Anime is no stranger to the cyberpunk genre, with classics like Akira and Ghost in the Shell setting the stage for decades of dark and gritty stories set in a future world. If you’re looking for some high-quality cyberpunk anime to watch, look no further! We’ve put together a list of 35 of the best cyberpunk anime out there, from modern anime to classic anime films and series, from popular anime to underrated anime. So put on your favorite jacket with a fur collar and get ready for a seriously good time.
Content Navigation (TL:DR)
- Serial Experiments Lain
- Waga Seishun No Arcadia
- Terra E (Toward the Terra) (1980 film)
- Black Magic M-66
- Heroic Age
- Wicked City
- Gunslinger Girl
- Metal Skin Panic MADOX-01
- Cyber City Oedo 808
- Den-noh Coil
- Megazone 23
- Casshern Sins
- Cyborg 009
- No Guns Life
- Guilty Crown
- Kurau: Phantom Memory
- Angel Cop
- Ghost in the Shell
- Armitage III
- Project ARMS
- Battle Angel Alita
- Mardock Scramble: The First Compression
- Ergo Proxy
- Unbreakable Machine-Doll
- Bubblegum Crisis
- AD Police Files
Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments is by Chiaki J. Konaka, author of Texhnolyze. It follows Lain as she makes critical decisions that impact both reality and the Wired. Only Lain will understand the significance of their existence in closing one world and opening the other.
Lain Iwakura, a shy and introverted fourteen-year-old, receives a troubling email from her classmate Chisa Yomoda, who recently committed suicide. However, when Lain reads the email, she is immediately transported into the Wired, a virtual space of communication networks comparable to the internet. Lain’s life is flipped upside down when she is confronted by perplexing secrets. Weird strangers known as the Men in Black start appearing everywhere she goes, questioning her and knowing more about her than she knows. As the lines between reality and cyberspace blur, Lain is thrust into increasingly weird and bizarre situations where identity, awareness, and perception are redefined.
People in Lux’s dark beneath metropolis live in constant fear and suffering under the authority of different criminal factions. The gangs’ main engagement with the outside world is their mining operation of “raffia,” which serves as the city’s purpose for existence.
This rare material, which is only available in Lux, is the foundation of “texhnolyze” transplants, which allow people to replace sections of their bodies with cybernetic prostheses. The latter is distinguished by the fact that they do not elicit any immunological reactions in their hosts, and the “Class” has the freedom of conducting research on them. This enigmatic institution, which is also in control of raffia manufacturing, delegated executive authority to a group called Organo, which is commanded by Keigo Oonishi—an egoistic man with texhnolyzed legs who is said to hear the “voice of the city.”
When a mysterious visitor named Kazuho Yoshii begins conducting a series of crimes that pits the gangs against each other, the fragile balance of power in Lux is upset. Two new characters emerge in the midst of the pandemonium: Ichise, an ex-boxer mutilated by Organo and newly texhnolyzed by Eriko “Doc” Kamata, and Ran, a young florist with foresight. While Lux continues to spiral towards insanity, Ichise and Ran find themselves embroiled in the city’s greatest crisis.
Waga Seishun No Arcadia
The malevolent Illumidus Empire has overrun Earth, with comparisons drawn to the United States’ post-World War II occupation of Japan. Captain Harlock, along with a group of lifelong friends, begins their fight against the tyranny brought upon the planet Earth, with little concern for the sacrifices of the effort, caring only for the ideal of regaining freedom for the people of Earth.
Terra E (Toward the Terra) (1980 film)
In the five centuries since Earth’s ecosystem was decimated and the planet became known as Terra, humanity had built a totally logical space society. The government is run by supercomputers, babies are created in artificial wombs and given to parents at random, and at the age of 14, youngsters take an “Adulthood Exam.” The “Mu”—humans who have evolved into espers—are humanity’s greatest foe.
When Jomy Marquis Shin’s birthday approaches, and it is time for him to face his Adulthood Exam, he is surprised to discover that all of his early memories will be deleted. Suddenly, he hears the voice of Soldier Blue, the Mu’s leader, pleading with him to keep his memories safe.
