Best Mecha Anime


If the success of the Transformers movies is to be believed, people love watching robots fight each other. Anime has been providing these epic over-the-top action stories since Gigantor (Tetsujin 28-go) was released all the way back in 1963.

Some historic anime still inspire the mecha genre to this day while newer shows try to innovate it with new forms of storytelling and action. Mecha animearen’t going anywhere anytime soon thanks to these fantastic shows, regardless of the genre’s contemporary popularity or presence. For people looking to dip their toes into this universe, here are some of the best mecha anime to start with.


24 Knights Of Sidonia

Debuting as the first Netflix original anime, Knights of Sidonia came with an entry barrier due to its platform exclusivity and its 3D CG animation. The latter tends to be a hard sell for most people, but this art style is a good fit for a sci-fi mecha anime set in the harsh coldness of space. Knights of Sidonia tells a rather conventional story in most ways, as it follows an outcast who has a talent for an antiquated brand of mecha that proves to be the most dependable line of defense against an alien threat. Naturally, this leads to plenty of awesome fight sequences.

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As entertaining as this part of the narrative is, Knights of Sidonia builds most of its intrigue through its exploration of humanity’s development. Earth’s remnants have established roots on an asteroid, crafting a colony built on incredible technological achievements and a fragile power imbalance.

23 Gargantia On The Verdurous Planet

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet envisions a future where humanity has abandoned a dying Earth and taken to the skies. Once among the stars, humans formed an alliance that brainwashes its soldiers to focus exclusively on fighting an alien threat. One day, Ledo, a soldier, crashes onto Earth and discovers that the water-covered planet still has life on it. As he meets the locals, Ledo begins to question his programming.

An ambitious sci-fi anime with sporadic action sequence, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet‘s highlight is its world-building. Ledo is also a great and grounded protagonist, one that adapts realistically to the revelations he experiences.

22 Star Driver

Star Driver finds a rhythm in its first episode and adheres to it for nearly the entirety of its run; basically, if the first few chapters do not land with a viewer, then they can probably move on to something else.

On an island that is home to stylish mecha known as Cybodies that can only be used in a unique realm outside of reality, a secret organization strives to destroy the last shrine maiden’s seal so they can use these powerful machines anywhere they like. Luckily for the maiden, Takuto Tsunashi arrives just in time to act as her carefree knight.

Star Driver mainly consists of Takuto fighting members of this organization, with most episodes following this formula with little to no deviation. While this can grow repetitive, the show’s fantastic animation, killer soundtrack, and likable main characters help stave off boredom.

21 SSSS.Gridman

SSSS.Gridman tends to be polarizing, as the anime’s appeal comes down to one of its central antagonists: Akane Shinjou. Not only does this character hog the limelight, but she also goes through the most significant arc in the story while also driving the plot forward. If she fails to click with someone, then SSSS.Gridman will likely fall flat. However, the reverse also holds true.

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Trigger anime pits the eponymous mecha against a plethora of creative kaiju in epic battles. Naturally, these fights all have brilliant animation and music. Although a bit slow at first, the story blossoms during the season’s later half.

20 Getter Robo: Armageddon

Japanese Title Change!! Getter Robo: Sekai Saigo no Hi
Studio Brain’s Base
Where to Stream N/A

Super Robot stories typically combine mecha with superpowers (or mythical origins), and Getter Robo pioneered the sub-genre. Debuting as an anime and manga in 1974, the original show is influential and important, but it can be difficult to revisit in this day and age. Thankfully, Getter Robo has gotten a few OVA series that are more accessible to modern viewers. Newcomers looking to get into the franchise should start with 2004’s New Getter Robo.

That said, Getter Robo: Armageddon is too awesome to not get a mention here. This anime revolves around humanity’s battle against the Invaders, an alien threat that can assume a wide array of forms. With Earth reduced to essentially a wasteland, the Getter team roams the apocalypse in search of enemies to fight. Getter Robo: Armageddon opens with three fantastic episodes before losing its way for a while due to a change in director; however, the series picks up steam towards the end and produced some fantastic battle sequences.

19 The Big O

The Big O is one of those rare anime that found a bigger audience in Western nations than in Japan. It is also not difficult to see why: the show’s neo-noir aesthetic and cool protagonist were perfect for a decade that had already spawned Batman: The Animated Series​​​​​​.

