Top 20 Best Mecha & Robot Anime To Check Out

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Mecha is a genre that just feels like it was meant for anime. From their huge mechanical frames to their destructive might, the most memorable robots in anime have captivated kids and adults alike for many decades.

But which shows have left a lasting legacy? Should all good mecha anime feature loads of explosions?

I believe mecha is just as rich as any other genre, offering insights to humanity while also being deeply entertaining and otherworldly.

So if you’d like to refine your knowledge and dive into all things mecha, I’ve prepared a list of the best-of-the-best right here.


20. Hoshi no Koe (Voices of a Distant Star)

Hoshi no Koe (Voices of a Distant Star) Anime Screenshot

What a better way to start my list than talking about an under-appreciated Makoto Shinkai project from 2002.

While the director is known for his use of insanely realistic (but more vibrant) aesthetic, Shinkai has always combined romance with sci-fi, fantasy, or space elements.

Voices of a Distant Star goes a little further in its sci-fi aspect with aliens and a space expedition, which sadly leaves two lovers getting further from each other with every passing day.

Like any Shinkai work, this is more about emotion and the painful(but essential) feeling of longing.

Plus, did you know he did everything here except for the music?

Watch this if you want to see the early beginnings of one of this generation’s acclaimed anime directors.


19. Appleseed (2004)

Appleseed (2004) Anime Movie Screenshot

I have to clarify that I’m referring to the 2004 movie. And its two other movies released in 2007 and 2015, respectively.

But definitely not the 1998 OVA which is also called Appleseed —that one’s not good.

But the CGI-animated 2004 Appleseed felt exciting when I first saw it. Appleseed had various-sized robots, futuristic cities, beautiful female characters, and even a decent dubbed version.

Granted, it looks a bit outdated these days. But you can actually observe the improvement in CGI/3D animation by watching the three Appleseed movies one after another.

The trilogy has romance elements, but it’s definitely more about cool mecha designs and loud gunfights and explosions.


18. Aldnoah.Zero

Aldnoah.Zero Anime Screenshot

Let me be clear when I say that I like Aldnoah.Zero — it means I love both seasons.

Yes, even the second season that most fans loathe for ruining what the first built.

See, Aldnoah.Zero is a bit like Shingeki no Kyojin, only that it also isn’t.

Both anime have an epic first episode that ensures viewers will be begging for the next episode.

The ending of EP 01 has tons of views on YouTube. Also, Hiroyuki Sawano did the score for them.

But even with what happened in the second season, I’d argue that people should try Aldnoah.Zero. The mecha fights are fun, and Inaho Kaizuka isn’t that bad of an MC.

If anything, you should at least watch for the development of Slaine Troyard.


17. Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor (Patlabor: The Mobile Police)

Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor (Patlabor: The Mobile Police) Screenshot

Patlabor: The Mobile Police is an old gem that younger anime fans should check out.

It’s a good reminder about how a talented team can elevate the material.

The series debuted in 1988 with a seven-episode OVA, and went on with a 47-episode TV series and two downright amazing films, which involved greats like Mamoru Oshii and Satoshi Kon.

The series feels like a comedy slice-of-life — but with mecha.

But this isn’t Gundam. The robots here aren’t highly sophisticated creations that can destroy cities in a day.

In contrast, Patlabor has more practical robots. Ones that you can actually imagine existing someday in real life.

After all, it’s about police robots fighting other robots primarily designed for manual labor.


16. Koukyoushihen Eureka Seven (Eureka Seven)

Koukyoushihen Eureka Seven (Eureka Seven) Screenshot

The multi award-winning series from Spring 2005 was an unexpected wonder, at least for me. I thought it was going to be a generic boy-meets-girl anime but with mecha elements — I was wrong.

Yes, it has major romance elements. But the 50-episode anime is also well-written and well-designed.

I wish I could say the same for the sequel Eureka Seven AO, but that one was average.

But really te first series is top-notch. I love the character development of Renton Thurston, who’s definitely more than just another teen guy discovering he has a special power of sorts.

Plus, the animation and score are amazing.

Studio Bones did not disappoint: Although the mecha fights are sparse, they are a sight to behold.


15. Koukaku Kidoutai (Ghost in the Shell)

Koukaku Kidoutai (Ghost in the Shell) Screenshot

Yes, the iconic Ghost in the Shell isn’t in my upper half. But let me explain before you get your pitchfork.

I’m only referring to the 1995 film — not the entire franchise.

So I’m only stating that the original is less enjoyable as a mecha anime than the other installments.

Ghost in the Shell is absolutely one of the best anime movies ever. But it’s also more of a philosophical, investigative film.

