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This is an updated list to the original that was published. You can find it down underneath this article. As time moves on, more and more shows fall under this category. So, we have made an updated list for you!
In the anime world there is never a shortage of mecha action that takes place in various fantasy worlds, with high flying action. Here at Honey's Anime we appreciate and always show love to the wonderful genre that is mecha, since it has stood the test of time for many decades. While many do enjoy the genre, there are still the handful that aren't very sure of what to expect, and so we are here to close that gap and bring them closer to the truth. Mecha anime isn't just about the intricate designs or the flashy lights, but it's about the story behind it all that really capture the essence of mecha anime. What we would like to do from now is introduce to you our updated top 10 mecha/robot anime list and shed light on why these picks are the very cream of the crop.
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 7, 2016- September 29, 2016
Kuromukuro starts off on our top 10 mecha/robot anime list as it's one of the more recent series that released in the spring lineup. The story takes place within a futuristic world with some historical references thrown in for some variety. An ancient artifact was discovered and so the UNKRI (United Nations Kurobe Research Institute) was established in order to uncover more information about what secrets the artifact possessed, and what mysterious powers they could discover from it. Many great minds came together from all over the globe in order to decipher its origin. The children of these intellects are now attending Mt. Tate International Senior High School, and the head of the institute's daughter Yukina are on a mission to find out more.
Kuromukuro hits our number 10 spot because it uses a mixture of past and present in order to create a mecha that reflects those times. Many of the mechas we see infuse a samurai-esque look while still maintaining a robotic feel to it, kind of like Yoshimitsu from the popular Tekken franchise. We thought this unique mixture brought a nice fresh flavor for the spring, but wasn't too contrived to make it seem too over cooked. This show is a great introduction anime for those who are just trying to dip their feet into the genre, since the story behind the artifact is straight forward and ties well with lots of action from the many characters within the plot.
9. Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo (Rondo of Angels and Dragons)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 5, 2014 – March 29, 2015
The story of Cross Ange follows the life of princess Angelise, whose life had a very royal upbringing and had everything a young teen ever imagined to have. Angelise was blessed with everything living in a blissful age of peace and prosperity due to an advancement in technology referred to as mana. Mana allowed certain persons to emit certain powers, making them very formidable in times of turbulence. Life eventually turned very critical for Angelise when she soon realized that she could not ascend to her throne because she was found out to be a norma, a member of society who is resistant to mana and cannot use the mana herself. This sparked outrage and hysteria within the empire which led to Angelise being extradited to the prison camp of Arzenal, and forced to fight in the robotic battle suit known as the paramail. To survive and find out the truth behind her entire existence, Angelise learns to cope with her new living environments while building relationships with other norma to fight off the enemy.
This captivating story starts off very harsh as we get to see Angelise taken away from her trusted family only to be told that she was a norma, which formed into disaster. We recommend this anime not just because of the great story, but because of how cool looking each of the paramails look with each character. The designs themselves really tell their own story since each paramail is a direct reflection of that character’s back story and personality. There is definitely a lot to watch in this series, so we suggest you watch it from start to finish to really see who comes out on top in the end.
8. Captain Earth
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 6, 2014– September 21, 2014
Captain Earth flies into the number eight spot on our top ten list for good reason. We don't just choose anime solely based off of aesthetic pertaining to mecha, but because the story really helps to bring everything together for one full meal. Daichi randomly looks up in the sky to see a weird rainbow floating above Seed Island and decides to check it out for himself. He has seen the rainbow on numerous occasions which all remind him of a mysterious boy and girl, along with the mysterious death of his father. He arrives on this weird island with no clue as to what's transpiring around him. One person asks him if he is the captain when one of the Earth engines went off as an emergency. Suddenly Daichi finds himself in charge of a team of other pilots who are on a mission to put a stop the trouble that is about to take place from the robotic intruders, Kiltgang.
Captain Earth is full of everything you can possibly want in an anime, which is story and character development. We see Daichi develop strong relationships around him very quickly as his life too changes almost instantly, as he now has taken the role of captain. As the story progresses and we get to see more robots, each character's mecha outfits are meshed with unique characteristics which allow them to connect with each other to create an ultra mecha which we thought was awesome. We hope this anime takes you on an adventure of excitement as much as it did for us.
