8 Best Anime Like The Matrix That Fans Will Enjoy | ScreenRant

It can be argued that The Matrix is maybe the closest thing audiences have to a genuinely good live-action anime. While not a remake or reinterpretation of an actual series, The Matrix has always worn its anime influence on its sleeve, and the Wachowskis' deep admiration for films like Ghost in the Shell has resulted in a franchise that feels the closest to what real-life anime should look like.

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With this in mind, it's no wonder there's such a crossover between anime fans and Matrix fans, or that Matrix fans who don't habitually watch anime are often easy converts to the genre-- often turning to commonly recommended series like Akira, Psycho-Pass, and Ergo Proxy. Matrix fans looking for more after seeing Matrix: Resurrections are sure to enjoy these anime cyberpunk stories.

8 Ghost in The Shell 2: Innocence

Considering its well-acknowledged influence on the Wachowskis, it's no surprise that Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in The Shell is often compared to The Matrix. However, much less commonly mentioned is the 2004 standalone sequel, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence--despite it undeniably standing alongside its predecessor as one of the sci-fi anime greats.

Although the Major still makes an appearance, Innocence instead focuses on her second-in-command, Batou, as he takes on a case regarding childlike sexbots. The film is considered much more "cerebral" than GiTS, with a heavier focus on diegetic exploration of some of the more complicated philosophical questions of cyberpunk. Innocence still has all the visual appeal of its predecessor, and fans looking for a complex, thought-provoking take on anime cyberpunk should consider Innocence required watching.

7 Bubblegum Crisis

Bubblegum Crisis is an extremely underrated achievement of '80's anime, standing as a testament to what animators could accomplish with the tools of their era. From the music to the character designs to the coloring, Bubblegum Crisis is emblematically eighties in all the best ways--just like how The Matrix is an inextricably 1990s film.

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A cyberpunk series centering on an all-female group of power-suited knights fighting deadly robots, Bubblegum Crisis's main cast has been especially influential on female characters in anime, with quite a few archetypes modeled after the Knight Sabers. It also pawned a number of spin-off series and remakes, but most consider the best of the franchise to be the original 8 episode OVA series. The episodes are largely standalone explorations of the characters and the world, with plenty of impressive action sequences and animation.

6 Mardock Scramble

An incredibly dark, psychological horror take on cyberpunk, Mardock Scramble is a film trilogy centering cyborg vigilante Rune Balot's quest for revenge against her abusive "father." While not edging into gratuitous, the films are unflinching and graphic in their explorations of themes like sexual trauma, morality, and depression. It's an honest and thorough depiction of Rune's character given what she's been through, but it is rarely easy to experience.

Mardock balances the grim and gritty with well-constructed action sequences--grounding the violence with great animation. For those interesting in cyberpunk horror, Mardock offers an interesting exploration of a character experiencing very human pain and suffering while in a cyborg body.

5 Patlabor 2

Directed by Mamoru Oshii, the first and second Patlabor films are notable for taking an action-comedy mecha series about police robots and exploring its potential for political and philosophical themes. Patlabor 2 is where these themes particularly shine and, while not quite the deconstruction that Neon Genesis Evangelion is often called, Patlabor has gained a reputation for being more than just a mecha anime.

Patlabor 2 acknowledges and interrogates the political implications of the police/government employing mecha, as well as drawing a more purposeful contrast to the mechs in Patlabor being used for both industrial labor and as a military force. It's an incisive exploration of post-occupation Japan and one which makes excellent use of both its medium and its genre.

4 Metropolis (2001)

Frtiz Lang's Metropolis was the first on-screen depiction of a robot, creating the groundwork for the sci-fi genre as it exists. It goes without saying that its influence is everywhere, and it is particularly cited as being on the mind of the Wachowskis. While not the same story, Rintaro's Metropolis contains much of the same central ethos of Lang's film, especially regarding class struggle and exploitation, but with a heavy influence from Osamu Tezuka's 1949 Metropolis manga.

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Metropolis's modernization of the themes of Lang's classic is paired with a much more emotionally driven story about a robot child and her relationship to her identity, purpose, and concept of 'family'. The climax of this conflict remains one of the most striking scenes in animation, effortlessly standing out in a movie already filled with plenty of gorgeous visuals.

3 The Animatrix

The Animatrix should be considered required watching for any Matrix fan, especially for those who already like anime. An anthology film produced by the Wachowskis, the Animatrix is made up of 9 shorts taking place in The Matrix universe. The film provides a solid amount of backstory to the series, though it isn't considered a true prequel, as well as some in-universe side stories and character origins.

The Animatrix has probably one of the most impressive lineups of anime directors possible, boasting films from Cowboy Bebop's Shinichiro Watanabe, Akira's Koji Morimoto, Studio Ghibli animator and GONZO co-founder Mahiro Maeda, and studio Madhouse co-founder Yoshiaki Kawajiri. It goes without saying that the result of these creators' work is an incredible collection of animation. In particular, Maeda's "The Second Renaissance" is an absolutely unmissable standout of The Animatrix, both for its masterful animation and storytelling and for the essential history of the Matrix universe it provides.

2 Serial Experiments Lain

Serial Experiments Lain is well known for being the best experimental cyberpunk anime, just as often considered an avant-garde masterpiece as it is frustratingly confusing. It is an anime that is absolutely not made for casual viewing, demanding nothing less than its audience's full attention in order to get a grasp on the abstract, existential whirlwind that is Lain.

Broadly about a young girl named Lain's growing relationship to a cyber world called "The Wired," the structure of Lain the anime mimics the collapse of Lain the character's identity--becoming more surreal and strange as Lain struggles between what is real and what is Wired and which of them is Reality. It asks similar questions of simulation vs. reality, identity, and technology as The Matrix and many other cyberpunk works do, but its presentation and perspective set it apart as utterly unique.

1 Megazone 23

1985's Megazone 23 is a four-episode OVA that has often been compared to The Matrix, with many believing it to be another anime inspiration for the film.  In fact, Megazone is one of the earliest film depictions of the "simulated reality" cyberpunk story that would become popular over a decade later, featuring themes that would later become staples of the genre,  like environmental devastation, false reality and illusion, militarization, and individualism.

Despite its influence and commercial success, a rocky release history has led to Megazone becoming lesser-known in recent years. However, a 2021 rerelease has made the series much more easily available again, giving fans an opportunity to see why so much of Megazone has lived on in cyberpunk media.

Next: 10 Cyberpunk Movies Like The Matrix Resurrections

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