Still, I can never deny that Motoko Kusanagi is one of the best characters in the medium, cyborg or not.


14. Chou Denji Machine Voltes V (Super Electromagnetic Machine Voltes V)

Chou Denji Machine Voltes V Anime Screenshot

Does it feel like a betrayal to see Voltes V above Ghost in the Shell?

Sometimes, nostalgia and childlike wonder are enough to propel a series.

Voltes V is like a national treasure. My country has a generation of children(and their annoyed parents) who watched this every night on local TV.

The animation is pretty basic, and the outcome is very predictable.

But the kids loved it — I loved it.

The music was catchy and it was awesome seeing the five good guys come together as one giant robot.

If those weren’t enough, Voltes V is arguably the most socio-politically significant anime in my country — it’s a symbol of democracy, hope, and rebellion.


13. Macross F (Macross Frontier)

Macross F (Macross Frontier) Screenshot

The Macross franchise is unique in terms of scale, story, and popularity.

I didn’t expect singing, music, and space battles to be such a fantastic combination.

Macross is a testament to the storytelling prowess of anime. But I suggest seeing Frontier if you don’t have much time.

Essentially, Macross Frontier is a classic space opera (mixed with singing), introducing viewers to Alto Saotome, Ranka Lee, and Sheryl Nome — banding together to overcome an alien threat.

Shoji Kawamori is masterful in his direction here, ensuring that the grand mecha battles and character development feel earned, that they all contribute to what makes Macross F a unique experience.


12. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Koukaku Kidoutai: Stand Alone Complex - Anime Screenshot

See? I did include another Ghost in the Shell entry, particularly the one offering more mecha goodness.

The Stand Alone Complex series (excluding the lifeless CGI sequel that is SAC_2045) is an exploration of man, machine, and the social ills of a dystopian world.

It’s not as action-packed as your standard mecha show. But Production IG ensured that its animation, sound design, and blend of 2D and 3D would stand the test of time. And it has.

If you’ve seen and liked Psycho-Pass, watch SAC.

The former wouldn’t exist or have succeeded without Stand Alone Complex.


11. SSSS.Gridman

SSSS.Gridman -  Screenshot

Released only in Fall 2018, SSSS.Gridman is the most recent mecha series on my list.

So, how did this almost enter the top 10?

Well, it’s an original anime — which meant no one knew the direction it was going.

Second, it felt new and familiar at the same time, evoking a sense of mystery while showcasing tokusatsu-esque mecha action.

It’s a shame SSSS.Gridman didn’t get the praise and attention it deserves. Should the arguably lowkey fanservice at the start be blamed? Perhaps.

Then again, many anime fans want that kind of introduction: Robots and cute girls.

But beyond that is intrigue, distinct visuals (thanks to Studio Trigger), and a story that only gets stronger by the latter half.


10. Full Metal Panic!

Full Metal Panic! Anime

The Full Metal Panic! franchise has been through significant changes, starting as a Studio Gonzo project to Kyoto Animation (this one being its most beloved) — and then to Xebec for its surprise return in 2018.

If you’re a huge fan of rom-coms, this should be right up your alley.

Full Metal Panic! looks different from your average rom-com, but its military and mecha setting doesn’t dilute the potency of its humor.

Arguably, it’s the Fumoffu series fans loved the most (for good reason). But you can’t go wrong with the first season as well.

Plus, you’ll finally know who Bonta-kun is. Which you’ve probably seen in fan-made anime videos and stores selling anime merchandise.


9. Magic Knight Rayearth

Magic Knight Rayearth Screenshot

If you’ve never heard of Magic Knight Rayearth, I completely understand.

It shows how old I already am, but this is a special mecha anime — not just for me, but for literally millions of people.

In my country, Magic Knight Rayearth changed the landscape of locally aired anime TV series. Instead of being another shounen or mecha with a male lead, this show put a trio of women to the fore.

They were neither supporting characters nor mere love interests. Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu had chemistry, and everyone in my school defended their favorite Magic Knight.

More importantly, Magic Knight Rayearth proved that mecha can merge with genres like shoujo and fantasy. Expect distinct mecha designs here, ones you won’t ever see anywhere else.


8. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Screencap

If you’re wondering why Gundam hasn’t been mentioned yet, it’s because its best entries belong so high up in this list

Ironically, Iron-Blooded Orphans doesn’t feel like classic Gundam. You don’t even need to have seen the earlier shows to appreciate it.

IBO is set in a future where a part of humanity lives on Mars.

The problem, however, is that it’s still ruled by those on Earth — and governmental neglect runs deep.

