Space – More than Just a Setting for Anime Shows and Movies

Some of the most popular things that make up Japanese pop culture include manga, anime tv show, and original video animation (OVA). All of these can easily be acquired by a person living outside of Japan by going to the local bookstore or simply switching on the television.

These mediums serve as a way for Japanese artists to express and share their thoughts to the public. The wide array of genres used by these entertaining illustrations offers something for anybody and everybody, ranging from simple short stories about life to the vast possibilities that lie in outer space.

An Overview of the Most Popular Anime Genres

The world of anime consists of numerous genres that offer just about everything imaginable. Given the long list of highly recommended shows, understanding what each genre is based on can help a person narrow it down to the best ones that match his preferences. The seven most popular anime genres include:


The action genre, as implied, showcases a lot of fights and movement, limiting dialogue to brief interjections, backstories, and battle cries. Anime shows that purely focus on providing the audience with as much action as possible often depict their characters as those coming from warrior families or having supernatural powers.


The drama genre often consists of lengthy dialogues filled with passion and intensity. Depending on what other genre is used in combination with this, the plot of the show typically incorporates conflicts or challenges for the characters to overcome.


The psychological genre is somewhat considered to be a form of horror, given its focus on the deepest, darkest thoughts of the characters. A sense of mystery and philosophy is often intertwined within the stories of psychological anime shows.


Military and mecha are actually two separate genres that focus on wars/political intrigues and science fiction robots/technologies, respectively. These two are often used together to create interesting, action-filled shows such as Macross and Gundam.

Magic or Supernatural

The magic or supernatural genre basically opens up whole other worlds where just about anything is possible.


The romance genre is about love and all the other emotions and complications that come with it. This genre is rarely used on its own and is often intertwined with dramatic or comedic storylines.


The comedy genre usually makes use of real-life settings and provides a light tone from start to finish. The storylines for these shows are often simple and relaxes, leaving watchers in a good mood, episode after episode.

Space – An Anime Setting that Doubles as a Genre

As with many other anime genres, the ones above primarily depend on the plot to effectively leave an impact on the audience. Interestingly, Japan considers a particular setting to double as a genre – space.

Whether the complexities of space are used as a vital aspect of the show’s storyline or space is merely used as a setting, it is undeniable that this genre stands to be among the most interesting ones in the market.

The desire of mankind to traverse the vast galaxies opens up plenty of room for anime shows to incorporate adventure, philosophy, and exploration, among other concepts. Plus, the setting serves as a blank canvas for anime companies to creatively play with striking visual styles and themes.

List of Japanese Space Anime Series and Movies

With the countless possibilities that the space genre has to offer, the number of anime shows that make use of it is also immeasurable. From love stories to epic sagas to alien encounters, a person will surely find at least one space anime show that suits his taste.

As repeatedly cited by popular anime forums and news websites, some of the best space series and movies worth checking out include:

  • Planetes

Planetes is set in the year 2075 when space travel is as easy as going on a road trip. Outer space serves as new territory for mankind where new corporations are built and commercialization grows. The sci-fi show uses space as a new setting for the people of Earth whose dreams and hopes are just as vast as the galaxies.

Genres and Themes: Sci-Fi, Space, Romance, Drama

Aired: October 4, 2003 to April 17, 2004

Number of Episodes: 26

Rating: 8.4 out of 10

  • Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Legend of the Galactic Heroes)

Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu, or Legend of the Galactic Heroes, starts off after the end of a 150-year standoff between the galaxy’s two empires, Galactic Empire and Free Planets Alliance. A generation of new leaders come to power which includes a reserved historian and an idealistic military expert.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Drama, Military

Aired: January 8, 1988 to March 17, 1997

Number of Episodes: 110

Rating: 9.2 out of 10

  • Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop tells of how Earth has become uninhabitable and how mankind has taken refuge in other moons and planets in the year 2071. Peace is kept in outer space by the Inter Solar System Police who is assisted by bounty hunters known as cowboys. The show revolves around the adventures of two cowboys aboard a spaceship called Bebop.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Drama, Comedy, Adventure, Action

Aired: April 3, 1998 to April 24, 1999

Number of Episodes: 26

Rating: 8.8 out of 10

  • Uchuu Kyoudai (Space Brothers)

Uchuu Kyoudai, or Space Brothers, follows the life of two brothers, Mutta and Hibito Nanba. During their younger years, they saw something they believed to be a UFO which piqued their interest in space and led them to make a promise to become astronauts in the future.

