In a world where technology reigns supreme, from American TV series like ‘Mr. Robot’ to the rich realm of Japanese manga and anime, the fusion of computers, the internet, and human imagination knows no bounds.
Although cybersecurity and hacking may not seem directly linked to popular Shonen anime, these worlds have converged, giving rise to a new genre: anime about hacking.
While early Japanese animation delved into the realms of technology dystopia, today’s anime explores the intricacies of human emotions and blends fiction with reality.
While hacking and anime may appear unrelated, several anime series and serialized manga have made hacking and computer operations the very heart of their captivating stories.
Here are some of the best anime about hacking, including some famous ones and some underrated shows that take hacking and computer technology as their premise.
Top 10 Anime About Hacking to Watch
Several anime series have emerged as frontrunners in the genre of “anime about hacking.” Among them, Ghost in the Shell is a classic example.
The series presents a futuristic world where cybernetic enhancements are commonplace, and hacking plays a pivotal role in unraveling complex mysteries.
Likewise, here are the top 10 anime shows about hacking that should be on your watchlist.
Psycho-Pass, a 2012 anime series, unfolds in a dystopian future governed by the Sibyl System, a complex apparatus overseeing law and order in the country.
This system gauges an individual’s mental state and propensity for criminal behavior termed the ‘Psycho-Pass.’ Those with elevated values face detainment or even elimination.
Psycho-Pass follows Enforcers, law enforcers, and their overseers, Inspectors, as they combat criminals and uphold order.
While technology and hacking play significant roles, they aren’t the focal points. Instead, Psycho-Pass delves into profound themes of justice, surveillance ethics, and the societal impact of advanced technology.
Baldr Force Exe Resolution
Baldr Force Exe Resolution is an anime adaptation of a visual novel game called “Baldr Force EXE” developed by the company GIGA.
This anime about hacking was released as an OVA (Original Video Animation) in 2006. Baldr Force Exe Resolution is set in a future where virtual reality and cyberspace play a significant societal role.
It follows the protagonist, Tooru Souma, who becomes involved in a conflict between various factions within the virtual world. The character uses hacking and cyber warfare as a part of the strategy to fight against enemies.
Paprika is a 2006 anime film directed by Satoshi Kon. Set in a future with dream-exploring technology, the story follows the theft of DC Mini devices, enabling access to people’s dreams.
While it touches on the dangers of unauthorized entry into the subconscious mind, it’s a speculative exploration rather than a depiction of real-world hacking or cybersecurity.
Paprika goes deep into themes of technology, consciousness, and the blurred lines between dreams and reality, offering a psychological thriller with a sci-fi twist, but not a realistic portrayal of hacking practices.
Battle Programmer Shirase
Battle Programmer Shirase is a 2003 anime series following the chronicles of Akira Shirase, a brilliant programmer known as “Shirase.”
While hacking and programming are central themes, the show offers a mix of comedy, action, and drama.
Shirase, a carefree freelancer, tackles a range of tasks, from corporate security to personal IT issues.
His exceptional skills contrast his easygoing demeanor, providing much of the series’ humor.
Battle Programmer Shirase offers an entertaining blend of technology, wit, and adventure, showcasing the experiences of a gifted programmer in a fast-paced digital world.
.hack//Sign is a 2002 anime set in the virtual MMORPG video game “The World.” The story centers on Tsukasa, a player trapped in the game without remembering how they got there.
Unable to log out, Tsukasa seeks answers while interacting with other players. While it touches upon the world of hacking in a few episodes, the series majorly follows the concept of virtual reality, AI, and online relationships, rather than traditional hacking.
It explores the psychological and emotional aspects of the character’s experiences in the game, offering a unique perspective on the impact of virtual worlds on human connections. .hack//Sign is known for its distinctive approach to storytelling within an online gaming context.
Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain is a 1998 Japanese anime that follows the protagonist, Lain Iwakura, a teenager drawn into the virtual world known as the “Wired”.
Unlike the conventional internet, the Wired is portrayed abstractly and often mixes reality and fiction into a single domain.
The series explores themes of identity, consciousness, and reality’s nature as Lain blurs the lines between the digital and real worlds.
While featuring elements of hacking and technology, it primarily talks about the psychological and philosophical aspects of a hyper-connected world.
Praised for its intellectual depth and unique visuals, Serial Experiments Lain has earned a cult following as one of the best anime about hacking and the dangers of the internet.
Ergo Proxy is a 2006 anime set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans and androids coexist.
It follows investigator Re-l Mayer in the city of Romdeau, unraveling mysterious incidents. While it involves advanced technology, AI, and existential themes, hacking isn’t central but a subconscious part.
The series discusses deep into identity, consciousness, and humanity’s essence. It presents a dark, thought-provoking narrative steeped in philosophical concepts.
Ergo Proxy isn’t primarily about hacking or cyber themes but an exploration of profound existential questions in a dystopian future.
Steins; Gate is an underrated anime about hacking centered on the concept of time travel.
The story centers around Rintarou Okabe, a self-proclaimed mad scientist, and his friends, who stumble upon a method to send messages to the past using a microwave and a cell phone.
This discovery sets off a chain of events, drawing them into a web of time travel experiments and a conspiracy involving a secretive organization.
The story basically revolves around the complexities of altering the past and its emotional impact on the characters.
“Dennou Coil” is a 2007 Japanese anime series by Mitsuo Iso. Set in a future where virtual reality blends with reality, it follows children using augmented reality glasses to navigate into the wired world of the internet.
Denno Coil is based on technology themes, blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds.
While it involves virtual space and advanced tech, it isn’t primarily focused on hacking, but on the adventures of the protagonist.
The show also explores augmented reality’s impact on society as the characters travel through 2026 and back and forth using the Den-noh Megane” (cyber glasses).
Ghost in the Shell
“Ghost in the Shell” is a cult classic Japanese franchise adapted from Masamune Shirow’s manga.
The adaptation encompasses anime, movies, novels, and games. Ghost in the Shell is related to cybernetics, AI, and consciousness in a technologically advanced future.
Humans augment themselves with enhancements, and advanced AI entities exist. Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg, leads a counter-cyberterrorist unit. Ghost in the Shell probes deep philosophical questions about identity and existence in a digital age.