A giant robot mecha anime, The Big 0 takes place in a city with a population of amnesiacs. While these people have pressed on for decades without knowledge of their shared history, they exist in a metropolis with no future, one that has a tendency to serve as the playground for battles between massive robots. Roger Smith can typically be found in one of these mecha.

18 Promare

Japanese Title Promare
Studio Trigger
Where to Stream HBO Max, Hoopla

Promare is unfiltered Studio Trigger goodness. The 2019 movie envisions a world split by discrimination against a group known as the “Burnish,” and two people from opposite walks of life have to come together when the fate of the planet is on the line.

“Hype” is the name of the game here, as Promare delivers a full-frontal assault to people’s eyes and ears. Just to be clear, that is a positive thing. Boasting unsurprisingly stellar animation and music, Promare is a blast of energy that throws out some awesome mecha fights alongside its colorful characters and decent world-building.

17 Bokurano

Bokurano is a “realistic” mecha anime, in the sense that it tries to depict the world’s reaction to massive battles involving monsters and robots in as grounded a way as possible. In this universe, children must pilot a mecha to protect the Earth from deadly creatures. The catch? They will die.

Bokurano is dark, frustrating, and sporadically brilliant. The anime has a few issues that stop it from achieving full greatness, mainly that most of the characters lack depth, but the anime’s high points more than justify sitting through its weaker moments.

16 The King Of Braves GaoGaiGar

Japanese Title Yuusha-Ou GaoGaiGar
Studio Sunrise
Where to Stream N/A

The Brave franchise was Sunrise and Takara’s attempt at crafting a replacement for Transformers as the franchise’s popularity dwindled during the ’90s. Split into eight shows, each of which takes place in separate timelines, Brave didn’t hit a home run until its very last incarnation, The King of Braves GaoGaiGar. Following a child sent to Earth courtesy of a mecha lion, GaoGaiGar finds the protagonist and a group of other heroes protecting the planet from an alien invasion.

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Epic action defines this anime, and while the show starts off quite episodic, GaoGaiGar adopts a serial narrative structure as it goes on, becoming all the better for it. The anime produced a decent spin-off dubbed Betterman and a fantastic sequel OVA series called The King of Braves GaoGaiGar Final.


Japanese Title FLCL
Studios Gainax, Production I.G, Signal.MD, Production GoodBook, Nut, Revoroot
Where to Stream Adult Swim, Crunchyroll (Season 2 & 3), DirecTV (Season 1 & 2), Hulu (Season 1), Spectrum (Season 1 & 2), VRV (Season 2 & 3),

A fever dream of an anime, FLCL can be described as a wide array of things. A surreal comedy packed with philosophical ideas, the anime is an avant-garde masterpiece that requires multiple viewings to fully comprehend; conversely, some might describe the show as pretentious or more style than substance.

Regardless of whether someone loves, hates, or feels indifferent to the 2000 OVA series and its even more polarizing successors, FLCL is ultimately one of the most important mecha anime of all time. What other show has robots coming out of the protagonist’s forehead?

14 Patlabor: The Mobile Police

Japanese Title Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor: On Television
Studios Sunrise, Production I.G, Studio Deen, Production Reed, Madhouse
Where to Stream N/A

Patlabor was a pretty big deal during the late ’80s and early ’90s, producing OVAs, TV series, and two very good, albeit very different movies. The franchise takes place in an alternate reality where work robots are commonplace, so naturally, there needs to be a task force designed to keep these technological entities in check. This division of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police has its own mechas called Patlabors.

Both the series and Patlabor: The Movie offer highly entertaining cases of the week-type storylines built upon a strong roster of characters. They hold up quite well, especially the feature film. Patlabor 2: The Movie is a different beast entirely, focusing far more on social and political themes. This entry was directed by Mamoru Oshii, who followed Patlabor 2: The Movie with Ghost in the Shell.

13 Gunbuster

Gunbuster was Hideaki Anno’s directorial debut, and the creator would follow up the anime with Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Gunbuster traverses similar ground to NGE, albeit while also throwing in a parody to the Aim for the Ace! tennis manga.

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An OVA series, Gunbuster blends sci-fi robot action with multifaceted characters, intriguing social themes, and even slice of life elements. More importantly, it juggles all of these things well. The anime accomplishes a lot during its short runtime, and the story builds to an impeccable crescendo. Diebuster, the sequel, does not quite hit the same highs in terms of its story, but it is no slouch in the action and animation department.