Fast forward to adulthood, Mutta finds himself working for an automotive firm, while Hibito is getting closer and closer to becoming the first man from Japan to travel to the moon. Fortunately, an unexpected opportunity is presented to Mutta after he loses his job which gives him another chance to fulfill his childhood dream.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Comedy

Aired: April 1, 2012 to March 22, 2014

Number of Episodes: 99

Rating: 8.6 out of 10

  • Musekinin Kanchou Tylor (The Irresponsible Captain Tylor)

Musekinin Kanchou Tylor, or The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, revolves around Justy Ueki Tylor, a normal man with no sense of passion, discipline, or responsibility. In fact, his ultimate plan in life is to join the military and get a desk job before relying on a pension check for his retirement.

However, his life becomes a bit more complicated when he somehow gets into a hostage situation and saves an Admiral. He is given the honor of becoming the captain of Soyokaze, a space cruiser that could either make or break the future of Earth, depending on Tylor’s decisions.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Military, Comedy

Aired:  January 25, 1993 to July 1993

Number of Episodes: 26

Rating: 8 out of 10

  • Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 (Star Blazer 2199)

Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199, or Star Blazer 2199, is a space, military drama that features Earth in 2199 being attacked by the Gamilas, an alien race. With the unrelenting bombings being done to the planet, it is anticipated that all of mankind will be extinct within a year.

A small glimmer of hope is ignited by an offer from Iscandar, a mysterious planet, about a device capable of restoring the former peace and glory of Earth. A crew commanded by Captain Juuzou Okita is sent to Iscandar to accept the offer. Their 148,000 light-year journey aboard the Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 is everything but smooth sailing.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Drama, Military, Action

Aired: May 25, 2012 to October 25, 2013

Number of Episodes: 26

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

  • Mobile Suit Gundam

Mobile Suit Gundam is set during the Universal Century, particularly in the year 0079. Mankind now lives in space in colony clusters referred to as Sides. A war with the Earth Federation is declared by a Side known as Principality of Zeon. This Side makes use of mobile suits, which are humanoid robots, to gain the upper hand.

Several months into the war, Earth’s governmental body develops its own mobile suit known as Gundam. As the Principality of Zeon attacks the Side where Gundam is being housed, a teenage civilian by the name of Amuro Ray is thrown into the whole mess and soon finds himself a part of a life changing quest.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Mecha, Military, Action

Aired: April 7, 1979 to January 26, 1980

Number of Episodes: 43

Rating: 7.9 out of 10

  • Space Adventure Cobra

Space Adventure Cobra is a movie about an infamous space pirate named Cobra who is enlisted by a bounty hunter called Jane to save her sister from Crystal Boy, an unusual and mysterious being. Cobra soon finds himself in a complicated situation involving the fate of a wandering planet.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Adventure, Action

Aired: July 3, 1982

Number of Episodes: 1

Rating: 7.2 out of 10

  • Sidonia no Kishi

Sidonia no Kishi follows the life of Nagate Tanikaze during the year 3394. With Earth having been destroyed by the alien race known as Gauna, humanity’s last hope for survival lies on a number of ships that fled to the vast galaxy in search for refuge. Tanikaze and his fellow soldiers live beneath the ship Sidonia which the Gauna soon discover and attack.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Mecha, Action

Aired: April 11, 2014 to June 27, 2014

Number of Episodes: 12

Rating: 7.85 out of 10

  • Macross: Do You Remember Love?

Macross: Do You Remember Love? is an animated romantic, military space movie that is set during a three-way war between mankind and humanoid aliens known as Zentraidi and Meltrandi.

