The term mecha refers to a science fiction theme that features characters using or embodying robotic armor, usually humanoid in shape. It is also a sub-genre of manga and anime. It appeared in the 1960s and remains particularly popular to this day. His most representative series are Mazinger Z, Goldorak, Gundam, Macross, and Evangelion.
By extension, mecha also refers to the armor/robot/cyborg as such. Often its main function will be fighting other mecha. As you might have deduced, this list is going to focus on the mecha genre, as we bring you a list of the best mecha anime of all time. The list is going to contain a total of 20 titles, ranked in random order, i.e. the ranking does reflect the quality of the show. Let’s take a look at our list of 20 best robot and mecha anime of all time.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Original Release: October 4, 1995 – March 27, 1996
Number of Episodes: 26 (plus numerous films)
Neon Genesis Evangelion is set in 2000, a gigantic explosion occurred in Antarctica. This cataclysm, officially caused by the fall of an asteroid, causes the waters to rise several tens of meters and devastates a large part of the planet, causing the death of two billion people as well as a new world war.
Fifteen years later, mankind has overcome this dramatic event referred to as the “Second Impact” but mysterious giant creatures, the Angels, appear and attempt to destroy Tokyo-3, the new capital fortress of Japan.
To combat them, the secret organization NERV has developed the “Evangelion” (or “EVA”), humanoid giants of mechanical appearance. Shinji Ikari, a 14-year-old boy, goes to Tokyo-3 at the invitation of his father, the director of NERV, whom he has not seen for ten years. Little did he know that he was called to pilot an EVA and take part in the fight against the “Third Angel”.
This is only the first in a long series where he will be accompanied by Rei Ayanami, and later Asuka Soryu Langley, and where each clash can lead to the demise of humanity.
But they will also have to settle their own internal conflicts while the mysterious organization SEELE, which secretly directs the NERV, tries to set up its “Plan of complementarity of the Man” whose goal is to make the human race evolve towards a new stage.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Original Release: October 6, 2006 – July 29, 2007
Number of Episodes: 25
On August 10, 2010, of the imperial calendar (i.e. in 1955 of the Gregorian calendar), the Holy Empire of Britannia crushed the Japanese forces and conquered the country in less than a month thanks to their new mechas named Knightmare. In the defeat, Japan lost its independence and was renamed Area 11. This is the setting of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
The Japanese for their part lost all their rights and their national identity renamed Eleven. They were moved to ghettos, ceding most of the land to British settlers. However, rebel movements are born and the Japanese nationalists continue the struggle for independence.
Ghost in the Shell
Original Release: 1995 – Ongoing
Number of Episodes: Multiple series and films
Ghost in the Shell is a futuristic, cyberpunk-style anime set around the 2030s. The main character is a female cyborg1, Major Motoko Kusanagi. Kusanagi is part of an elite anti-criminal police section, Section 9. The main storyline of the manga, as well as the film adapted from the manga, chronicles the hunt for a cybercriminal known as the “Puppet Master”.
This cyber criminal takes control of a human’s “ghost” through the Global Digital Network, the evolution of the Internet in this universe. As the investigation progresses, Section 9 ends up discovering that the criminal is not a natural person, but an intangible artificial intelligence, having acquired consciousness for the first time in the world.
The Vision of Escaflowne
Original Release: April 2, 1996 – September 24, 1996
Number of Episodes: 26
The Vision of Escaflowne revolves around Hitomi, a high school athletic champion, versed in the art of fortune-telling, who one day finds herself the victim of strange visions and loses consciousness in the middle of training. Soon after, during another class, one of his visions materialized.
A column of light forms, revealing before it a young man in armor. This is Van Fanel, heir to the Kingdom of Fanelia. Before she has time to find out more, a dragon appears before the incredulous eyes of Hitomi and two of her friends present, Yukari and Amano.
Van is determined to face the beast and at the end of an eventful duel, he wins the fight and recovers a strange pink stone, which he calls energist, in the entrails of the animal which vanishes in smoke.
Original Release: April 8, 2000 – September 23, 2000
Number of Episodes: 25
Sakura, a slightly dizzy girl, joins the imperial capital in order to join the flower imperial company in order to respect the wishes of her late father. This brigade aims to protect the capital from the monsters that attack it regularly and is made up of young girls from different backgrounds having in common a great spiritual power.
This company appears to the general public as the troupe of actors of the imperial theater. After a difficult start with her comrades, Sakura will gradually discover her spiritual power coming to her from her father and will learn not only to play music but also like her sisters to maneuver her robot controlled by the spiritual power.
