Sci-Fi Anime 3. Planetes
At 3rd place on our list, we have this little-known gem called Planetes.
Planetes is a very hard sci-fi anime based on the seinen manga of the same name by Makoto Yukimura that lasted for 4 volumes. The anime itself began in 2003, and it ran for 26 episodes in total. Sadly, no sequel is planned or announced.
The anime takes place in a not-too-distant future of 2075. Humanity has extensively colonized the Earth orbitals and the Moon, intent on mining the Helium-3 reserves hidden in the Lunar regolith. Unfortunately, because of this, people are tossing a whole bunch of trash into space, either by accident or on purpose. Sure, littering is annoying, but it’s not exactly life-threatening, right?
Except, when trash is tossed into space, it retains the velocity of the person or spacecraft that did the tossing due to there being no friction in space. The trash basically ends up orbiting the planet at about 7.5 kps/16,778 mph (which is nearly 4.5 times the muzzle velocity of a M1 Abrams’ kinetic penetrator), and are often too small for radar to track. The very unfortunate end result is that even a fleck of paint can hit with the force of a bullet, and punch a hole through spacecraft. Which is exactly what happens in the anime, and to a civilian passenger shuttle to boot.
Understandably, this incident created a lot of outrage. This pushed nations around the world to develop a way to clean up space. There was just one small problem: no one could figure out how to make money off of it. Using multimillion dollar spacecraft to pick up loose screws and paint flecks just isn’t profitable. The end result became the Toy Box. She’s an aging spaceship with parts older than her crew, who’re also a collection of misfits paid in minimum wage and nothing more. And now this ragtag team has to clean up all of Earth orbit for everyone. Tall order, eh?
Fortunately, our heroes have a wonderfully catchy opening to work to as they try to clean up space for all of Earth. The song is “Dive in the Sky” by Mikio Sakai, and the opening is basically one big montage of the history of space development. Space fans rejoice!
Are you excited about space? Does anything space-related get your blood boiling and your eyes sparkling? Look no further than Planetes.
Sci-Fi Anime #2: Cowboy Bebop
In 2nd place on our list is the classic Cowboy Bebop!
It’s hard to describe Cowboy Bebop‘s genre. It’s basically a space western like Firefly, but it also has elements of neo-noir, crime fiction, cyberpunk, and bunch of other genres. The only thing you can really agree on is that it’s an anime, and it’s sci-fi. Cowboy Bebop ran in 1998 for 26 episodes, and got rave reviews from both Japanese and Americans audiences. In fact, for many in America, this was the anime that introduced them to anime. An anime movie called Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (known in Japan as Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door) launched in 2001 to similarly rave reviews.
The plot of Cowboy Bebop is just as hard to summarize as its genre.
The arguably main character is Spike Spiegel: a lazy bounty hunter running into the stars from a sordid past. And trying to enjoy some instant noodles in the process.
His partner is Jet Black: an ex-police officer who has lost confidence in the law, and now works as a bounty hunter. At times though, it seems like Spike is Jet’s partner. In fact, most of the time, Jet is the one actually trying to get things done.
Faye Valentine eventually joins the crew as their femme fatale, though she herself has secrets of her own. Many of which, in fact, she isn’t aware of. What she seems to be good at though, is getting herself into some deep trouble, and dragging along everyone else in the process.
Then we have Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV, or just Ed for short. She’s a 13-year old (or so she claims) genius hacker who’s travelling around on the Bebop. She also likes walking barefoot, and wrestling with the dog for food. That tells you everything you need to know about her personality.
And finally we have Ein. Ein is your typical Pembroke Welsh Corgi. He does typical Corgi things like nomming people he doesn’t like, eating anything put into his doggy bowl, answering the phone, driving a car, and hacking a supercomputer.
Now take all those characters, put them in a spaceship, and watch the chaos unroll. That’s Cowboy Bebop in a nutshell.
One of the best things Cowboy Bebop is known for though is its music. Jazz is the thing here, and there’s no better way to showcase it than to watch the opening.
Do you like shows that blend genres together in a wildly dizzying array? Do you want to watch an anime that doesn’t require you to watch other anime or even have any knowledge of Japanese culture to understand? Or do you just like Pembroke Welsh Corgis? Well, look no further than Cowboy Bebop, and pray that the Netflix live action adaptation goes well.
Until then, see you space cowboy…
(And at Number 1…)