7. Macross Frontier
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 4, 2008 – September 26, 2008
Macross has always been a classic mechaa anime, and to this day there are still thousands of fans everywhere supporting the franchise. Macross Frontier is considered to be the favorite out of the Macross franchise due to its deep plot, and exciting cast of characters. The premise of the story takes place in the distant future where humanity is in war with the powerful Zentradi, who are out to destroy everything in their path. Their overwhelming threats forced much of humanity to escape and find refuge in a much safer environment. The Macross Frontier is built in order to protect the rest of humanity but when Sheyrl makes her appearance on board, so do the new enemy Vajra which create a new stage of panic. Alto and the rest of his team must work together to put a stop to the ruthless Vajra and uncover the truth behind Sheyrl's mysterious history.
This received a spot on our mecha/robot list because mechaa anime always bring something dramatic to the screen, and so we become glued to all that's happening. Also, the story behind Sheryl and the Vajra outbreak sounds interesting, since there is certainly something brewing that we are just not so sure about. What really attracted us was the art style which combined a more retro feel much like the past Macross series, and also a more modern feel with regards to character design. This is must watch for anyone stoked for cute girls in flashy outfits!
6. Heavy Object
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 3, 2015 – March 26, 2016
Making its way back onto our top ten charts is the very entertaining Heavy Object. This action comedy mixture pairs Qwenthur and Havia who always seem to find themselves in the middle of every battle there is, but are always rescued by Milinda and her object. Havia grows an attraction to Milinda, who at times due to his shy nature, can never admit his true feelings to her. This leads Qwenthur to step in to be more of a man in his actions, and take initiative. The premise of the anime revolves around the revolutionary objects which have become the main center piece for all things war. It's Havia's mission to seek the truth about them.
With great visuals right off the bat, and a very nice creative storyline surrounding the use of objects which take on a very unique mecha approach, Heavy Object deserves its spot on our mecha list. Every episode is set in a different terrain, and both Havia and Qwenthur have to come up with strategic ways to destroy the enemy object, and allow Milinda to take care of the rest. It's exciting to see because you're always greeted with something intriguing with regards to the tactical approaches that Qwenthur and Havia demonstrate all throughout the show. As the enemies grow stronger, so too does their prowess and ability to overcome anything that stands in their way. It's a must watch for those who love tactical thinking and mechas.
5. Break Blade (Broken Blade)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 6, 2014- June 22, 2014
Break Blade made its way into the anime world back in the spring of 2014, making waves with its really interesting story and overall popularity. Most of the action takes place in the continent of Cruzon, where a major war between two kingdoms Krisna and Athens are about to ensue. Many of the citizens within the Cruzon empire are able to use a special ability called quartz which can be used for whatever they desire. Unfortunately Rygart Arrow is unable to use this special ability as many have labeled him as an un-sorcerer which refers to an individual who cannot use quartz. This setback however becomes a very useful asset as he is the only one who is able to pilot the ancient golem, and the only one who may potentially put an end to the invasion of Athens.
While most mecha anime tend to have very vibrant and colorful looking designs, the ancient golem along with the other mechas in this series are very dark, rustic and very intimidating. Since they are used more within the ongoing war, the designs feel more fitting as they encompass more of a medieval aesthetic compared to the more futuristic styles that we know and admire. Break Blade is a great show that we recommend watching as there is a great assortment of action at every corner to keep you fixed to your tube.
4. Buddy Complex
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: January 6, 2014 – March 31, 2014
Shooting its way to the number four spot on our mecha/robot anime list is Buddy Complex. The series made its first appearance in the winter season of 2014 with great reception. The story follows Aoba, a high school student who is suddenly attacked by a gigantic robot that appears from out of the sky without warning. This robot seemed to only target him as he was chased all throughout the city looking to find refuge from this mammoth machine. Out of nowhere his fellow classmate and friend Hina appears in her own giant robot to protect him, and sends him a cryptic message stating that a certain “Dio” is waiting for him before she disappears into the myst. From this incident Aoba realizes his new mission and joins the Free Treaty Alliance to help topple the extremely powerful Great Zogiria Republic.
