25 Best Steampunk Anime Series & Movies You Need to Watch
Steampunk is a genre that first appeared in literature, which today is a culture in its own right, through the field of visual arts to music. Based on the projection of a probable future starting from the 19th century and the Victorian era while keeping the codes and aesthetics of this era, it is enriched by the vision and personal interpretation of each of the members of this movement, called “vaporist”. We find there the use of materials such as copper, brass, wood, and leather, and the approach of adventure and experimentation in a world where everything remains to be discovered and developed, in the spirit of the first industrial revolution and relying on the powerful new energies of coal and steam, hence the massive use of steam engines. Steampunk settings are often featured in anime works as well and in this article, we are going to bring you a list of the 25 best steampunk anime series and movies you need to watch.
1. Howl’s Moving Castle
Original Release: September 5, 2004
Running Time: 119 minutes
An eighteen-year-old girl, Sophie, who works in her late father’s store, accidentally meets a mysterious wizard named Hauru, during a chase. The latter then takes her in sympathy.
However, the witch of the Landes, who is in love with Hauru, becomes jealous of the attention paid to Sophie by the latter. To get revenge, she decides to transform the young girl into a ninety-year-old lady. Unable to reveal this transformation to her family, she locks herself in her home, then runs away.
In the mountains, she meets an enchanted scarecrow whom she affectionately calls Turnip. This leads her to the Howl’s Moving Castle. Once inside, and after having noticed a total insalubrity, she meets the fire demon, Calcifer.
He moves the castle and guesses that Sophie has been the victim of a spell. He then offers to break the spell but Sophie will have to help him in turn in order to break the pact that unites him with Hauru.
2. Castle in the Sky
Original Release: August 2, 1986
Running Time: 124 minutes
Sky pirates, the “Dora Band”, attack a flying fortress; they are looking for a “flying stone” belonging to a young girl, Sheeta, held prisoner. The latter manages to escape to land at Pazu, a boy of her age. The two discover that they have one thing in common: Laputa, a legendary island floating in the sky. Pazu’s father had seen it with his own eyes but no one had believed it, leaving him to die of grief; but Sheeta has this “flying stone” that leads to the island.
Pursued by the pirates and by Muska, a secret service agent supported by the army fleet, the two children help each other to get there before them. Muska wants to use the young girl to succeed in reigning over these lands.
3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Original Run: April 5, 2009 – July 4, 2010
Number of Episodes: 64 (+ 4 OVA)
In the country of Amestris, a country where alchemy is elevated to the rank of universal science, two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, travel the country in search of the legendary philosopher’s stone. Their father left them and their mother, Trisha Elric, died a few years later of an illness, leaving her two young children behind.
Sometime later, the two brothers try to bring her back thanks to alchemy, defying the law which formally prohibits human transmutation. They will pay a heavy price. Edward, the eldest, will lose his left leg, his little brother his whole body. Ed will sacrifice his right arm by sealing the soul of his little brother Alphonse in armor.
Edward decides to enlist in the army at the age of 12 as a State Alchemist, passes the exam with flying colors, and obtains his alchemist name: Fullmetal. Helped by Edward’s state alchemist status, the two brothers will seek, at the risk of their lives, the stone that will give them back what they have lost, but the secret of the philosopher’s stone is well kept.
4. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
Original Release: April 8, 2016 – June 30, 2016
Number of Episodes: 12
During the industrial revolution, a mysterious pandemic struck the world and soon spread to the far reaches of the East, even in the sovereign island of Hinomoto. People themselves infected or bitten by other infected humans are transformed into Kabane, formidable blood-hungry undead whose extermination is extremely difficult.
Indeed, the heart of the Kabane is covered with a special steel film which renders most conventional weapons (bladed weapons and steam rifles) bushi ineffective.
5. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Original Release: March 11, 1984
Running Time: 117 minutes
A thousand years have passed since the fall of industrial civilization during the “seven days of fire”, a planetary war of immeasurable violence. Humanity is surviving as best they can in a few enclaves threatened by the fukai, a gigantic forest that is constantly gaining ground and whose spores are fatal for the majority of living beings.
This thick jungle is protected by giant insects which have adapted to this environment. The “ômus” are its main representatives, by their size and their sensitivity. The Valley of the Wind is a small agricultural kingdom, protected from spores and fukai by sea winds.
