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8 Hard Sci-Fi Anime That Are Realistic and Entertaining

Sci-fi plots that aren't too "out there."

hard sci-fi anime
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  • Photo Credit: Sunrise

Anime is known for its outlandish plot lines—when the medium is drawn, anything is possible! 

Sci-fi favorites like Cowboy Bebop, Stein's Gate, and even One Punch Man have been ranked by viewers as some of the best anime of all time. But what if you're looking for something that leans toward realism?

RELATED: 30 of the Best Anime Characters Ever

If you're partial to hard sci-fi, there are incredible anime options, so long as you know where to look. These eight hard sci-fi anime are inspired by real science, and ready to binge today. 

Moonlight Mile

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  • Photo Credit: Studio Hibari

An adaptation of Yasuo Ōtagaki's manga of the same name, this anime first premiered in 2007, and ran for two seasons. 

After Saruwatari Gorou and Jack "Lostman" Woodbridge scale Mount Everest and spot the ISA Space Station, the mountaineers are determined to extend their travels to outer space. 

The ISA launches a research program in search of a new energy source, so Gorou joins as a construction worker, while Lostman joins as a pilot. 

This adult drama follows the paths they take to pursue their dreams, as space development and political tensions unfold around them.

Armored Trooper VOTOMS

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  • Photo Credit: Bandai Visual Company

This military sci-fi mecha anime was first released in 1983, though a number of spinoffs followed its original run. 

The nations of Gilgamesh and Balarent have reached a reluctant truce, after a century of galactic war. Armored Troopers (otherwise known as VOTOMS) have been the weapon of choice throughout the conflict, even though the chance of survival for the pilots is extremely low.

Trooper pilot Chirico Cuvie has just been taken out of the Red Shoulder Battalion and transferred to a new unit. 

When he's betrayed and left for dead, he searches for the truth behind the fateful operation. 


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  • Photo Credit: Sunrise

Airing in 2003, this 26-episode series follows the crew of the DS-12 "Toy Box."

As part of the Space Debris Section of the Technora Corporation, the crew is tasked with the prevention of damage to satellites, space stations, and spacecrafts. The crew of Toy Box is looked down upon by the rest of the Section, and strive to prove themselves through exploratory missions.

Throughout the series, Planetes is informed by real-life science, and centers around the realistic ethical and political dilemmas of space exploration. 

Knights of Sidonia

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  • Photo Credit: Polygon Pictures

Released in 2014, this series is set in the year 3394, a millennium after the Gauna aliens forced humans to flee Earth. 

Sidonia is a colossal generation spacecraft built from the remains of Earth, which has perfected human cloning and genetic engineering. Hulking weapons powered by Higgs particles and called Gardes are used to keep the spacecraft safe. 

Nagate Tanikaze is a lower-class resident of Sidonia who's destined to rise to a life as a Garde pilot, and protect the ship from the threat of the Gauna.

Starship Operators

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  • Photo Credit: J.C. Staff

First aired in 2005, Starship Operators follows a cadet class at the Defense University of the Planet Kibi. 

After taking their ship, the Amaterasu, out on its first voyage, the class returns to find Kibi taken over by a galactic super-power. 

While the Amaterasu's original crew surrenders, the cadets agree not to stand down. However, in order to fund their mission, they must broadcast their daily lives as a reality TV show.


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  • Photo Credit: Dentsu

This cyberpunk series—which premiered in 2012—is considered by many to be one of the best science fiction anime. 

In a futuristic Japan, a powerful computer network called the Sibyl System analyzes the brains of citizens to determine the likelihood of criminal activity. 

When an individual's "Crime Coefficient" index reaches a certain point, they are pursued by law enforcement. 

Elite officers—Inspectors—are then paired with potential criminals who protect them as they evaluate crime scenes. 

Classroom Crisis

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  • Photo Credit: Lay-Duce Productions

This 2015 anime takes place in a future in which space colonization is possible. 

Aeronautics corporation Kirishina Corp. has opened an academy on Mars. 

Within that academy is a specialized class, full of incredibly talented students in charge of designing rockets. 

The ensuing series is full of both high school drama and high tech. 

Space Brothers

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  • Photo Credit: A-1 Pictures

Adapted from its original manga format in 2012, this series follows brothers Mutta and Hibito Nanba. After seeing what they believe to be a UFO, they vow to journey into space—Hibito toward the Moon, while Mutta sets his sights on Mars.

In 2025, Hibito is an accomplished JAXA astronaut preparing for a mission on the Moon. 

Mutta hasn't found success quite so easily, but he dedicates himself to achieving his dream just like his brother did.