However, the commanders and vice-commanders of the troop seem to carry a heavy past. Indeed, they seem to know both Sakura’s father and the leader of the monsters.
Original Release: April 1991 – 2002
Number of Episodes: 150
Four shows comprise the series of Eldran
- Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh (絶対無敵ライジンオー, Zettai Muteki Raijin Ō) (April 1991–March 1992)
- Genki Bakuhatsu Ganbaruger (元気爆発ガンバルガー, Genki Bakuhatsu Ganbarugā) (April 1992–February 1993)
- Nekketsu Saikyō Go-Saurer (熱血最強ゴウザウラー, Nekketsu Saikyō Gōzaurā) (March 1993–February 1994)
- Kanzen Shouri Daiteioh (完全勝利ダイテイオー, Kanzen Shōri Daitei Ō) (2002, cancelled)
The animated series, all centered on mecha, feature elementary school children, called to lead the robots to defend the Earth from the warriors of evil. Usually, the school that children go to is also the place where robots are housed.
Original Release: April 5, 1968 – October 13, 2002
Number of Episodes: 127
Cyborg 009 revolves around nine individuals who are kidnapped by the agents of a criminal organization called “Black Ghost” and are turned into cyborgs, each with their own superpowers.
The nine cyborgs manage to escape Black Ghost’s control and, aided by Dr. Gilmore, begin their war against the organization, whose intent is to ignite new global conflicts so they can sell their technologically advanced weapons to the highest bidder.
Ishinomori wanted to end the manga with the defeat of the leaders of Black Ghost, but the success received and the request of the fans pushed him to continue it, which will thus see the cyborgs in a new series of self-concluding adventures struggling with mad scientists, ancient civilizations and supernatural beings.
Original Release: 1988
Number of Episodes: Various OVA, ONA, and films
Appleseed takes place in the 22nd century, after the third non-nuclear world war which decimated the human race. While states like Great Britain, France, and China struggle to maintain public order and power, international organizations like the Holy Republic of Mumma and Poseidon have established utopias of their own.
Thus, model cities were formed within which the few remaining humans coexist with the so-called Bioroids, people created artificially in an attempt to create a society free of violence and therefore completely peaceful. The main characters of the story are Knute Deunan and Briareos Ecatonchiri, members of the former SWAT police of Los Angeles.
These will find themselves in the ruins of the city when contacted and invited to take part in the prestigious ESWAT (Extra Special Weapons And Tactics), the special police force of the city of Olympus, the most powerful state in the new world. The series follows the adventures of Deunan and Briareos as they protect their new home from enemies, both external and internal to the aforementioned nation.
Original Release: October 3, 1982 – September 26, 2008
Number of Episodes: 139
Macross is set in 1999 when an alien spaceship crashed on an island on Earth. Fearing an alien invasion, the spaceship is rebuilt to make it the flagship of a fleet based on the newly acquired technology.
Ten years later, on the day of the inauguration of the new spaceship, renamed Super Dimensional Fortress 1 Macross (abbreviated SDF-1), a self-defense mechanism of the ship is activated unexpectedly, firing an interplanetary cannon that destroys some alien ships in orbit around the earth and thus attracting the attention of the Zentradi, a people dedicated to war.
The alien fleet then attacks the earth. To remove the danger from the planet, Macross will load the island’s occupants on board (thus becoming a flying city) and make a space-time fold (a wormhole); the spaceship will come out of the fold by mistake near Pluto finding itself alone against a giant fleet of enemies.
The series focuses on the fights faced during the return trip to earth and the love triangle between Hikaru Ichijo, fighter pilot VF-1 Valkyrie (“Varitech” in the US edition Robotech), Misa Hayase (SDF-1 officer ), and Lynn Minmay (star of the song).
Original Release: April 2008 – March 27, 2010
Number of Episodes: 102
Tomica Hero: Rescue Force aired from April 2008 to April 2009. The series featured a team of emergency service workers saving Japan from an evil organization trying to cause mayhem with artificially caused crises, as well as saving citizens from natural disasters. Rescue Force also had a film subtitled Rescue the Mach Train!, in which the main cast of Ryukendo made a cameo in. The show’s theme deals with “Rescue Soul”, a term used in the series to describe what a rescuer stands for.
Tomica Hero: Rescue Fire aired from April 4, 2009, to March 27, 2010, and was an official continuation of the first series. The Rescue Fire series focuses on another group of emergency service workers who are solely firefighters, with its theme dealing with the value of life. The series also continued to use the plot device of the villains acting for the planet’s sake. The series’ opening theme songs were performed by the anison supergroup JAM Project.