His peace of mind is disturbed by the sinking of a huge ship of the Tolmec Empire, which has been targeted by insects from an unfortunate stopover in the poisonous forest. In order to recover the cargo of this vessel, the Tolmec troops invaded the valley; they assassinate old King Jill and take his daughter Nausicaä prisoner.
Original Release: May 26, 2001
Running Time: 113 minutes
In Metropolis, a futuristic city, humans, and robots coexist, but live in well-defined spaces. In an atmosphere bathed in jazz music, this city is the scene of a police investigation led by a Japanese inspector and his young nephew, Kenichi, about a scientist accused of organ trafficking, Doctor Laughton, who serves the most powerful man in town.
This uses the services of the scientist to create an ultra-modern robot, having the appearance of his late daughter, Tima. This robot is the key to a secret weapon destined to ensure world domination, the Ziggurat, a high tower like the Tower of Babel, designed to equal God.
Following the assassination of Dr. Laughton, Tima finds herself for a time lost in the gigantic city, and meets Kenichi, with whom she escapes many dangers, and from whom she suffers cruelly from being separated, to fulfill her destiny of domination. Kenichi doesn’t want to let Tima turn into a cold, overbearing robot trying to destroy the human species.
Original Release: July 17, 2004
Running Time: 126 minutes
In an alternative history England, in the 19th century, Ray Steam is the son of Edward and grandson of Lloyd, two scientific inventors of steam engines. They have not reappeared for several months after their departure for America, when a package containing a metal ball (the steamball) arrives at the home of Ray and his mother. But two men from the O’Hara Foundation who finance the research of the two fathers, want to seize it.
Ray flees and is rescued by scientist Stevenson, a fervent patriot. Meanwhile, London is preparing to inaugurate the Universal Exhibition where steam engines will be in the spotlight. The O’Hara Foundation has prepared a pavilion and sends the founder’s daughter, the young Scarlett, there. She is accompanied by Simon, in charge of selling the foundation’s technology.
8. Future Boy Conan
Original Run: April 4, 1978 – October 31, 1978
Number of Episodes: 26
July 2008, humanity is threatened with extinction. The world, plunged into a Third World War, was destroyed by overpowered technology, in particular gigantic planes. The earth’s crust has been damaged, the axis of rotation has changed and most of the continents are now submerged. Conan is born a few years later on a lost island, but over the years all the members of the colony die. When he is about ten years old, he only has his grandfather.
One day, twenty years after the war, he discovers a little girl, stranded on a beach. She turns out to be Lana, granddaughter of Professor Raoh, both from Edenia, a paradise and peaceful island built by survivors of the war. She is pursued by Industria’s secretary Lepka who wants, at any cost, that the professor reveals the secret of solar energy to her.
At any cost, she must not reveal it because if the majority of the people of Industria want to use it to survive, Lepka, who is almost at the head of Industria wants to use it to fly planes again and restart the war in order to dominate the world… With his superhuman strength, Conan will have to do everything to fight against Industria in order to build a happy future.
9. Fullmetal Alchemist
Original Run: October 4, 2003 – October 2, 2004
Number of Episodes: 51
The Elric brothers (Edward and Alphonse) inherited their talent as alchemists from their father, who left the family home without ever returning. Following the death of their mother, the two young people try to revive her through alchemy, by performing a human transmutation despite the ban. The operation fails and the two brothers suffer the backlash.
Al disappears and Ed loses his leg but saves his body-deprived brother by fixing his spirit in the metal body of medieval armor with a transmutation circle drawn with his blood, but must sacrifice an arm for it. Subsequently, he will use mechanical metal prostheses, mecagrafts (1st dubbing) or automails (second dubbing). Ed then passes the exam and becomes a State Alchemist, so he can travel and find the Philosopher’s Stone, for his brother and him to find their bodies.
10. SAMURAI 7
Original Run: June 12, 2004 – December 25, 2004
Number of Episodes: 26
Kanna is a friendly rice-growing village. Every year during the harvest, huge mechanical robots, known as Nobuseri, come and steal almost all the rice produced. They become more and more demanding, and now also take women and children. The sage of Kanna said that to protect the village they must hire samurai. However, they have no money and so must find samurai who will accept as much rice as they can eat. He sends three villagers to the town to begin the search. And so begins the journey.
