Top 35 Best War & Military Anime Of All Time (Series & Movies)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
We’ve seen plenty of good action anime, the tournament arcs, life-or-death duels, and plenty of monster slaying.
But what about widespread combat?
That’s right, today we’re going over the best war and military related anime of all time!
Will you find a TV series about a large-scale battle between two groups, or just the life of a soldier? Or maybe a classic anime movie about a war-torn country?
Who knows, but I guarantee this list will be epic! But let’s start off with two honorable mentions.
35. Naruto Shippuden – War Arc
Although Naruto usually sticks to the 1-on-1 or squad on squad format, the finale of the series is a long war arc.
In it we see nearly every ninja in the show battling it out.
With the reanimation jutsu we even get some fan favorites back in the mix, as well as some shinobi that we have only heard about previously.
This arc is one of my all-time favorites in anime because the animation and the fights are top notch, no Nagato cartoons this time around.
The very beginning of the arc also shows us some of the most impressive taijutsu!
For all these reasons I’m including this arc in the list… I mean it is the length of 10 average anime series anyway.
34. Hunter x Hunter(2011) – Chimera Ant Arc
And our second arc based pick is from Hunter x Hunter. Just like in Naruto, this arc lasts for quite a bit, and in my opinion is nothing short of a war.
It’s an all-out death match between the Chimera ants and the very best fighters humanity has to offer.
The show was getting darker and more serious as it is, but this arc just takes the cake as we learn that no one is safe. The world is cruel and Gon has anger issues.
The battle of the kingpins and Gon’s revenge story were probably some of the most epic scenes to occur in anime.
33. Joker Game
This show is more like the calm before the storm than it is the actual lightning.
Set in a time where World War II is just around the corner, the show deals with what it means to be a spy.
So trying to beat your enemy in the information game, basically.
How to decode certain messages, extract information from people, spread false information, and the rest. I think it deserves to at least be on the list, as it’s more or less realistic in its depiction of what happens right before a major war breaks out.
32. Alderamin on the Sky
This is a story about how someone became a hero by circumstance.
Ikta Solork is just your average dude who wants a girlfriend, and to live the lazy lifestyle.
But of course it wouldn’t be on this list if it quite went like that.
So war breaks out and Ikta and his buddy Yatorishino enroll in the army.
But that still wasn’t good enough. So they, alongside a sniper, a medic, and an infantryman, all get stranded on enemy territory and have to pull a Mission Impossible.
So much for sleeping around.
31. Girls & Panzer
Hey, who said we couldn’t make war moe?
Probably no one, and it isn’t an actual war. However, it does center around the game of senshadou, a game where you control tank replicas and have to use your noggin to win the simulated war.
And it’s for women exclusively, to give them more prominence in Japanese culture. So you know, go watch it you’ll love it.
You even get a protagonist with a traumatic and mysterious past, and again moe tank fights!
Armies seem to always be on the lookout for the next ultimate weapon. Which we all know is harnessing tsundere anger.
In this show our protagonist is an ultimate weapon. The name of the power game is Zaiphon and it heavily depends on the nature of the soldier who’s wielding it.
So is the story just him going around murdering people?
Nope, he pulls a Sasuke, escapes the military and is now on the path of revenge and self-recognition as he tries to piece together his past.
29. Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
And we’re back to moe war, actual war this time… well actual virtual war.
Well actual virtual battle royal type fighting, it’s Fortnite. But in a good way!
Our protagonist goes under the nickname of “Pink Devil” in the virtual world.
She’s a petite girl in pure pink armor who just guns everyone down like the plebs that they are.
In the real world she is much more tame and has a height complex, so the back and forth of the real and the virtual make for some nice dynamic shifts.
And don’t worry, it might be the same franchise, but there is no Kirito God here. You are safe from bad writing.
28. Break Blade
You had to have known mechs were bound to show up on this list.
Love them or hate them, you at least have to give the Break Blade series credit for actually drawing the mechs by hand. So there’s none of that bulky CGI mess shows tend to have.
I also say “series” as you can watch it either as a 12-episode series or as 6 movies.
The story is pretty much the exact same, so pick your poison. The show itself stays true to the mech formula, with very impressive and largescale battles among multiple Transformers rejects.
It’s not the best mecha anime on this list. But it does what it’s supposed to do well, and its story revolves around war, so it certainly fits the genre.
27. Dr. Stone
Now you might not label Dr. Stone as a war anime. But hey, look at it this way. It’s literally the battle among all of the living humans on Earth that will decide what the future will look like.
Sounds like war to me.
In all honesty, it takes the more educational/entertainment role as far as storytelling goes. But the kingdom of science is far from safe!
