25 Best Survival Anime Series: Listing & Ranking Our FavoritesThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Whether through a twisted game of elimination or trying to get out of a bizarre case of circumstances, survival anime may be one of the most gripping genres you’ll ever watch.
And there’s a lot of it out there.
For this post I’ve listed some of my recommended shows that span the gamut of this crazy genre. Be sure to check these out!
25. King’s Game The Animation
This 2017 anime follows a common trope found in survival anime: the escape room mechanic.
King’s Game The Animation focuses on new student Nobuaki Kanazawa. Past memories are suddenly recalled as his entire class receives an invitation to play the King’s Game.
As a survivor of this deadly game, Nobuaki tries warning his new classmates… but who will survive the challenges?
Considering the setup, this series can be considered a good gateway into the world of survival anime. Fun and easy to get into.
24. Mayoiga (The Lost Village)
Sometimes your past and your deepest secrets will eventually catch up to you.
That’s what makes this weird survival anime an interesting choice to watch.
Released in 2016, the series tells the story of 30 people traveling towards an obscure village called Nanakimura.
This place, as some would say, is where people who’d want to start anew can live.
But all is not well in this village. Upon arrival, the group finds out that the village is uninhabited.
Stranger still is that a looming fear begins to rise among them, revealing bizarre secrets better left unsaid. This anime does have a strange and different survival mechanic – so watch it to find out!
23. 7 Seeds
Several groups of people are placed into cryogenic sleep, as a countermeasure in case the Earth ends up in dire straits.
As these groups awake they find out that the world they knew is now harsh and unforgiving.
How will they survive these circumstances?
Based on a popular shoujo manga, this 2019 series shows a scenario on how people of different skill sets need to work together to survive. It’s a sort of different take from the gory death matches found in other survival series.
22. Mirai Nikki (The Future Diary)
Yukiteru Amano finds out that his cellphone can predict the future.
And with this amazing power comes a bizarre game as well.
The prediction power, granted by a god called Deus Ex Machina, pits other people with that power against each other. By eliminating others, one stands the chance to be the new god of time and space.
This anime features a mix of psychological and violent themes which are gripping. It may be a bizarre setup, but it is still an interesting entry in this genre hands down.
21. Highschool of the Dead
Who would have known that ecchi, survival, and zombies can all be rolled into one interesting anime?
Highschool of the Dead. a 2010 release, proved just that.
Essentially it’s an MC with a harem of women with special skills (conveniently, a member is great in using a katana to cut down zombies).
And then another guy with an intense love of firearms who joins the bunch. This motley crew has to navigate their way out of a city filled with zombies.
The series focuses on a specific group of otaku as well. So expect tons of fanservice balanced with amazing action scenes.
20. Magical Girl Raising Project
From a cute premise to a frightening game of survival, this 2016 series shows how twisted the world of magical girls can be.
Main character Koyuki Himekawa, is invited to participate in a social game to be a magical girl.
Happy that she got the opportunity to play out her wildest fantasy, Koyuki was devastated finding out that the game admins have decided to cut down the roster of girls.
Now, this isn’t a simple avatar delete. Magical girls taken out of the game are killed for good!
Expect despair in this different kind of death game.
What happens when you die? Nobody really knows.
Well in this 2004 anime series, there may be a chance for you to encounter this weird black ball that’ll force you to play a bizarre death match.
Gantz brings in the gore (and some ecchi) in the survival anime genre.
The series also introduces some bizarre game mechanics for each of the matches that’ll keep you glued to your seat. This is definitely a show that you’ll never forget.
18. Kyochuu Rettou (The Island of Giant Insects)
Terror has always been with us. We just don’t notice it.
This 2019 anime features a bizarre setup: survivors of a plane crash have to get out of the island they’re stick in.
And they have to do it fast. The insects on the island are gigantic!
What’s really interesting with this OVA is the main character, Oribe Mutsumi. Her intricate knowledge on insects may just be what’s needed for the group to survive.
17. Deadman Wonderland
Deadman Wonderland finds an otherwise simple protagonist placed in a weird situation involving death games, illegal human experiments, and blood powers.
It’s one heck of a series, that’s for sure.