11. Princess Principal
Original run: July 9, 2017 – September 24, 2017
Number of episodes: 12
Princess Principal is an alternate history, set in a fictional analogue of Britain called Albion. At the end of the 19th century, the kingdom of Albion monopolized a mysterious material, “Cavorite”, to build a powerful fleet of aircraft, allowing Albion to become the dominant power in the world. However, the Albion proletariat rebelled against the country’s ruling class for ignoring their plight, sparking the “London Revolution”, in which the lower classes attempted to overthrow the royal family.
Eventually, the two sides reach a stalemate and a great wall is erected in the middle of London, dividing Albion into two nations: the Republic and the Kingdom; the West and the East. Years later, the Republic launches “Operation Changeling”, aiming to replace the Kingdom’s princess, Charlotte, with Ange, a girl who bears a strong resemblance to her, in order to have an undercover agent within the royal family.
However, the princess is made aware of this operation. The spies must agree to cooperate so as not to be unmasked by the rest of the Kingdom. The princess offers to work with the Republic if Ange and her friends help her become queen of the kingdom. Thus begins the story, where five young Republic spies, including the Princess herself, are infiltrated into the Kingdom as students of the prestigious Queen’s Mayfair School.
12. LOST SONG
Original run: March 31, 2018 – June 16, 2018
Number of episodes: 12
Rin is a girl who is always ready to help others. She lives in the countryside with her grandfather and her two half-brothers Mei and Al, but her dream is to go to the distant capital of the kingdom to sing with the Royal Orchestra. Meanwhile, in the capital, the singer Finis is forced in spite of her to help the evil prince in the war against neighboring states.
Both she and Rin possess the power to dominate the four elements with their songs; Rin often sings the song of healing to help those in need, while Finis uses that song to heal soldiers wounded in battle, but she also uses other powerful songs to destroy enemy armies. After the destruction of her village by the ruthless general Bazra Beamols and the consequent killing of her grandfather and half-sister Mel, Rin leaves for the capital accompanied by her half-brother Al.
Along the way, the minstrel Pony Goodlight and the sisters Monica join Alyu Lux, but just when, after some adventures, they arrive near the capital, the singer Finis, desperate for the death of her beloved Henry Leobolt, begins to sing the song of destruction, which causes a meteor shower, destroying all the region and killing all the inhabitants.
From this immense destruction, strangely, only Finis, who has become immortal, is saved. From that moment on she crosses all the ages, acquiring enormous knowledge, up to an era governed by technology, in which, however, the world is destroyed by an atomic war. At that point, the history of humanity has a new beginning and the immortal Finis realizes that all events repeat themselves again with a cyclical character.
She traces the cycle of human history several times, in the vain search for lost love, until she decides to put an end to everything, annihilating the Earth with her song of destruction.
13. Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water
Original run: April 13, 1990 – April 12, 1991
Number of episodes: 39
Paris, World Fair of 1889. Jean, a gifted inventor, meets Nadia, a young acrobat pursued by robbers wishing to seize the mysterious blue stone which she wears as a pendant. Both then try to flee to Africa aboard Jean’s prototype plane, where Nadia thinks to collect information on her origins, but they run aground in the Atlantic.
Recovered after a few adventures by the submarine Nautilus, they are deposited on an island which turns out to be under the yoke of invaders who have enslaved the population. Nadia and several of her companions are imprisoned by the leader of the tyrants, Argon, who seems to be after the blue stone that Nadia entrusted to Jean and lures the latter into a trap by an odious blackmail. The situation seems hopeless but all are finally rescued by Nemo, commander of the Nautilus.
14. La vuelta al mundo de Willy Fog
Original run: August 1, 1983 – August 26, 1983
Number of episodes: 26
The lion Willy Fog is a distinguished and phlegmatic London gentleman, who bets with some members of the Reform Club (where they find themselves playing billiards) to be able to complete, following a strict itinerary, around the world in eighty days. On the success of the enterprise, he wagers the sum of twenty thousand pounds against the other partners, except the elderly and meek goat Lord Guinness, who is confined to a wheelchair and is the only one to trust him.