Zone of the Enders
Original Release: April 7, 2001 – September 29, 2001
Number of Episodes: 27
Zone of the Enders is set in 2167. Radium Lavans is a pilot of LEV (“Laborious Extra-orbital Vehicle”) Lieutenant in the Martian army. At the end of a combat exercise, he will have an altercation with a group of the UNSF (“United-Nations Space Forces”) after one of his Martian comrades is attacked by one of them.
He will be informed of his transfer to another base with Sergeant Viola, but strangely he learns that his fiancée, Dolores, will be too. Finally, and in view of his combat capabilities, it will turn out that he will have to be the Frame Runner who will pilot the prototype of the first Orbital Frame called Idolo, secretly developed on Mars by Bahram.
In, 2172, five years after the events of Zone of the Enders: Idolo, a space transporter, James Links, is eager to return to Earth to reunite with his children Leon and Noelle Links. Along the way, he discovers Dolores, an Orbital Frame with highly evolved AI and a childish character.
But when inspectors are murdered aboard his ship, James is immediately identified as the sole culprit and chased by the police. His daughter and son, Noëlle and Léon, are also being sued for their family relationship.
A mad chase ensues between the Links family and the terrestrial, then Martian authorities. After all, Dolores must not fall into the wrong hands, as she holds part of the mystery about James’ wife, Doctor Rachel Links.
Sei Jūshi Bismarck
Original Release: October 7, 1984 – September 29, 1985
Number of Episodes: 51
Sei Jūshi Bismarck is set in the distant future, humanity has colonized other planets, solar and extrasolar. In order to protect colonies, enforce laws, and maintain order, the Government of the Earth Federation (GFT) was established.
However, discontent with the pressure exerted by the central government soon grew in the colonies, thus disrupting relations between the Earth and the colonies themselves. While the peace between Earth and the colonies barely resists, a non-human race known as the Deathcula invades the federation.
Without any provocation, the aliens attack the colonies and kill many civilians. The federal government quickly realizes that the invaders’ technological superiority is enormous, and, in a difficult attempt to counter it, Dr. Charles Louvre develops a transformable spaceship: the Bismarck.
Since the latter needs a team of specialists to be employed in the missions, four subjects are brought together and specially trained in order to make them capable of facing subsequent attacks by aliens on the colonies.
Mashin Hero Wataru
Original Release: April 15, 1988 – September 24, 1998
Number of Episodes: 142
While on his way to school, Adrien Lemaire (Wataru) a young boy of about ten, finds on his way to Lake Sylphs a strange necklace of red stones. He decides to donate it to the spirit of the lake and ends up arriving late for school.
During a plasticine competition, Adrien makes a robot and realizes that the necklace of stones is in his pocket, without really trying to understand how the object got to him, he puts the necklace around the neck of his robot and wins the competition. On the way back he stops at Sylph Lake and baptizes his robot: Lutinor (Ryujinmaru).
It is then that a large green dragon emerges from the lake and takes Adrien to another world. He is then taught that he is the chosen one expected by all and that he must save the world from the lord of demons: the master of the gates Dorkoudar. This has made the sacred mountain unlivable and the rainbow that surrounds it gray.
Adrien must give it back its colors and for that to defeat the 7 worlds that make up the mountain of the tyranny of the minions of Dorkoudar (Doakuder). He is given armor and a sword: Darandole.
In his journey, he will be helped by his robot Lutinor who will come to life, a master samurai, Jibaro (Shibaraku), and a young ninja princess, Edwina (Himiko). They will cross paths with Alcali, a strange bird who seems to know a lot about the sacred mountain and its tyrant.
Original Release: February 6, 2003 – March 29, 2006
Number of Episodes: 36 + 3 OVA
Gunparade March is set in 1945 when World War II ended abruptly when an alien race appeared on Earth and began slaughtering the human population. This alien force, known as the “Phantom Beasts” (or Genjyu in Japanese), had effectively taken over more than half of the Earth.
The year is 1999 – 54 years later, humanity is still fighting for its survival against the alien forces. Earth’s forces are now using advanced mechas called Humanoid Walking Tanks (HWTs) to fight the invaders, but throughout the ordeal, far too many pilots have been killed in action. In order to secure the future of the human race, the Japanese government enforced a student pledge recruiting high school students to become HWT pilots.
Gunparade March follows the lives of the 5121st platoon, made up mostly of drafted high school students, and their struggle to defeat the Phantom Beasts while maintaining a normal social life.