12 Broken Blade

Japanese Title Break Blade
Studio Production I.G, Xebec
Where to Stream HIDIVE

Consisting of six OVAs, Break Blade takes the familiar concept of a hero piloting a mecha to protect a nation from a powerful invading force and adds a pleasant twist through the inclusion of a magic system. The anime also devotes a decent amount of time to developing the core relationships that define the story’s main characters and conflicts.

While that’s all well and good, the chief reason to watch Break Blade is its brilliant, visceral, and punishing battles. Each OVA features at least a handful of great mecha duels, ones that are beautifully animated and consistently captivating.

Full Metal Panic!‘s popularity has been somewhat inconsistent over the years. The original series and The Second Raid are well-regarded as 2000s mecha anime, but the 2017 movies and 2018’s Invisible Victory series went by mostly unnoticed. Taken as a whole, Full Metal Panic! is a fun entry-level action mecha anime serviced by two strong characters in Sousuke Sagara and Kaname Chidori.

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While its political and social themes are just fine, the series tends to deliver in the action department. Full Metal Panic! can even be pretty hilarious, particularly in the first season’s opening episodes and the Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu spin-off.

10 Magic Knight Rayearth

Imagine magical girls but they transform into mecha — welcome to Magic Knight Rayearth! The show stuck to its source material well outside of adding an anime-exclusive character named Inouva and showed three girls transported to Cephiro to save the imprisoned princess and save the land.

Magic Knight Rayearth also won the Best Theme Song award at the first-ever Animation Kobe Awards so anyone that watches it should be ready to hear a serious bop.

9 Armored Trooper Votoms

Japanese Title Soukou Kihei Votoms
Studio Sunrise
Where to Stream HIDIVE

Not many mecha anime have spawned into long-running series but Ryousuke Takahashi managed to do so with Armored Trooper Votoms. With the original released back in 1983, the show was the first real dive into the realistic mecha subgenre of anime. The plot focuses far more on the characters than on the wars happening as well giving it a much different focus than other mecha anime.

8 Macross

Japanese Title Macross
Studios Tatsunoko Production, Triangle Staff, Production Reed, Satelight,
Where to Stream Funimation (Robotech)

There’s a reason Macross was continuing to get sequels as lately as 2016 despite the original being released over thirty years ago. This story of Earth learning they are not truly alone and the adventures that happen after the crew of the ship start a galactic war is timeless.

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The original was released back in 1982, just two years on the tail of the original Mobile Suit Gundam. Seeing a show that defines the genre come out so soon after the anime that started it all is truly remarkable and the directors of Macross should be praised for their work on the show.

1982’s Super Dimension Fortress Macross was adapted into the first season of Robotech. The latter is the only Macross-related content available on a streaming platform.

7 Eureka Seven

Japanese Title Koukyoushihen Eureka Seven
Studio Bones
Where to Stream Funimation

Viewers have to suspend some disbelief to imagine a fourteen-year-old boy wanting to join a mercenary group but this is the premise of Eureka Seven. As luck has it, his way out crashes into his grandfather’s mechanic show in the form of a robot named Light Finding Operation piloted by a young girl named Eureka.

The show won over six awards including Best Female Character, Best Character Design, and Best Screenplay when it finished in 2006. Eureka Seven is one of the highest-quality mecha anime out there.

6 86: Eighty-Six

Japanese Title 86
Studio A-1 Pictures
Where to Stream Crunchyroll, VRV

One of the best shows of the Spring 2021 season, 86 enamored fans upon its release. In a time of renewed tensions in the Gaza Strip, the show examines what it is like to consider another group of people as scum compared to the higher elites. This premise hits home.

The show was such a roaring success it had a second season confirmed before the original concluded. 86 is likely to become one of the best-known modern mecha anime.

5 Mobile Suit Gundam – Series

The one that started it all, Mobile Suit Gundam spawned one of the most massive anime series of all time. It’s hard to believe this now popular series was such a dud during its initial release that it was almost canceled with only 39 episodes. Nowadays, Gundam has spawned dozens of anime sequels across timelines, games, manga, and live-action movies.

In the end, the show revolutionized the industry and inspired every mecha anime that came afterward. It’s worth checking out the original series from 1979 to compare it to its modern counterparts to see how far the genre has come. For other shows in the franchise, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Iron-Blooded Orphans, and Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam are all fantastic; just to be clear, those recommendations are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this mecha property.


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