Jomy flees aboard a Mu ship, only to discover that he is an esper and that the government has sentenced him to death. Soldier Blue, nearing the end of his life, passes his memories to Jomy and appoints him as the Mu’s next commander. Jomy now has a choice: keep the Mu hidden or wage war on humans in order to fulfill their ambition of returning to Terra.
Humanity discovers they are not alone after a mysterious spaceship crashes into Earth. Fearing a possible threat from space, the globe puts aside nationalism, competing interests, and ethnic barriers to band together under the banner of the United Nations. The newly established United Nations forces decided to repurpose the alien spacecraft and rename it SDF-1 Macross. Unfortunately, on the day of its maiden journey, a fleet of spacecraft belonging to an alien species known as the Zentradi descend upon Earth, and the SDF-1 Macross, acting independently, shoots down the incoming squadron, initiating an intergalactic war.
The Macross attempts to escape by launching itself into the Moon’s orbit, but the ship—along with the city it was in—is transferred to the furthest reaches of space. Hikaru Ichijou, a free-spirited acrobatic pilot, and Minmay Lynn, an aspiring singer, are caught up in this chaos. Together with Macross’ crew, these two go on an epic adventure fraught with sadness and drama, confronting the cruelties of war along the way.
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Black Magic M-66
When Sybel, a freelance journalist, uncovers a military plane accident, she is ecstatic at the potential of gaining the latest inside information. She is, however, unaware that the plane is carrying two top-secret experimental android assassins who will go to any length to destroy their victim. While the military scrambles to clean up its mess, Sybel races against the clock to discover and protect the robots’ intended victim—all while revealing the military’s wrongdoing—before it’s too late.
Three sentient races responded when the Golden Race asked other races to join them among the stars. They were known as the Bronze, Silver, and Heroic Tribes by the Goldens. Just as the Gold Tribe was about to leave to travel to another Universe, a fourth race appeared, traveling to the stars based on their own achievements. The human race was dubbed the Iron Tribe by the Golds. Humanity has suffered at the hands of the more dominant races over time and is now on the verge of extinction. Following a prophecy provided by the Gold Tribe, Princess Deianeira sets out to find the powerful entity capable of saving humanity. On an abandoned planet, she meets a wild-haired boy—a fateful encounter that will transform not only the destiny of humanity but also the fate of the cosmos.
There is Earth, our normal world, and the Black World, an alternate dimension that few people are aware of. For generations, a contract between the two realms has been observed to ensure peace, and terms must be agreed upon and renewed soon to maintain relative harmony.
This time, a militant group will go to any length to block the signing of a new inter-dimensional peace treaty. Two operatives from the elite organization known as the Black guards—defenders of the equilibrium between the two worlds—are tasked with ensuring the treaty’s success.
Director Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Ninja Scroll) blends sophisticated sexuality, horrific horror, and pulse-pounding action.
Earth in 2041. The Freeport Space Station’s crash into the planet’s atmosphere caused the “Great Cataclysm”—an catastrophe that decimated the Earth’s ecology. Surviving in a polluted wasteland, survivors go to fight with their fellow survivors to secure resources; in the end, these battles have eliminated humanity’s entire existence. Surprisingly, life can still be found on a moon base. Although it is ostensibly intended as an immigration outpost for the Mars exploration project, it quickly transforms into a metropolis, both governing and enabling its residents to develop. The lunar base, formally known as “The City of Eden,” aims to fully colonize the Moon.
Takeru, one of many Eden residents in 2267, takes part in “Tube Races” between gangs and teams using hovercraft-like vehicles. Takeru is sentenced to volunteer work outside of the city after causing an accident during one of his races. Takeru discovers remains that may reveal the truth about the origins of Earth and Eden while clearing his punishment.
The Social Welfare Agency, located in the heart of Italy, rescues young ladies from hospital wards and gives them a chance at life by utilizing the most recent cybernetic developments. The girls are conditioned and trained as assassins using their technologically enhanced bodies to carry out the evil work of the Italian government. Despite all of the changes, they are still children at heart, seeking attention from those they love despite the fact that the affection they feel is fabricated. This heartbreaking story unfolds as these girls struggle with their emotions at an agency that views them as nothing more than vicious killers.