The young Kudelia Aina Bernstein wants to change this by visiting Earth. But she must first survive the journey, which features relatively few but seriously brutal action sequences.


7. Promare

Promare Anime Screencap

The newest anime in my list is Promare, an anime original film from 2019.

To be fair, it doesn’t feel like it’s something new.

It’s a Studio Trigger project — and the team was composed of the same people who worked on beloved high-octane series Kill la Kill and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

Thus, it does feel like the long lost child of those two shows.

Promare is ridiculously stylish and vibrant, as if those adjectives were made for it.

The CGI isn’t entirely smooth(and it affects the overall hype) but the energy and passion of the creators are evident in Promare.


6. Sidonia no Kishi (Knights of Sidonia)

Sidonia no Kishi (Knights of Sidonia) Screenshot

With a third season on the way, Knights of Sidonia is one of the last generation’s sleeper mecha hits.

In a time when the community already had Shingeki no Kyojin, was there still space for another one like it?

Yes, Sidonia no Kishi and Attack on Titan have significant differences

But they both succeed in making viewers feel hopeless. It’s like all the efforts and sacrifices of the good guys won’t ever lead them to victory — to a life that isn’t filled with blood and violence.

So if you want to see 3D/CG mecha done right, check out the two seasons of Knights of Sidonia.

You’ll be impressed with the scale, accompanying score, and sound design of its battles.


5. Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn gave the franchise from the 1980s a new breath, introducing it to a younger generation upon its debut in 2010.

This was Sunrise’s anniversary project, arguably one of two big studios associated with the mecha genre.

Fan-favorite composer Hiroyuki Sawano was part of the team — so expect god-tier battle music in this one.

And while it’s only an OVA, each of its seven episodes is an hour long. It’s like a seven-part movie series.

You can watch this even if you haven’t seen previous Gundam entries, and it has some of the very best mecha fights of all time.

It’s a morally complex, politically layered epic that even non-mecha fans should see at least once.


4. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin

Yes, I have two Gundam entries in my top five.

That’s how influential Gundam is to the mecha genre.

The Origin is a more recent project than Unicorn, having debuted in 2015. But like the latter, it’s an OVA composed of six feature-length episodes.

It features exemplary 3D/CGI, which isn’t usually the case with anime. The Origin would’ve been better if only its mecha elements were 3D/CGI, but I’m just nitpicking here.

The opening scene of EP01 has no problem hooking you in. Same goes for its immersive fight sequences.

Like any tremendous Gundam project, its political and emotional prowess is undeniable.


3. Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch

Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch Screencap

I’m sure many are wondering why I haven’t mentioned pizza girl and Mr. Lelouch Lamperouge yet.

Well, here they are.

Among all entries here, it’s Code Geass that garnered both critical acclaim and widespread fame.

That’s an accomplishment in itself: not all great anime shows get the attention they deserve.

If you haven’t been spoiled, go watch it now and prepare yourself. If you have seen it, meh give it another watch.

The highs of Code Geass are too good to pass up. Especially once you’ve moved to the second season. Enjoy all the mind games and drama.

Gundam is what people will associate most with Sunrise, but its grandest mecha offering is this one.


2. Neon Genesis Evangelion + The End of Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion + The End of Evangelion Screenshot

My silver medalist is the series that catapulted Studio Gainax to timeless fame.

Whether you think this is overrated or that it should’ve been my No. 1, no one can deny its impact on anime as a whole.

Apart from the Gundam mechas, the Eva Units of Shinji, Asuka, and Rei are the next most familiar robots in anime.

Their design is unusual, at times creepy, and awe-aspiring at the same time.

If you want anguish and despair mixed with your gorgeously animated mecha scenes, this is the one to check out.

It’s a deeply philosophical and psychological masterpiece that changed how critics (in and out of Japan) viewed anime.


1. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann - Screenshot

I hope NGE fans don’t feel bad about my top pick.

Come on, it’s also an anime original from Gainax with more than 25 episodes.

So why is this my favorite mecha anime?

Simply put, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann makes me remember why I loved the genre in the first place: It’s outrageous, exciting, and brimming with colors, like it had unlimited creative potential.

Yet Gurren Lagann isn’t just stellar with its visuals and mind-blowing sequences:

It’s also a fine balance of humor, action, adventure, and philosophical inquiries.

It’s not as heavy in the last department as NGE, but it’s also more appropriate for younger audiences.

Mecha has the power to inspire wonder in people of all ages. And I believe it’s Gurren Lagann that does it best.

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R. Romero

Millennial introvert on the lookout for slice-of-life anime, world cinema, and European music. Follow on Twitter @notspencer08