And if we ever get a second season I am certain the story will get a lot more action packed, as the first season focused more on worldbuilding and giving our protagonists the tools they need to fight in a stone age world.
I mean, who wants a giant stick fight to determine humankind’s future?
26. Gunslinger Girl
Although it might have a somewhat generic name, the show itself is far from it.
Personally, I see it as a slightly better version of 07-Ghost. Hence why it’s higher on the list.
Gunslinger Girl is all about taking people in need and making them weapons for the government. And in this case, those subjects happen to be little girls.
But the show doesn’t take the edgy nor the comedic routes of “ha ha cute girl go pow pow”.
No, it delves into their characters a bit further.
The morality of the characters and the universe is all over the place. And throughout the show you can only question whether the ends had justified the means.
25. Bounen no Xamdou (Xam’d: Lost Memories)
When it comes to storytelling don’t expect this show to go easy on you.
It’s rather detailed and has substantial depth, so to fully understand the world you really have to pay attention. The story is set on the Sentan Islands, a place in the middle of a massive war between Northern Government and the Southern Continent Free Zone.
After your typical unforeseen incident, our protagonist gains a new role in society: being part of the Xam’d and using their power.
It has plenty of stellar fight scenes, and if you’re not that into the plot you can easily just enjoy the action!
At first we have the stereotypical isekai formula.
Gamer is in virtual reality, gamer talks about the game, gamer is stuck inside the game because of reasons.
But this time the gamer, Momonga, remembers the old proverb “When in Rome, conquer Italy”.
In the hopes of finding other players who are stuck inside of the game Momonga (or Ainz Ooal Gown) decides to build up his fortress. And using his game knowledge he basically conquers the world.
Fair warning, lizard intercourse and bad CGI are waiting, but the fights are pretty epic.
23. Arslan Senki
The year is 320 and the stage is set for a war between the Kingdom of Paris and the neighboring empire Lusitania.
Amidst the chaos a young prince ventures onto the battlefield to prove he’s worthy of becoming the next king.
But then the king kind gets the Mufasa treatment and is betrayed by one of his officers. Yikes.
The army crumbles, and the prince has to run away and maintain a low profile while looking for new allies. There are fantastical elements here, but the story is realistic enough to build decent suspense and does a great job at telling the tail of what it takes to lead a country.
22. The Ambition of Oda Nobuna
Here’s another show that is on the lighter side of stories, but is very interesting nevertheless.
Just listen to the central premise; a man gets teleported into the past in the middle of a war, but wait for it… all of the historical figures of the time are now cute girls.
Brilliant, am I right?
The protagonist, Yoshiharu, is now in the position where on one hand he can’t just tell everyone what the future holds, as it’ll disrupt the timeline he should be on. But he can also use that knowledge to get out of situations and predict outcomes if he so pleases. So it’s got a few time travel elements which makes for a fun mix.
The fights are pretty decent, the premise is fun, and hey you might even get a few laughs along the way.
The story is basically Elon Musk’s wet dream.
Mankind finds a hypergate on the Moon, and with it can travel and colonize Mars.
There, besides the Tesla, they find technology far beyond what they had on Earth.
And with advancement comes a superiority complex. So the people who now inhabit Mars deem the “Terrans” a threat, and wage war against their previous home planet.
If you couldn’t tell by my synopsis, there are plenty of mechas around in this universe.
It’s a great show if you just want to turn your brain off and enjoy some action.
20. Kantai Collection – KanColle
Continuing to prove how nothing is out of reach for anime we have Kantai Collection. It’s a show with boat girls.
You heard that right, now all of your favorite Japanese ships from World War 2 are moe females battling it out at sea.
The models of the girls are even based on the actual models of the ships in terms of size and amount of food they need depends on the size of the ship.
It has some nice slice of life/comedy elements, plus it has some pretty neat battles. And if nothing else, it has boat girls.
19. Darling in the Franxx
Yep, it’s time for misses dar-rling to have her moment in the spotlight.
You have your usual semi-apocalyptic world where hordes of enemies attack an enclosed city and a special unit has to be sent out to deal with them.
Our core cast is pretty big, with varying teens who have never been to the outside and are trying to figure life out while fighting the enemy in mechs.
Why the mechs are so sensual, who knows.
Is it a metaphor? Is it fanservice?
And the most important question of all, what the hell happened in the final arc?
These are all questions I was left with. But the show overall is pretty solid so I am going to let it slide & still recommend it overall.
18. Grancrest Senki (Record of Grancrest War)
Let me just set the scene for you.
The Red Wedding, but a demon lord shows up and both sides get the short end of the stick. So as you can imagine the day that was supposed to bring peace between the Fantasia Union and the Factory Alliance became the trigger for even more war.
Because now this thing called “chaos” is spreading everywhere. And only a special crest can get rid of it.
