Cyberpunk Anime: A Brief Summary

For almost as long as I've been playing roleplaying games I've been watching anime. Its a medium that has always fascinated me. And its a medium that can teach a lot to us Cyberpunk players. On this page I'll attempt to introduce you to a number of Cyberpunk style anime's that might give you new ideas. Its not a definitive page, and it certainly hasn't been updated in a long time. Originally this page was fairly brief on details in an attempt to avoid spoiling it for new viewers, but in future it will probably take on a bit more depth.

For those who don't know what Anime is, in brief its the name given to Japanese animation. Its grew out of a style based around the animation of 1920-30's France, and is characterized by large eyed characters in hyper realistic settings.

Ghost in the Shell

Perhaps the finest of the Cyberpunk type anime. It is lavishly animated, and well told. The story of a special police force and its attempts to deal with a new type of AI. The story unfolds as Section 9 is forced to deal with a cybernetic criminal who manipulates people via the Net under the name "The Puppetmaster". Not only does it provide some of the best ideas for ICE, it also gives us a real idea what kind of problems might be faced both physically and to a degree psychologically by full conversion borgs.

At its heart GitS is a story about the nature of life, be it living or artificial and the nature of evolution. The drama is played out via the interactions of Major Kusanagi and the PuppetMaster AI. A wide variety of political and social attitudes are covered and more examples of Shirow Masamune's unique take on cyborgs can be seen.

Technology: SimEx, Alpha Grade Combat Bodies, ThermOptic Camoflague, Self Aware AI's, VR Data Retrieval

Bubblegum Crisis and Bubblegum Crash

A superhero story told in a cyberpunk style. Rock and Roll meets babes in power armor. The world of Neo-Tokyo 2033 is much as Cyberpunk describes 2020. The people are largely held under the thumb of the largest corporation on Earth, Genome. And only the mysterious Knight Sabers stand between the people and their oppressor. This series has already spawned a game of its own released by R.Talsorian, using the Fusion rules. But it holds a lot ideas we can use in Cyberpunk. The way a true city of 2020 might look and some clues about the culture. It illustrates the fact that an entire city isn't likely to be burned out slums. Plus very cool tech.

Technology: Power Armor, Spinners, Robots, AI, New Weapons

AD Police

This is the prequel in many ways to Bubblegum Crisis, set in 2032 it tells the tale of Neo-Tokyo's equivalent to the MaxTac squads in 2020. And it gives a very good idea of just how dangerous the job can be. Even more gritty and oppressive than Bubblegum, it has very human heroes against very inhuman enemies. And it explores some of the issues of conversion to cybernetics. The final episode "The Man Who Bit His Tongue" is probably the original source for Cyberpsychosis, but with a better description of the cause.

Technology: Pleasure Droids, The Rating of Cyber Versus Human,

Black Magic: M-66

Black Magic is a tale of technology gone haywire. Modern Battle Robots that go wild when an accident causes the transport they are on to crash. Its a really good illustration of the trials a maxtac team might face. It also has very little at all with the manga of the same title.

Technology: Combat Drones, Cyborg Defensive Systems, AV/Spinner Alternatives

Cyber City Oedo 808

Cyber City is 3 related stories following the efforts of 3 ex-cons forced to work for the police department to work off their sentences. Some of the cybernetics is a little (okay a lot) on the superhero side, but the evil fashion in which the ex-con's police supervisor works is pure cyberpunk. Each con is forced to wear a remote detonated collar, booby trapped to prevent removal. It can be set off by a button or set on a timer. The police coordinator simply assigns time limits to missions...solve the crime in 5hrs or else. The city itself is more high tech than 2020, but the concepts still work. Plus Cyber City has a very X-files feel to it. I'll avoid vampires but necroborgs, necroAI's and psiborgs could all be used effectively.

Technology: Nanotech, Man Machine Links, Orbital Elevators, Pscionic Augmentation via Cybernetics


The prototypical anime classic set in a dystopia of the future where government forces experiment with mind augmentation to create a superweapon and damned near destroy everything as a result. If you ever wanna see gang life in 2020, motorcycles, and more this is for you. While the pscionic aspect of the story doesn't really fit into a traditional cyberpunk setting the corporations and military involved, the juvenile detention style schools and the grubbiness of the city all fit perfectly.

Technology: Multicoloured Tires, ramapant Drug Culture, Orbital Laser Platforms, Pscionic Augmentation


For completeness I'll mention this here. Appleseed the manga is probably one of the finest cyberpunk stories available, and I'll mention it there on a page dedicated to manga. The anime however is a pale reflection, some elements namely the ESWAT take down of terrorists at the beginning is excellent. The rest lags.

Armitage III

This story set on the future Mars is very much a retelling of Bladerunner with a robotic enemy in place of the Nexus 6 replicants. There are differences, the robotic Thirds are only trying to survive, and are being hunted down and destroyed, but it has always reminded me of Bladerunner. But that doesn't mean it has no value. The animation is excellent and some of the tech while futuristic offers some interesting ideas. Plus Mars is a nice potential setting, especially if you liked Total Recall and wanna build on the blue Mars concept.

Technology: Firsts and Seconds, The Self Aware, Self Replicating Thirds, Combat Armor

Over time I'll occasionally add things I feel fit on this page. Reformated December 16th, 2000

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