6 times anime has predicted our dystopian techno-future

Tech bros have unveiled a ‘jail of the longer term’ that appears like one thing straight out of Sword Artwork On-line – right here’s six anime to watch subsequent

Think about a future through which people are locked inside AI-generated VR pods the place time strikes faster than the true world. No, this isn’t the plot of sci-fi anime Sword Artwork On-line, however the precise future, based on tech bro Hashem Al-Ghaili.

The undertaking, unveiled on June 26, is titled ‘Cognify’ and serves as a possible alternative for prisons, forcing criminals to repeatedly replay their crimes from the victims’ perspective as a way to set off guilt and, apparently, rehabilitation. Al-Ghaili claims that the expertise may pace up jail time from years to a matter of minutes, however the premise feels very dystopian.

There are additionally stark parallels to the 2018 anime Sword Artwork On-line, which options gaming pods that generate a fantastical MMORPG world on the expense of IRL demise for gamers who lose. Additionally the Tsukuyomi approach from collection Naruto, the place the expertise is utilized by the character Itachi Uchiha to drive his youthful brother to rewatch the homicide of their total household and make him stronger. Unsurprisingly, each of those anime tales warn of the unfavourable penalties associated to, um, beaming vivid traumatic occasions straight into the mind of one other individual. Whereas it‘s unlikely that Al-Ghaili is a fan of both present, he’s taken to Instagram to defend the undertaking as a “unbelievable expertise that may assist create a society freed from crimes”. 

That mentioned, Sword Artwork On-line and Naruto aren’t the one collection to inadvertently anticipate the dystopian techno-future we appear to be residing in. Listed here are six different occasions anime to be confirmed proper.




This 2013 collection imagines a world the place folks endure mind scans as a way to assess their potential to commit against the law, which is then recorded in a private ‘Psycho-Cross’ issued to every citizen. As soon as their Crime Coefficient index exceeds 100, no matter whether or not against the law has been dedicated but, police are dispatched to both apprehend or outright kill the person. 

Not even a decade later, the real-world adopted go well with with an algorithm trialled in eight US cities in 2022 that was in a position to predict crimes occurring as much as per week prematurely with 90 per cent accuracy. Unsurprisingly, the trial additionally revealed biases inside the American police drive, being extra prone to dedicate assets to wealthier areas than poorer ones. 




Elon Musk isn’t the primary individual to give you the concept for a mind chip that reads your thoughts. Anime did that first, too, and in addition warned of its potential to go very incorrect. In Ghost within the Shell, the protagonist Main Kusanagi is a cyborg whose mind was reconstructed after a tragic accident with the assistance of cybernetic expertise. Her superhuman cyber-brain bestows extraordinary fight abilities and the power to dive into the digital realm, but additionally crucially makes her susceptible to hackers (take word, Elon).




Seminal 1988 anime movie Akira is extensively recognised for popularising the bike slide trope, in addition to revolutionising the cyberpunk style. However it additionally efficiently predicted that Tokyo would host the 2020 Olympic Video games over 30 years prematurely. Set within the then-distant 12 months 2019, the movie’s climax options unhinged protagonist Tetsuo taking on the development web site for the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, as indicators promote the town’s internet hosting of the Video games within the background. In 2020, the real-life 2020 Olympic Video games had been delayed as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, although sadly no studies of Tetsuo on the bottom. 




Previous Christopher Nolan’s Inception, Satoshi Kon’s Paprika envisions a vibrant but haunting future through which expertise permits folks to view and even work together with others’ goals. Initially used for remedy, issues take a flip for the worst when a so-called ‘dream terrorist’ will get a maintain of the tools and causes actuality and the dream world to start to merge.

Earlier this 12 months, Dazed spoke to Eric Wollberg, creator of recent lucid dreaming start-up Prophetic AI and whose imaginative and prescient errs eerily near Paprika’s fictional expertise. Wollberg’s new Halo system is a non-invasive headband which permits customers to document their goals and even mould them at will. With Wollberg’s proposed implementations together with social media and remedy, it’s not exhausting to see the parallels with Paprika’s cautionary story.

Launched in 1998, Serial Experiments Lain is a cyberpunk basic that takes place in a digital world known as the Wired, which bears an eerie resemblance to right now’s web. It follows the titular Lain, a 14-year-old lady who turns into obsessive about computer systems after she receives an e mail from a lifeless classmate who tells her that she didn’t commit suicide however has merely “deserted her bodily self” instead of the digital realm.

One of many first cases of the web depicted in well-liked tradition (The Matrix got here out the next 12 months), Lain’s mind-bending depiction of a digital realm, the place folks can add their consciousness on-line, may need appeared dystopian upon its launch. However almost 25 years on, the anime has taken on new that means for a technology of zoomers, whose terminally on-line lives aren’t too dissimilar from that of the Wired.

Rising within the midst of post-war Japan’s speedy industrial improvement and financial progress, the mecha style of anime regarded ahead to a world the place robots had been greater and cooler than ever. Stretching again to OG 70s collection Neon Genesis and Gundam, mecha is considered one of anime’s core genres – and archetypes.

Flash ahead to the twenty first century, and killer robots are actually more and more utilized in conflicts all over the world. Sadly, the truth isn’t fairly as cool as fiction – it’s really quite horrifying. As AI expertise turns into more and more superior, the previous few years have seen a widespread proliferation of automated militarised drones, permitting wars to be fought remotely, but additionally deadlier than ever earlier than. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently declared that “whoever turns into the chief in [AI] will change into the ruler of the world”.