The 25 Best Cyberpunk-Themed Anime Of All Time (Movies + Series)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Few subgenres of sci-fi could be more titillating than one that fuses urban, dystopian, and technological themes to the point that they’re almost figuratively symbiotic.
After all, Cyberpunk often tackles what most genres couldn’t.
And that’s answering the very real question of: “What if?”
With technology advancing left and right, offering slow & systematic changes in how our society functions as a whole, it’s only natural to wonder just where we’d end up in the near future.
And these ideas can be easily expressed in Anime.
Case in point, which anime offers us the freshest perspectives with cyberpunk themes? Here’s some of the best ones that you should definitely check out.
25. Midnight Eye: Gokuu
Here we’ve a classic from the ’80s that’s one of the forerunners of the cyberpunk genre in anime.
Not to be confused with the particularly likable musclehead main character of the Dragonball series, this anime’s protagonist is a former detective who had gone too deep in his investigation about his colleague’s murder.
On the verge of death, he received a cyborg-esque artificial eye that allowed him to connect to any computer network in the world – essentially giving him “God’s eye”.
Pretty cool, right?
Rife with the futuristic crime-fighting theme that’s reminiscent of another timeless classic of a film — Robocop, Midnight Eye: Goku might be a shorter watch than most titles on this list.
But it’s still worth keeping an eye on.
24. Angel Cop
Angel Cop is one of the several titles that came out in the “golden age” of OVAs.
It features a few good bits of what makes a cyberpunk anime, well, a good cyberpunk anime.
It’s also not afraid to show them in the form of unapologetic depictions of violence and gore in its action scenes.
With very few weak points (namely its inconsistent soundtrack and its somewhat controversial storyline) this anime is worth the watch for the more hardened and open-minded anime fans.
Have you ever wondered what would happen to humanity after the hypothetical event of a third world war?
Appleseed gives us an interesting possible rendition of the events from the perspective of Deunan Knute and Briaeros Hecatonchires — partners in the battlefield/former lovers who uncovered a plot unfurling behind the scenes.
The story introduces us to a world where half the population has become altered half-human and half-machines, aptly called Bioroids.
And surprisingly enough, the AI isn’t actually the bad guy in the movie.
The people who created SKYNET better take notes!
I would highly recommend watching the most recent releases of this title, though, since they’re all an improvement compared to the original OVA in almost all of its aspects – without deviating too much from the source material.
22. Virus Buster Serge
For a seemingly interesting story that unfolds at Neo Hong Kong in the not-so-distant future of the year 2097, Virus Buster Serge leaves a few things to be desired in its execution.
The series follows a man named Serge Train who, along with his fellow members of the counter-virus organization called “STAND”, must face the deadly threat called “The Incubator”.
Despite some obvious flaws, the narrative this anime presents about the potential uses and dangers (mostly) of biotechnology is still an interesting premise on its own.
Also, Virus Buster Serge is the TV series debut piece of Masami Ōbari — a household name in the Japanese sci-fi industry.
So you might be interested here if you’re a fan of his other works.
21. Cybernetics Guardian
Are you into blood-boiling, rage-fueled, metal-themed action scenes that scream bloody murder?
If so, here’s one for you.
Much like Virus Buster Serge, Cybernetics Guardian features a story that teeters closely within the field of biotechnology.
The main character John Stalker unknowingly started events that quickly catapulted the story off to a screeching start.
Namely after testing a demon-possessed mecha suit that was originally designed to be the solution to rising urban crime.
Well, in a way it did turn out to be just that.
After all, if you ever go on a rampage as a cyber-beast killing machine, who knows how many bad guys you’ll kill along the way.
20. Ultraviolet: Code 044
You’ve probably heard of 007 and Agent 47.
But 044, the protagonist of this series, is one remarkable codenamed agent/soldier/assassin.
Although set in a highly intriguing futuristic society where scientific development is at its peak, the story mainly focuses on 044’s development as a character.
Naturally, this also includes her journey to discovering her more ‘human’ side – and how she interacts with the world given her former status as an enhanced soldier.
The series does leave much to be desired in terms of action scenes and fight choreography, just as many of the sci-fi titles that came out in the earlier years of anime.
Though on the flip side, the main character’s design and character development more than make up for this otherwise glaring flaws – which positively deems this anime worthy of a peek.
Do you ever get tired of tragic stories that highlight humanity’s greed, and how it eventually contributes to our downfall?
Of course not.
Our ability to both wallow and find irony in our own self-deprecation is one of our more admirable traits as a species, after all.
Enter Genocyber: a series that discusses how a corporatocratic society (quite a mouthful, I know) brought about by humanity’s bid for control and power almost destroys the world.
Even with the somewhat convoluted and ambiguous final OVA episodes that left the fates of many characters up in the air, Genocyber still does a good job presenting itself in a unique and powerful way.
Of course, it also needs to be said Genocyber is quite possibly the goriest and most violently graphic title on this list.
In fact, it’s one that I wouldn’t really recommend for anime fans with weaker stomachs.