Buddy Complex takes a lot of aesthetic from many of the older styled mecha anime such as gundam, macross, evengelion, and the very classic five star stories. This mixture of robotic style directions is why we decided to add it immediately to our top ten mecha list, and moreso because the artists made sure to use very vivid colors to bring out the feel of a more vibrant story. The series itself is quite short but its lifespan is long enough for anyone to enjoy whether you're a fan of the old or new.
3. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 4, 2015 – March 27, 2016
Mobile Suit Gundam has always been a household name since its release in the late 70's and revolutionized the entire anime world with its highly detailed mecha warriors and spectacular action scenes. Over the course of its original release, we have seen an array of gundam shows that to this day are still considered to be some of the best of all time. And so we fast forward to present day and we now have another series to discuss. Coming in at number three is Iron Blooded Orphans. The story takes place roughly 300 years after the calamity war and now follows Mikazuki, a member of the private security firm known as CGS. He was hired to be the bodyguard of Kudelia, who is known to be of high royalty. However, things turn ugly when the elite Gjallarhorn unit raids the CGS headquarters. This didn't sit too lightly with Orga, as he took charge of this situation and created the team known as Iron Blooded Orphans. It's now their goal to protect Kudelia, but also stop the threat that faces them by the hands of Gjallarhorn.
This should be no surprise that gundam has made its way to number three. This anime comes fully equipped with action right off the bat, and mechas flying from every direction. Mikazuki's gundam looks extremely cool and when inside the cockpit, we are never short of impressed by the amount of acrobatic sword beam wielding action Mikazuki provides. We recommend hopping into your own cockpit, turn on the monitor and most definitely check out Iron Blooded Orphans.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 11, 2016 - March 28, 2016
Firing its way to the number two position on our top ten mecha anime list is none other than winter 2016's Schwarzesmarken. Schwarzesmarken in German is known as Black Marks, and takes place in the alternate timeline of East Germany in the 1980's. The story follows the special unit of East Germany's 666th TSF Squadron, Black Marks, who specialize in unconventional tactics along with advanced technology to outsmart their enemies. Their mission is to take out the BETA which are extraterrestrial beings who are unpredictable and unrelenting in their ways, looking to destroy the entire human forces claiming Earth as their own. The BETA arrive in all shapes and sizes and so the team of Black Marks must use their prowess to overthrow the unpredictable and advanced warfare that BETA is bringing to the table.
The star of the show is pilot Irisdina who is the commanding officer of the brigade, whose cold demeanor and personality make her a handful to work with in such dire conditions. The Black Marks must work together in order to put an end to the destruction that may engulf the entire human race, so bad blood must be put behind to focus their attention on the matters at hand. This show uses a wide variety of mecha styles as well similar to our previous anime Buddy Complex, and since it takes place in the 80's the vibe is most certainly there in the overall vibe. For more about the exciting story and fantastic art direction, please check out Schwarzesmarken as you will not be disappointed.
1. Knights of Sidonia
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 11, 2014- June 27, 2014
Knights of Sidonia will surely leave you in suspense as this show has everything that you need and more out of a mecha anime. Much of the story takes place in a very futuristic atmosphere as the year is 3394. The solar system was destroyed by a strange race called Gauna. These creatures have the ability to tear through just about anything including the very strong steel suits that Nagate and his crew members fly in. In Sidonia, which is a seed ship populated with just under a million people, Nagate and his team must manage to defend their territory and civilization from the Gauna who are willing to kill anything in their path. Not much can be said about the Gauna so it becomes another mission of the entire crew to seek further to uncover the origins of the Gauna and to know their true intentions.
With this anime taking place in a very distant future it becomes quite clear as to why the mecha designs in this series look very unique and work quite differently from most we see. For this reason we thought Knights deserved the number one spot simply due to its change of direction and great sense of depth pertaining to the development of both character and story. Not only did this show receive numerous rewards all across Japan for it's wonderful approach, but did so by winning animation of the year award in 2015. We truly loved this piece of art and so we highly recommend watching this one for an amazing look at one of the better mecha titles of the current generation. Honey's Anime also suggests that you tune into the second season of Knights to uncover more truth behind the Gauna and why they're out to cause havoc on Sidonia.
Mecha/robot anime will never grow boring, unless you're not a big fan of flashing lights and crazy battles. If you are into mecha however then this list should be extremely enticing to watch and truly embrace if you're a fan of the genre. With a long history of fantastic titles such as Five Star Stories, Gundam, Evangelion and more to choose from you'll never find yourself short of mecha to hang out with. If there are other anime that you feel should have made our list, then leave a comment down below.
