“Space” is still full of unknowns despite being the space where our Earth exists. However, precisely because the universe is filled with unknowns, it sparks dreams and curiosity.
That’s why anime’s depiction of “space” is captivating, as each work portrays it differently. This article will introduce an overview of 12 anime series that depict space, along with their recommendations.
- 1. Planetes
- 2. Astra Lost in Space
- 3. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
- 4. Land of the Lustrous
- 5. Legend of the Galactic Heroes
- 6. Space Brothers
- 7. Gurren Lagann
- 8. Mobile Suit Gundam SEED
- 9. Macross Frontier
- 10. Galaxy Express 999
- 11. Cowboy Bebop
- 12. Toward the Terra
- Get engulfed in the wonders of space exploration!
Planetes is set in the 2070s when space development has progressed, but at the same time, space debris, known as “Debris,” has become a significant issue. The protagonist, Hachimaki Hoshino, also known as “Hachi,” dreams of owning his spacecraft while working as a debris collector.
In Planetes, space is portrayed as being closer to everyday life than in reality, allowing even ordinary people to travel with the same ease as boarding an airplane. But unfortunately, this accessibility to space has led to floating debris becoming a social problem.
The series also features the existence of inhabited facilities on Mars and a variety of occupations, making it intriguing to think about the possibilities of such a future several hundred years from now.
However, on the other hand, only those who can afford it have the opportunity to travel to space, resulting in a widening wealth gap. The story also incorporates realistic settings, such as incidents of terrorism, adding to its enjoyment.
2. Astra Lost in Space
Astra Lost in Space is set shortly where even ordinary people can travel to space. The story revolves around the protagonist, Kanata Hoshijima, who, along with other students from Caird High School, is selected to participate in a five-day planetary camp on the planet McPa, which is nine light years away.
The group consists of Kanata and eight other randomly chosen students from Caird High School, including Aries Spring, Quitterie Raffaeli, and Quitterie’s sister, Funicia.
However, as soon as they arrive on McPa, they are engulfed by a mysterious sphere and stranded in outer space! By chance, they manage to board a nearby spaceship, only to discover that they are now 5,000 light years away from their intended destination, in the far reaches of the universe.
Astra Lost in Space is a highly adventurous series as the group embarks on a journey through space to find their way home. The darkness and dangers of outer space are depicted realistically, but the story also excites the exploration of unknown creatures and plants on various planets.
Despite the challenges of encountering the unknown, the characters embark on the journey with a sense of excitement and joy, making the series enjoyable and showcasing the wonders of space.
3. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is a story centred around a boy named Ledo, set in a future where humanity has ventured into space under the “Galactic Alliance” to wage war against the alien lifeform known as the Hideauze.
While retreating from the battlefield, Ledo gets caught in a warp while piloting his humanoid combat robot, Chamber. When he wakes up six months later, he finds himself on Earth, a planet believed to have perished during an ice age.
Initially unable to comprehend what has happened, Ledo struggles to adapt to life on Earth. However, with his earnest personality and desire to understand the culture of the people living on the oceanic surface, he gradually forms bonds and grows alongside them.
In Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, the world is depicted as one where space represents a realm of mystery and the unknown, filled with mysterious lifeforms. At the same time, Earth is portrayed as a contrasting world of abundant water and natural beauty, which feels warm and welcoming compared to the solitude of space.
4. Land of the Lustrous
Land of the Lustrous is a story set on a planet where immortal gemstone beings reside. These gemstones can repair themselves if damaged, as long as they have their fragments. The main character, Phosphophyllite, is the youngest but has lived for 300 years.
In Land of the Lustrous, the story revolves around the conflict between the gemstones and the “Moon People,” who come from the moon to attack and collect gems as decorative ornaments.
As the protagonist, Phos becomes curious about the true nature of the Moon People and whether communication with them is possible, as they constantly devise new strategies to attack. However, the other characters are mostly conservative in their approach. In Land of the Lustrous, there is no technology for space travel, and the portrayal of space represents an unknown realm beyond their reach.
5. Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is an anime based on the science fiction novels written by Yoshiki Tanaka. It is set in a future where humanity has expanded into the galaxy, depicting a 150-year-long conflict between the “Galactic Empire,” ruled by an emperor and nobility, and the “Free Planets Alliance,” comprised of people with a spirit of anti-imperialism and republicanism.
In Legend of the Galactic Heroes, space serves as the stage and represents a battlefield. Space battleships, space fortresses, and elements such as warp technology and beam weapons are prominently featured, making it a series that appeals to fans of military-themed science fiction.
Due to its popularity, it has become a monumental work with multiple seasons and spin-offs. There have even been movie adaptations, making it worthwhile to compare and explore the various media adaptations of this series.
6. Space Brothers
Space Brothers is a story centred around Mutta Nanba and his younger brother Hibito Nanba, who was fascinated by space after witnessing what appeared to be a UFO in their childhood. They made a promise to each other to become astronauts together. While Hibito fulfilled their dream and became an actual astronaut representing humanity on the moon, Mutta experienced setbacks and became unemployed.
However, a new opportunity arises for Mutta to pursue his dream of becoming an astronaut again, leading him to face gruelling tests and challenges.
In Space Brothers, space is depicted in an incredibly realistic manner, showcasing its mysterious and beautiful allure and emphasizing the dangers that can cost lives with a single misstep. The series also portrays the harsh reality of undergoing rigorous examinations and training to qualify for space travel. In addition, it explores the unknown fears and the high risks involved in takeoffs, landings, and the overall dangers of space.
