10 Mecha Anime That Turned Out Surprisingly Deep
A host of anime streaming services have made new material more accessible than ever. Some trends have taken over the modern roster of anime series, while there are also other staples and genres that remain eternally popular.
The epic action that is possible with the giant robots and monsters that populate mecha anime has been a mainstay of the medium. Mecha anime are a great place to experience over-the-top battles between incredible technology, but they can also be conduits for provoking storytelling and tragic melodrama.
10/10 A depressed Mecha Pilot stands between Ultimate Armageddon
Neon Genesis Evangelion
‘Neon Genesis Evangelion earned a totemic reputation as one of the greatest and most challenging anime series of all time, mecha or otherwise. One of the reasons why evangelization is such a successful and surprising mecha subversion, it’s only halfway through the series that its haunting and depressing true colors come to light.
The mecha anime continues to chronicle NERV’s efforts to use their Evangelion to defeat the kaiju-like angels to prevent an apocalypse. However, the standard action slowly fades into the background to capture the existential questions of identity and depression. Shinji Ikari is evangelizationis the flawed and tortured protagonist, but every character in the series has a certain tragedy going for it.
9/10 Child soldiers must overcome impossible obstacles
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
The Mobile Suit Gundam The franchise has informed the mecha genre for over four decades and has created a diverse universe during this time. In Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded OrphansMikazuki Augus leads a team of abandoned child soldiers who are forced to fight for their future and transform into a disjointed military unit.
There is a real sense of camaraderie between these rejected child warriors and Iron-Blooded Orphans hits devastating spots once casualties begin to mount. More Gundam series features a war waged against complex political unrest and Iron-Blooded Orphans is no different as the relationship between Mars and Earth intensifies.
8/10 Disposable pilots are pushed into an emotional situation
Darling in the FranXX
2018 Darling in the FranXX begins in inherently dark territory as its ten mecha pilots are man-made creations that exist for the express purpose of wielding the Franxx to defend humanity. Darling in the FranXX delves into issues of co-dependency early on, particularly between Hiro and Zero Two, which become closer and closer as this mecha experiment continues.
Mecha anime has many strong points to make, in which humans are enduring tools and a means to an end. The conclusion to Darling in the FranXX is particularly bittersweet and controversial.
7/10 Man’s use of machines inspires them to explore the origins of existence
Brain Powerd is a mecha anime that is often overlooked and in many ways it resembles Yushiyuki Tomino’s version of Neon Genesis Evangelion and other mecha series that are more character-driven and concerned with issues surrounding creation as opposed to over-the-top action.
In Brain Powerd, a future version of Earth is ravaged by natural disasters that are the result of an alien spacecraft that will simultaneously destroy Earth if it were to leave. Survivors known as Reclaimers use organic mechs that bring them one step closer to salvation. However, this pursuit also sheds light on them about the origins of their people and the nature of all things.
6/10 A coming-of-age mecha story that doesn’t hold back
RahXephon is a mecha series from the 2000s that often goes unnoticed despite the ambitious story it presents to its audience. Ayato Kamina is a teenager who lacks direction and motivation in life, which suddenly changes after discovering the RahXephon mecha.
Kamina’s trajectory as a reluctant hero is normal when it comes to mecha series, but RahXephon doesn’t hold back when it comes to its protagonist’s empty existence. Kamina’s internal strife is juxtaposed with brutal battles all over Tokyo. It’s chaos from top to bottom.
5/10 Fan Fiction Comes To Life As The Ultimate Otaku Weaves A Supreme Story
Re:Creators presents a stunningly modern take on the mecha and isekai series when prominent fictional characters from anime, manga, video games and action figures are suddenly brought into the real world to participate in a war against a sinister threat.
A high school student who is a huge fan of these characters and their respective series becomes the leader of these various warriors. Re:Creators fight city-scale battles and mecha destruction. However, it’s also an insightful deconstruction of fandom, being part of a community and forging your own identity.
4/10 A nihilistic world exacerbates the bond between man and machine
ErgoProxy is a dark mecha series set in a post-apocalyptic world where the limitless comforts of technology suddenly start to become a liability instead of a luxury. A virus causes the society’s trusted androids to grow in sentience and rebel against humans.
Many sci-fi and mecha series begin in a comparable location, but Re-I and his android partner begin to unravel a chilling plot that highlights the true depravity of society. Few animes are ready to go to the places that ErgoProxy Is.
kind blue Effortlessly blur the lines between sci-fi and horror in this dark mecha meditation. Humanity was forced to flee Earth and take refuge in a space station after a deadly race of aliens decided to settle on the planet.
kind blue correctly paints a picture where humans feel like an endangered species and they outnumber blue. This ordeal is even more traumatic when contextualized through the eyes of Yuji Kaido, a displaced civilian who wakes up in this dystopia where nothing resembles the old world.
2/10 The Trials and Tribulations of Mecha Training Are Exposed
Gunbuster is a six-episode OVA series that is an early collaboration between Gainax and Hideaki Anno that in many ways feels like a dry run for what they would accomplish later in evangelization. A bitter war is raging between Earth and a vicious species of aliens where powerful mecha are the key to survival.
Gunbuster ends with an epic war, but most of the series examines Noriko Takaya’s grueling training process and the consequences of this war on his personal life. In the end, she has to look back with what little she has and wonder if it was worth it.
1/10 Mecha technology reaches breaking point for society
Patlabor is a training mecha series that is beginning to popularize the use of mechs in more industrial and practical contexts beyond purely military and law enforcement activities. Mamoru Oshii from ghost in the shell fame rules many of the patlabor both installments and the mecha franchise address caveat ideas that are present in much of Oshii’s work, such as an overreliance on technology and the dangers that come with this attitude.
patlabor asks questions about if and why society even needs Mecha. This is not a discussion that most mecha series are ready to have.
NEXT: 10 Best Mecha Anime That Don’t Deserve Hate