From that point on we have the classic plotline of our protagonist, who’s a mage by the way, building her own little army to obtain the crests, stop the nobles from fighting, and literally bring world peace.
It’s about as grand an adventure as you could get.
17. Sengoku Basara
We’re taking a break from all the guns and battleship women and taking it back old school.
Yes, I’s time for some samurais.
That being said, there is still magic here. What did you expect this is anime.
Sengoku Basara is the story of Masamune Date and Yukimura Sanada, bitter rivals that have to put their differences aside to beat the big boss himself, Oda Nobunaga.
But the peak of this show is its battle scenes.
They really don’t hold back on the over-the-top action. A swing from an axe can make a tornado. And as I mentioned in another article, even the horses do front flips in the midst of battle.
16. Senjou no Valkyria (Valkyria Chronicles)
With war in general we tend to overlook the small guys. The countries stuck between giant forces that get taken over at no fault of their own.
Well Senjou no Valkyria is a story of one of those little guys fighting back.
Not only that, but our protagonists are basically flung into war at a moment’s notice.
This makes their character development and even romance one of the driving forces of the show.
Also we have to give credit where it’s due; the battles are amazing. And the show doesn’t rely on mechs or demon kings so it feels way more… not like that.
15. Heavy Object
What is an Object? I like to think of it as an alternate universe where hamsters have advanced warfare.
In other words, they’re huge spherical tanks that are basically the ultimate weapon in the show’s universe.
But having something so OP from the very beginning would be boring. So the show centers around our four protagonists who, through some plot armor and outlandish stunts, find a way to defeat Objects (yes, that’s what they’re called).
And in all honesty this concept suits the show perfectly. Even though it might seem repetitive, the constant balls to the wall fight scenes never get old. See what I did there?
Are you tired of modern warfare? Let’s get back to some good old hack-and-slash stuff.
Great warriors, almost all of whom are historical figures by the way, are isekaid into a universe at the brink of war.
They must now fight the “Ends” and take down the Orte Empire.
Making his second appearance on this list we have Oda Nobunaga, as well as Shimazu Toyohisa and Yoichi Suketaka Nasu.
If you’re into history you can probably already guess what they’re like.
The art style and combat are phenomenal in this show. But that is no surprise as it’s akin to Hellsing.
13. Violet Evergarden
I’m putting this show high up on my list because if you want to be enthralled with war and see what it’s like in the army, it’s a good idea to also look into what happens after.
Not the economy and the politics of the aftermath, but the human psyche. That’s more or less what we can see in Violet Evergarden.
Having been hurt in one of the final skirmishes of the war, she’s hospitalized and left void of meaning.
So she becomes an Auto Memory Doll and tries to help others understand themselves while also going through self-discovery. It gets deep here.
12. Angolmois: Genkō Kassen-ki
Cold open: it’s the 13th century, and the Mongolian Empire is about to go wild.
Tsushima Island is their next target so Japan has to prepare for their attack.
Defending the island is the main plot of this show, and our character pool is interesting to say the least.
No Jesus-like Kiritos, just people. Most of whom are actually former prisoners and probably don’t even like Japan that much.
And for me this realistic approach is just the best. Wars are brutal and people aren’t angels nor gods.
11. Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann
And now to undermine everything I just said, we have Gurren-Lagann.
By far this is one of the best mech shows I have seen. Every fight is so exciting, every monologue so powerful, and every mech name hilarious yet epic.
The power system is cliché as all hell. But that doesn’t matter, the characters are so lovable and the fights are amazing regardless.
I also really appreciate the tone shift in the second half of the series, keeping what was good from the first but also adding to it.
Also can we all just agree that Yoko is one of the best characters to date? But boy does she have the lousiest luck with men.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if fantasy met sci-fi on the field of war?
Well time to find out!
But representing the sci-fi army is… well, us. After a gate opens in Japan, medieval looking warriors and monsters start emerging and causing havoc.
As you can imagine, people aren’t too thrilled about this turn of events. So the modern military uses its special powers: modern weapons.
Our protagonist is sent beyond the gate to scope out the situation for talks of peace to begin, but of course it isn’t that easy.
This is a pretty interesting mashup of fantasy and modern warfare, but above everything else one of the characters is called Pina Co Lada and I want to be caught in the rain.
9. Kingdom (2912)
Try not to freak out, but this story is not based in Japan!
That’s right, it actually takes us into a bloody chapter of China’s history.
The country is divided into many smaller territories, each trying to take over the other one.
Throughout the story we follow Xin, an orphan who strives to become the best general this side of the Yangtze River. After some spoilers happen he’s drafted into the army under the young king Ying Zheng, as we’re shown in bloody detail how super not-fun war is.
