The anime that stuck with me the most when I was younger, and continue to today, where overwhelmingly
sci-fi and iyashikei-adjacent. Steins;Gate, Serial Experiments Lain, Planetes, Evangelion, Summer Wars, Tonari no Totoro, Silver Spoon, Wolf Children, Cowboy Bebop, Gurren Lagann, Uchuu Kyoudai, Lucky Star... just a handful of the names. It's weird, I think I've probably watched quite a bit of anime at this point, but I never identified as an "anime fan" and generally I think my interests in that area are pretty niche. But regardless, watching Totoro in grade school permanently changed my brain chemistry, lol. I had never seen a movie quite like it at that age, but I felt like I'd seen something really amazing.
Anyway, my favorite anime kind of sits perfectly between those two concepts. It's Dennou Coil!
(A random clip from the anime on YouTube)
Dennou Coil is a story following a group of kids in an alternate near-future where AR glasses are a generally ubiquitous technology. There's so much incredibly clever worldbuilding that isn't shoved in your face but still exists if you are listening. Basically, the AR glasses technology was invented in this city, so a lot of the cyberspace and programs lying around are still pretty old, cause bugs/glitches, etc. The kids love to play with this technology and for them, it's basically the ultimate toy.
Dennou Coil starts in a sort of episodic format introducing you to the characters and world, but very quickly the threads start to connect, and suddenly, there's a conspiracy.
What makes Dennou Coil so important to me is that I feel it was a creative work created specifically for my generation, but it's a show that is still incredibly engaging for anyone. The way Dennou Coil tells a story with complex themes about technology, humanism, and people connecting with each other, as well as the way the children are written, is so relatable and well done and it doesn't talk down to children. It addresses the way people are empowered by technology and the way it can hurt people, but also how it can be so much fun.
I could talk forever about Dennou Coil but it is so good
. Please give it a watch!
It is criminally underrated and the people that worked on it are animation geniuses.
The director also recently made a new movie in the same universe called Extraterrestrial Boys and Girls but it sadly got hurt pretty terribly by production issues and the plot came out a mess. You can tell it was meant to exist in TV format and just got cut and cut so it could have a chance at coming to life. But I still absolutely loved watching it for what it was even if the realities of the production made me sad. Worth a look too for unique sci fi with realistic elements and a story good for both kids and adults if you want less time commitment.