The 10 Best Hard Sci-Fi Manga to Read

The science fiction genre is a wide and varied one. You can take any sci-fi story and place it somewhere on a continuum that ranges from very soft science fiction (i.e., not very realistic) to very hard science fiction (i.e., very realistic). This article will provide you with 10 hard sci-fi manga that I highly recommend reading. Some of them are 'harder' than others, but all of them are fairly true to current science and are worth being on this list.

Also, if you're looking for some hard sci-fi anime as well as manga, then feel free to check out the list that I made for that as well.

10) Moonlight Mile

Gorou Saruwatari and Lostman are mountain climbers who have ascended some of the highest mountains around the world. At the peak of Mount Everest, they see the ISA Space Station in the sky above and become determined to go into space. At the same time, ISA begins a program to research and obtain a new energy source which has been discovered on the moon. Gorou and Lostman attempt to join the program through different approaches: Lostman becomes a pilot and Gorou takes a job as a construction worker.

Source: Moonlight Mile (manga), used under CC-BY-SA 3.0

9) They Were Eleven

Ten young space cadets are put onto a decommissioned spaceship as their final test. If they pass this test, their lifelong dreams of being valued people in their respective societies will come true. Their orders are to survive as long as they can with what they have. However, once they arrive at the ship, they find that their crew has gained an eleventh member -- and no one can remember the original lineup well enough to recognize which of them is the newcomer.

Source: They Were Eleven, used under CC-BY-SA 3.0

8) Summer Wars

Summer Wars is based on a movie of the same name. It tells the story of of Kenji Koiso, a timid eleventh-grade math genius who is taken to Ueda by twelfth-grade student Natsuki Shinohara to celebrate her great-grandmother's 90th birthday. Koiso accidentally causes a problem in a virtual world called Oz and is forced to fix it in order to prevent a global problem from occurring.

Source: Summer Wars, used under CC-BY-SA 3.0

7) 2001 Nights

2001 Nights consists of several loosely connected short stories, all taking place in the same timeline, with the whole series spanning several hundred years. Many of the stories are related to each other (even across books), each building upon the achievements of the previous ones. The stories are often (but not always) scientifically plausible, recalling a lot of the early science fiction of the 1950 and 1960 eras.

Source: 2001 Nights, used under CC-BY-SA 3.0

6) Ghost in the Shell

Primarily set in the mid-twenty-first century in the fictional Japanese city of Niihama, Niihama Prefecture, otherwise known as New Port City, Ghost in the Shell follows the members of Public Security Section 9, a special-operations task-force made up of former military officers and police detectives. Political intrigue and counter-terrorism operations are standard fare for Section 9, but the various actions of corrupt officials, companies, and cyber-criminals in each scenario are unique and require the diverse skills of Section 9's staff to prevent a series of incidents from escalating.

Source: Ghost in the Shell (manga), used under CC-BY-SA 3.0

5) Voices of a Distant Star

Voices of a Dsitant Star is one-shot manga that is based on an OVA of the same name. It chronicles a long-distance relationship between two close friends, one a soldier, who attempt to communicate with one-another over the course of an interstellar war by utilizing text messages that take years to reach their recipient.

Source: Voices of a Distant Star, used under CC-BY-SA 3.0

4) Twin Spica

Twin Spica, the "realistic, slice-of-life science fiction series", tells the story of a group of Japanese high school students training to become astronauts in the early 21st century after the country's first human spaceflight launch ends in a disaster that causes many civilian casualties. The series is named after Spica, a binary star system and the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.

In the manga, Yaginuma includes many references to historical events related to the development of human spaceflight as well as literary works such as Kenji Miyazawa's novel Night on the Galactic Railroad.

Source: Twin Spica, used under CC-BY-SA 3.0

3) Planetes

The story of Planetes follows the crew of the DS-12 "Toy Box" of the Space Debris Section, a unit of Technora Corporation. Debris Section's purpose is to prevent the damage or destruction of satellites, space stations and spacecraft from collision with debris in Earth's and the Moon's orbits. They use a number of methods to dispose of the debris (mainly by burning it via atmospheric reentry or through salvage), accomplished through the use of EVA suits.

Source: Planetes, used under CC-BY-SA 3.0

2) Battle Angel Alita

Battle Angel Alita tells the story of Alita ("Gally" in the original Japanese version), an amnesiac female cyborg. Her intact head and chest, in suspended animation, are found by cybermedic expert Daisuke Ido in the local dump. Ido manages to revive her, and, noticing that she has lost her memory, names her Alita after his deceased cat.

Source: Battle Angel Alita, used under CC-BY-SA 3.0

1) Space Brothers

In the summer of 2006, Mutta Nanba and his younger brother, Hibito, witness what they believe to be a UFO, which flies off towards the moon. Hibito decides he will go onto the moon whilst Mutta decides he will aim for Mars. Nineteen years later, in the year 2025, and Hibito has become a fully fledged JAXA astronaut assigned to go on a mission towards the moon. Mutta, on the other hand, has not been so successful in achieving his dreams. As Mutta eventually recalls his past ambitions, he receives a letter stating he has been accepted to join a JAXA training program for new astronauts. The series follows Mutta as he seeks to become an astronaut and achieve his longtime dream just like his brother did.

Source: Space Brothers (manga), used under CC-BY-SA 3.0

And that ends my list of the best hard sci-fi manga to read. What other manga would you include on this list that I left out? Feel free to let me know by leaving a comment below.


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