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Top Military Anime

With combat, action, and strong plot lines, top military anime will keep viewers entertained and coming back for more.

By Stephen HamiltonPublished 8 years ago 6 min read
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The military, with bonds of brotherhood, fortified discipline and risky and dangerous adventure, it is a perfect medium to use for storytelling. No genre captures that medium as well as anime, combining the feeling of camaraderie with a graphic art style, dark humor and character driven plots that come together beautifully. However, because this is a hard recipe to perfect, we’ve decided to help you out and compile a list of the best military anime out there.

Honestly, you’d be pretty surprised considering that most of them are so combat driven that war is necessary to realistically drive the plot. Violence is a key to most Shonen and the easiest way to promote that is through war.

Most people look at Zoids and think it’s an anime about giant robot animals shooting laser beams at each other. Those people aren’t wrong, but they are missing a key competent of the show: the infrastructure. Animals move in a chain of command and that chain is apparent in the way the Guylos Empire and the Helic Republic dish out roles and partner animals. The more relevant you are, the higher up the predator chain you go, with the main protagonist and antagonist both rocking dinosaurs and tigers as comrades. Plus, the Guylos Empire is headed by a dictator and in a state of martial law, while the Helic Republic govern their citizens with fair principles and treat their soldiers with respect. The sharp contrast shows just how differently an efficient operation can be run and it’s that battle of ideals that guides the show.

This dark and gritty anime tells the story of Saya Otonashi, a sweet and innocent high school girl with a lapse in memory and a propensity for fainting. Her life gets thrown upside down though when she discovers she’s a vampire and the only one capable of slaying murderous beasts called Chiropterans. It gets even more wild, when she discovers the military is responsible for her amnesia, in an attempt to prevent her from remembering a traumatic incident that ties the whole story together. Riddled with conspiracies and gory situations, Blood+ captures the essence of a military anime, as they facilitate everything that’s going on from behind the scenes, while cultivating weapons to solidify their power, no matter what the cost.

Another “vampire anime,” Hellsing Ultimate is probably one of the bloodiest escapades you’ll ever witness. After being defeated by Van Helsing years before the series even started, Alucard, the first vampire, pledges allegiance to the Royal Order of Protestant Knights. A group dedicated to exterminating evil forces that would threaten the world, Alucard is forced to fight against his own kind after having his life spared by his greatest foe. But he doesn’t seem to mind, using his indomitable strength and insane regeneration to maul his enemies like a horror movie character, tearing most people to pieces. But with all his power and might, he still has a place in his heart to care for his subordinates, looking out for them and protecting them whenever he can. In exchange, they fight their hardest just so he doesn’t have to see the battlefield. Even blood suckers can love each other.

Not many people realize this, but Naruto is in fact, a military anime. Actually, it’s one of the best ones. The military infrastructure is so well worked into the plot that you don’t even notice. And you shouldn’t either. A ninja’s life is war and this became even more true with the introduction of Shippuden, where it became apparent that the slapstick rookie ninjas weren’t kids anymore. As chunin and jonin, they lead other cells of more lackluster ninja on way more dangerous missions, using the bonds they built training together to get the job done. The series itself culminates in a giant war of ideals, where the odds are stacked against our young heroes and the only thing they have to rely on is their strong kinship and the power of their ideals.

You can’t have a list of the best military anime without one of the most intricate and nuanced war animes ever. With three different empires vying for power, it’s not even clear who the protagonist is. Exiled from Britannia, Lelouch has been hardened by watching his mother killed in front of his eyes, warping him into a twisted and dark revolutionary. While each empire combats each other, the plot is developed through the daily lives of the soldiers, who are basically being forced into a war where warriors fight for the aims of the rich and wealthy. It’s a perfect picture of the way our society views warfare and Lelouch represents the standard soldier; scarred by a war he wanted no part in and hardened to become the great soldier he never wanted to be.

In my opinion, this is arguably the best one on the list. FMA Brotherhood is another classic that people often forget when they think about military anime. The story of the Elric brothers is one of the most depressing stories in television. Raised by their single mother, the kids enjoy a happy life practicing alchemy. This changes when she dies suddenly, causing the two to embark on the dangerous and forbidden task of human transmutation, resulting in one brother losing his arm and leg, while the other, loses his entire body. Their talents at alchemy get them sequestered by the military, but it becomes clear that sinister forces are at play behind the scenes. In trying to uncover the secrets of immortality, the brothers discover that the military has been responsible for many of the world’s tragedies, all in the process of giving one individual unlimited power.

In the future, all military outfits are made up of cyborgs and androids. The Government has deemed many things unsafe for people without technological enhancement and as such, a terrorist cell of “humans” becomes an eminent threat. The operatives of Ghost in Shell have to constantly deal with the demons of their former lives, while still ignoring them in the line of duty. The duality between their personal lives and the way they treat their jobs is representative of the struggle so many soldiers have in our society. No one will ever truly know how hard it is to live in society and still be used to war, but the agents find solace in each other, each of them in a similar but very distinct situation.

So this anime is more about the mob than it is the military. But with the way the Vangolia Familia operates, they may as well be an army. With the head being the director of all the mob affairs, he appoints different families to be responsible for different things; executions, armed robberies, training a useless bastard to be a ruthless killer, you name it. The God Father has everything covered, using his Dying Will Flame as a symbol of their power and pride. Because of their renown, the Familia has recruited thousands of members, meaning that certain roles are necessary to maintain order. But at the end of the day, if the head can prove he’s strong enough than everybody answers to him.

Best military anime doesn’t even begin to do this titular series justice. Attack on Titan plays no games from the very beginning, taking all the glamour out of front line military life. You don’t want to get attached to any of the characters in this show, because chances are, they’ll die in a couple of episodes. And not to sound cruel or cynical, but that’s kind of how It should be. Loved ones and comrades die in war, and they die often. Furthermore, soldiers with the most pull and wealth, get to join the cushy Military Police, basically bullying the civilians into treating them like Kings while they stay safe, away from the Titans. No anime better captures the depraved reality of being in the military than AoT, with hopelessness and despair setting the tone all the way to the end of the first season. With his superiors telling him to expect to die, Eren Yeager’s raging temper and overwhelming determination is humanity’s only hope against the giants that plague their society. And against the Tyrants that rule it.

A sharp contrast from all the other anime on this list, Full Metal Panic! is campy and slapstick, with more humor and romance than action. An agent of the Japanese military, along with his cohort, gets assigned to guard a high school student who holds the key to unlocking a…giant robot. But the series focuses on the zany adventures of Shigure and his team as they struggle to adapt to the weird lifestyle of High School. At the same, they have to keep Sakura safe from all of the mercenaries and other soldiers trying to kidnap/kill her. While it’s not realistic in the slightest, it’s good for a laugh and definitely drags the definition of the word “military” to the next level. Seriously, most of their operatives are miscellaneous girls in bikini’s. Suggestive is an understatement.

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About the Creator

Stephen Hamilton

Definitive movie buff. Quickly realized that it was more financially prudent to write about film than trying to beg for millions of dollars to make his own.

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