blade Runner and had pretty much the best music of any 80s anime.
Such a classic film, the first anime you could discuss with girls and not destroy any chance of getting romantically involved with them later.
The gold standard of cyberpunk anime, Ghost in the Shell and the two Stand Alone Complex series are so good, they almost make all the other shows of the genre take their baseball gloves and go home. GitS directly inspired the Wachowskis to make The Matrix.
Well, are you going to watch the new Psycho-Pass season? Got any other good examples of cyberpunk and anime? Give us your thoughts on Twitter!
Our big news is that YOU and ME and HER: a love story (aka Totono), the next awesome game to be released by Nitroplus, and it’s going to be awesome. An intense visual novel by one of the best storytellers in Japan and features art by Tsuji Santa, the designer of Super Sonico. Only 500 copies (250 of each character) will be produced, so make sure you get your orders in!