Top 30 Best Post-Apocalyptic & Dystopian Anime (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).
With how the world looks these past few years, a lot of people have started to joke that this is the beginning of the apocalypse.
Although I hope that’s not the case, the whole apocalypse/dystopia setting usually makes for some great storytelling… so we have that to look forward to, at the least!
Or if you don’t want to wait for the real world, maybe dig into some apocalyptically-themed anime. This list should give you plenty of ideas on some of the best post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian worlds that anime has to offer.
30. From the New World
Power is a tricky thing, as history has shown us that people fear it – and will most likely either try to kill it, or control it.
From the New World takes place in a world where a minority has awoken psychic powers.
This plunged everyone into war, and the story itself is set after all that bloodshed.
We look at a ‘school for the gifted’ where many kids who possess telekinetic are brought up to live in a new utopia. But it more or less goes down the Talentless Nana route, only with more sublime imagery and a grander world.
29. Casshern Sins
This show is so brutal that it has actually had two apocalypses already.
First, most of humanity is wiped out by a breed of sentient immortal robots.
But then the robots suddenly lose that immortal part of their character and start dying away, while questioning why their binary God has chosen to bring them to the afterlife.
Their only hope is the myth of Casshern: a human/robot who, if eaten, will return their immortality.
28. Made in Abyss
The world in this show is one covered in mystery as a giant hole is found in the middle of the Earth, and countless adventurers seek to discover its origin and secrets.
And when I say that it’s giant, I really mean it.
We follow our two protagonists as they also try to descend into this abyss, pun intended, in order to find out how one of them was created. This protag is also a robot by the way.
They’re also adventuring to learn about the disappearance of the other protagonist’s mother.
And maybe they’ll learn some other stuff along the way… but you didn’t hear that from me!
27. The Promised Neverland
This series is just worth watching, seriously.
It starts off innocently enough. But as quickly as happiness is presented here, it’s also taken away, never to be seen again.
This sounds drastic. But just in the first episode we go from looking at a bunch of children playing tag in a remote orphanage with big green fields, to learning that they’re all basically on a farm while their brains are processed so their monster overlords can feast on them once they’ve ripened.
Again, that was just the first episode. So needless to say this show is a rollercoaster from beginning to end.
26. Dr. Stone
When you think about it, Dr. Stone sets forth a pretty terrifying scenario.
A green light that turns all of humanity into stone, and thus destroys all technological advancement.
However, the show is pretty light-hearted.
It centres around Senku, a kid genius who was the first to get ‘un-stoned’, as he tries to bring back humanity as well as civilization. It really reads like a Bill Nye side-show, as you learn how different things are made.
There is also a whole subplot of a war, but let’s not focus on that here.
25. Seraph of the End
One day, a sudden virus starts killing everyone that’s older than 13. And even though it sounds dope to skip being a teenager, humanity begs for a savior.
However, that savior comes in the form of vampires who promise to protect them, as long as they’re willing to give up the occasional child to be used as cattle.
Humanity accepts. And our protagonists end up that unlucky cattle.
Surprisingly enough, being cattle sucks. So they try to escape. And it doesn’t go well, and honestly just keeps getting worse for the remainder of the series. It is a brutal world.
24. Desert Punk
In this post-apocalyptic world, Japan has basically been turned into a desert.
As you can imagine, that isn’t quite ideal for most people. So life has just gotten a way higher difficulty setting. That’s true for most, except the titular Desert Punk who took the sandy lemons life had given him, and made a name for himself as a mercenary.
Quite the lemonade strategy.
However, he’s still but a mortal. And his biggest weakness is soon revealed, that being top pot heavy females. The relatability of this man goes through the roof.
23. Highschool of the Dead
There are few things that are as synonymous with the apocalypse as zombies.
Which is why you’re going to see a fair bit of them here.
One of the more popular zombie series is Highschool of the Dead. It doesn’t really break the zombie show formula at all: group of people try to survive, zombies come in waves, protagonists try to search for a cure and learn how to distract them, etc.
