In honor of Asia Pacific American Heritage Month,  I’m going to list my favorite Japanese (or Japanese-influenced) cyberpunk animes.

Nicole’s top 5 Cyberpunk Animes
In honor of Asia Pacific American Heritage Month, I’m going to list my favorite Japanese (or Japanese-influenced) cyberpunk animes.

1. Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. This is the GOAT (greatest of all time) anime series set in a post-war cyberpunk world. The Major is not just a pretty cybernetic face, she’s smart, brave, and unflinching. What sets GITS apart from others is the relationship between all the members of Section Nine. Those relationships, just like in stories, is the key to hooking viewers and keeping them. Another stellar point to this series is the storytelling and its deep connection to philosophical questions around what it means to be human, our relationship with technology and its impact on us as a people.

2. Psycho-Pas– Set in a cyberpunk future where an advance AI called Sybil System (I am not joking), measures people’s criminality. Elite officers and along with latent criminals, called Enforcers, measures people’s Pyscho-pass to see if it’s cloudy or clear. Once the Psycho-pass reaches a certain level, the individual is arrested, sent to counseling, or if it is very high or super cloudy, they are killed. This series is influenced by Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Blade Runner. 

3. Akira-One of the first cyberpunk anime (released in 1988), this film is about post war Japan and a group of punks in a gang, Shōtarō Kaneda and his childhood friend, Tetsuo Shima. Tetsuo acquires incredible telekinetic abilities after a motorcycle accident, eventually threatening an entire military complex amid chaos and rebellion in the sprawling futuristic metropolis of Neo-Tokyo (Wikipedia). This is the first anime film that blew me away with its unflinching look at greed, military tests, friendship, loyalty, and complete collapse of everything the 1980s stood for. It’s so punk and many of the cyberpunk tropes in later anime are derived from here.

4. Bubblegum Crisis– Let the women do it! Before The Major, this team of women, ride around on bikes (like Shotaro’s group in Akira), but they’re wear exoskeletons. They’re mercenaries. The prime enemy is a megacorporation, Genom, that produces boomers-cybernetic/advanced cyborgs. I loved this series so hard! Seeing women kicking butt and taking names, hits hard. It isn’t all battles. Like all the other entries on this list, the relationships and the storytelling is gorgeous for its time and many of those stories remain good today.

5. The Animatrix– The Matrix’s impact on science fiction cannot be overstated; however, it was the collection of stories about everyone else in the world that really deepened my appreciate for the series. The Animatrix is an anthology of nine stories. It provides some back story, but what I loved was the animation and storytelling. It isn’t “anime” per se, but the influence is clearly there. Many of the directors are Japanese. The diversity spoke to me in a vanilla cyberpunk genre back in 2003. Thought-provoking, action packed, it has all the elements I loved about The Matrix, but with new characters and an expanded universe. 

Did you favorite make the list? 

What’s your favorite Cyberpunk anime?

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