What do you think of war theme in anime?
There’s nothing more exciting than big explosions and even bigger armies fighting it out for supremacy in a high-tension, dramatic setting that can rip out your heart or move you to tears. So let’s take a look at this collection of 20 of the best war anime out there.
All ranking information was taken on the date of publication.
MAL Rated 7.98 Ranked #541 | Aired Spring 2012 | Produced by White Fox
This anime tackles war from a different perspective. Rather than one side versus another, Jormungand introduces viewers to an international arms dealer smuggling weapons into various countries to facilitate wars. Of course, despite the protagonist’s attempts to remain a “neutral party” in the warmongering, humanity cannot be diminished that easily and he is faced with some difficult choices.
MAL Rated 7.91 Ranked #642 | Aired Spring 2015 | Produced by SANZIGEN, LIDENFILMS
Fate has no care for the petty wants of men, and the fate of Arslan in Arslan Senki is an example of that. Destined to rule, though faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Arslan must lead his ruined kingdom back to freedom and glory against their conquerors.
MAL Rated 8.25 Ranked #255 | Aired Summer 2012 | Produced by Studio Pierrot
Kingdom takes a historical fiction approach to war. Set during the Warring States Period of China, the story follows two war orphans and their dreams of unifying China. Though Xin suffers loss and trial, and the death of his counterpart, these hardships only harden his resolve.
MAL Rated 7.90 Ranked #662 | Aired Spring 1995 | Produced by Sunrise
Finally, humankind’s dream come true. Colonization in space has become a reality with each colony given their own government. However, not all dreams are happy. It should come as no surprise that these various groups, who live far apart in tremendously different environments, face intense conflict. Who owns space? Who owns the colonies? Because, of course, colonies shouldn’t own themselves. Thus there is war, political murder, and intrigue, child soldiers sent on suicide missions and even a touch of beautiful drama. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing touches on all the bases of a literal world war.
MAL Rated 8.85 Ranked #17 | Aired Fall 2006 | Produced by Sunrise
Code Geass reminds us to be careful of who we scorn. The story revolves around a war born from the desperation of subjugated people who were robbed of their homeland and identity. Terrorism and censored information are used to control the masses and indoctrination is the very lifeblood of the Britannian Empire, who believe only the strong should survive, and the weak should be cast aside. This war was turned around by the appearance of Zero, a self-proclaimed hero of justice and feared terrorist who unites the people of Japan to rise up against the Britannian Empire.
MAL Rated 6.95 Ranked #3379 | Aired Fall 2000 | Produced by Sunrise
Humanity combats intruders from deep space, mechanized creatures who seem to be migrating to a special place in North America. Humanity is losing, slowly but surely, their technology not developing quickly enough to match the evolving nature of their “invaders”. Argento Soma is a somewhat slow-paced anime. The war has basically become one of attrition, with the invaders slowly gaining the upper hand.
MAL Rated 9.25 Ranked #1 | Aired Spring 2009 | Produced by Bones
Two brothers and a division of Alchemists in the military uncover government conspiracies concerning the fabled Philosopher’s Stone. The war that breaks out is far reaching, but primarily on the level of a civil war. It is a war set to unveil the true nature of this all-powerful stone and government plans to utilize it, and to derail the cataclysmic results.
MAL Rated 7.49 Ranked #1565 | Aired Fall 1999 | Produced by Xebec
Power hungry government officials vying for control of the world. The typical makings of a revolt. Van and his friends pilot mechanized animals to combat the Empire seeking to expand its boarders forcefully. The Empire itself is facing not only enemies on the outside, but also its own internal power struggle when the Emperor goes missing. Zoids is an anime with ever-changing allegiances and villains pulling strings from the shadows as the war drags on, until friend and foe become questionable words.
MAL Rated 8.64 Ranked #55 | Aired Spring 2013 | Produced by Production I.G, Wit Studio
The last stronghold of humanity faces insurmountable odds in their war against invading creatures known as Titans. Hope is a long lost dream for most, and many would rather cling to safety than face their foe. But the war against the Titans still slowly trudges on. It isn’t over till the fat Titan sings!
MAL Rated 7.47 Ranked #1597 | Aired Spring 2014 | Produced by Production I.G, Xebec
In a war between opposing kingdoms, Krisna and Athens, a young man named Rygart pilots an ancient mecha to turn the tides and save his friends. This world is one of prejudice against “non-sorcerers”, people who cannot perform magic, and led by the sorcerers themselves.