Ganta Igarashi was supposed to have fun with his classmates. With their class visiting this special prison, the students were suddenly attacked by this bizarre person in red.
It was a massacre in which the only survivor was Ganta.
And to make matters worse, he was sentenced to live out his days in the prison he’s visiting. Yikes!
At just 12 episodes, some may find that Deadman Wonderland is lacking. But it does offer some memorable and exciting action sequences.
Do you consider yourself a pro gamer?
Ever thought that your gaming skills can be put to the test in real life situations?
Btooom! places the main character in that sort of situation. Ryouta Sakamoto, a hikikomori, suddenly wakes up and finds himself alone on an island. All he has with him are some basic supplies, and weirdly, a bag of bombs similar to those in the game he loves.
Apparently Ryouta’s living the video game fantasy.
Except reality’s way harsher, considering that there are no respawns in here!
Btooom! has that amazing battle royale vibe to it with some welcome video game mechanics mixed into the storytelling.
15. Ibara no Ou (King of Thorn)
The Medusa virus pandemic forces authorities to put a select group of people in cryogenic sleep – a sliver of hope remains that these people will help jumpstart civilization.
Awakening to a world of bizarre monsters instead, these individuals need to find a way to survive and make sense of the madness around them.
Based on a popular manga, this 2009 anime does show how frightening waking up to a strange world can be.
Prepare yourself for some scares in this survival series.
14. Eden of the East
A survival anime released in 2009, this 11-episode wonder has a really mysterious plot that will hook you in.
The amnesiac protagonist Akira Takizawa needs to solve the mystery on why he has a mobile phone loaded with tons of cash.
Also, it seems he and other people with similar phones are locked in a death game. Weird, right?
Featuring tons of twists and some creative game mechanics, this is a show you wouldn’t want to miss.
13. Danganronpa: The Animation
A 2013 series based on the amazing Danganronpa games, this anime best represents what a death match is.
The participants of this battle royale are all students excelling in certain skills.
Made to pit against each other, these students need to make the most out of what they have to survive.
Featuring a distinct art style and really amazing death match mechanics, this is truly a memorable survival anime series for the ages.
12. Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance)
Let’s turn the tables for a minute.
What if those who created the death game are protagonists?
Well this 2014 release sort of focuses on that concept.
Sphinx, essentially two teenagers, suddenly uploads a video threatening widespread destruction in Tokyo.
With the authorities alarmed, measures have been set in place to catch the teens. But what made these two boys go against the world? Expect a thrilling narrative if you strap in for this ride.
11. Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom
Action-packed and filled with tons of cliffhangers, this 2009 series will make you wish the matches won’t end at all.
What would you do if you, a tourist, were mistaken for someone else?
And in a foreign and strange country, of all places?
That’s what happened to Zwei, who was also forced into a deadly game where he’d need to fight. Well worth a watch although may not fit everyone’s taste, but definitely a classic.
10. Imawa no Kuni no Alice
For a satisfying dive into the deepest minds of humanity and some of the most interesting death game mechanics, look no further.
These OVA episodes will offer one heck of an anime experience.
Ryouhei Arisu and his friends suddenly end up in an alternate reality called the Borderland.
Wanting to go home, the three need to participate in different games that will challenge them physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The only concern about this OVA is that it doesn’t really have a clear ending. If you’ve read the manga, you’d be expecting more to be honest. But on its own these OVAs are still a blast, especially if you’re new to the genre.
9. Jyu Oh Sei
At just 11 episodes long, Jyu Oh Sei proves that with the proper execution, even a short series can trump epic arcs from larger shows.
This fast-paced series wastes no time in dropping the main characters, twins Thor and Rai Klein, on a terraformed planet.
Left to fend for themselves, the brothers need to not only survive, but solve the mystery of why they were left on that strange planet in the first place.
Quite a niche show but a highly-recommended series, you can consider Jyu Oh Sei as a gem among survival anime entries.
8. Sounan Desu ka? (Are You Lost?)
Surviving the great outdoors can be a struggle.
Especially if you’ve lived almost your entire life in an urban jungle.
Luckily enough for a group of school girls stranded on an island, one of them is trained for this very situation.
