In the animated genre known as mecha, often referred to as robot anime, futuristic machines engage in battle with each other. The epic battles and strange technology typical of mecha anime serve as the defining characteristics of the genre. These riveting stories take audiences on perilous adventures that extend beyond the plot and into unknown worlds.
It’s not unusual for mecha anime to combine aspects of sci-fi and hair-raising horror into a single narrative. Contemplative and psychologically terrifying, some mecha anime are sure to appeal to fans of horror and giant robots alike.
10/10 The vision of Escaflowne is a dark schoolgirl mecha
Hitomi Kanzaki is a typical 15-year-old high school student who enjoys esoteric hobbies, such as reading tarot cards and fortune-telling. But even these dark interests could not prepare her for when a mysterious boy and a powerful dragon suddenly appeared in the sky one night. The next thing Hitomi knows, she’s been whisked away to Gaea, a grim world under siege.
Hitomi soon learns that the boy, named Van, is actually a prince of the kingdom. Van dons the guymelef Escaflowne, a mechanized warsuit passed down through his family, in an effort to protect his kingdom. As this new duo fights to save the kingdom, mysterious, long-lost forces also awaken within The vision of Escaflowne.
9/10 The Knights of Sidonia’s machines are more important than humans
A thousand years after shape-shifting aliens destroyed Earth, humanity flees to the stars in hundreds of huge spacecraft made from the planet’s ashes. The Knights of Sidonia follows the journey of the ship Sidonia, which clones humans, reproduces asexually and genetically manipulates photosynthesis.
This new civilization’s elite also possess a powerful secret: they are immortal. The Knights of Sidonia is a futuristic and dark mecha that is sure to interest fans of machines. Much of the anime centers around the weapons used to defend Sidonia. The mecha itself is as much of a character as the humans.
8/10 Code Geass is a royal tragedy
Code Geass opens with Prince Lelouch of Britannia in exile. His sister Nunnally lost her sight and mobility after witnessing her mother’s gruesome murder in the castle. Lelouch resents his father for failing to discover and punish the murderer of his mother and sister.
This already grim plot continues down a dark path. Their father, the King of Britannia, sends Lelouch and Nunnally to Japan as political pawns. Themes such as betrayal, manipulation, family trauma and power run through this dark mecha.
7/10 Kishin Houkou Demonbane is a Harem Mecha
Despite its cute moe characters, Kishin Houkou Demon Course explores themes for adults. The main character, detective Kurou Daijuuji, is struggling financially. The story opens with a new client asking him to find a magical book for her. After initially declining, she entices Kuro by offering him a substantial sum of money. Kuro then meets another gorgeous girl while searching for the book.
This story builds a complicated love triangle for the protagonist, all while struggling to make ends meet. Shortly after, one of the girls summons the deus machina Demonbane to attack a mechanical beast from the Black Lodge. Thus begins an epic battle.
6/10 The Animatrix expands on The Iconic Matrix Series
This nine-part film anthology explores the technological anxiety of the early 2000s. Produced by the Wachowskis in 2003, this collection tells the backstory of the American Matrix film series. It tells of the original conflict between humans and machines from the 1999 film The Matrix. Like the original Matrix movie Animatrix explores human corruption, exploitation and the rise of machines.
The first Animatrix the film starts in the middle of the 21st century when vanity and corruption have polluted civilization. With the creation of sentient AI robots to serve humanity, more people are freed from labor. But instead of creating a peaceful utopia, many have become lazy, selfish and corrupt. All of this comes to a head when a robot is accused of killing the family it serves.
5/10 Robot carnival flirts with a robotic Frankenstein
Released in 1987, Robot carnival is an anthology film that delves into psychological horror. The most memorable of the eight shorts, Yasuomi Umetsu’s “Presence”, is shown in the middle. This tale follows a man who creates a beautiful robot companion. But after the robot gains sentience and its own personality, the man must examine himself and his inner demons.
Not only are the themes thought-provoking, but the visuals are also stunning. This anime from the 80s used hand-drawn cel animation at a whopping 24 frames per second. The candy-colored palette is also sure to captivate audiences.
4/10 Force makes Haruto immortal in Valvrave
Set in a futuristic world where 70% of humans have left Earth, Haruto Tokishima lives on another planet called Module 77. True to the mecha genre, Valvrave puts a normal high school student into action to defend his home from invasion. However, after piloting the mecha, Haruto realizes that he has become immortal and that there is a price to pay: he must eat other people.
This dark anime explores other genres such as gothic vampire stories and hippie culture. Themes of coexistence and peace boil to the surface as the teenagers in the story are forced to fight and eat each other.
3/10 End Of Evangelion shows the horror factor
The original 26-episode series Neon Genesis Evangelion was startling enough. After a series of bloody battles, the last two episodes pushed Shinji to the brink of madness. The retelling of the final is the hour and a half long film The end of Evangelion. With all-out combat and otherworldly grotesque imagery, this film brings abstract horror to life.
Viewers are left stunned along with Shinji as he witnesses the death of his friends and the world around him. Instead of the hopeful “congratulations” ending of episode 26, Shinji finds himself in a blood-soaked world. His only companion is an injured Asuka, whom he tries and fails to strangle.
2/10 Ghost In The Shell asks what it means to be human
Set in the year 2029, people can now replace all body parts thanks to major advances in cybernetics. The story follows Major Motoko Kusanagi, a strong-willed member of the security team and a fully synthetic human. She leads the investigation into the “Puppet Master”, a mysterious hacker who wipes the memories of their victims.
Puppet Master, like many individuals in this world, has superhuman strength from extensive use of robotics. Ghost in the shellThe plot follows the elusive criminal, dealing with the intricacies of the case and the participation of Kusanagi’s own security team. Motoko realizes that the puppet master has the answers to philosophical questions as she contemplates existence.
1/10 Blue Gender’s Yuji wakes up to a ruined earth
At the opening of Blue sex, protagonist Yuji Kaido’s future looks bleak. He has been diagnosed with B-cell disease, for which there is no cure. His only option is to be frozen until a cure is available. He agrees to take this route, and when he is awakened, he finds himself in a completely different world.
Set in the future, an alien race, called the Blue, has taken over planet Earth. Humans are at the bottom of the food chain. As a last resort, they build a space station called Second Earth in hopes of returning home one day.
NEXT: 10 Anime Characters Who Are Always Changing Their Hairstyle