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Always in the shadows and with their own agenda, spy stories have always put their main character through the most dangerous of challenges. From the 30’s up to a futuristic dystopia. From personal to political reasons. In the midst of war or moving quietly from a secretive objective. The perfect blend between action, drama and suspense makes this style of stories a great fit in the world of anime.
And of course, in this article we raise the question “Which spy series deserve a spot in our top ten?” Don’t worry dear reader! We got you covered because that’s exactly what we’re going to find out. Without further ado, here we have the 10 Best Spy Anime Series.
10. Allison to Lillia (Allison and Lillia)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2008 – October 2008
Wil and Allison, the symbolism of yin and yang couldn’t be drawn more clearly than with those two characters. One day, Allison, the impulsive one of the duo, meets Wil after years of training in the air division as a pilot. Wils on the other hand, has been trained in firearms and also has been teaching the younger generation about different school topics. After meeting, they find out about the tale of a secret treasure that will put a stop to a war between their country Roxche and Sous-Beil. Lighting a fire in both of their hearts, both childhood friends will rush out to an adventure of a lifetime to try and make both of their dreams come true.
The more light-hearted of the series in this list. Allison to Lillia shares the story of an impulsive girl and a level-headed partner as they try to stop a war that has been going on for more than a hundred years. Even with their impulsiveness, they manage to be cautious and assertive enough to follow their plans through to the end. Not the most common of anime love stories you’ll see, especially with the war theme they cover, but it’s a series that can earn a place in your heart if you give it a chance!
9. Heavy Object
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2015 – March 2016
Heavy Object tells the story of the surprising and chaotic war events in which the mind of Qwenthur and the courage of Havia face life or death situations. They are not alone, though. Princess Milinda, renowned as an elite soldier, is in charge of driving the military super-weapon known as Object. These three characters make a formidable team, not only considered high-value by their army, but also as a formidable enemy to everybody else.
When we’re introduced to the main characters, we’ll notice that they aren’t spies at all. Being in the middle of a political power war, however, pushes enemies to find ways to get some enemy intelligence before it’s too late. What better way to do it than by infiltrating and obtaining this information first hand? While not the main protagonists, spies from both Legitimate Kingdom and opposing forces are a key element to this series. Also, Getting out of high-pressure situations at the very last moment has always been a staple of spy stories and Heavy Object makes heavy use of those aspects (see what we did there?) to leave all of the viewers at the edge of their seats. Definitely a must watch series.
Heavy Object Official PV
8. Senkou no Night Raid (Night Raid 1931)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2010 - June 2010
“Sakurai Kikan” may not mean anything to you and if that’s the case, they have done their job very well. “Sakurai Kikan” is a Japanese ultra-secret intelligence agency that holds a staff of individuals with unique abilities. Sent to Shanghai in 1931, as the days get closer and closer to World War I and to the first Sino-Japanese War, the agents are set into motion before the worst happens.
Filled with four of the most extraordinary agents in the world, this agency has everything going for them. Why are they so extraordinary, you ask? Let’s mention their abilities and you’ll find out. Kazura Iha has the ability of teleportation. Natsume Kagiya can see as if he had night vision goggles in his eyes. Aoi Miyoshi has a telekinetic ability, which translates to the manipulation objects around him (including bullets) and Yukina Sonogi, the only female member of the team can telepathically communicate with her teammates. Sometimes, a war can be won even before it begins just by having the right information, and if Sakurai Kikan has any say in it, they already won.
7. Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyaku (Darker than Black)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2007 – September 2007
Hell’s Gate’s appearance in Japan changed the country’s beautiful skyline into a more oppressive one by the surrounding walls that suddenly appeared. These walls allow people within their limits to forget about the laws of physics, marking the change of the country’s social landscape to its core. With their appearance, “Contractors” started to come into sight as well. They are people that in exchange for their humanity can gain supernatural powers, and by doing so, ally with an organization if they wish, giving their power a sense of meaning.
The protagonist of this story is Hei, a human that became a contractor and part of the Syndicate. He’s also known as the Black Reaper, one of the deadliest of all known contractors but this wouldn’t be something recognizable if you happen to meet him. Calm and collected, Hei in essence represents the eyes of the viewers, taking a glance of this world filled with so many webs that connect and disappear into the distance. Unlike other series, this one offers a battle between spies, each of them working for different organizations and trying to establish themselves as the superior organization in Japan. Quite unique and compelling, this is a series that deserves a place on our list.
Darker Than Black
6. Joker Game
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2016 – June 2016
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Are you playing the game or is the game playing you? This is something to consider when in the world of Joker Game. Trained by Colonel Yuuki under many hard trials, the best eight graduates from the D Agency will start blending in until they aren’t even noticeable anymore. As the years pass by and they get closer to World War II, it’s time for the best eight to act and take the world by surprise without the world even noticing it. Mind you, you might have to reconsider everything you know about the world after watching this series.