Original Release: Since 1990
Number of Episodes: Numerous seasons
Brave is an 8 animated series that does not form a continuity and lack any plot connection to each other. However, they all have the same format: A child (or adolescent) befriends – invents – transforms into – a robot capable of perceiving feelings, and together, they defend Earth from multiple threats (usually extraterrestrials).
The main robots, as well as the secondary ones, combine with other vehicles and robots to become bigger and more powerful robots. The Yūsha Series has been described as a crossover between the Transformers and the Super Robot genre of the late ’70s and early 80s. The series is credited with reintroducing the Super Robot genre in Japan during the 1990s.
Original Release: April 4, 2005 – September 26, 2005
Number of Episodes: 26
In Aquarion Earth is devastated by a catastrophe, called the “Great Catastrophe”, which occurred eleven years earlier, and destroyed a significant part of the world, and killed numerous inhabitants.
The catastrophe was accompanied by the melting of glaciers that brought Atlandia and with it its inhabitants, the Angels of Darkness, a winged species that had lain dormant for 12,000 years to the surface. The purpose of these creatures is to kidnap human beings, called with contempt Beings without wings, in order to extract their prana, their bioenergy, essential for the survival and sustenance of the Angels of Darkness.
The world population thus finds itself having to suffer continuous attacks by the Reaping Beasts, or huge beings capable of capturing human beings with extreme ease. These particular machines are often accompanied by giant robots, called Cherubim Soldiers.
Original Release: April 8, 2007 – September 25, 2007
Number of Episodes: 24
Up next on our list of best robot mecha anime we have Bokurano. During a summer camp, 15 children (8 boys and 7 girls) found a cave on the seashore and discovered in the depths some work equipment and computers, soon after the owner appears: a man who introduces himself as “Kokopelli “who claims to be a programmer working on a new game where a great robot must defend the Earth against invasions by aliens.
This persuades the children to try the game, previously registering as pilots in the game. All but one registered, and then, a moment later, mysteriously woke up on the coast, believing that what happened was just a dream.
Original Release: February 25, 1987 – December 21, 1991
Number of Episodes: 11
Bubblegum Crisis is set in 2032. To counter the mega-corporation Genom and its cyborgs called “boomers”, which often get out of control, a new outlaw defense group is formed to fight crime under the code name Knight Sabers.
The members of this team are four ruthless and sensual girls: Priss, Linna, Sylia, and Nene, all armed and equipped with “Hardsuit”, powerful power armor. Obviously, the sentimental stories of the four girls will often intertwine in their “work”, often hindered even by the police.
Original Release: Since 1972
Number of Episodes: Multiple series and movies
In Mazinger elderly scientist Juzo Kabuto builds a huge robot which upon his death is inherited by his nephew Ryo Kabuto, whose job is to foil the plans of the evil Doctor Inferno, a German scientist who in 1962 had participated with Kabuto and others connect with an archaeological expedition to the Greek island of Rhodes to discover the remains of the Mycenaean civilization.
Having found an army of mechanical monsters built by the Mycenaeans, Doctor Inferno reveals his real intentions by killing everyone except Kabuto, who managed to escape and take possession of that technology with the aim of returning the descendants of the ancient Greek people to earth. , forced for centuries to take refuge in the bowels of the Earth and, together with them, dominate the world.
Mobile Suit Gundam
Original Release: April 7, 1979 – ongoing
Number of Episodes: 1,052
Mobile Suit Gundam is by far the best mecha/robot anime on this list. The world inhabited by humanity is no longer constituted by the Earth alone but has expanded to the entire Terrestrial Sphere, including the Moon and seven areas located around the Lagrange points of the lunar orbit called Side, in which hundreds of orbit ” space islands “, huge artificial cylinders containing habitats suitable for life.
Year 0079 UC: the Principality of Zeon, located in Side 3, declares its secession from the Earth Federation, sparking a violent conflict, known as the One Year War, which will rage on every continent of the Earth and in almost every space colony and lunar settlement.
Zeon initially benefited from the use of a revolutionary type of weapon, the mobile suit, an armored robot with an anthropomorphic appearance piloted by a human being. When a reconnaissance team of Zeon mobile suits, disobeying the orders received, attacks the colony of Side 7, the inhabitants of the latter learn of the Federation’s response to this new weapon: the Gundam mobile suit.
With the help of the surviving federal soldiers of the White Base transport battleship, the refugee crew embarks on an adventure that will lead a handful of them to change the course of the war.