Anime used to be all about the mecha. There would always be one airing, and Gundam was one of the most widely watched shows.
Nowadays, we’re lucky to get a few a year – which is unfortunate, but it also means more variety and genre-mixing are going on.
I’ll be discussing 21 different anime that fall under the mecha genre, and hopefully, you’ll find something that tickles your fancy!
- Best Mecha Anime and Robot Anime
- 21. Aldnoah.zero
- 20. Guilty Crown
- 19. Darling in the Franxx
- 18. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
- 17. Ssss. Gridman
- 16. Voices of a Distant Star
- 15. Robotics; Notes
- 14. Giant Robo
- 13. Flcl
- 12. Eureka Seven
- 11. Bokurano
- 10. Promare
- 9. Gunbuster and Diebuster
- 8. Knights of Sidonia
- 7. Ghost in the Shell
- 6. The Count of Monte Cristo
- 5. Mobile Suit Gundam Series
- 4. Neon Genesis Evangelion
- 3. Code Geass
- 2. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
- 1. Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Best Mecha Anime and Robot Anime
Aldnoah.Zero is both great and a missed opportunity, sporting some insanely good mech design, climactic moments, and sound direction but lacking narrative and characterization.
That said, those good moments hit hard and are incredibly effective, showing large scenes of destruction or turmoil with a finesse I rarely see from A-1 Pictures.
Definitely give the first few episodes a shot and see how you feel about it because it’s still entertaining and a fun watch despite any flaws.
20. Guilty Crown
Almost everything I just said could literally go for Production I.G.’s Guilty Crown.
Flimsy narrative and few strong characters are held up by some stellar audiovisual production, with beautiful background and similarly epic Hiroyuki Sawano tracks that are featured in Aldnoah.Zero.
It falls apart towards the end but still delivers a satisfying finale, though those earlier episodes are where the directors and staff are really not pulling any punches.
It’s part Geass, part Future Diary, and part Eureka Seven, failing to surpass all of them but still entertaining with a beautifully produced package.
19. Darling in the Franxx
With humanity pushed to the brink of extinction, those in charge craft large humanoid mecha duo-piloted by children.
They’re tasked to board these FranXX and risk their lives against the Klaxosaurs.
However, while the show does have many well-directed Studio Trigger action moments (with accompanying soundtrack design by the legendary Hiroyuki Sawano), it’s much more of a coming-of-age drama about emotion and love.
It’s absurd – not necessarily in a good way – but perhaps enough for you to have a damn good time watching it!
18. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is a weird, under-watched gem. It’s written by Gen Urobuchi and produced by Production I.G., sporting some killer plot twists and wonderful Animation.
The main mecha, Chamber, is a fully autonomous character in this show – and a lovable one with a brilliant personality, too.
He’s designed in some incredibly 3DCGI, especially for its 2013 release date, and the setting is completely unique, depicting Ledo, an intergalactic soldier, who is forced to hide out on a small civilization floating across an entirely blue planet.
This is a unique must-watch for anybody wanting something a little different with their mecha.
17. Ssss. Gridman
The weirdly titled (it’s explained) SSSS. Gridman follows Yuuta, an amnesiac who finds himself suddenly in possession of a virtual mecha that can suck him in via a computer to fend off incoming Kaiju invasions.
He teams up alongside a few friends who can also see the monsters to assemble the Gridman Alliance in this unabashedly camp love letter to Mecha, Ultraman, Power Rangers, and Kaiju all in one.
This was also done by Studio Trigger (quite a few of these are actually) but doesn’t lean as heavily into its trademark style as their other productions do.
16. Voices of a Distant Star
Voices of a Distant Star is Makoto Shinkai’s (Garden of Words, Your Name, Weathering With You) directorial debut, created almost entirely by himself.
It’s a short 25-minute film about two star-crossed lovers who are unable to see one another again due to the distance but between them via intergalactic travel.
They send messages to one another despite growing further and further apart. It’s tragic, sad, relatable, and visually stunning considering the development.
15. Robotics; Notes
For years the Tanegashima High School Robotics Research Club has been slaving over the repairing and engineering of the GunPro1 Mecha.