But I would suggest it if you don’t mind some R-rated scenes in your viewing experience.
18. Dirty Pair
How about something a bit sexier and charming?
As one of the very few light-hearted entries in this list, Dirty Pair is a series with multiple adaptations that encapsulates the retro vibes of 80’s anime pretty darn well.
Hilariously once code-named “Lovely Angels”, the protagonists Yuri and Kei are most known for the nickname.
Something they’ve unknowingly cultivated after their misadventures throughout the galaxy as…
You guessed it.
Yuri and Kei are the “Dirty Pair”.
Trouble Consultants (that’s rich) who often leave more problems than the ones they solve.
This is the main premise where the anime derives most of its comedic kicks from, which is in no way a bad thing for the series as a whole.
I mean, it has two magnificent waifus and a story that doesn’t take itself too seriously to boot.
What more could you want?
17. Bubblegum Crisis
Boomer alert! Uh, no.
And not the dead meme kind.
Bubblegum Crisis is one of the more well-known girls-with-guns-themed cyberpunks that first came out before the ’90s.
It features a story that revolves around the rise in numbers of Boomers – which are essentially mechanical constructs that were created with the intent to help humankind.
But surprise surprise, these Boomers were eventually turned into weapons by an evil corporation called Genom – the main antagonistic force in the series.
With the whole world facing a crisis, the stakes perfectly set up the main protagonists of the vigilante group called Knight Sabers to beat the evil Boomers back to where the sun doesn’t shine.
Power Rangers style.
16. Cyber City Oedo 808
This cyberpunk series offers an anime with an extra emphasis on ‘punk’.
Set in the faraway future of 2808, Cyber City Oedo 808 is no doubt a wild and rambunctious watch – in all the good ways.
Led by a cast of three convicted felons with hundreds of years of jail sentences to their names, they’re forced to cooperate with one another to become the do-gooders to lessen their jail time.
It’s a premise that’s not necessarily unheard of.
But its three colorful and entirely unique main characters (along with the high stakes that drive the story) are more than enough to grab anyone’s attention.
After all, what could drive up the tension more than an old-fashioned high school battle royale-style exploding collars?
15. Dimension W
Finally, the first title that didn’t come out before the 2000s makes its appearance.
Personally, I see this show as one of the more underrated titles on this list.
And definitely one of the strongest cyberpunk titles to come out recently.
Instead of getting too into the sci-fi side of things, this anime focuses more on the day-to-day adventures of Kyouma Mabuchi.
He’s a Coil-hater, and it follows his unlikely yet slowly developing relationship with a Coil named Mira Yurizaki.
The anime has 12 good episodes in total.
And although some might argue that the adaptation barely did its manga counterpart justice, it’s still a solid watch – and deserving of its place on this list.
14. Ergo Proxy
You’ve probably noticed that most of the anime on this list has some pretty dark themes.
But Ergo Proxy is dark in a psychological and philosophical kind of way.
It’s the kind of series that, upon watching it, will really make you think.
Are you partial to watching a complex, damn near-masterpiece of a dystopian series that would most likely stimulate your existential beliefs?
Ergo, you should see Ergo Proxy.
You won’t regret it.
Texhnolyze is yet another cyberpunk aimed at mature audiences.
Its characters symbolize different archetypes in their dark and unforgiving city of Lux — each with their own aspirations and motives.
The show has an interesting premise revolving around Texhnolyzes — individuals with altered physiology and superhuman capabilities.
However, the show’s strength not only relies on its core idea, but also on its characters and how they (with their uniqueness) interact with the world around them.
In addition to the show’s compelling characters and core idea, the show’s slow yet solid plotline and realistic grittiness make it more than worthy of a watch.
12. Megalo Box
Megalo Box shares one element with texhnolyze:
They both have an archetypal “fighter” as their main character.
But that’s about as far as their similarities go.
Megalo Box is a series about a man trying to make ends meet, and thrive against all odds in the neo-boxing world where only fighters with the best Gear can succeed.
This is a bit ironic since “Gear” is also a term for steroids IRL, but nevermind that.
In its essence, Megalo Box is an anime about an underdog.
It comes with great blood-pumping action scenes, and a rivalry storyline that just sweetens the deal even more.
11. Akudama Drive
Here we have the wild, bombastic, and adrenaline-pumping title that is Akudama Drive.
Set in a dystopian world where criminality is at an all-time high, and public executions have made a comeback, this story follows a group of hardened professional criminals called the Akudama.
Oh, and an ordinary civilian girl who somehow got roped into joining their crazy group.
Filled with intense action scenes, remarkable characters, and a realistic plot where not even the main characters are safe from being killed off, Akudama Drive is worth every single minute of your watch time.
10. Dennou Coil
Dennou Coil comes in as a heavy contender in the category for the “most misleading anime of all time”.
And don’t be fooled by its younger characters.
Although it’s not to the extent that something like, say, The Promised Neverland, this show touches upon some pretty dark themes.
The story is focused on a bunch of kids running around and trying to fix the corrupted virtual world.
