War anime has become a prominent genre among anime enthusiasts. In fact, some of the biggest names in anime fall under this genre.
To jog your memory the infamous Code Geass falls under the war anime category.
Below is a list of the top 20 war anime that needs to be watched by every anime fan!
Aldnoah.Zero takes place in a universe where humans have made Mars habitable. A large number of the civilians from Earth proceed migrate to the Mars. Here they form two separate civilizations on two different planets.
The two civilizations find a piece of very advanced technology that causes conflict and eventually war breaks out.
In the aftermath, the ruler of Mars decides to travel to Earth and solve some problems. Unfortunately, she is assassinated and this causes a new war between the two planets.
Aldnoah.Zero is very well written and features a more tactical approach to war. The beautiful animation, great action scenes, and some of the coolest anime characters make it an engaging watch.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Code Geass is one of the most, if not the most iconic war anime series of all time. It features mature themes of rebellion, sacrifice, terrorism, and even racism.
The story is about Lelouch, a man whose people have been stripped of their identity in war. Now they are controlled through terrorism and brainwashing.
When enough is enough, he uses his charisma and intelligence to lead a rebellion against the empire. Quickly known as Zero, his new identity he has a large army of knights at his disposal.
Despite being an old anime, it’s still a top recommendation for war action. In fact, it has become so mainstream that you can watch it on Netflix.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
The story deals with the consequences of war, and how it affects the entire world around it. Two brothers who work for a division of alchemists in the military discover conspiracies in the government.
Here they learn how prejudice and hate can make even the ‘right’ side in a war just as monstrous as the other.
They attempt to stop the vicious cycle before it escalates into a large civil war. But, the more they uncover, the more they realize how nothing is black and white.
The show features some of the best writing in anime and portrays war in a tragic, realistic way. It’s still as relevant today as it was years ago, and is one of the best anime available on Netflix.
Violet Evergarden can be described as both beautiful and bittersweet as a story.
The story is about a girl called Violet, who was used as a weapon in war and was one of the best at what she did.
After that life is left behind, she works in a post office and writes letters for people who cannot express their feelings.
Ironically, she is incapable of processing her feelings and hopes to understand what love means one day.
The anime features a very likable main character, and we see her journey from someone who does not understand feelings, to a person who develops far beyond that point.
2015 was a HUGE year for anime. Check out this list of The Best Anime for 2015
Jormungand revolves around an arms dealer who illegally sells weaponry and ammunition to different countries. He aims at being neutral instead of taking a side in any war.
The arms dealer is accompanied by a child soldier, who is no less skilled than an adult elite soldier, who acts as a bodyguard.
However, the child hates war, weaponry and anything related to it. He does this out of desperation for survival, and in the hopes of finding his parents’ murderers.
Of course, if you’re illegally supplying weapons for war, you can’t ever truly stay neutral and the consequences find their way to you sooner or later.
Based on a Japanese novel series called ‘The Heroic Legend of Arslan’, Arslan Senki is a war anime about the fictional Kingdom of Pars. Pars faces a tragic betrayal, which is where the story begins.
When the prince of Pars known as Arslan is forced to leave his kingdom, the entire army of his kingdom is destroyed.
He is thrown into a life where he learns to survive ultimately becoming a strong ruler. Eventually, he must lead his fallen kingdom towards victory and grant them freedom.
Watching Arslan grow from a young boy who was too weak to save his kingdom, to someone strong enough to lead an army, is what makes this anime one of the best when it comes to the theme of war.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
The Mobile Suit Gundam franchise is huge, and so is the mecha anime war genre in general. But Iron-Blooded Orphans takes a bit of a different approach to the usual mecha war anime tropes.
Unlike the usual characters in the franchise who happen to be teenage pilots and educational marvels, this series has a grittier take on children in war.
The characters here are unfortunate child soldiers who work for security companies to be able to survive.
It’s a grittier take to an otherwise over-the-top action series, is what sets it apart in an oversaturated market of mecha war anime.
Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou
Basilisk is set in the 16th century and is all about ninjas, sword fighting, war, and blood. However, what makes it quite unique is the fact it throws forbidden love into the mix.