When Akiho Senomiya joins, she proclaims it’s always been her dream to be the one to repair it, and so sets about doing just that alongside her team.
Meanwhile, one of those members is being warned of the future of artificial intelligence, and there’s a conspiracy going on.
Set in the same universes as the Chaos; Head, and Steins; Gate series, it bears all the hallmarks of both of them without going too far into the morbid territory.
What’s lovable about it is the way it tells a mecha narrative without many of the gimmicks prevalent throughout the genre, so check it out if you want that ‘behind-the-scenes’ look.
14. Giant Robo
Each episode of Giant Robot: the Animation is like a mini-movie showcasing some of the coolest traditional Animation out there.
It features amazing character and mecha designs wrapped up in an exciting and action-filled adventure, taking elements of Western narrative and adapting it for the genre and format.
It’s as camp, poppy, and childish (with occasional stark somberness) as it was when it began to release in 1992 and only got better across its 7-episode 6-year run.
This is one of those hidden gems of the genre that definitely needs more exposure.
There are few anime out there with a following as devout as FoolyCooly’s.
With only 6-episodes (let’s ignore those cash-grab recent sequels) released at the turn of the millennia, it tells a short and eclectic coming-of-age story with all the ridiculousness you’d come to expect from a Studio Gainax production.
This is one of the most highly regarded mecha shows out there despite its short runtime for reasons – soundtrack, Animation, subtextual story, characters – but I’d highly recommend you just give it a shot and make your own impression!
12. Eureka Seven
Eureka Seven has gained a huge cult following since it aired in 2015, as it takes all the hip and cool aspects of 2000s culture and slams it into one show.
From the music to character designs, to the hover board robots, teenage love, and quirky plot, it’s one of Sunrise’s most lovable productions.
It follows Renton, a naive teenage boy who falls in love with the enigmatic Eureka and decides to join the Gecko State as a member of their organization.
It’s emotional, beautiful at moments, and though there are some sillier moments, it’s still a product of its time that reminds you of simpler anime you watched as a kid.
Bokurano is an oddity of storytelling in every way. It’s got a drab, depressing atmosphere and art style, with characters that look wonderfully designed but still rather common.
It’s always coated in fog or greying somewhat, and you finish each episode feeling a strange comfortableness.
This is because it follows 15 children who enter a contract to pilot a single robot from an alien invasion. It’s a devastating, wonderfully drawn machine, but it features one catch: if you use it, you die.
This is one of the coolest takes on the genre out there and deserves mention for sheer originality and the fact it doesn’t get enough watchers.
Promare is Studio Trigger’s love letter to Studio Trigger. Uh, yeah, it’s exactly that, actually.
It takes the earlier work (Diebuster, GurrenLagann) of Gainax and the latter work (Kill la Kill, Kiznaiver, FranXX) of Studio Trigger and slams it together into one energetic and colorful eye buster of spectacle and action.
The plot is rather simple (it is a movie) and entails our protagonist, Galo (looking like Kamina from TTGL), uncovering a galactic and governmental conspiracy related to the emergence of enflamed aliens.
It’s simple and short and fun as all hell to watch.
9. Gunbuster and Diebuster
To The Top: Gunbuster and To The Top: Diebuster are two very weird and overlooked productions that are integral to many mecha shows to come out.
They popularized the bombastic, dynamic, space traversing absurdismseen in later shows (again, FranXX, Gridman, TTGL, Kill la Kill, Promare, etc.) would find inspiration from, with its simpler stories that always end up going outright outlandish directions towards the later quarter.
The former is 1988 OVA that shows its age yet still lives up, whereas the 2006 overdue sequel was released shortly before Gainax’s closure to show how far the genre has gone.
They’re two historically important, dumb as all hell shows, so I definitely recommend giving them a go.
8. Knights of Sidonia
Knights of Sidonia depicts an intergalactic conflict between an alien race called the Gauna and the last remnants of our species, mostly comprising of clones, long after Earth has been destroyed.
Our protagonist, Nagate, was born and raised in the lower halves of the gargantuan space-faring complex housing humans and had only recently discovered the millions of other refugees.