There are some great large-scale battles in this show too. And it stays pretty down-to-earth so a major plus if you’re tired of fantasy.
Okay, admittedly the 2016 release was not so easy on the eyes. Or the soul. But even just the three Golden Age Arc movies are more than enough to get you a kick.
Among manga readers, Berserk is known as a titan for a reason.
It has one of the most grueling, painful, and almost sadistic plotlines ever. But these are all good things.
Guts as a protagonist is extremely strong in terms of power. But oh man, if you thought the world beat up The Shield Hero, you have yet to see anything.
For me the story of this forsaken mercenary is one of the best out there. So give at least the movies a watch, or read the manga for the full experience.
7. Owari no Seraph (Seraph of the End)
Man, the first episode of this show really doesn’t hold back, does it?
In short, we’re in a post-apocalyptic world where vampires and the remaining humans battle it out.
Our Eren-esque protagonist Yuuichirou is determined to kill every vampire after seeing a massacre in front of his eyes. But of course, this gets much more complicated later on, as everything is not what it seems.
He joins the Moon Demon Company, an army tasked with killing the vampires that also has the best boy of the series, Guren, as a Lieutenant. As you watch you’ll find yourself really sucked into this.
The battles are very flashy and flow well, and the show kind of goes off the chain by the end.
6. Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta (The Pilot’s Love Song)
Full disclosure, I got into this show simply because it sounded like Skyblock from Minecraft.
This is because the show centers around Isla, and island in the sky.
There our protagonist attends Cadoques High’s Aerial Division and it feels like an average high school anime… only in the sky.
But oh boy does that change halfway through.
Then we get some amazing skirmishes and sky battles as dozens of planes zig zag across the sky, shoot at each other, and sometimes make me cry.
Is it the best show ever? No. But does it deserve a watch if you like aerial battles and some character driven drama? For sure.
5. Attack on Titan
I don’t really need to explain what this show is about, because at this point it’s so popular that even normies know the basic premise. And for good reason; you have your post-apocalyptic world, you have your derpy and terrifying titans, a killer opening, badass characters, it’s all here!
And the camera work whenever they use their maneuver gear in action is just such a thrill.
Levi’s arc especially had some killer cinematography, as well as some jaw-dropping fights. They also had a lot of Levi, which is always a win.
And if you’ve read the manga you already know this show would have probably been at number 1 if the source material was fully adapted.
4. Youjo Senki (The Saga of Tanya the Evil)
Never have I been more terrified of a little girl that in Youjo Senki.
After being reincarnated, Tanya really doesn’t waste much time on the usual “discover the world and be constantly confused” shtick that isekai usually has.
She goes in, hard.
Quickly rising up the ranks of the army, this little blonde Nietzsche fangirl shows no mercy on the battlefield. Or really even towards her subordinates.
But you can never say that she doesn’t get the job done!
The battles are amazing.
Tanya’s cynical yet spiteful attitude towards the world(and Being X) are refreshing for a heroine.
And the fantasy mixed military vibe just works really well.
3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
This show is without a doubt one of the best that anime has to offer.
The only reason it’s not at number 1 is because I feel the other two hit the military/war esthetic just a bit better.
But FMA is still amazing. Alchemy as a concept is always a joy to watch as battles are pretty skill-based and are much more interesting than just a screaming contest.
The best part of Brotherhood is definitely the addition & expansion of some of the older characters too. Newcomers Yao Ling and Olivier Mira Armstrong have been a game changer as well, and they really add to the already rich character pool the show possessed.
If you’ve yet to see FMA Brotherhood I highly recommend checking this out.
2. Code Geass
The futuristic Death Note that has been dominating the anime scene for years. Maybe this is just personal preference, but rebellion type stories are so much more enjoyable than typical war stories.
And that’s what Code Geass is all about: regaining the former glory of Japan and getting revenge on Britannia for what they’ve done to our protagonist, Lelouch.
The power system of the Geass makes for some excellent drama and plot progression. A certain Nunnally scene comes to mind.
The characters, especially the protagonists, are a joy to watch. And the ending was satisfactory in my opinion.
So don’t you dare make another season.
1. Vinland Saga
I think this show is an absolute gem that came out kinda recently in 2019.
It’s the typical story of revenge, but it goes so much deeper than just that.
Set during the Viking era, Vinland Saga showcases what it meant to be a warrior, a Viking, and how brutal wars were at the time.
The characters are so well grounded in my opinion, aside from the occasional super human strength and speed.
Askeladd especially shines, as rarely do you see such an intricate character with believable strengths and weaknesses, specifically where every decision seems outlandish but it always makes sense for that character.
He also just plays people like a fiddle, which was always fun to watch. Well worth a watch and I think this will please a broad range of anime fans.