On the way back to Earth from a quest, Hikaru Ichijo, a young pilot aboard the space fortress known as Macross, rescues Lynn Minmay, a popular singer. They fall in love with each other during the journey to Macross City but their relationship is put to a halt as the Zentraedi capture Minmay.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Romance, Mecha, Military, Action, Music

Aired: July 7, 1984

Number of Episodes: 1

Rating: 8.1 out of 10

  • Seihou Bukyou Outlaw Star

Seihou Bukyou Outlaw Star, or simply Outlaw Star, revolves around Geno Starwind and his crew who are tasked to protect Melfina, a girl surrounded by a series of mysteries. In the hope of finding answers about Melfina’s life, the group travels across the galaxy, encountering space pirates, bounty hunters, and many other interesting, sometimes dangerous, people.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Comedy, Adventure, Action

Aired: January 9, 1998 to June 26, 1998

Number of Episodes: 24

Rating: 8 out of 10

  • Top wo Nerae! Gunbuster

Top wo Nerae! Gunbuster is set in a time when mankind is just starting to explore the vastness of space.

An alien race consisting of insectoid beings is discovered and prompts humanity to develop fighting robots to combat them. Amidst all this, two widely different girls named Noriko Takaya and Kazumi Amano train to become pilots.

They are eventually put in a situation where they need to find a way to work together for the protection of Earth.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Drama, Military, Mecha, Action

Aired: October 7, 1988 to July 7, 1989

Number of Episodes: 6

Rating: 8 out of 10

  • Seikai no Senki (Banner of the Stars)

Seikai no Senki, or Banner of the Stars, follows the story of Lafiel, the captain of the battleship Basroil. Lafiel and his crew set out on a mission to defend the Laptic Gate from a massive force that is fifteen times bigger than their own.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Military, Action, Romance

Aired: April 14, 2000 to July 14, 2000

Number of Episodes: 13

Rating: 7.85 out of 10

  • Ouritsu Uchuugun: Honneamise no Tsubasa

Ouritsu Uchuugun: Honneamise no Tsubasa, or Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, is an animated action, military drama film that follows the ups and downs of Shirotsugh Lhadatt, an unmotivated cadet of the Royal Space Force, and Riquinni Nonderaiko, an enthusiastic young woman who sees a bright future for space exploration.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Drama, Action, Military

Aired: March 14, 1987

Number of Episodes: 1

Rating: 7.7 out of 10

  • Uchuu Patrol Luluco (Space Patrol Luluco)

Uchuu Patrol Luluco, or Space Patrol Luluco, is a light anime show that revolves around Luluco, a bubbly young girl who only wants to live a normal life but soon finds herself working as an undercover space temp in charge of stopping crimes at her school.

Genres and Themes: Space, Comedy, Adventure, Action

Aired: April 1, 2016 to June 24, 2016

Number of Episodes: 13

Rating: 7.7 out of 10

  • Space Dandy

Space Dandy features a mysterious universe filled with even stranger aliens. The show’s main character, Dandy, hunts down unregistered aliens in exchange for rewards. More often than not, his job often lands him in weird situations with mystical ramen chefs, zombies, or other peculiar beings.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Comedy

Aired: January 5, 2014 to March 27, 2014

Number of Episodes: 13

Rating: 7.87 out of 10

  • Memories

Memories is an animated masterpiece by director Katsuhiro Otomo that comes in three parts – Magnetic Rose, Stink Bomb, and Cannon Fodder. Each short story tells its own tale and tackles deep, psychological pains about love, loss, loneliness, and repetition.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Psychological, Horror, Drama

Aired: December 23, 1995

Number of Episodes: 3

Rating: 7.82 out of 10

  • Space Pirate Captain Harlock

Space Pirate Captain Harlock is a space adventure anime by Leiji Matsumoto. The show is set in the year 2977 – a time when humanity has become lazy and robots are in charge of doing all the work.

Disgusted by this mentality, Captain Harlock leads a group of rebels to find a more fulfilling life aboard his ship called Arcadia.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure, Drama

Aired: March 14, 1978 to February 13, 1979

Number of Episodes: 42

Rating: 7.85 out of 10

  • Maetel Legend

Maetal Legend is a two-part OVA that is set in a dystopian future where an artificial sun keeps the planet La Metalle from completely freezing over.

As this sun starts to weaken, the Queen of La Metalle decides to agree with Hardgear’s solution of turning her people into machines that could save the planet. Her daughters Maetel and Emeraldas fight for their human lives.

Genres and Themes: Space, Sci-Fi, Drama

Aired: December 13, 2000 to March 7, 2001

Number of Episodes: 2

Rating: 6.6 out of 10