As always, for your sweet anime fill, keep it locked here at Honey's Anime.
Mecha is one of the most distinctive genres in Anime, both in Japan and the West. In the US, I use to eagerly await going home to watching series like Gundam and Big O on Toonami as a kid, only to broaden my horizons as the Internet became more accessible, finding shows like Evangelion and RahXephon. Giant mech’s squaring off is one of the great modern cultural legacies of Japan, and anime as a whole, and here are 10 of the finest examples.
10. Full Metal Panic!
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: January 8, 2002 – June 18, 2002
Full Metal Panic is the story of Sousuke Sagara who is a member of an secret anti-terrorist group called Mithril. Sousuke is given the task of looking over Kaname Chidori. Sosuke enrolls in Kaname’s school, and his background as a soldier leads him to some awkward experiences, since he always interprets everything through the lens of battle You might read the above and thing, wait so this is a high-school Mecha anime?
Yes, you’re right, and what’s surprising and amazing about FMP is that it blends both genres very nicely. This is something that could have ended in Disaster but instead, FMP became a distinct, memorable and highly enjoyable Mecha series.
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Jan 21, 2002 - Sep 10, 2002
Tokyo is barred from the rest of the world by a strange Barrier, and when strange enemies attack from outside, Ayato Kamina encounters the RahXephon, and is led out of the dimensional barrier. RahXephon takes many twists and turns before leading to it’s ultimate destination.
Decried as an Eva clone, it’s not seen enough as a show with it’s own ideas, tackling it’s own themes. It also has one of the best art direction in the entire Mech genre, having a completely unique feel, look and atmosphere.
- Episodes: 6
- Aired: Oct 7, 1988 - Jul 7, 1989
Gunbuster is the story of Noriko Takaya, who is thrown into the heat of a war between humans and a strange, insectoid race of aliens, who are bent on it’s destruction, seemingly without reason. Noriko, who is actually unskilled at piloting standard Mecha, is chosen because of her potential to pilot the super-weapon, Gunbuster, which turns out to be decisive in the human-alien war.
Gunbuster is the Directorial debut of Hideaki Anno, of Evangelion fame, and you can see many similarities. Gunbuster does two elements particularly well, tell a complete, emotional story in a short timespan, and delve deeply into it’s characters, making it a believable and immersive sci-fi/Mecha experience.
7. Vision of Escaflowne
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2, 1996 – September 24, 1996
Escaflowne is the story of Hitomi Kanzaki, a girl, who is transported to the mysterious world of Gaea by Prince Van, who returns to find his kingdom in ruins. Hitomi and Van fight back against the invading forces, and attempt to defeat the Zaibach empire, which destroyed Van’s homeland. As the story goes on, Hitomi becomes ever more important to Prince Van and their attempt to avenge his homeland. Gaea is an interesting midst of a society with Mecha and other advanced technology, but with a feudal economic and social system.
As the story unfolds, more and more about the nature of Gaea, and the motivations and pasts of the characters are revealed. Escaflowne has a unique feel and setting, which blends fantasy and Mech elements, which make it a standout of its genre.
6. Mobile Police Patlabor: Early Days
- Episodes: 7
- Aired: Apr 25, 1988 - Jun 25, 1989
Mobile Police Patlabor is the story of a Tokyo Police Unit which uses Mecha called Labors to ward off criminals and terrorists and stop any dastardly deeds they’d commit in their jurisdiction. Labors have also entered military and civil use as well, giving rise to ‘Labor Crime’. The police must fight against said crime, as well as everything from military coups, to giant mutants coming out of Tokyo Bay. One of the best features of Patlabor is, despite being a realistic approach to the Mech Genre, it contains a lot of satirical elements as well.
While some military-heavy mech series take more of an anti-war stance than others, Patlabor takes aim at government, bureaucracy, urban life, and gung-ho cops in a pretty hilarious manor. Patlabor is a long-running franchise, but we choose the OVA because it’s a good entry way to the franchise as a whole, and also encapsulates a lot of what’s so good about it
5. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
- Episodes: 27
- Aired: Apr 1, 2007 - Sep 30, 2007
The story of Simon and Kamina has the quest to break out from the underground village and explore to surface. Venturing out maybe more dangerous than one can expect however. Despite this, Gurren Lagann has one of the most audacious, hopeful and optimistic outlooks of any series out there but the way it makes it work in it’s own universe is incredible and consummately fun to watch.
