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What would be of our futuristic war anime without mecha anime? With the fascination the Japanese have towards technology, it is expected to find collective toys in every corner of Tokyo, like some real sized mecha in special spots and even a Gundam Cafe in Akihabara. Mecha is an extension of humanity, a more powerful version of ourselves that sometimes is so central to the story, that it steals the plot. In other occasions, mecha blend so well that they become the life companions of the protagonists of a show, serving as a shadow, a mirror or an alter ego of themselves. And well, when such stories come to the big screen, we are in for hours of high quality entertainment. Let’s grab some popcorn and remember some of the best Mecha Anime Movies of all time!
- Episodes: 1 hour 37 mins
- Air Date: Jun 24, 2000
In a world that exists parallel to ours, a cruel war is taking place. Only a prince and a girl from the Earth will be able to face the evil Zaibach empire. However, they are not alone. A legendary mecha called Escaflowne will wake up and either bring salvation or doom.
Escaflowne was the repackaging of a TV anime called Tenkuu no Escaflowne. With the same distinctive character design and the superb music composers from the original, the producers and director had a good base for an incredible cinematic experience. A much better visual production and an agile summarization of the story contributed for this mecha anime movie to be one of the best Mecha Anime Movies. You don’t believe us? Just watch the opening credits, with epic shots of the skies where you will feel like you are flying!
9. Eureka Seven: Pocket ga Niji de Ippai (Eureka Seven: good night, sleep tight, young lovers)
- Episodes: 1 hour 55 mins
- Air Date: Apr 25, 2009
Renton and Eureka grew up together, so they are close. Unfortunately, Eureka is taken away without explanation. Renton swears he will rescue her one day. A few years pass and our hero joins the Independent Youths Unit 303, where he pilots a powerful mecha known as the Nirvash. What Renton does not know is that the forthcoming war will have a lot to do with himself and Eureka.
This movie is also a repackaging of the TV series Eureka Seven. However, the story is quite different, set in the past but with the same protagonists. Their personalities also changed, being more straight-forward and charismatic. Nevertheless, the dynamics of their love (which was one of the biggest hits of the series) are still sincere and positive, if not more open. Besides that, Studio Bones makes sure the special effects and the animation are at the top, with a colorful palette and attention to detail. The only sin of Eureka Seven: Pocket ga Niji de Ippai is that sometimes, it feels rushed.
8. Soukyuu no Fafner: Dead Aggressor - Heaven and Earth
- Episodes: 1 hour 30 mins
- Air Date: Dec 25, 2010
This movie was the follow up of the TV anime Soukyuu no Fafner, the story of a group of children who pilot mechas in order to protect humanity. Basically, most of the world as we knew it was destroyed by an alien race called Festum. After a big war with them, our protagonist, Kazuki Makabe, is left to deal with the consequences of being in the combat line. Peace is welcome but uncomfortable, as he still is waiting for his friend Soushi Minashiro to come back… until a mysterious capsule floats into the island where he lives…
We get a childhood friendship once more intertwined in the mecha narrative. Soukyuu no Fafner: Dead Aggressor - Heaven and Earth might feel a bit slow at first for the action otakus, but just wait until the mechas line up. You are in for cool designs, excellent visual effects and nostalgic landscapes. Not for nothing there were more anime series and follow up movies after this one, but we had to mention Heaven and Earth because of the balance achieved in the plot.
7. Break Blade 1: Kakusei no Toki (Broken Blade 1: The Time of Awakening)
- Episodes: 51 mins.
- Air Date: May 29, 2010
Welcome to the continent of Cruzon! Here, two enemy nations are preparing for war: Krisna and Athens. People have special powers that are aid by quartz on this world. However, our story follows a guy who can’t use quartz, called Rygart Arrow. When he was in the military school, Rygart had dear friends who eventually will become his reason to fight in the war, as Rygart is one of the few who can pilot the Delphine, a mecha that can not be used with quartz.
Although the graphics of Break Blade 1 are not as astounding as those of other movies in our list, what sets this title apart is the story development. In the first place, this was only the beginning of the franchise. In second place, the juxtaposition of the warm past of the main characters with the current chaotic situation makes us feel more involved and connected with them. Plus, all the main characters are in their twenties, making the story a bit more mature. If you like movies like Break Blade 1, you definitely should not miss the next movies and the anime TV series.
6. Code Geass: Akito the Exiled 2 - Hikisakareshi Yokuryuu (Code Geass: Akito the Exiled 2 - The Torn-Up Wyvern)
- Episodes: 1 hr.
- Air Date: Sep 14, 2013
The adventures of Lelouch, the exiled prince of Britannia, left us wanting more. That is why the creators released a sequel called Akito the Exiled. So, guess what? The Britannian Empire is invading Europe in the year 2017. What Europe does to counter attack is to form a special battling unit called Wyvern or W-0, recruiting exiled Japanese citizens on it. Among the, we have a talented and blood thirsty warrior called Akito Hyuuga.
