Ria is an avid anime and sci-fi fan who loves gushing about her latest favorite shows.
With the Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection film slated for a February 2019 release in Japan, English-speaking fans probably have a while to wait for its international release. Since the film can only accomplish so much in 90-120 minutes, fans will also probably still be itching for more action afterward.
Here are 10 classic and modern anime recommendations for fans seeking mecha and sci-fi anime with great plot twists.
In the future, Mars and Earth have maintained a tentative peace - but that illusion is shattered after a Martian princess appears to be killed in a terrorist attack on Earth. The princess' new and former allies face a delicate situation, with shifting loyalties and secrets threatening to get them killed, if a mecha battle doesn't kill them first.
Aldnoah.Zero's second season was mildly disappointing, but the series is still great overall, and doesn't quite have the level of absurdity that Code Geass does. It has some memorable supporting characters, though the primary protagonist, Inaho, is one-dimensional and fails to keep viewers' interest for long.
Mobile Suit Gundam 00
Like many Gundam shows, 00 focuses on several mecha pilots and their role in a war. In this iteration, though, the pilots are tasked with trying to prevent acts of war by both sides. Needless to say, their supposed pacifist role gets messy.
Whereas Code Geass has the Empire of Britannia as the overarching antagonist, Gundam 00's loyalties get even more complicated. The character drama is also excellent, and the timeskip between seasons helps introduce new characters while maintaining the screentime of the original cast. The series' second season is also excellent, with plot lines developing and wrapping up well. The movie is lackluster, but overall, Gundam 00 is one of the strongest installments in the franchise in the past twenty years.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Iron-Blooded Orphans is another excellent Gundam series, but it's certainly more brutal than 00, and the internal politics are never as interesting as 00's. In fact, the internal politics make season two incredibly dry at times.
Still, it's a great show with arguably even better characters than 00. Main characters Mikazuki and Orga have a brotherly dynamic that's a breath of fresh air after the angst and drama of Code Geass. The female characters are great, as well, with Kudelia being somewhat more well-written and believable than other archetypical Gundam princess or diplomat characters.
Death Note doesn't have mecha, but it does have a morally gray hero with supernatural powers! This classic show has one of the most memorable main characters in anime history, and for good reason: he's a cold-blooded murderer, though he tries not to kill anybody who doesn't deserve it. The supporting cast is just as compelling, and watching them get caught up in Light and L's game is fascinating.
Side note: Don't watch the Netflix live-action version. Just don't.
Speaking of amazing main characters, check out Steins;Gate. The mad scientist Rintaro Okabe is certainly less morally ambiguous than Lelouch or Light, but he still faces dilemmas that could have world-altering consequences.
Steins;Gate takes its time to get the plot rolling, but when it does, the time-travelling antics get confusing. It's arguably even more confusing than Code Geass' wildest moments. Still, the main cast is well-written and consistent, making them a little easier to deal with than Code Geass' messy cohort.
Steins;Gate 0 is technically an alternate timeline of the main series instead of a sequel, but it's extremely difficult to follow if you haven't watched the main series. The tearjerker ending of Steins;Gate 0 is also much more satisfying if you've watched the original first.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team
Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team is significantly shorter, and thus simpler, than Code Geass. It's such a simple story of love, war, and mecha that some fans might find it a little dull. The two sides to the war are never fully fleshed out, either.
The series' strength, though, lies in its execution and its focus on the characters' struggles. It's well-written and charming, while still being violent and realistic. The cast of characters are warm and memorable, and the battles are convincingly animated despite the series now being over 20 years old. It's a great show to marathon over a weekend, and it hopefully won't leave you as confused and stunned as Code Geass did.
Though Bokurano is a mecha series, it approaches the genre much differently than Code Geass. Bokurano's premise is devastating and brutal, and the toll it takes on its young characters over the course of the show makes for truly captivating television. (Spoiler alert: there is a lot of character death, though it's rarely bloody.)
Bokurano somehow manages to be even darker than Code Geass, which means that it's not a show for kids or anyone who wants to avoid nightmares. That said, it's one of the most under-appreciated shows of the early 2000s, and it's well worth a watch if you think you're up for it.
Psycho-Pass has a dystopian sci-fi setting, but the rebellion and moral dilemmas in the series aren't as dramatic as Code Geass. Instead of flashy mecha battles, Psycho-Pass has more subtle forms of tension that stem from its premise: the implementation of a computer system that tracks citizens' moods and determines their likelihood of committing crimes. Since even mild psychological trauma can set off alarm bells in the system, the series' protagonists are sometimes forced to enact heavy-handed "justice" that doesn't actually solve anything.
Needless to say, this invites a lot of criticism from various "bad guys" who resort to cruel methods to make their displeasure with the system known. Betrayals and mere changes of heart keep viewers on their toes throughout the show, and the movie sequel offers fresh material that builds on the excellent first season. (The second season wasn't as good, but luckily, the first movie is great and the new movies announced for 2019 look promising.)
The Fate franchise waffles between run-of-the-mill swordfighting fantasies and truly devastating and dark series. Fate/Zero falls into the latter category, and while it can be difficult to follow if you're not familiar with the premise, it's manageable as long as you pay attention to the dry exposition of the first few episodes. (Since Fate/Zero is the prequel to Fate/stay night, it arguably makes more sense to watch Zero first, anyway.)
Once the action picks up, though, Fate/Zero is a grisly game of old family rivalries, ancient heroes, and lots of magic. Idealistic heroes, underhanded protagonists, and power-hungry antagonists clash in each slickly-animated episode. This isn't a show that you put on in the background while making dinner - the fighting gets complicated fast! The internal politics are drier than what Code Geass has to offer, though, so Fate/Zero certainly has some pacing issues.
If you want a psychological drama and action series in a more realistic setting, Banana Fish is for you. Though the manga it's based on ended in 1994, this anime just aired in 2018, and was well-received by fans around the globe.
The story spans decades, with its prologue beginning in the depths of the Vietnam war. The teenage protagonist, Ash, takes it upon himself to solve the mystery of a mysterious drug known as 'banana fish.' Like Lelouch, Ash is cunning and sometimes morally gray, but he has to be in order to survive the ruthless gangs around him. There are also parallels between the end of Code Geass and the end of Banana Fish.