One of the things that catches your attention while watching this series, is how many times emotions are shown by only one character or even used as an tool for the main characters to reach their objective. For Sakuma, who acts as a liaison between the Japanese Imperial Army and the D Agency, this is a little hard to understand at first, but after the first mission, he understands that there’s always more than meets the eye when it comes to politics…
Joker Game Official PV
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2006 – December 2006
In a world where the Cold War never ended, countries divided in two blocks: The East and West Block. Upon realizing that the “peace treaty” might end sooner than expected thanks to a nuclear war threat, the West Block dispatched their Nine Number Group, one of the ten groups in the Zero Zero Organization. Here we meet Mylene Hoffman, otherwise known as 009-1, a half-cyborg agent sent to the East Block to carry out many missions as part of the Nine Number Group. Something is for certain, this time the East Block must be stopped and no one can be trusted. Can this group succeed? Only time and Mylene “009-1” Hoffman will tell…
Maybe it can be hard to tell due to its drawing style and cyber-human elements but this series might be one of the most realistic outlooks as far as espionage and politics go. Filled with smoke and mirrors, agents playing other people, ambush, deceit and action, it could tell us as much as it could from this parallel universe in which the Cold War continued and the world tumbled into two massive political enemies. An interesting plot with interesting characters make this a worthy contender for our list.
4. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2015 - March 2016
More than 300 years have passed since The Calamity War occurred, a conflict between Earth and its outer space colonies. After rearranging its governing structure, peace seemed to be there to stay. That is however, until Kudelia Aina Bernstein, a girl who seeks to liberate the Martian population from one of Earth’s major powers decides to move to Earth to negotiate better living conditions for her people. A team was handpicked by her from the Chryse Guard Security to protect her and in that team we find our protagonist Mikazuki Augus, a boy as quiet and collected as he’s vicious while using Gundam Machinery. After an ambush attack, both her and the CGS must survive and move forward until her mission is fulfilled.
One of the heaviest action-packed series of this list, Mobile Suit Gundam: IRON BLOODED ORPHANS shows how far people in higher ranks will go to protect their own treasure and power. This series also benefits from having a balanced cast of characters, that way it shows us most, if not all, possible reactions we would find in a critical war moment. If you’re looking for a series that’s not afraid to raise the action level to the maximum, look no further!
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans Official PV
3. Ghost in the Shell
- Episodes: Movie
- Aired: 1995
Have you heard the expression “even the walls have ears”? In this dystopian future where people have adapted cyber parts to improve and extend their lives, you might as well believe that there’s no such thing as a “secret”, at least if “The Puppetmaster” has anything to say about it. This hacker has learned to enter and manipulate to his will, not only cyber parts that are just body limbs, but also the worst crime of them all, hacking and extracting information from Cyberbrains! On the case we have Public Security Section 9, and in that team we find our protagonist Motoko Kusanagi, a girl with full-body prosthetics that allow her to reach their objective as quietly and deadly as possible. Puppetmaster better hack his legs because the chase might end quicker than he thinks…
We love dystopian futures (at least the technological ones) and Ghost in the Shell’s universe is nothing short of a beauty. The skyline with artifacts floating in the sky with futuristic building designs and gadgets of all kinds just hits you right in the face as the story unravels. Given that this movie is originally from 1995 and offers a possible idea of a futuristic city in 2020’s, you just can’t help but wish that some of those artifacts found their way to our world. And needless to say, this world is a Spy’s Haven, filled with many trustful gadgets to make your job the easiest possible. Don’t believe us? Check out the first 5 minutes of the movie and you’ll see *wink wink*.
2. Higashi no Eden (Eden of the East)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: April 2009 - June 2009
It’s one thing when your work is as mysterious as your personal life, but for Akira Takizawa, everything involving him is just as mysterious. Suffering from amnesia, he can’t remember who he is or what he does, but from the looks of it, he could even consider being a terrorist! Thankfully he’s not alone. As fate would have it, he crossed paths with Saki Morimi, a college student on a trip who is saved by Takizawa’s weird antics. Little did they know that by clinging together, they would soon face up against other individuals that attack Takizawa for some reason! Mystery after mystery, the pair has no other choice but to unravel them all for the truth to be found.
What a unique twist. Not only does it follow the pattern of “mysterious past” most agents tend to carry, but they spin it to the point that the main character doesn’t even know who he is! Not only that, but the plot that covers both protagonists is full of political and personal reasons for you to keep guessing who the real enemy is. The animation is great and the effects are almost cinematic. This was a close contender for the number one spot but that honor went to another series. This one is definitely a must watch!
Higashi no Eden Complete Collection
1. Golgo 13
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: April 2008 – March 2009
You might know him as Duke Togo, others might know him as Tadashi Togo, but if there’s a name that everybody knows (and fears) it’s Golgo 13. No one knows who he really is or where he came from, but one thing nobody can argue is his ability to just annihilate his enemies. For him, the best way to do so is in the most efficient and scariest of ways, usually by just shooting once per target to finish them. Silent as the Grim Reaper itself, Golgo 13 will always follow through with any mission he accepts and without any doubt, do anything in his power (and his custom M-16) to reach his objective and move onto his next target.
The ultimate spy series. A way to look at this series would be to think of it as the anime version of Agent 007 (James Bond), yet this series seemed to be much darker in tone and also bold enough to show all the casualties involved in Golgo 13’s actions as he fulfills his missions. Then again, the enemies themselves don’t hold back either in their quest to finish Golgo 13 as well. 50 episodes filled to the brim with action, along with more adult-themed elements, Golgo 13 is the series to watch if you’re looking for your spy genre fix!
I hope you that as you kept reading you made sure to keep an eye behind your back, you never know who you might cross with or even if someone’s spying on you! But fear not! After a couple of episodes from any of these series and you should have learned the basics of spying to protect yourself well enough against it… or to practice it on your own!
What did you think of this article? Do you agree? or can you recommend other anime spy series similar to the ones presented here? Let us know in our comments section below or on our social networks!
Written by Alexcelsior.