MAL Rated 6.84 Ranked #3765 | Aired Winter 2014 | Produced by Satelight
Two worlds joined by a phenomenon called the “Dragon Pulse” are immersed in an endless battle with highly advanced weapons called “sacred treasures”. Of course, the balance of this war, or its complete cessation, rests on the shoulders of a prophesied “Savior-King”. Together, a heretical seer and a fool journey to find this fabled King for savior.
MAL Rated 7.76 Ranked #899 | Aired Summer 2014 | Produced by A-1 Pictures, TROYCA
An old war between Mars and Earth results in the destruction of a gateway between the two planets and Earth’s moon. Their convenient travel for battle was destroyed and a ceasefire was called. This lasted until an assassination attempt on the Mars Princess rekindles old hatred and a new war of conquest is declared.
MAL Rated 8.30 Ranked #209 | Aired Spring 2007 | Produced by Bones
A Hell Gate opens and distorts the stars, opening powers to certain humans known as Contractors. These individuals are known to be brutal and bloodthirsty and wars have sprung up revolving around them and their power. One of the current major puppet masters of this anime is a mysterious organization called The Syndicate, stationed in the United States. However, the story itself takes place predominately in Tokyo.
MAL Rated 7.74 Ranked #936 | Aired Fall 2012 | Produced by GoHands
Seven Kings rule seven gangs, from small to astoundingly large and highly trained organizations – all of them vying for supremacy beneath the apathetic eyes of the Silver King. This was until, of course, the Seventh King decides to incite mutiny and trouble for the others and so the order begins to collapse as powers clash. K is on a bit of a smaller scale as wars go, when compared to those that span worlds, but it is no less a poignant and heart-wrenching watch.
MAL Rated 7.36 Ranked #2012 | Aired Fall 2000 | Produced by Gonzo
“Girls come from Venus and boys come from Mars” is given a whole new meaning in Vandread. The male and female portions of the human race very literally went their separate ways and each colonized their own planets. It would seem they mostly try to avoid one another, but if contact is made, violence is often the result. Both groups, however, are fighting an alien race which they have little knowledge of that seems to mindlessly seek out human life and devour or destroy it. A war of the sexes and races, splashed with heavy comedy make Vandread an… interesting watch, to say the least.
MAL Rated 9.10 Ranked #8 | Aired Winter 1988 | Produced by Artland
Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu is one of the more expansive war anime, with over 100 episodes and vivid characters and worlds with intricate politics and culture. The story works through the culmination of a 150 year war between two great powers within space. They are the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance. It can be easily guessed that this anime had a great influence on its followers, such as Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
MAL Rated 7.59 Ranked #1273 | Aired Winter 2002 | Produced by Bones
This anime pulls many influences from famous literature such as J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Silmarillion and historical peoples such as the Aztecs to create a world warped and thrown off balance. This is accomplished via the Tokyo Jupiter, in which the passing of time and the reality fed to the people living there vary from that outside of the odd formation. In RahXephon, the people of the world are at war with a foreign civilization in a much more subtle context than most war anime produce. These people are often referred to as the “Mu” and are most notably recognized by the color of their blood.
MAL Rated 7.85 Ranked #738 | Aired Winter 2002 | Produced by Gonzo
A private war steeped in mystery swirls around a young high school student named Chidori. Protectors are sent to keep her safe, but even they are left in the dark about why the young woman is the target of so many organizations.
MAL Rated 7.71 Ranked #987 | Aired Spring 2005 | Produced by Gonzo
Two clans are pitted against each other in a bitter dispute for who will place a new Emperor on the throne and destroy the other. Despite the bad blood between the two clans, their heirs have become involved in a taboo love affair. War and romance… the perfect recipe for disaster.
MAL Rated 7.36 Ranked #1992 | Aired Spring 2013 | Produced by Sunrise
An elitist empire named Dorssia is entrenched in near constant dispute with JIOR. The two powers use a “take-no-prisoners” policy. This is where Kakumeiki Valvrave drops the viewer with a secret infiltration of a module carrying highly advanced mecha suits. From there, the dispute escalates, and the module declares its independence from both JIOR and Dorssian control, thus becoming a target for both.