You might be asking why we are choosing the second movie of this series. Well, besides having a good pace in the action, it hits the sweet spot where there are characters and a scenario set. The conflict is spiralling more and more, as Leila Macal gets in charge of a torn Wyvern and directs a perilous operation. Meanwhile, Akito’s violence gets worse, pointing to the possibility of finding out the responsible for his war abilities.
5. Macross Plus Movie Edition
- Episodes: 1 hr. 55 mins.
- Air Date: Oct 7, 1995
Before the movie, there was an OVA version of this title which quicklybecame a classic. What in the Macross franchise is not legendary? Anyway, as you might know, the main premise of the series for the first years was the fight between the Earth forces and the alien Zentraedi forces. In Macross Plus, 30 years after the conflict, we meet three friends with a difficult background story: Isamu Dyson, Myung Fang Lone and the half Zentraedi Guld Goa Bowman.
Apparently, this is an era when only commercial pilots are needed, right? Entertainment also has evolved, with its best representative in Sharon Apple, a virtual entity. However, war is always lurking around the corner, and none other than the three friends will realize it in unexpected ways. Macross Plus is a jewel of storytelling and well balanced action, romance and drama.
4. Mobile Police Patlabor 2: The Movie
- Episodes: 1 hr. 48 mins.
- Air Date: Aug 7, 1993
In an era where mecha stories were just starting to soar high, the TV anime Mobile Police Patlabor gave a master class on futuristic utopias and the crime genre. Therefore, a couple of mecha anime movies followed. Directed by the great Mamoru Oshii, we find ourselves facing a terrorist attack in none other than Tokyo. In order to avert the danger, the Special Vehicle Division is assembled again.
This mecha anime movie is faithful to the spirit of Platabor. It makes us feel the rush of running against time, mysteries to solve and dynamic characters. However, it also introduces new and interesting elements. The villains are well played and the addition of a backstory for the unforgettable Nagumo were right in spot.
3. Gundam Wing Endless Waltz Movie
- Episodes: 1 hr. 34 mins.
- Air Date: Aug 1, 1998
There was no point denying it, we had to include a Gundam movie in the top ten mecha anime movies. We chose Gundam Wing because, despite being a rather old show, it has been well kept in the otaku’s hearts. We know what Gundam is about: space, war and human relationships. In the case of Endless Waltz, after a conflict between Earth and the space colonies, peace is on its way… Or that is just what it looks like, because a few dark forces are conspiring for the opposite.
Gundam Wing was an anime with epic music and battles. If we add all the interesting plot twists, the five protagonists and their interactions (not always friendly, but that was the good part!), and the strange but satisfying main love relationship, we get an entertaining show. Thus, we have a comeback of the characters in the mecha anime movie, where they are joined by new friends and foes. The heroes will fight one more time to protect both the colonies and the Earth, bringing Gundam Wing to a brilliant end.
2. Shinseiki Evangelion Gekijouban: The End of Evangelion (The End of Evangelion)
- Episodes: 1 hr. 27 mins.
- Air Date: Jul 19, 1997
So yes, Evangelion. The story that changed the mecha gender. This anime has always had good ratings, especially not so long ago, when Hideaki Anno did an epic (and sadly still unfinished) remake for the big screen. However, we decided to go for the nostalgy and chose The End of Evangelion for our list of mecha anime movies.
There might be divided opinions regarding this movie. In first place, the original TV anime’s end was so confusing and anti climatic that the director decided to go all berserk in The End of Evangelion. So, although the mecha anime movie had bad-ass battles, excellent music and an apocalyptic ending, many people felt it was over the top. However, we have to remember that Evangelion is essentially a psychological and existentialist anime. Its objective is to connect us to the characters (which is masterfully achieved), while several action related scenes are symbolic. For being an anime of cult notoriety, The End of Evangelion is part of our top Mecha Anime Movies list.
1. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Lagann-hen (Gurren Lagann The Movie: The Lights in the Sky are Stars)
- Episodes: 2 hrs. 5 mins.
- Air Date: Apr 2, 2009
We finally reached the first place, the epic tale of a group of adventure thirsty friends who end up saving their world. Now, Simon “The Digger”, Yoko, Nia and the rest of the gang from Dai-Gurren have to assemble one last time. Yes, apparently, peace cannot be kept for a long period. But hey, that means more action and adventure!
The anime show of Gurren Lagann was one of the best mecha anime of all time. The art style, the characters full of personality and the overall upbeat attitude were well reflected on this movie. Thus, we get an epic end for a TV anime in movie format once more… Although we should warn you to keep your tissues prepared just in case.
If you are into futuristic anime or space related anime, you might be wanting to go and watch one of our recommendations right now. Thus, we won’t keep you here much longer… unless you want to recommend even more epic Mecha Anime Movies, of course. Let’s go, comment away! See you soon.