One of my problems as an English speaker is that as much as there's a wellspring of good fantasy and science-fiction novels out there, they're inaccessible to me unless it's in English. And when it comes to those two genres, there's probably an entire subculture revolving around them in Japan. But that's my problem--I can't read Japanese and there aren't a lot of translations of those sci-fi/fantasy novels. I remember reading Del Rey releasing the Gundam novels decades ago and Viz releasing the Battle Royale novel as well. Lately, there's been more English adaptations of various novels that have anime or manga tie-ins such as Vampire Hunter D, Twelve Kingdoms, Slayers, and Naruto but I fear for the novels that haven't been adapted to other mediums.
Anyway, one of the great SF stories out there from a Japanese author is Legend of Galactic Heroes. It's this epic space opera with a cast of thousands yet has various elements beneath the story (not necessarily hard science concepts but political concepts). Thankfully, it's been adapted into anime, and that was an amazing feat. Not only does it span 110 episodes and a couple of side-stories/spin-offs, it's all direct-to-video (OAV/OVA)! Can you imagine a direct-to-video series that's 110 episodes long? I mean one of my cult OAV anime series's was Bubblegum Crisis yet that only spanned what, eight episodes? Most anime shows don't even run past 26 episodes (the regular for 1 season).
That's not to say the show doesn't have its flaws. I mean in the earlier episodes, aside from the two protagonists (who work on opposing sides), most of the enemies they fight seem to suffer from incredible stupidity. That gets resolved however later on when the two protagonists finally fight each other and it becomes a fight among "smart" characters. And yes, it can get dragging. And, uh, the cast of thousands so much so that you're grateful that they flash the character's name in subtitles repeatedly?
Anyway, the series has been fansubbed and has been going on for quite some time now. Today, they finally finished all 110 episodes. (Off to the side-stories... oh no!) I'm looking forward to finishing the series and spreading the love (but, uh, who has time to spend watching 110 episodes even if it is the best sci-fi series brought to animation out there?).