The wolf Sullivan, also a member of the club and governor of the Bank of England, pits the henchman Transfer, an unscrupulous gray fox specialist in disguises, against him with the intention of sabotage. Willy Fog, who embarks on the journey with the French butler, the cat Rigodon, and his friend, the dormouse Tico, is therefore stalked by Transfer and two policemen from Scotland Yard, the hound Dix, and the bulldog Bully, who suspect him for the robbery of fifty-five thousand pounds from the Bank of England the previous day.
Original Run: November 28, 2019
Number of Episodes: 12
Levius is an alternate history set in the early 20th and 21st centuries. In this universe, technology has not evolved as in our world with electricity and electronics but thanks to steam. So we find ourselves in a steampunk universe. Mechanical boxing is the main sport of this universe. By replacing or improving certain body parts, fighters can be made much more powerful.
Previously, a world war broke out in Europe where the peoples were torn. Millions of people lost their lives and it is in this context, between boxing and war, that we meet Levius who lost an arm during the latter. He fights in the second-best category of mechanical boxing and will meet during his matches, A.J., an extraordinary boxer who managed to defeat the champion of level two, who was the idol of Levius.
This one wanting to avenge his friend will have to fight against A.J and find out why this young girl blindly listens to a corrupt group called “AMETHYSTE”.
16. Last Exile
Original Run: November 28, 2019
Number of Episodes: 12
In the world of Prester, similar to our nineteenth century but more technologically advanced, Claus Valca and Lavie Head are orphans. This childhood led them to walk in the footsteps of their respective fathers, pilots of a type of two-seater aircraft called Vanship, taking part in the community of flying messengers and participating in air races.
They accidentally find themselves embarked on a very difficult mission that will take them to a very dreaded ship (the Silverna) in the midst of the war raging between the two nations Dithis and Anatoray. From there, their life changes and their dream is within their reach: to cross the “Grand Courant”, a fantastic permanent tornado that carried off their fathers. But for that, they will have to face the Guild, supposed to guarantee the discipline of war during conflicts between nations according to the pact.
17. The Empire of Corpses
Original Release: October 2, 2015
Running Time: 126 minutes
The plot takes place during the industrial revolution. A brilliant scientist, Frankenstein, invented the first necromate, “The Creature”, a sentient being made from pieces of corpses. From then on, necromates become a major economic stake for nations, tireless and servile workers, they are used in the army as well as in civil society. John H. Watson, a young and brilliant necromatician, uses the body of his faithful friend Friday to create an illegal necromate. Discovered, he is forced to go in search of a mysterious newspaper that unleashes covetousness.
18. The Case Study of Vanitas
Original Run: July 3, 2021 – April 2, 2022
Number of Episodes: 24
Late 19th century. Paris is in turmoil following repeated attacks by vampires. However, the golden rule of their community is not to attack humans! A mysterious evil seems to be eating away at these immortal creatures. It is during this troubled period that Noah arrives in the capital. Born a bloodsucker, he follows in the footsteps of the grimoire of Vanitas, a legendary artifact feared by all vampires. I
t is said to allow its holder to interfere with what is most sacred to them: the true name, the very symbol of their life. Modifying it can drive them mad, even annihilate them. Aboard the huge floating vessel he has embarked on, Noah meets Amelia. As he helps her recover from an illness, everything goes into overdrive: she loses her mind and reveals her vampire nature in front of the passengers!
That’s when a mysterious assailant enters the scene, introducing himself as Vanitas! In front of a speechless Noah, he pulls out the famous grimoire and soothes the young woman’s fit of madness. So the artifact is not just a deadly weapon?
19. Tegami Bachi
Original run: October 3, 2009 – March 26, 2011
Number of episodes: 50 + 25 OVA
The story takes place in Ambergound, a place where the night is eternal and partially lit by an artificial sun. Lag Seeing works as a “Bee” (courier) for the “Beehive” or “Post Hive” (Amberground Postal Services). It’s a dangerous job because the roads are infested with “insectarmor”, giant insects that can only be killed using special weapons whose ammunition are fragments of the heart of the person using them. Lag is aided in his task by his “dingo” (partner/bodyguard), Niche.
20. Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa
Original Release: July 23, 2005
Running Time: 105 minutes
The Elric brothers find themselves in two different worlds, separated by “the door”: Edward finds himself in a world where technology replaces alchemy (a world supposed to be ours, and featuring Hitler’s failed putsch in 1923, then that Alphonse is still in the world where they were born, ruled by alchemy.
Having been able, thanks to research carried out by an occult group close to the Führer called the Thule Society, to get in touch, the two brothers will do everything to find each other. Unfortunately, the powers of alchemy fascinate, and Edward is not the only one who wants to cross “the door”.
This episode is deeply rooted in the German interwar period and the historical references evoked are numerous and often correct, with the presence of various well-known characters from this period.
Thus Hitler or Fritz Lang play their own role, as well as Karl Haushofer, a Munich geopolitical scientist whose theories were taken over by Nazism, while Dietrich Eckart, one of the founders of the German Workers’ Party, finds himself in the female version in the character of Dietlinde Eckart.
21. Strait Jacket
Original run: November 26, 2007 – April 28, 2008
Number of episodes: 3 (OVA)
Strait Jacket is set in an alternate history where magic was proven to exist in 1899. Since its discovery, magic is the foundation of technology and permeates all facets of society. The story takes place in Tristan, an urban metropolis that seems like a turn-of-the-century amalgamation of Tokyo, San Francisco, and Victorian-era London.
The present technology is steam powered force. Magic was demonstrated by Dr. George Greco, although its use is only possible for a few talented individuals; and it is highly dangerous and illegal. Due to an invisible contaminant, known as “malediction” or simply “curse”, people who use it too often are at risk of turning into horrible filthy creatures, called “demons”.
The Magical Administration Bureau, also known as the Witchcraft Management Bureau, was created to try to safely explore the nature of magic, regulate its use, and order the arrest of people who use it illegally. Magic has been used as a viable power source in government, industry, agriculture, medicine, and the military, so the Magic Administration Bureau has the power.
Original Run: July 26, 2007 – November 1, 2007
Number of Episodes: 16
In the late 1920s in Chicago, the transcontinental train, Flying Pussyfoot, begins its legendary journey that will leave a trail of blood across the country.
At the same time in New York, the ambitious scientist Szilard Quates and his unwilling assistant Ennis, search for the lost bottles of the elixir of immortality. In addition, the war between the gangster groups is getting worse. Aboard the Advena Avis in 1711, alchemists are about to learn the price of immortality.
Original Run: April 1, 1998 – September 30, 1998
Number of Episodes: 26
The anime takes place in the distant future where humans have exhausted all of Earth’s natural resources and have been forced to emigrate to a hostile planet scorched by the rays of two suns.
The context of the series: the environment and the way of life of the characters hark back to the time of the conquest of the West. The remains of advanced technology, a vestige of another era, contrast with the way of life of the population. As the new world unfolds, a name associated with the destruction of July, a city of over a million people, makes everyone’s lips and triggers tremble.
It’s from Vash the Stampede. Referred to as the humanoid typhoon because of the extent of the damage caused by each of its passages, no one seems to really know what it is or its purpose.
24. Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos
Original Release: October 2, 2015
Running Time: 126 minutes
Melvin, a water alchemist who was serving his sentence in Central City Jail, managed to escape and fled west. Edward and Alphonse then set off in pursuit. This leads them to the town of Table City, where they meet a mysterious young girl, who wishes to discover the name of the murderer of her family.
25. Willy Fog 2
Original run: September 24, 1994 – January 1995
Number of episodes: 26
The story of Willy Fog 2 begins six months after the end of La vuelta al mundo de Willy Fog. Sullivan, Willy Fog’s eternal rival, challenges him this time to discover the secret path that leads to the very center of the Earth. The key is in a mysterious manuscript in which a certain Arne Saknussemm tells how he managed to reach the depths of our planet.
Willy Fog and the rest of the characters thus embark on an adventure beyond the world that everyone knows. A fast-paced journey in which they will have to overcome dangerous bottomless pits, dodge violent eruptions and face fierce dinosaurs, in the endless corridors of the underground caves. Later they go on another sea adventure due to a mystery about sea monster attacks, which turns out to be the Nautilus submarine captained by Nemo.