If you’re a fan of popular western survival shows like those that feature Bear Grylls then you’re in for a treat. This 2019 anime highlights different survival tips and tactics along the way. It’s a fresh take on how to survive the wild—anime style.
7. Terra Formars
When you thought the good guys were gonna make it…
Well, you thought wrong.
Terra Formars is a 2014 series that makes use of some really interesting mechanics in its survival factor.
With humanity surprisingly faced with mutant cockroaches in Mars, a force of specially-reinforced individuals is sent out to deal with these creatures.
It’s a strange but really satisfying show.
Able to explain insect-like attributes in dealing with equally-weirder circumstances makes this a delightful series to watch.
It may be a shounen dream to pilot a giant robot to beat the bad guys.
Bokurano, a spectacular 2007 anime brings this to your screen. But with a twist: the robot is powered by the child’s life.
Yep, it’s weird.
15 children have signed up to test a “fun” game by an eccentric inventor.
With most of the group excited to live out their superhero dreams, they now have a chance to beat alien forces approaching Earth.
Little do they know that the pilot’s life is sacrificed after each battle. This is what powers the robot!
This quickly stamps out expectations about mecha shows. And this offers a twisted way to think about… well, a pretty grim situation.
5. Mujin Wakusei Survive
Consider a few things that make survival shows great. Limited resources, the knowhow to make use of what you have, and a plan to get through your circumstances: these are all elements of an entertaining survival anime.
Now introduce another unexpected theme in the mix: anime for younger audiences.
Didn’t think that such an anime could exist?
Mujin Wakusei Survive, a 2003 show, is one you’ll want to check out.
Sometime in the future, humanity is forced to live on other planets. With space travel possible, education can now also be done on several intergalactic communities.
But a freak accident during a school field trip caused a group of young students to fend for themselves on an uninhabitable planet.
Surprisingly, even though the show is targeted towards younger viewers, Mujin Wakusei Survive has several emotional scenes that even older audiences will enjoy.
4. Gakkougurashi! (School-Live!)
A slice of life anime dealing with zombies and survival?
Yep. This 2015 series shows that it’s possible. And it’s done in such a satisfying and heart-warming manner.
With the entire city run down by zombies, members of the School Living Club of Megurigaoka High try their best to survive.
But what makes their entire situation totally unique is that they need to survive in a blissful manner as one of their members, Yuki Takeya, has a skewed view on reality!
Prepare some tissues as well: you may cry in a few scenes, but no spoilers here.
3. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
First aired in 2013, the amazing Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) shows what a great survival anime should be.
Filled with both gripping action scenes and the dreadful feeling of gloom, this anime’s best asset may be its amazing plot.
Humanity seems to be on its last legs.
With the remaining population trapped within the confines of a city, walls are constantly being guarded and reinforced to withstand attacks.
And these aren’t normal attacks from other nations and the like. Instead, humanity faces a whole different kind of enemy.
We’ve got Titans: beings who tower over humans and seem to enjoy torment and murder. They are the ones that keep humanity in a state of despair.
There’s so much more to this amazing story than what I can quickly cover here. But one thing is for certain, though – you will never be sure who’s next to bite the dust.
2. Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin
Get ready for the ride of your life.
This survival anime features a gritty setting that will actually make you sympathize with the characters.
Featuring a realistic scenario, this anime is set during 1955 in a Japanese youth reform institution.
The survival theme kicks in when a group of young convicts have to band together against the prison authorities and doctors regularly dishing out horrific torture.
This series is gripping, dark, and definitely under-rated.
You really need to watch it to see why it’s a hit among survival anime fanatics.
1. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
What makes survival anime such a fun genre? I say it’s the uncertainty.
There seems to be some sort of hook around every corner when you’re hoping your favorite characters don’t die.
And one element that makes this genre even more special is its realism factor.
Sure, you’ve got shows with special powers and monsters. But survival brings reality back to fiction.
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 excels in this.
And it doesn’t bank on fantastical on-screen elements. It stays grounded on frighteningly realistic scenarios.
But no matter how grim the setting is, this series still offers some semblance of optimism. You can survive, believe in yourself!
If you’re into the genre you owe it to yourself to watch this. At least give the pilot a try and see what you think.