Gurren Lagann is in itself a love letter to the Mecha genre. At various points in the show it’s called back through different time periods in Mecha history, through themes characters and visuals. The love of the genre that the production team had is clear in the final product of the show.
4. Armored Trooper Votoms
- Episodes: 52
- Aired: Apr 1, 1983 - Mar 23, 1984
Votoms is the story of Chirico Curvie, the member of an elite unit for the Gilgamesh confederation, fighting their enemies in the Balarant Union. Chirico is put on a suspicious mission and is eventually betrayed, and branded a traitor. Chirico goes on to search for the truth and unearth the conspiracy behind both warring powers.
Votoms is an old series without the name recognition of series like Gundam or Macross but it still one of the shining examples of the Mech genre. In particular, Votoms is probably the best example of a ‘realistic’ Mecha series, and is a must see for fans of the genre.
3. Super Dimension Fortress Macross
- Episodes: 36
- Aired: October 1982 – June 1983
After an Alien ship crashes on earth, the ship is retooled for human use and re-christened the SDF-1 Macross. From here we follow the story of the war between the humans of UN Spacey and the Zentradi, through the lens of Misa Hayase, Hikaru Ichijio and Minmay Lynn. The three would form a more complex relationship with each-other, as well as a love triangle that would become emblematic of the Macross Universe and franchise.
Macross is again, one of the most influential and popular Mecha series out there. Adapted into the West as Robotech the series has gained popularity outside of Japan as well.
2. Mobile Suit Gundam
- Episodes: 43
- Aired: Apr 7, 1979 - Jan 26, 1980
It may be that the original Mobile Suit Gundam series looks somewhat dated, but the themes it dealt with, as well as the franchised it spawned, are just about timeless. The series follows Amuro Ray as he pilots the eponymous Gundam, fighting the forces of Zeon while trying to come to terms with the needless slaughter of war and the deaths of many of those around him.
Amuro and his Rival, Char Aznable, an ace of the Zeon, become bitter combatants but share something in common which ties their fates together. The Federation and Zeon become embroiled in a deadly conflict from which there seems to be no peaceful resolution.
There are so many entries into this universe, many of them worthwhile, many of them not so much, but the original is still a must-watch for all anime fans.
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Oct 3, 1995 to Mar 27, 1996
Other than Miyazaki films, It’s tough to think of anything that has simultaneously been as influential, popular and critically acclaimed with in Japanese anime as Evangelion. It’s become famous and infamous at the same time. Neon Genesis Evangelion is the Story of Shinji Ikari, who is tasked with piloting an Evangelion, against otherworldly beings called angels.
Together with his co-pilots, Rei Ayanami and Asuka Langely Soryu, and his Guardian, Misato Katsuragi. Shinji and Co are part of a secret group called NERV. But NERV holds a plethora of secrets, and the personalities and psyches of the characters soon come tumbling down. Characters like Shinji Ikari, Rei Ayanami and Asuka Langely Soryu are now effectively icons, known as some of the most complex and compelling figures ever featured in anime.
Evangelion tops this list because of how it ace’s the mech genre and sci-fi genre as a whole. It’s not just about bells and whistles, energetic fight scenes and cool looking mobile suits, though it has those in strides. Eva is a show about people, very flawed people who have to come to terms with themselves and also each other. One of the most well-conceived and executed stories ever told In Japanese animation, everyone, not just Mech fans, owes it to themselves to watch Eva.
If you’re looking to get into the Mecha genre, you can’t go wrong with any of the shows listed above. That being said, Mecha is a huge genre, with so many worthwhile series, these are just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re looking for newer series, look for Code Geass, Knights of Sidonia, Eureka 7, Zegapin, Aldnoah Zero and Gundam 00 which have all generated some serious popularity, and are worth checking out.
For ardent Mecha fans, let us know any of your favorites that we missed, or entries that we should have ranked higher or lower. Make sure to sound off in the comments below and give us your opinion.