The story is about two rival clans who have fought for years, and the lives of their heirs. The conflict seemingly enters a halt when the two heirs of the rival clans fall in love. From there their union becomes a step closer towards peace.
However, tensions arise within the politics of the clans, and a battle royale is proposed in which ten strongest ninjas of each clan will participate.
The side left with more ninjas alive will be the one that wins the war, and their heir becomes the next ruler.
The anime is full of great action scenes, a compelling story-line, and can be described as a weird mix of Mortal Kombat and the Hunger Games.
Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha
Darker Than Black is a sci-fi war anime that revolves around a group of human beings that are called Contractors. These contractors have various special abilities, each having their own unique abilities.
Their existence is caused by two mysterious gates known as Heaven’s Gate in South America and Hell’s Gate in Tokyo Japan. These gates alter the sky and cause chaos on the land.
The anime focuses on a mysterious organization known as The Syndicate, which originates after the United States lost its dominant position as a superpower. The Syndicate hires the Contractors for different missions.
The Contractors end up becoming cold hearted killers, and they have been the subject of wars due to their power. A turn of events soon follows when Hei, a contractor completes different assination missions in Tokyo.
It’s packed with solid animation, interesting characters, an engaging premise and classy execution. Put that all together and Darker Than Black is one of the coolest war anime out there.
Attack on Titan
Shingeki no Kyojin, known more commonly as Attack on Titan, is one of the most famous and iconic war anime series of recent times.
The story is about Eren Yeager, whose town is brutally destroyed and whose mother is killed in front of his eyes by the giant creatures known as the Titans.
Humans had created a colossal wall to keep themselves secure from the humanoid monsters. Eventually the Titans break through and the humans have no choice but to engage in a war that will decide their fate.
The show is brutal, full of tragedy, cool action and has some of the most iconic characters in anime.
Kingdom is a historical war anime about two orphans called Xin and Piao, who wish to unify a war-torn China.
They suffer through endless hardships, which only strengthens their wish to become great generals in the forces of war. Something they want to do side by side.
However, Piao is taken away from Xin and later killed. Xin learns that Piao was used as a body double for the king of the Qin empire.
That motivates him to become the greatest general of war known to all of China. Xin wants to avenge his friend’s death at the hand of Qin empire’s politics.
The show is about the journey of an orphan through a war-torn China, and how he becomes a general greater than he could ever hope for.
With great battles, a well-written historical story-line, and well-executed themes of honor and revenge, Kingdom is a perfect war anime for the fans of the historical genre.
Dororo has one of the darkest premises that exist in anime.
The story is about a king who makes a pact with 12 demons, in which he will get to rule his land without interruption. In turn, the demons will be free to take any part of his unborn son that they want.
The son is born deformed, having no limbs or facial features. The boy’s mother sends him adrift in a river so that he cannot be killed by his father.
The baby grows up to be our protagonist, who embarks on a quest to slay each of the 12 demons who took his body and regain those parts back.
It is an unusual war story and one of the darkest ones at that. It has an engaging plot, a unique premise, good animation, lots of action and is full of blood.
What more can you ask for in a war anime?
Vandread takes itself much less seriously than the other war anime in this list, and can even be outright funny at times.
It’s about two factions of human beings separated as genders, with one side having only females and the other side having only males.
The story takes place in the Milky Way and within it, the two genders live on two different planets.
They avoid interacting with each other but, when they do interact it almost always escalates in violence. When a group of males and females are teleported through a wormhole to a random part of the universe, they must make their way back by putting aside their prejudice towards the other gender.
The anime is full of cliches, comedy, and action. It can also be seen as a sci-fi opera at times. It’s a strange mix of genres, but nonetheless fun to watch and one of the less intense war-themed series out there.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress takes place in the Industrial Revolution and features a fictional virus that is spreading wildly.
It turns the victim into a kind of a zombie which then develops a strong desire for human flesh. Unlike the usual zombie, they are much deadlier and can only be stopped if their heart is pierced.
