The Sci-Fi genre was one of the most popular genres in the decades leading up to the year 2000, and it wouldn’t be too absurd to claim it as one of the most iconic during that time too.
Especially in the 1990s, some Sci-Fi series emerged and forever transformed the medium, achieving cult status.
And one of the elements that make these series so captivating is undoubtedly their space setting, the stage for epic battles between mecha and spacecraft.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best anime from the 1990s set in Space for you. All you need to do is read it, decide what to watch tonight, and enjoy an excellent anime.
Table of Contents
10. Outlaw Star
Outlaw Star is based on a famous seinen manga and the anime adaptation aired in 1998.
We are in the future called the Towards Stars Era in which many star systems have been opened to space traffic. Gene Starwind and James Hawking run a small, unassuming handyman agency to make a living.
One day they are hired to protect Captain Hilda, who is piloting a spaceship, the XGP-15A II, also nicknamed Outlaw Star, in search of a legendary location that holds immense treasure.
But as usual, evil-doers, lurk in every corner ready to take advantage at any time, and this situation is no exception.
Outlaw Star is a remarkable space-themed anime, with a plot and atmosphere centered around mercenaries, bounty hunters, and space pirates.
If you’re seeking an anime set in space with a strong emphasis on adventure and action, this series is undoubtedly a safe shot.
9. Turn A Gundam
Turn A Gundam is one of several series within the expansive and iconic Gundam universe. It originally aired in 1999 and concluded after 50 episodes.
It is the year 2345, and following a period called The Dark Age, Earthlings have now forgotten that they once ventured into space and have taken disconcerting steps backward in terms of technological evolution.
In the meantime, a group of Earthlings has continued to live in space. After careful consideration, they have decided to send three boys to Earth with the task of determining whether a peaceful return to the planet is possible.
Turn A Gundam is a fantastic series that appeals to everyone, whether you’re a dedicated fan of the Gundam franchise, a mecha enthusiast, or just someone who enjoys space-themed anime.
This is thanks to its diverse plot, which deviates from the usual Gundam conventions while still delving into themes related to war and its consequences.
As for the space setting, there’s no need to worry. The story begins with a mix of Earth and space scenes, gradually shifting more towards open space as the series progresses, particularly during its intense battle sequences.
Memories is an experimental anime film released in 1995, and it’s safe to say it’s one of the most intriguing and distinctive movies, even though it might be considered somewhat niche.
The film is divided into three distinct stories, each with its own plot:
The first episode recounts the adventure of four astronauts who respond to an SOS and become trapped in a dream-like journey.
In the second episode, an employee of a pharmaceutical industry accidentally ingests an untested product, leading to strange consequences.
And last, the third episode offers a glimpse of a fictional world perpetually at war, set in a creepy dystopian landscape.
Memories is a truly unique creation, not only in the realm of space anime but in the entire anime industry.
It incorporates dreamlike, dark, and even macabre themes and atmospheres, all intricately woven into the backdrop of space.
Trust us when we say that we aim to reveal as little as possible to preserve the full experience. All we can do is encourage you to explore it if you’re looking for something outside the ordinary and not for everyone.
7. The Irresponsible Captain Tylor
The Irresponsible Captain Tylor is a 1993 series and a true parody of the other anime on this list.
In the distant future lives Justy Ueki Tylor, a lazy and naive young man with the ability to save himself whenever he finds himself in dangerous situations in incredibly comical ways.
But one day, thanks to a series of incredible strokes of luck that lead Tylor to rescue the Admiral of the interplanetary organization United Planets Space Force from a kidnapping, he finds himself in command of a spaceship.
And this will set off a long sequence of incredible events whose consequences you can only imagine.
The Irresponsible Captain Tylor is an incredibly comic and light anime, and as we told you above, a parody of the genre in its own right.
You know what you are getting into by watching it, but if that is what you are interested in, then there is no way you can miss it.
6. Crest of the Stars
Crest of the Stars is an action romance anime released in 1999 in 13 episodes from which a sequel was also made in 2000 called Banner of the Stars.
The story is set in a future where humans are at war against an empire of genetically modified beings called Abh.
In this setting Ghintec, an ordinary boy, is about to become a count of the Abh, so he must learn their customs, along with Princess Lamirth.
Crest of the Stars packs vintage Sci-Fi, action, war, romance, and more than a few political intrigues into its 13 episodes, making it a series not to be overlooked.
And much like its sequel, which we would have loved to include in this list but can’t since it came out in 2000, it boasts an incredibly well-crafted space setting that perfectly integrates with the series’ world-building and themes.