Metal Skin Panic MADOX-01
Ace female test-pilot Elle Kusomoto destroys an assault tank force and humiliates Lt. Kilgore, Japan’s most macho tank-jockey, in the first test of a groundbreaking personal battle-suit, the MADOX-01.
Kilgore swears he’ll avenge himself, and his chance comes when the experimental MADOX literally falls off the back of a truck in the midst of Tokyo.
Meanwhile, the MADOX, which went from the back of one truck, off over a bridge, and then into the back of some other truck, has ended up in the hands of Koji Sujimoto, a college student. Intrigued by the MADOX, Koji makes the grave mistake of tampering with it without first reading the manual and soon finds himself stuck within the suit and zooming through downtown Tokyo.
Justice and its administration have evolved. Japan implements the Sibyl System in the 22nd century, an objective method of determining each citizen’s threat level by analyzing their psychological condition for evidence of criminal intention, known as their Psycho-Pass. Inspectors maintain the law by subjugating, often with lethal force, anyone holding the slightest ill-will; besides them are Enforcers, jaded Inspectors who have turned into latent criminals and are permitted relative power in exchange for performing the Inspectors’ dirty job.
Akane Tsunemori, a young lady with a genuine passion for protecting justice, enters this universe. However, as she works alongside experienced Enforcer Shinya Kougami, she quickly discovers that the Sibyl System’s verdicts are not as faultless as her colleagues believe. With everything she’s ever known turned upside down, Akane mulls over what justice actually is and whether it can be upheld via the employment of a system that could already be tainted.
Arena combatants with cybernetic enhancements compete for glory or death as society rises from the ruins of war.
The globe has recovered from the devastation of war in the nineteenth century, and we have entered the Era of Rebirth. There has been a worldwide interest in mechanical martial arts. Computer-augmented combatants are able to transform their bodies and their blood into steam and weapons of war.
Young Levius is another one of those arena battlers that is so desperate to win that he will stop at nothing to do so.
Cyber City Oedo 808
The year 2808 has passed. For the protection of the citizens of Oedo (previously Tokyo), the Cyber Police have recruited three ex-convicts. For each mission successfully completed, their sentences of incarceration will be lowered by a few years. For this reason, police officers have attached special collars on the necks of these offenders. The collars will self-destruct if they try to remove them or if they fail to complete their task.
Zuru, a small girl, embarks on a desperate quest for food in a post-apocalyptic city dominated by machines. Things go downhill when her team accidentally activates the Safeguard, the city’s AI protection mechanism. Her comrades are on the brink of death after being attacked by the machines when an unknown guy named Killy appears and annihilates the hostile units.
Despite his heroism, Zuru is skeptical of Killy and doubts his motives. He discloses that he came from thousands of levels under the city in search of humans with the Net Terminal Genes—a characteristic that would allow humanity to reclaim control of their society and shut down the Safeguard. Upon hearing his story, Zuru and the members of her squad join Killy on a trip to find the Genes that could be humanity’s final hope of survival.
Augmented reality will be an integral part of daily life in the not-too-distant future. Despite stories of people disappearing, a sweet middle school girl named Yuuko “Yasako” Okonogi and her family have recently come to Daikoku City. Her grandmother, dubbed “Mega-baa,” owns a shop called Megasia, which specializes in illicit instruments that connect with elements of the virtual world.
Mega-baa also has an unofficial detective agency called “Coil,” which is run by a group of children about Yasako’s age that investigates and deals with wrongdoing in the virtual world. Fumie Hashimoto, a lighthearted member of Coil, assists Yasako in rescuing her cyber dog Densuke when he becomes stuck in virtual space while following a mystery virus. An abrasive hacker named Yuuko Amasawa, whom the others refer to as Isako, is also studying these corruptions and viruses.
Can Coil uncover the secrets hidden behind the mystery viruses and corruption, and if so, at what cost?
Shougo Yahagi is a teenage motorcycle fanatic surrounded by hot bikes, heavy rock, and J-pop idols. Unbeknownst to them, the general public goes about their peaceful lives under the constant surveillance of a computer program disguised as pop idol wonder Eve. Shougo is mostly preoccupied with riding his motorcycle and attracting beautiful women such as Yui Takanaka, who hopes to be a dancer.