The story takes us into the life of an engineer who tries to test a new weapon but ends up getting bitten.
A normal person would become infected as a result, but he somehow manages to fight the infection and becomes a hybrid which is neither human, nor undead.
It may sound similar to some of the other war anime around, such as Attack on Titan for one, but it is distinctive enough to be different and not just a rip-off.
Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu
The story is about a 150-year long war between two of the greatest powers within space called the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance.
Witness Reinhard climb up the Empire ranks with the helping hand of his friend, Sigfried Kirchei. Reinhard must not only fight the war but figure out a way to free his sister from the Kaiser. His goal is to unify humanity under one genuine ruler.
Yang, a supporter of democratic ideals is on the other side of the galaxy and has strong feelings towards his beliefs. Ideologies clash with many casualties along the way.
Fans of sci-fi, odysseys, war and space-themed stories will find themselves enjoying this series. Get lost in the expansive world, lore and interesting characters. You can watch this anime on Netflix.
Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199
Star Blazers 2199 is a remake of the original Space Battleship Yamato series, which are as old as the 70s.
The story is about a ship crew stuck in space without any backup, pitted against the Gamilas Empire.
They must fight as Earth’s last hope while trying not to give into internal conflicts that are born as a result of the rising tensions.
It tries its best to juggle both the themes of war, human beings in conflict, and drama. The characters, both old and the new additions are given good screen-time and arcs.
But, it’s still a topic that can be divisive for fans of the original.
Grancrest Senki takes place on the continent of Atlatan. It has been devastated by flames and war and is known as the Great Hall Tragedy.
A marriage that was arranged to bring peace between Fantasia Union and The Factory Alliance, ended up in tragedy. As Lady Marrine and Sir Alexis Douse were walking down the aisle, Chaos (a dark force that corrupts land and brings forth demons) interrupts proceedings.
Demon Lord of Diablos then murders the archdukes of both factions literally killing any hope of peace.
What follows is the introduction of Alliance mage, Siluca Meletes who is travelling the land to study a master magician. She is captured and then rescued by Theo Cornaro, a young warrior carrying a Crest.
Siluca and Theo enter into a magical contract and the two embark on a mission to restore peace and balance to the war torn lands.
The anime shows how power can corrupt people, and how selfish human beings can be, and how the smallest thing can escalate to a war instead of people living in peace.
Break Blade has great hand-drawn animation and does not rely much on the CGI aspect, which immediately sets it apart from most Gundam-like series.
The story takes place in the Cruzon continent, with the kingdoms of Krisna and Athens in a war. They use mechas to fight their war however, one of the citizens of Krisna possesses the ability to power an ancient Golem.
He quickly learns how to pilot it properly, becoming a major asset for his people.
The anime has a fun premise that isn’t as cliched and features good writing that stays consistent throughout the entire journey.
The Fate/Zero series takes place 10 years before Fate/Stay Night, and is about the fourth “Holy Grail” war.
The story focuses on the Einzbern family. They’re confident that the fourth Holy Grail War will be different compared to the previous three.
The reason behind this is that they have a vessel of the Holy Grail in their possession, which has never happened before.
They hire the mercenary known as Kiritsugu Emiya. He is thrown into a game of survival where he has to face six other contestants.
What follows next is an all-out war where all the warriors must fight for survival, with a hope to win the fourth Holy Grail War.
If you are someone who has watched Fate/Stay Night, then you should definitely not waste a single second before starting Fate/Zero.
But if you are new to the franchise, you should watch the previous series instead of digging right into this one. The entire franchise is wildly entertaining and considered to be one of the best war anime series of all time.
Valkyria Chronicles is loosely based on the video game of the same name, which is all about war, strategy and well-written story-lines.
The story takes place in a fictional continent called Europa, and the two main factions, the Imperial Empire and the Federation are against each other.
Both try to gain more control over the other and are almost always at war. We focus on the country Gallia, which tries to be neutral, and their circumstances take a turn for the worst as they end up in the crossfire of the war.
The anime is about the consequences of war, and features innocent characters trying to save their homes.