As NASA Looks to the Moon, Look to These Space-Centric Anime
Turn your eyes to the skies—we’re going back. Today, NASA reveals more information about 2024’s Artemis program. The mission will take us back to the Moon, and then on to Mars. If you’re like us and love space travel, you’re probably super excited.
While we wait for the real program to kick off, we’re looking back at some of our favorite anime featuring astronauts, interplanetary exploration, and high-flying dreams. It’s time for a first watch… or, in many cases… a rewatch!
Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise
Gainax’s feature film maiden voyage launched in 1987, based on a pitch delivered back in their indie Daicon animation days. (Where “back” is “three years prior.”) Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise was the studio’s first release as a commercial entity. While it didn’t make the big bucks at the time, it’s gone on to be hailed as an anime classic. And it’s a perfect watch for anyone interested in NASA and other space missions.
The story takes place on a fictional world with a failing space program. In a last-ditch effort to keep it from being dismantled, they decide to finally kick off their first manned space flight. Between trial and error and shady deals is a stunning story about the duality of human ingenuity. Best of all? The movie is getting a 4K remaster, so you’ll be able to watch it at home looking better than ever!
When they were young, the Nanba brothers made a promise: they’d both become astronauts, and one would go to the Moon while the other aimed for Mars. By the start of Space Brothers, Hibito is well on his way to his lunar landing dreams, and Mutta is… not. But an invitation to a JAXA training program could change all of that.
If you’re really into real-world space travel, Space Brothers hits all the key points of drama. From the training to the actual mission, and even unexpected interpersonal stories, it’s all there. Plus, the brothers’ aim echoes the upcoming NASA mission—the Moon, then Mars!
More in the vein of hard sci-fi is PLANETES, which is less about the hope and excitement of exploration and more about… well, space junk. But in a really realistic way. So realistic, in fact, that JAXA served as consultants for the anime adaptation, and actual NASA figures get referenced in the series.
The story follows collectors of space debris aboard the Toy Box, and touches on several plot threads, including space missions and social issues back on Earth. Chiefly, though, it’s an exercise in character development, as these interstellar garbage people work to prove their worth.