Shinji Nakagawa, Shougo’s friend, shows him a top-secret plan: the “Garland,” an advanced bike that can morph into a robot. Shougo, ambushed by the soldiers, hijacks the Garland and flees into the city. He gradually realizes that their lovely lifestyle is simply an illusion as he evades the military with the support of Yui and her pals.
Earth has devolved into a wasteland in the distant future, and mankind as we know it has perished. All that’s left are sentient robots. They were meant to be immortal—until the one named Luna was killed, and the Ruin began. Their robot bodies will corrode, and there will be no way to fix them. The machines are now left to consider their deaths, only kept alive by the rumor that they will attain immortality if they eat the one known as Casshern.
Casshern has no knowledge of his past, why he exists, or whatever he is, but he must find out or forever be chased by machines who don’t want to die. Casshern avoids death wherever he goes, but he must confront it if he is to discover the truth about this world.
They combat evil and help people in need; they are the Cyborg fighters! This group of nine cyborgs, led by Dr. Gilmore, use their specific bodily modifications to fight a seemingly endless assault of adversaries, including robotic crabs, ufos, and fellow cyborgs.
Each cyborg possesses a unique ability that he uses in his struggle against evil. Titular character 009 (aka Hurricane Joe, the famed racing car driver) leads the crew with his superhuman strength, bullet resistance, and time travel ability. His teammates fight alongside him to keep humanity from falling into the grasp of evil.
The Cyborg 009 squad fights numerous opponents and foils numerous threats to their neighborhood and even the planet. Whatever happens, justice will be served.
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No Guns Life
The Berühren Corporation has made the technology used to construct formidable cyborg troops available to the public. The Extended are those who have been supplied with robotic parts. One such Extended is Juuzou Inui, who was formed as a soldier and has no recollection of his previous life. But today, after the war, he manages a company that handles Extended-related situations throughout the city.
Rumors of a rogue Extended kidnapping of a child reach Juuzo’s ears; lo and behold, when Juuzo returns to his office, a massive robotic man with a boy on his back crashes in, pleading for assistance. While Juuzou could just turn the man in and be done with it, something about this circumstance smells suspicious. Everyone appears to want this kid, and whether he likes it or not, Juuzou must figure out why this Extended is on the run, how it is linked to the Berühren Corporation, and how far the wickedness reaches in this city.
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Japan in 2039. The once glorious nation has fallen under the power of the GHQ, an independent military force sworn to restore order, a decade after the outbreak of the “Apocalypse Virus,” an event reverently recognized as “Lost Christmas.” Funeral Parlor, a guerilla gang, led by the notorious Gai Tsutsugami, acts as freedom fighters, providing the only opposition to GHQ’s ruthless rule.
During a critical operation, Inori Yuzuriha, a vital member of Funeral Parlor, encounters the weak and unsociable Shuu Ouma, which leads to his receiving the “Power of Kings”—an ability that allows the holder to draw out aspects of an individual’s psyche, or “voids.” Shuu, who is now an unwilling participant in the fight against GHQ, must learn to harness his newfound strength if he is to help reclaim Japan once and for all.
Guilty Crown is an action-packed novel about a young high school student who is drawn into a battle and discovers a talent that will help him unravel the secrets of the GHQ, Funeral Parlor, and Lost Christmas. However, he will soon discover that the truth comes at a much higher cost than he could have expected.
Kurau: Phantom Memory
The year is 2100, and a study to investigate new aspects of energy is underway on the colonized Moon. Amami Kurau is the project’s head scientist’s daughter, and on her 12th birthday, she joins her father in the laboratory to see the trials. Then something goes wrong, and Kurau is struck by twin lightning bolts. Her father discovers that his little girl is no longer his Amami. Rather, her body is now host to two energy creatures with incredible abilities.
In the future, terrorism will be widespread in Japan, and cops will be practically as violent as criminals. Angel, a Special Security Force member, is the finest of the best in her pursuit of justice.
Things get intriguing for Angel and her partner Raiden when they start investigating a string of gruesome murders involving notorious criminals. The Hunters are a gang of psychics who have teamed together to seek down and prosecute the city’s lowest dregs.