5. Martian Successor Nadesico
Mobile Battleship Nadesico is a 1996 series that’s an eccentric and over-the-top parody of the mecha genre.
The story takes place in the year 2196 when Earth is under attack by the Jupiter Lizards, an alien race.
To fight back against the invaders, the planet turns to Nergal Heavy Industries, a private company that has created a powerful armed spaceship called the ND-001 Nadesico.
But because the ship’s technology is incredibly advanced, finding people to pilot it is not an easy task.
This is how Akito Tenkawa, a talented young man who hates fighting and would rather stay at home watching anime, is hired for this duty. And here he’ll meet Yurika, Nadesico’s captain, his future love interest.
Nadesico remains enjoyable thanks to its blend of comedy, mecha action, and romance, with some serious drama interludes too.
Once again, this is a satire on the mecha genre too so we recommend it to anime fans who have some knowledge of it, otherwise they will miss out on a lot of references.
And with the series alternating between Earth and space when they are aboard the Nadesico, you won’t be disappointed.
4. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, spanning 49 episodes from 1995 to 1996, is set in the post-colonial year 195, where Earth and its colonies are under the control of a clandestine organization known as Oz.
In response to this tyranny, a rebellion dispatches five young Gundam pilots to Earth, igniting a war that holds the fate of humanity in its hands.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is yet another outstanding addition to the expansive Gundam universe, and that’s a fact.
And like its counterparts, it adeptly explores the theme of war and its profound impact on both those who wage it and those who endure its consequences.
Whether you’re a Gundam enthusiast or not, this series is an absolute must-have on your watchlist.
And just like any respectable Gundam series, there is no shortage of an excellent space setting that provides the backdrop for breathtakingly choreographed mecha fights.
3. Legend of the Galactic Heroes Gaiden
Legend of the Galactic Heroes Gaiden is another installment of Legend of the Galactic Heroes, released approximately a decade after the original iconic series.
Its plot serves as a prequel to the main series, structured as a series of short stories that revolve around Reinhard von Lohengramm and Siegfried Kircheis, focusing on their lives before the main storyline.
If you’re a fan of the original series and want to explore its fictional universe in greater depth, Legend of the Galactic Heroes Gaiden is a perfect choice.
Discovering the origins of the characters and events that led to the main storyline can be incredibly captivating.
And like the main series, the space setting in this space opera is among the best you can find. All the events, from everyday life scenes to epic spaceship battles, take place in space.
2. Macross Plus
Macross Plus is a four-episode OAV released in 1994 that serves as a sequel to the iconic Super Dimensional Fortress Macross series.
Set in the year 2040, three decades after the momentous war between Humans and Zentradi seen in the original series, the Supernova Project commences on the space colony Eden.
This project involves testing and evaluating two new models of space fighters, with the plane that passes all tests slated for use by the military.
But fate takes a curious turn as the two pilots selected for these tests are Isamu Alva Dyson and the half-Zentradi Guld Goa Bowman, childhood friends and former lovers who now harbor deep resentment for each other.
And their strained relationship is further complicated by the arrival of Myung Fang Lone, the source of their past discord.
But an unexpected threat forces them to set aside their differences and unite against a common enemy.
Macross Plus is a must-watch for fans of the original Macross series and for anime set in space lovers.
It preserves the franchise’s best elements, including its vintage style, comedic moments, mecha battles, romance, and a healthy dose of innovation, making it simply excellent.
But this doesn’t imply that it’s merely a rehash of the original series, quite the opposite. Macross Plus, while preserving its standout attributes, has a distinct vibe and narrative.
And does the need to specify how great its space setting is even necessary? You can easily grasp from its plot or if you’re familiar with the original series that its world building is simply excellent.
1. Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop is regarded as one of the best anime series of all time, and it’s unlikely to lose this title anytime soon.
Set in a not-too-distant future where inter-spatial travel is the norm and Mars is a vital part of human life, the show follows a group of bounty hunters, or cowboys, as they chase down intergalactic outlaws.
Meet Spike Spiegel, a bounty hunter, in the year 2071, and witness Spike’s many talents and abilities in hand-to-hand combat and martial arts, garnering a reputation as one of the strongest fighters in the universe.
He chases criminals with his partner, Jet Black, and together they team up with a con artist, a child hacker, and a Welsh Corgi to form a bizarre family.
But when an old enemy comes back into Spike’s life, he must now choose between his past and his newfound family.
Cowboy Bebop was, is, and will be for a long time one of the best choices you can make if you are looking for an adventure, Sci-Fi, set in space, drama, and even a tear-jerking series.
And when it comes to the space setting, there’s nothing to fear because the entire series is set in space.