This forces them to band together, while also being pitted against each other at certain times throughout their journey.
9. Serial Experiments Lain
For this spot we have Serial Experiments Lain — an anime that’s heavily driven by philosophical concepts, just like most titles in the cyberpunk genre.
For a story that starts with an in-depth overtly complex exposition of the plot from the get-go, it eventually wraps up satisfyingly by the end.
And it does this in a way that more than makes up for the headaches you might have had during its runtime.
With it being a title that features almost every dark/controversial theme there is, this anime is certainly one I would not recommend for everyone.
But I definitely would recommend it for the more mature anime fans that long for a truly great cyberpunk series.
8. Macross Plus
Screenwritten by Keiko Nobumoto (who was behind other timeless classics such as Cowboy Bebop and Tokyo Godfathers), it’s no wonder Macross Plus has glimpses of would-be greatness all over it.
With a story and a premise that somewhat deviates from most of the titles on this list, Macross Plus is a pseudo-cyberpunk anime with a great soundtrack, cool gunship battles, and a love triangle subplot that adds an extra spice to the equation.
Oh, I should mention the legendary meth kingpin Heisenberg, Walter White himself, is in the OVA.
Well, not really… but the English dub features Brian Cranston as the voice actor for one of the main characters, Isamu Alva Dyson.
So that’s another reason you might want to check it out.
Let’s dive into the realm of dreams with Paprika.
It’s a surreal and thought-provoking anime film that both satisfies and entertains, all while making you pick your brain at times.
The story introduces the concept of how technology affects us, and essentially changes our perception of dreams and reality.
It’s all wrapped in a neat yet adult-oriented package that, once again, I could only recommend for older audiences.
What makes this anime stand out is the chilling ambiguity of its imagery and storytelling – so much so that it’s hard to actually put it into words.
It’s much like Inception, for example.
Years later and there are still wars waged online as to what the spinning top at the end of that movie meant.
In the end, it intends to be just as it is.
A movie that’s naturally vague and mind-bending.
After all, it is a film about dreams.
And dreams, well, they’re not exactly one of the most explainable concepts there is.
6. Neo Tokyo
Set in the same universe where the events of Akira transpired, Neo Tokyo comes into our list offering a completely different experience from the other anime we’ve seen so far.
Neo Tokyo is a collection of three stories— each film having a completely different plot and subject matter they tackle.
With it being thematically related to Akira, you can already expect a dark yet solid plot, unique and interesting characters, and phenomenal artwork that’s reminiscent of the cyberpunk classic that came before it.
Each of the following anime has earned an instant hard recommendation from me.
And Psycho-Pass, undoubtedly, has not only earned but demanded its right to be part of the conversation.
It has a thrilling and engaging plot that goes hand-in-hand with a psychologically stimulating premise that’s set in a dystopian world — its elements mirroring that of a great sci-fi movie called Minority Report.
The show’s strongest point is its two lead characters and the main antagonist — all of whom carry the already-remarkable title on their backs, emphasizing just how great of an impact good characters can be on any anime.
Who said that a minimalist work of art with barely any dialogue, narration, or exposition couldn’t be super entertaining?
No one did.
Or I at least hope so, because Blame! exists.
And it’s great.
With its story set in a vast yet nameless place simply called “The City”, Blame! is a black sheep in a sense. Mostly because of how it manages to give away very little, unlike every other anime in this list.
But at the same time, it somehow gives away more.
How well it handles subtlety, in my opinion, is what makes it one of the most well-crafted anime and manga series – not only in the cyberpunk genre, but in anime as a whole.
3. Battle Angel Alita
Featuring one of the most well-known and intricately written female leads in anime, it should not be surprising that Battle Angel Alita made it this high up in the list.
It’s further strengthened by phenomenal writing and brilliant storytelling that tells us the tale of Alita, the main cyborg waif— I mean protagonist of the series.
If you’ve watched and enjoyed its live-action remake that was released just last 2019, then I strongly recommend you watch the anime series as well.
After all, the original material is (without a doubt) better than the movie in most aspects.
2. Ghost in the Shell
Closing in on the top of our ranking, we have Ghost in the Shell.
Quite honestly, it’s the only other title that made this ranking extremely hard for me.
I’d imagine it would be the same for most anime fans as well, I’d imagine.
After all, it’s not that hard to see why this anime spans across several mediums.
It’s just that good.
It has animated movies, OVAs, an anime series, books, heck it even has a live-action remake starring Black Widow herself for the main role!
If you’ve never looked into Ghost in the Shell, definitely give it a try.
For the hard-earned title of “The Best”, Akira comes out at the top after a painfully long consideration.
Sure, anyone could make a case that any others could deserve to be here.
But I’m certain that none of them are as much of a stark representation of what the word ‘cyberpunk’ really is.
Akira is, after all, the very first manga series dedicated solely to the cyberpunk genre.
On the other hand, its anime series also further popularized the genre for the years to come.
To this day, even.
All in all, the godfather of all cyberpunk anime is absolutely worth a watch – and for good reason.