After a few meetings with the cops, two of the psychics begin to doubt their good intentions, while the third chooses murder to morality. This third hunter goes on a murdering spree, first targeting the Special Security Force.
Angel will need cooperation from the other two psychics and her newly cyborged partner to uncover the renegade psychic and the Hunters’ organization.
Ghost in the Shell
Niihama City is a highly advanced metropolis in 2029. Its residents can now replace their limbs with robotic ones thanks to advances in cybernetics. Today, the world is more interconnected than ever, and Public Security Section 9 is responsible for countering corruption, terrorism, and other threats.
Sergeant Motoko Kusanagi of Section 9 is investigating a mysterious hacker known only as the “Puppet Master” who robs victims of their memories. The Puppet Master’s body is almost totally robotic, giving them great power.
As Motoko and her team pursue the intriguing criminal, additional parties, including Section 6, become involved, forcing Motoko to confront the case’s complexity. Inquiring about the meaning of life, Motoko discovers that the Puppet Master is the one who will deliver the answers.
1988 Japan; an explosion generated by a young psychic child blasts through Tokyo, igniting the fuse for World War III. He is captured and brought into captivity, to never be heard from ever again. In 2019, a rebuilt Neo-Tokyo, riddled with gang violence and terrorism, rises in its place. Shoutarou Kaneda leads “the Capsules,” a ragtag band of misfits famed for their huge custom motorcycles and regular battles with “the Clowns.”
During one of these battles, Shoutarou’s best buddy Tetsuo Shima is caught up in an incident with an esper who has recently escaped from a government institution. After this meeting, Tetsuo develops his own unknown talents, prompting the government to confine him, hoping to keep him from releasing the catastrophic force that may destroy the city again.
It is the year 2046. When a country singer on her trip is murdered, Detective Ross Sylibus is sent to Mars. The singer is a “Third”—a robot that feels and looks like a human—which complicates matters even further. Sylibus is teamed up with Armitage, a stunning female officer with a foul attitude. As they investigate the case of the singer and other ladies on Mars, they uncover a plot that could lead to their deaths at the hands of the Martian government.
The plot revolves around a young guy named Ryo Takatsuki, who believes he was in an accident that caused his right arm to be cut from his body at the start of the series. However, as the novel unfolds, it is revealed that he was actually a test subject for research involving genetics and an “ARMS” nanomachine implants, along with three fellow youths: Hayato Shingu, Takeshi Tomoe, and Kei Kuruma. They all meet under strange circumstances and embark on a journey to rescue Ryo’s girlfriend Katsumi Akagi, who has been kidnapped by the Egrigori, an enormous organization founded by Keith White and Doctor Samuel Tillinghast that works in the shadows and has bases, research labs, and agents across the world, and is the inventors of the ARMS technology.
Battle Angel Alita
Alita, an amnesiac female cyborg, is the protagonist of Battle Angel Alita. Daisuke Ido, a cybermedic expert, discovers her intact head and chest in suspended animation in the local garbage dump. Ido is able to resurrect her and, upon discovering that she has lost her memories, names her Alita after his recently departed cat. Alita, who has been rebuilt, soon realizes that she automatically knows the famed martial technique Panzer Kunst, despite her inability to recall anything else. Alita uses her Panzer Kunst to become a bounty hunter in the Scrapyard, slaying cyborg criminals, and eventually a star player in the deadly gladiator sport of Motorball. Alita recalls her previous life on Mars while fighting. She joins the floating city of Zalem as one of their agents and is assigned to track down criminals.
The city of Scrapyard has been built up around a gigantic scrap dump that pours down from Zalem in the futuristic dystopian world of Battle Angel Alita. Because ground dwellers have no access to Zalem, they must make a living in the sprawl below. Many people have been significantly transformed via cybernetics to help them cope with their difficult lives.
Mardock Scramble: The First Compression
Rune Balot is an adolescent prostitute from Mardock City. Shell, an ambitious casino manager, picks her up one day and provides her all she could want. Balot is grateful for a false innocence, past, and now the false life Shell has granted her. However, she can’t help but be interested as to why he’s provided so much for her, so she conducts some online research into his past. This turns out to be a huge blunder that will drastically alter her life. Shell tries to kill her by blowing up her car when he discovers what she’s done.
