Most people – with astronauts serving as an exception – spend their who life within the confines of Earth. However, there's no reason anime should have to do the same.
There are plenty of anime about space that allow viewers to feel like they've left Earth's atmosphere. Which are the best space anime? That depends on personal preferences.
Does anime about intergalactic war sound appealing, like the Gundam Series and Legend of Galactic Heroes? Or perhaps a more modern spin on the genre, like the whimsical world of Space Patrol Luluco? Wherever a person's preferences lie, chances are good their favorite narrative beats are more exciting when they happen in space.
The 'Gundam' Franchise
The Gundam franchise is one of anime's largest, most well known properties. Each series focuses on a different set of characters, and a new conflict that often (but not always) involves the military.
Whether you're watching Gundam Wing, G Gundam or SD Gundam, you're sure to get your fill of space-based battles between mechas piloted by human soldiers. The Gundam series served as inspiration for many other mecha and space-based anime that came after it.
The Bebop crew travels from planet to planet in a remodeled fishing trawler, taking on whatever bounty hunting jobs come their way. Most episodes revolve around adventures on new planets or aboard the ship, but a few delve into the protagonists' pasts, providing a deeper look at the fully-realized heroes.
Chances are anime fans have seen at least some of Outlaw Star on Toonami. At the show's start, Gene Starwind has always wanted to travel the galaxy, but he's stuck doing odd jobs instead.
When a mysterious woman named Rachel Sweet hires Gene and his partner James Hawking for a deceptively tricky job, Gene finally gets the chance to board the Outlaw Star spaceship and have his very own adventure in outer space.
Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe takes anime fans back into the great unknown with Space Dandy, a disco-inspired anime that sees its protagonists traveling from planet to planet in search of undiscovered alien species that they register in a database for pay.
Like Watanabe's past work, seemingly simple missions often gets sidetracked by strange events. Diversions include intergalactic dance-offs, a search for rare, magical ramen, and zombie outbreaks. This show makes great use of its outer-space setting, and remains entertaining in every episode.