Mecha Anime, one of my personal favorite anime genres, an opinion shared by a lot of people within the anime community as Mecha anime are; and have been a genre often publicised since the 90’s due to anime series like Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
But before we get into the very best mecha anime has to offer, lets talk about what mecha anime is actually all about and what it means to be in that genre of anime. Mecha anime simply references the use of robotic creations, this is not limited to just robots fighting against each other. Although I would be lying if I said that the vast majority of mecha anime don’t involve action to some degree. Mecha anime are especially popular amongst Japanese males, with the western male population following suit more recently within the 20’s, even mecha anime themselves becoming more popular as time goes by and less niche as it was in the 90’s. With mecha anime, there’s still many sub genre’s within; like most anime. Just because it uses robots it does not mean it is inherently serious or dramatic, there are many comedic mecha series, parody mecha series, etc, just like any other genre of anime. So to elaborate, mecha anime revolve around the use of and or piloting of, a mechanical robot within the given story, to summarize.
Now that it’s been explained and out of the way let me get onto the very best of mecha anime and what you should watch if you’re interesting in getting into the mecha genre many anime fans have fallen in love with.
The first mecha anime one should inevitably watch should be the best, I know to some this might be strange because you can only go down hill from the best, however In my experience if you finish the series with a good opinion of the genre you know what to expect and what the genre is all about, be it good or bad. Now then, the best mecha anime going by a general consensus is Gurren Lagann.
Gurren Lagann is an anime series that aired spring of 2007 and was a huge series in the anime community itself and to some is the gateway to watching more mecha series as it’s a little more lighthearted on the surface. This series is by no means light as this series has many heart-string pulling deaths and drama, enough to fill a bath tub. However the theme of the series is not built around drama and sadness, in fact its more built around the action and comedy aspects. The drama that ensues within this series is shown to be a way of empowering ones self from the heart ache that befalls us as opposed to letting it drown you in sadness. In a way this is one of the many reasons Gurren Lagann is loved, from the messages it sends, to its quirky humor, beautifully animated visuals and amazingly animated fight scenes that are displayed epicly. This series is a must for any anime watcher even if you’re not a fan of mecha anime, there’s so much progression within the series as we watch the main character grow from a young child to an adult, from the original series to its movie, it’s a very wholesome anime. It’s anime series like Gurren Lagann that always show how powerful and moving anime can truly be.
No list would ever be complete without referencing Neon Genesis Evangelion or just Evangelion for short. This is the mecha series that had everyone talking, because lets face it.. it’s a confusing anime series and now a confusing movie series as its being remade into a series of movies, which is fantastic in my opinion. Either way, Neon Genesis Evangelion is a series that to this day, is still talked about and referenced when talking about what a mecha anime should be. It’s dark, psychological, gory, confusing, it’s a masterpiece in every aspect of the word however, due to its dark themes, religious themes and tone of the series I wouldn’t recommend this to just anyone. For instance this isn’t a series you could watch with your kids unlike Gurren Lagann that’s more lighthearted, with a more subtle dark under-tone. Neon Genesis Evangelion is an emotional roller-coaster and definitely something you should watch if you’re interested in something that’ll provoke some deep thoughts, but also a lot of amazing action scenes.
The Gundam series, more specifically Gundam 00 and its second season plus the movie that followed are all amazing and something that should be watched. But before I continue I’ll point out, in general there are a lot of Gundam series that should be watched as they were the pioneers to the mecha genre / sub culture as they were one of the first to even introduce robot piloted mechs fighting against one another. In fact the Gundam series as a whole is so popular in Japan there’s a fully functional live statue sized Gundam in Japan on display, of course there’s no guns or lazer-beam weaponry but they have been made. But I digress from the original subject, back on to Gundam 00. This is a series that is not only entertaining, but thrilling as most mecha anime are, whilst simultaneously having enough drama, emotions and darkness to keep it appealing and grounded while not pushing to hard on its dark themes to be on the level of Neon Genesis Evangelion, which is a good thing. Sometimes it’s good to balance dark and lightheartedness within anime so as to not constantly overwhelm people. Gundam 00 deals with a story seen from the eyes of what the world would consider “villains” or “terrorists” due to their ideologies and wish to change the world, whether or not the world agrees. They go about doing this with their Gundams, a mobile unit that’s highly advanced with weaponry unknown to the normal military. What starts off relatively simplistic takes an amazing and unique turn, making Gundam 00 definitely on of the best mecha anime, even amongst other Gundam series.
These are but 3 mecha anime you should definitely end up watching, there all very different from one another, one more lighthearted, one filled with despair and one with a little bit of both. I have many other mecha series that I personally would recommend and perhaps I’ll elaborate on more in the future but, if you’re new to the mecha anime scene, these are a perfect start to get you into the mecha fandom.
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