Due to the high crime rate in Mardock, a new rule known as “Scramble 09” has granted police the authority to employ extraordinary and otherwise illegal methods to resurrect crime witnesses. Using this in mind, they permit a professor to reassemble Balot’s entire body with strengthened synthetic fiber to bring her back from the brink of death. When she finally awakens, her bewildered mental state gradually turns to vengeance when Shell is revealed to be her murderer.
As the world’s governments begin to combine, the private militias of individual businesses pose a threat to global peace. The Kuryu Group has recently discovered technology that will swing the balance of power in their favor. The Genocyber is a terrifying amalgamation of cybernetics and psychic ability. Many people want to be in control of this monster, but can its hatred be contained. A battle starts, and the future cyberpunk world is poised to erupt in violence.
One of the last human societies on Earth can be found within the domed city of Romdo. A massive ecological disaster devastated the planet thousands of years ago; now, life beyond these domes is nearly impossible. To help humanity heal faster, “AutoReivs,” humanoid-like machines, have been constructed to aid humans in their daily lives. AutoReivs, on the other hand, have begun to contract an unexplained disease known as the “Cogito Virus,” which offers them self-awareness. Re-l Mayer, the granddaughter of Romdo’s king, is tasked with investigating the occurrence with her AutoReiv partner Iggy. However, what starts out as a routine investigation quickly turns into a conspiracy as Re-l is confronted with humanity’s greatest atrocities.
In Romdo, an AutoReiv specialist named Vincent Law must also confront his demons when strange events begin to occur around him. Re-l, Iggy, Vincent, and the young AutoReiv dubbed Pino will forge an unexpected alliance as they work to solve Romdo’s secrets and, ultimately, learn the true purpose of the mythological entities known as “Proxies.”
With the development of “Machinart,” a machine magic capable of bringing life and intelligence to mechanical dolls, the Walpurgis Royal Academy of Machinart was formed. Its aim: teach expert puppeteers to operate the automatons since militaries across the globe have begun incorporating Machinart into their troops.
Raishin Akabane and his humanoid automaton Yaya must fight one of the top hundred students, a battle of puppeteers wielding their automatons for the Evening Party. The winner is crowned “Wiseman” and gains access to the powerful forbidden arts.
A duel is set up, but Sigmund is attacked by other students before it can even begin. Raishin cancels the duel after saving his opponents from their attackers but must find a new route into the Party. Raishin struggles alongside Yaya to become the Wiseman, driven by his past tragedies.
After the Second Great Kanto Earthquake devastated Tokyo in 2032. MegaTokyo is the result of the efforts of mechanical animals known as “Boomers.” Originally intended to assist humanity, the enigmatic Genom business now creates Boomers, a new type of powerful weaponry that can disguise itself as people.
There is a new special force to combat Boomer-related crimes. The AD Police are overwhelmed by crime and strength discrepancy, leaving them powerless against the Boomers. The inhabitants’ sole hope for safety is a mystery vigilante group called the Knight Sabers, who wear military-grade powersuits. These lovely females, led by Sylia Stingray, knock out any Boomer who gets in their way.
AD Police Files
In MegaTokyo, the year is 2027, six years before the Knight Sabers make their appearance. Boomers, artificial humans, are still a relatively new invention, and their installation and assimilation into society is still rather shaky – often dangerously so. However, if a boomer event occurs, the Advanced Police, a special squad trained to deal with boomer crimes, are on the scene.
Leon McNichol is a newbie in the AD Police, and he is only now becoming acquainted with the atrocities and tragedies that occur on a daily basis in MegaTokyo. He and his seasoned companion, Gina Marceau, soon realize the ever-fading line separating man from machine.
So there it is anime fans. 35 of the best cyberpunk anime series and movies you have to check out. Our team of anime experts had some help from the internet, and we’ve compiled this list. We hope you enjoy it! Which ones are your favorites? Did we miss any that should be on here? Let us know in the comments so we can add them to our watch list too.