Fanart Friday returns, more than ready for that Chik'thar Hive Maiden. Ick. Last week, we braved the darkest dungeons and the deadliest towers of sorcery with fantasy fanart, but this week we're powering up our Sonic Screwdrivers with a science fiction-themed installment! Aside from all the great literary and live-action sci-fi we've been able to experience, science fiction has been a major part of anime and manga.
Because of the sheer amount of mecha series (almost all of which are science fiction or science fantasy), I've decided to skip most of the mecha titles--besides, we covered mecha in two previous installments. There's literally no way I'm gonna be able to get every important sci-fi work in this installment, but I'll sure as hell try! ENGAGE!
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Let's start with the grandpappy of sci-fi anime, Osamu Tezuka's Tetsuwan Atom, known around the world as Astro Boy. I don't know if they're still around in Japan, but when I lived there, there were these cool Atom Boy sushi bars--it was the first time I had ever seen a conveyor belt sushi bar with color-coded price plates, and it blew my ten-year-old mind.
I remember everybody going absolutely nuts over Steins;Gate last year, but I just couldn't get into it. The whole John Titor thing had burned out for me in like 2003 or so--it was along the lines of somebody making an anime about the Loch Ness monster or that dude from the History Channel who's always talking about aliens.
Akira is not a fun story to read or watch, and post-WWIII Neo-Tokyo is not a fun place to be. Don't get me wrong, it's a good story, but unless you're into horrific dismemberment, cataclysmic destruction, and watching characters you like get mentally ravaged, then you're not going to be having a very good time.
It's easy to forget that Gintama is a science-fiction series. I love how it takes a theme constantly revisited in anime and manga (the Bakumatsu and the end of the samurai) and takes the idea of "foreign invaders" to a hilarious extreme with actual aliens.
In 1966, Star Trek took science fiction out of its "only for supernerds" status and brought the genre to the whole world. Viewers could find people to identify with in its cast, and corny as it was, the original series presented itself as a "workplace" series that took place in space... even with the occasional fistfight. Of course, Star Trek slowly descended back into the "only the nerdiest need apply" category (a badge I proudly wore) until the remake came around, honestly making Star Trek cool again. It's not a bad thing at all.
HMM, I WONDER WHAT GRAVION IS ABOUT. Shameless as it is, Gravion combines mecha, mysterious alien invaders, a pro-wrestling feel and oodles of fanservice to make a surprisingly complete and fun package.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is the anime I often recommend to people who generally don't like anime. Smart storytelling, a cool Blade Runner-like atmosphere, and brutal action make this one a real hit. Plus, Batou is the best.
With its effortless cool and timeless characters, I also keep forgetting that Cowboy Bebop is sci-fi. You could honestly fit it into almost any time period--the only distinctly futuristic character is superhacker Ed.
So yeah... Disney bought Lucasfilm. Nobody really knows what's going to happen next, but here's my wish: a Star Wars anime that retells Episodes I-VI over 52 episodes, animated by either Sunrise or Madhouse (preferably Madhouse). Include in-between Extended Universe content like Splinter of the Mind's Eye and Shadows of the Empire. C'mon, Disney, you know you have the money--and the Marvel anime were only okay at best. Get the Clone Wars writers on it!
I don't know about you, but I am super hella insanely pumped for Gareth Edwards' upcoming Godzilla. Monsters was a pretty awesome movie, so I can't think of anyone better-suited to direct The King of the Monsters' return.
I'm more into grounded, "realistic" sci-fi, but if you're gonna go off the rails, go way the hell off those rails. Star Driver is like an insane cross between Gurren-Lagann and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure--whoever has the most points in "fabulous" and "badass" wins in the end.
It's pretty hard to top Star Trek: The Next Generation in my eyes. It's what made me the massive nerd I still am today. Like the original Star Trek, it went even farther in the "workplace in space" direction, with professional characters who acted like professionals. That, and Picard was a cooler Captain--at least faceless crew members had a longer life expectancy under his command.
In terms of anime, Martian Successor Nadesico is pretty close to the top of my list for great sci-fi anime. It's such a great send-up of sci-fi anime tropes and cliches, with a pretty good story, to boot! I still can't believe they killed off my favorite character after only three episodes...
The toughest question for Leiji Matsumoto fans is whether it's HARLOCK or HERLOCK. In the late '90s and early 2000s, there were US-licensed versions of the anime with both names for the intrepid space pirate.