Despite being aware of the risks involved, the characters in Space Brothers are driven by their curiosity and desire to learn about space and venture beyond Earth. The series beautifully captures the human thirst for knowledge and the pursuit of dreams in the face of danger, making it a remarkable work offering insights into various space exploration aspects.
7. Gurren Lagann
Gurren Lagann tells the story of Simon, a young boy who grew up in an underground village, embarking on an extraordinary journey and facing an incredible destiny. Simon spends his days digging tunnels to expand the town.
While digging, Simon discovers a massive robot called a Gunmen one day. As he tries to show it to his admired “Bro” Kamina, a peculiar creature and a gun-wielding beauty named Yoko suddenly appear from the sky.
Simon finds himself piloting a small Gunmen robot he found underground and engaging in battle against the creatures. With the discovery of the gunman named Lagann, his fate takes a dramatic turn.
In the world of Gurren Lagann, humanity is under attack by a mysterious enemy known as the Anti-Spirals. Simon, who did not see the surface world, sets out to defy their ambitions and ventures into space. The series portrays space as an extension of the sky and becomes the stage for the ultimate showdown.
Gurren Lagann explores themes of courage, determination, and the indomitable human spirit in the face of adversity. It combines mecha action, epic battles, and a vibrant cast of characters to create an exhilarating and visually stunning space opera.
8. Mobile Suit Gundam SEED
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is often called the “First Gundam of the Heisei era” and is a series that can be enjoyed even by those who haven’t watched previous entries in the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise.
The story revolves around the conflict between Naturals, ordinary humans, and Coordinators, a genetically enhanced and superior race. The protagonist, Kira Yamato, is a Coordinator but chooses to live in the neutral nation of Orb, seeking peace.
However, the Earth Alliance secretly develops weapons known as Mobile Suits within the neutral colonies. When these weapons are stolen by the ZAFT forces, a military composed of Coordinators, Kira finds himself reluctantly drawn into the turmoil of war.
In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Coordinators reside in space colonies, and the Earth Alliance forces travel and engage in battles using spaceships. The series portrays space as the “sky” and depicts the conflicts fought with Mobile Suits and spaceships.
The Gundam series, as a whole, portrays space as a battlefield where Mobile Suits and spaceships engage in combat, exploring themes of war, conflict, and the impact of technology on humanity.
9. Macross Frontier
The story follows the people of Macross Frontier, who left Earth, which had become a dead planet due to a war with giant beings. They encounter a new enemy and fight to restore peace to their lives.
During a concert attended by Sheryl Nome, a songstress from another space fleet, the extraterrestrial lifeforms known as the Vajra attack Macross Frontier.
Alto Saotome, present at the concert venue, encounters Ranka Lee, a Chinese restaurant employee who was left behind, and saves her by boarding the fighter aircraft of a fallen soldier.
The characters in the series pilot fighter aircraft that can transform into robot-like mechas, using futuristic combat methods such as energy weapons. While space is portrayed as a familiar environment, it is also a terrifying and dangerous space due to formidable enemies.
In Macross Frontier, music plays a significant role in the story, with songs serving as a powerful weapon against the enemy. The series combines mecha action, romance, and a focus on the power of music to create a unique and engaging narrative set in the vastness of space.
10. Galaxy Express 999
Galaxy Express 999 is a science fiction anime that aired in 1978. The protagonist, Tetsuro Hoshino, had his mother killed by Count Mecha and was fleeing in a heavy snowstorm when he collapsed from exhaustion.
When he woke up, Tetsuro was saved by a mysterious woman named Maetel. He told her what had happened to him and his desire to board the Galaxy Express 999 to the Andromeda Galaxy, where one can obtain a mechanical body.
Maetel then told Tetsuro, “once you board the Galaxy Express 999, you can never return to Earth.” Despite that, Tetsuro chose to board the Galaxy Express 999, and their long journey began.
Galaxy Express 999’s setting is like a dream where trains travel through space, traversing protected areas between planets with powerful shields. Tetsuro and Maetel travel to various planets, aiming for their final destination.
11. Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop is set in 2071, when warp gates have been developed, allowing travel between planets in the solar system. The protagonist, Spike Spiegel, is a former member of the mafia who now works as a bounty hunter, known as a “Cowboy,” alongside his partner Jet Black, capturing wanted criminals.
Earth has been devastated by a major accident in Cowboy Bebop, and people have migrated to planets like Mars and Venus. As a result, space travel is possible in a sense similar to driving a car, but the danger of losing one’s life if exposed to the vacuum of space is still present.
In addition to its science fiction elements, Cowboy Bebop also features stylish dialogue and action sequences that exude a “cool adult” vibe. Furthermore, it combines elements of slapstick comedy, suspense, and more, creating a diverse and captivating viewing experience.
12. Toward the Terra
Toward the Terra is set in a far future where science has advanced, and computers rule the world. The story takes place on two planets, one for children and another for adults, and on the “awakening day” when they turn 14, they are examined, and those deemed unsuitable are eliminated.
The protagonist, Jomy Marcus Shin, starts having strange dreams a few days before his “awakening day” examination and is deemed a Mu (unsuitable). However, a Mu named Soldier Blue saves him from being eliminated. Jomy and Soldier Blue then set out to usher in a new era for Earth.
In Toward the Terra, space is depicted as ocean-like since it can move between planets using warp technology. However, for Jomy and the Mu, it is still a difficult obstacle to overcome.
Get engulfed in the wonders of space exploration!
In anime, space is often depicted as something very familiar, where people live or travel like a vacation. Perhaps this is because it remains beyond our reach, making it all the more captivating.
While imagining the near future or enjoying fictional space settings, I encourage you to discover works that resonate with your favourite worldviews!