By Aedan Juvet
Do you ever find yourself fascinated by the depths of our galaxy? Or perhaps you partake in the occasional daydream about what lies beyond our planet?
Luckily, in the world of anime, there’s no limitation to where we can go and what we might find when we explore the vast wonders of space. With a healthy amount of series that depict the marvels of the galaxy, there are a few anime titles that will leave you willing to dive head first into the uncharted corners of the universe!
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Ready to take a journey without pesky real-life restrictions? Let’s take a look at some of our favorite spacefaring picks.
Outlaw Star is one of my favorite anime series of the ’90s, with a bounty-hunting crew traveling through space in search of a mythical treasure known as the Galactic Leyline.
At the center of Outlaw Star is Gene Starwind, a man with a traumatic affiliation to space travel, yet becomes the captain of an unexpected crew of misfits and warriors. The search for the Galactic Leyline takes Gene and his crew to different pit stops and planets, all aboard ships that travel faster than the speed of light–where you can expect to embark on a riveting space race that does a stellar job at capturing the series’ massive setting.
Outlaw Star incorporates adventure, action, comedy and drama, taking breaks in-between its story beats to allow for character exploration. It definitely has some lighter elements in it, but the depiction of risk and skill in Outlaw Star almost makes it seem like bounty hunting is worth it. Almost.
One of the wackiest space-centric series you’ll ever come across is Space Dandy, from the brilliantly unique mind of Shinichiro Watanabe.
After Watanabe’s success with the emotional roller coaster of Cowboy Bebop, he eventually returned to the space backdrop with Space Dandy, a much goofier younger sibling series. And while most space series lean into grit or dark mystery, Space Dandy sails off in the other direction, with episodes powered by a jovial core.
In almost every episode, we get to experience different planets and life forms, making this universe feel lived in. It fosters colorful immersion. But good luck watching just one or two episodes at a time, because you’ll quickly fall for this gem and binge the whole thing.
Did you think we would make this list without including Cowboy Bebop? While not necessarily focused on the excitement of space travel, this masterwork of science fiction is one of the best at showing a truly lived-in universe.
The series needs little introduction, having earned its status as essential viewing for reasons including but not limited to: storytelling, impactful character development, all-time music, etc.
And yet, even if you strip some of these elements away, you get a Watanabe creation set in a beautiful universe, regardless of if you end an episode laughing yourself sick or sobbing into a pile of tissues.
Interestingly enough, when we actually find the Bebop crew on Earth, it’s basically in shambles and feels like a very small fragment of the series’ real setting. During its short yet unforgettable run, Cowboy Bebop sends us to a variety of planets, moons, ships and on missions, making the dangers of space feel very tangible. But hey, isn’t that part of the appeal?
If you’re going into a series blindly, Solty Rei is one that might appear to be grounded on Earth, but its underlying story is about what’s outside of our reach!
Set 12 years after an incident that severely damaged the technology-driven world, a mysterious android and a grieving father come into each other’s lives and change the course of existence forever. As a story with a happy helping of heart, Solty Rei has countless opportunities to look at the ramifications of an unstoppable disaster from space, something that feels far from home for us. But it builds on this impact to create something truly unforgettable.
In Solty Rei, space is beautiful, but feared for possible fallout. Yet, in one of the series most undeniably heartwarming moments, the challenges that come with being courageous and facing the unknown become a poignant piece of the puzzle. You’ll have to watch to see just how this comes about.
ASTRA LOST IN SPACE
The 2019 underrated series ASTRA LOST IN SPACE rounds out this diverse group of titles, giving us a modern and truly suspenseful trip around the galaxy.
ASTRA LOST IN SPACE has a clear commitment to entertaining viewers, with a group of students in 2063 getting displaced in uncharted space. This forces the young crew to overcome and find their way home. We quickly realize that a majority of that entertainment stems from laughter, with situational and planetary humor that keeps them in a constant state of adapting to their unpredictable surroundings. But the story shifts when the kids discover something about their reality.
The anime also uses this sci-fi mood to share very authentic messages, including struggles with self-confidence, self-worth, and consistently overcoming challenges to adapt. It’s a recent standout, for sure.
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