Part of the fun of speculative fiction is seeing what predictions come true and don’t come true. Whether the story in question foresaw a utopian future or a nuclear wasteland, it’s intriguing to see the different futures offered by the creators. These kinds of stories are common in cartoons and, unsurprisingly, many got the future wrong.
Just because an anime made a bad prediction doesn’t mean it’s bad. At worst, errors like these underscore the age of the anime and show how much of a product it is of its time. While it’s nice to see the space travel predicted by some anime, it’s also nice to know that some speculative apocalypses never happened.
ten Fist Of The North Star predicted the world would end in 199X
Fist of the North Star began airing in 1984 and, like almost all fiction made during the decade, the Cold War weighed heavily on it. As such, Kenshiro’s post-apocalyptic saga really began in the early ’90s, when the Cold War got hot and nuclear Armageddon ended the world as Kenshiro’s generation knew it.
The real Cold War and fears of nuclear annihilation thankfully ended in 1991, making Fist of the North Starit isdark and desolate outdated timeline. The anime’s use of the unspecified year “199X” is so outdated that it’s become something of a punchline, with The Excel sagaThe classic post-apocalyptic anime parody is a well-known example of this.
9 Super Dimension Fortress Macross predicted that world unification and space travel would begin in 1999
MacrossThe actual story, which chronicles the war between the UN Space Forces of Earth and the Zentraedi, officially begins in 2009, but the groundwork for this intergalactic war was laid in 1999. A decade before the emergence of the Zentraedi, the disparate nations of Earth united when a giant spaceship crashed into the planet.
Besides the fact that the real 1999 didn’t see Earth become a single nation, actual space travel was still in its infancy. To be fair, humanity’s rapid technological advancements were only possible when the world’s brightest minds reverse-engineered the downed spacecraft that would eventually become the titular SDF-1 Macross.
8 Lain Serial Experiments Predicted a Transhuman Internet in 1999
Whereas Serial Experiments Lain aired between 1997 and 1998 and has been read as speculative fiction set during those years, it has been said to actually take place in 1999. This argument is helped by the anime’s emphasis on the presence creeping internet into everyday life, which was very common and pronounced. in the last twelve months of the 1990s.
That said, Serial Experiments Lain predicted a more technologically advanced 1999 than what actually happened. Not only did Lain and everyone else have the kinds of devices that would only be possible in the 2020s, but the internet was so advanced that transhumanism, the fusion of man and machine, could be achieved by some.
seven Neon Genesis Evangelion predicted a global apocalypse in 2000
Neon Genesis EvangelionThe post-apocalyptic present of is set in 2015, but the world known to older characters like Misato and Gendo ended in 2000. At the turn of the new millennium, a cataclysm known as Second Impact set off a chain of destructive events that began with environmental calamities that culminated in nuclear war between nations.
Natural disasters and armed conflicts were still a harsh reality in 2000, but they were nowhere near as catastrophic as those that shaped Neon Genesis Evangelionof the world. Additionally, the years between 2000 and 2015 saw the development of giant robots and other superweapons, which were only possible due to the discovery of angels.
6 Angel Cop predicted Japanese economic dominance and technological advancements in 2001 and beyond
The 1980s were among Japan’s best economic years, and it even got to the point where the world believed Japan would become the dominant economic power in the decades to come. Unfortunately, Japan’s economic bubble burst, leading to its stagnation in the 1990s that would be collectively known as “The Lost Decade”.
It is a reality that the years 1989 angel cop was disregarded, since its futuristic background hinges on Japan’s continued economic dominance in the 21st century. Additionally, many of the ultraviolent OVA’s technological feats, such as cybernetically enhanced weapons and people, have yet to be mass-produced or even invented in the 21st century.
5 Ghost In The Shell predicted world wars and transhuman progress in 2001 and beyond
One of ghost in the shellThe most overlooked aspects of the franchise are its complex alternate history, as it overrides the franchise’s deep ethos. The cyberpunk dystopia in which Major Motoko Kusanagi lives is set in the year 2029 and was born after two world wars that occurred between the years 2000 and 2030.
In addition to reshaping geopolitics, with Japan becoming the dominant power and America fracturing into three nations, ghost in the shellit is21st century version has seen rapid advances in robotics. By the time the anime began, the line between man and machine was downright erased, which is a technological feat that is still considered unattainable today.
4 Code Geass predicted the mechanized revival of colonialism in 2010
Canonically speaking, Code Geass’ history, in particular Lelouch Vi Britannia leading the war of independence from Japan, began in 2017. Code Geass’ vision of future evil is not just the existence of the Geass or Knightmares but that in its broadcast year of 2006 it predicted that colonialism would return in force in 2010.
In 2010, the British Holy Empire colonized Japan in just 24 hours. This could only have happened thanks to Code Geass’ alternate history, where the British Empire has crumbled and reconstituted itself as the British Holy Empire. It should also be noted that the Empire is not based in the UK, but in North and South America, as well as parts of Asia.
3 Astro Boy predicted an incredibly futuristic 2013
Astro Boy is considered by many to be the first true anime and, unsurprisingly, it’s showing its age. Released in 1963, Astro BoyThe idealistic and fantastical vision of a future where robots and people live together is set in 2013. 2003.
Robots existed in the real 2013, but they’re nowhere near as advanced, let alone sentient, as Atom and Friends and Foes. As for intelligent, super-powerful robots, they are still speculative fiction. Robotic developments are currently in their most rudimentary forms, while artificial intelligence is still in its infancy.
2 Cowboy Bebop predicted space travel would begin in 2021
When audiences first met Spike Spiegel and Jet Black, their dark future was firmly anchored in the year 2071. Besides the fact that spacecraft like the Swordfish don’t currently exist, cowboy bebop really started with a very different take on a familiar year. In short, the intergalactic journey was accomplished in 2021, but an accident in 2022 changed humanity forever.
In 2022, the astral gate accident happened, and this disaster made the Earth uninhabitable and killed most of humanity. Humanity has been forced to expand into the cosmos, leading to cowboy bebopthe reality of space. Today, intergalactic travel is just a theory, and it would take lifetimes before anyone was even close to accomplishing it.
1 Akira predicted a dystopia in 2019 born out of another world war
Akira was released in 1988, and it actually starts the same year. In this alternate 1988, Tokyo is suddenly decimated by a huge ball of fire, and this cataclysm leads to World War III. The film then cuts to 2019, where Tokyo has been reconstructed as a dystopian Neo-Tokyo, which is more a reflection of Japan’s polarizing 80s than an accurate prediction of the future.
Like Japan in the 1980s, Neo-Tokyo enjoyed economic prosperity but saw a rise in youth rebellion. Not only was Japan in real 2019 more peaceful if it was less technologically advanced, but World War III never happened. The closest parallel Akira a reality check was the cancellation of the 2020 Olympics, which happened due to Akira’s revival and the COVID-19 pandemic in the movie and reality respectively.
NEXT: 10 Anime That Set In The Apocalypse