Shortly after, however, he is made to pilot a mecha and given the title of Knight in order to help protect them all from the Gauna.
It’s got a stellar production quality – particularly in terms of audio – and though the 3DCGI Animation can take a moment to adjust to it more than makes up for it in the combat sequences that move and explode through space with precision and dynamism.
7. Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a 2002 TV-show spin-off of the masterpiece movie and usually receives similar levels of praise.
It’s actually amazing how little this show has aged on an audiovisual and narrative level, still as relevant and beautiful as it was when it came out.
Mechas (non-piloted, usually, but there are various subtypes) usually come into the plot during combat or siege sections of the action thriller. If you’re looking for a good plot with your mecha, this is definitely one to go for.
6. The Count of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Cristo is a Studio Gonzo anime adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ historically classic novel, telling an unforgettable story of revenge and aristocratic corruption throughout France.
The anime moves this all into the future, in an epoch of scientific revolution, but retains the spellbinding narrative of the original book.
This is all made even better by the outstanding KlimptUkiyo-e textured Animation and art design that makes every scene pop dynamically. Please, check this out; it’s an artistic wonder to watch.
5. Mobile Suit Gundam Series
There are so many Gundam series and movies by now that I think I’ll stick with the UC-series, particularly the mainline franchise involving Ray Amuro.
It begins with an all-out assault on the Zeon Principality, where Ray lives. He quickly stows away and eventually steals a Mobile Suit Gundammecha robot and finds he’s a natural, fending off many invaders before making to escape with his friends and family.
It’s one of Japan’s most important intellectual exports, from the anime and manga through to the huge Gunpla market.
Restaurants are based on it, universities are named after it, and there’s even been a life-size GundamMecha Robot created that was unveiled officially this year.
It’s definitely worth checking out the movie trilogy of the original series (simplifies and restructures a sometimes cumbersome show) before moving onto Origins. Then, make your way through the U.C. timeline!
4. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion depicts the angst-ridden introvert Shinji Ikari, who has been constantly neglected by his father and is given an opportunity to connect with him again.
When he arrives, he is forced into an Evangelion – large, ridiculously cool mecha with particular synchronization rates depending on the pilot – and tasked with working with teammates to fend of the second coming of alien invaders known as the Angels.
It’s a deconstructive nightmare of narrative with as much lore behind the scenes as it does contextually, but something about NGE keeps people coming back to it.
Whether it is the characters, action, or drama moments, or the deep metaphysical or philosophical or nonsense lore that invites one to speculate and wonder.
3. Code Geass
After being sent into exile alongside his disabled mother following the murder of his mother, Lelouchvi Britannia vows to one day ascertain revenge and make a world in his own image, free of corruption and monarchal subjugation and fit for the weak.
It’s a part-Gundam, part-Hamlet narrative hinging on its traditional Sunrise mecha qualities that makes people love Code Geass so much.
That- and the fact Lelouch is such a strong and charismatic protagonist one can’t help but root for, even at his worst.
2. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann doesn’t care about your expectations, it will overturn them anyway.
It’s stupid, ridiculous, completely unrealistic, and my GOD, it’s awesome. It takes everything one could love about the mecha genre and ramps it up to 21/10.
There are no stakes higher, combat scenes more expressive and absurd, or emotional moments that work as effectively as they do in GurrenLagann.
It’s a one-of-a-kind classic in every conceivable way and has already gone down as one of the best, inspiring countless games, anime, comics, manga, and more. Fight the power.
1. Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Legend of the Galactic Heroes requires time, concentration, and patience. It’s a long, complex, character-filled drama played out across decades in-universe and 100+ episodes in our universe.
We follow two sides of a large-scale intergalactic war: Reinhard von Lohengramm of the monarchal aristocratic Galactic Empire and Wen-li of the democratic Free Planets Alliance.
However, there are no bad guys or good guys: Legend of the Galactic Heroes is far more complex and deep than that.
I highly recommend anyone willing to invest time into an anime check this one out, as it’s the anime equivalent of A Song of Ice and Fire or War and Peace at the moment, and I have no idea when it will be dethroned.
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