Following in the same vein as Nadesico, Bodacious Space Pirates is another great sci-fi sorta-spoof that happens to actually be genuinely good at the same time. Although you have no idea how much creepy super-moe fanart I had to sift through to find something that wouldn't get me fired.
You can look at FLCL in several ways: either as a total running riot comedy, a three-hour-long long Pillows music video, or a slick lecture on the awkwardness of puberty, adolescence, and sexual awakening. Really, any one of these works.
Futurama's so good, it even has fans in Japan. The adventures of Fry the Dumbass and his not-much-smarter companions never get old for me. Actually, on that note, I would happily watch a show that's all Zapp Brannigan, all the time.
When I first saw The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, I thought it was about a high school filmmaking club. It's insane how wrong I was. Aliens, time-travel, psychic powers, and much, much more are hidden beneath the series' almost aggressively generic crust.
Y'know, it's funny--the Enterprise always looks like an exploration vehicle. The Millenium Falcon looks like a weird horseshoe-shaped junker. Even the Macross SDF-1 looks like a plain old aircraft carrier. But the Yamato always looks like it's going to kick your ass. It's a very intimidating ship.
While they're pretty commonplace now, Evangelion did a lot of things new to sci-fi anime--like having the pilot absolutely suck at controlling the world-saving super-mecha, or have crippling emotional problems. See, the thing wasn't that "Shinji was a whiny bitch," it's that Shinji was a 14-year-old boy. You don't ask a 14-year-old to get any actual work done. They're fourteen.
Love the games or hate 'em, it's hard to deny that the Halo games have a very rich and developed world. If only the games' stories could do it better justice.
I have a friend who would murder me if I didn't include Doctor Who in this Fanart Friday. I don't mean that in a playful, figurative sense. She would look for me, she would find me, and she would kill me. On a brighter note, I would love to see an animated version of the Doctor's adventures.
Samus' armor is probably making that annoying beeping noise when she's down to her last bit of health. I'm really hoping for a new Metroid installment on the Wii U, and hoping for a cross between Metroid Prime and The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. Really, they could just make a game like Darksiders and call it a day.
Serial Experiments Lain was a very unexpected anime in the late '90s, especially in terms of US licenses--most titles had plenty of action in addition to complex sci-fi plots, but Lain was actually more thoughtful in its approach. Really, it covers a lot of the same themes as Evangelion, but seems to do it in a less ham-fisted way.
Holy crap, what is Dennou Coil about?! We got a request for it last week, and this was the best pic I saw--and it looks awesome!
As one of those shows that got cancelled too soon, Firefly has fans that often veer into the "totally nuts" territory. Ease up, Browncoats--the show is over, you got a movie to wrap it all up, and it still stayed at a pretty high quality throughout (even if Serenity is only okay). I'm a Star Trek fan. I got to see the franchise totally sour with crap like Voyager and Enterprise. Sometimes, longevity is a bad thing.
Go and look up "vs. Aliens" on deviantArt and see what kind of craziness comes up. The H.R. Giger-designed xenomorph from the Alien franchise is one of the most terrifying monsters ever created, so no matter who you match up against them, it's going to be an awesome battle. The artist of this pic has it right, though--evil vs. evil is the way to go with these bugs!
People got way too invested into Mass Effect. Most of the art I looked through involved everybody's custom Shepard paired up with whoever their love interest was... and a baby. Or, y'know, a lot of Garrus and Tali art. Those two do make a really cute couple. God, now I'm doing it.
And that's all for this week!
Here are a few sci-fi favorites I love that I didn't include out of space and variety concerns: Predator, Battlestar Galactica, The Matrix, The Fifth Element, Robocop, The Terminator, Gundam, Stargate, Macross, Xenogears, and even Final Fantasy to some extent. What are some of your favorites that didn't make it into this installment?
Your submissions and requests are always welcome on Fanart Friday, but this coming week is a little bit different. Y'see, my birthday is on the 19th, and I'm starting the celebration a little early with next week's Fanart Friday. I'm being a little selfish and making an installment all about MY FAVORITE THINGS! Don't worry, I won't rant on about football for the entire feature (although the Niners have been having an awesome season), but you'll be seeing fanart from some of my favorite anime, manga, movies, games, and more!
Thanks again for checking out Fanart Friday, and I hope you all have a great weekend!