However, the cast is pretty likable. And the pacing is solid. So if zombie shows are your jam, this is a pretty safe pick.
22. Darling in the FranXX
In the world of Darling in the FranXX, humanity gets severely screwed over by giant monsters called the Klaxosaurs.
Even though they sound like a Crocs-approved dinosaur, these things are pretty dangerous. And soon drive humanity into fortified cities.
The only defense humanity has are giant mecha suits that are powered by fan service. OK not really but pretty close.
Boy/girl units control the mechas in questionable positions, and fight off the Klaxosaurs while also slowly learning about their world and themselves.
If that sounds too tame for you, worry not. Everything goes out the window and the scale gets way bigger come the second part of the series.
21. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Since we’re already talking about mechs, we might as well introduce the emo kid of the mecha genre: Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Giant mecha-looking monsters ironically named Angels come to Earth and start wiping out humanity.
The only ones who can stand up to this threat is the organization Nerve and their special mecha suits called Evas. But the twist is that nakama power doesn’t exist in this world, religious symbols are everywhere, every Eva pilot has a connection to their Eva, and most importantly: everyone has depression.
It’s an amazing show. And a classic for sure. But man, does it make me dread life.
20. Fist of the North Star
Speaking of old classics, it’s time to watch giant muscular men punch each other with the power of 100 suns.
Fist of the North Star is, in essence, just a story of a guy trying to get his fiancée back from his rival.
However, that’s just the setup. As the world around him is as post-apocalyptic as you can get, and nearly everything has gone to ruin.
As the protagonist goes on his quest, more and more big-shots want to try their luck with the now-legendary warrior. So the stakes just keep escalating.
19. Sunday Without God
Even just that title sounds brutal. Like Nietzsche’s new book or something.
And the fictional world lives up to this morbid hype. In it, God has officially given up on humanity. He just packed his bags and left, meaning that no one can die or be born.
And just like you had everyone freaking out about dying in Casshern Sins, here everyone is freaking out about not being able to die.
I swear, you just can’t please people.
However before he left, God created Gravekeepers: the only beings capable of sending the dead to the afterlife. So we follow two of them. It’s pretty neat and melancholic.
18. School Live!
So let’s say you start watching this show and it seems like some typical idol/high school slice of life. Sure, some details seem a bit odd. But you don’t think about it too much.
But then, oh I see, zombies have taken over the world. That makes a lot more sense.
Unfortunately, one of the protagonists has yet go through this thought pattern and still truly believes that everything is sunshine and rainbows.
Her classmates, on the other hand, are a bit busy with the whole “staying alive” business.
17. Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan was such a massive hit that I doubt I have to say much about it.
But just in case, here’s the briefing.
Titans are giant derpy looking humanoid nightmare fuel. They now roam the earth and eat every human in their path. Humans are all stuck in a fortified city and have created a special military to deal with these titans.
That’s the baseline of the story, but before you know it you get betrayal, extremely deep lore, more betrayal, mystery, genocide, a bigger world, more betrayal and so on.
Reading the manga is also highly recommended.
16. Girl’s Last Tour
This show is equal parts depressing, uplifting, and a meditative experience.
It centers around two girls, and very few other people. As in this world humanity has been wiped out (go figure).
Being completely alone in this world, the two girls try and pass the time anyway they can, be it through a snowball fight or looking for new equipment at yet another abandoned building.
It’s like the classic cute girls doing cute things genre, only with this overwhelming sense of loneliness.
15. Somali and the Forest Spirit
I bet the last thing you expected in this list was some wholesome content, but here it is.
Somali and the Forest Spirit is set in a world where humans aren’t really liked. In fact, they’ve been driven nearly to extinction.
So our protagonist, a lonely little girl, has quite the tough journey ahead of her. Luckily she meets a kind-hearted golem who decides to protect her and acts as a father figure.
So if you just don’t think about the whole massive extinction part, this show is actually wholesome and comfy as all hell.
14. God Eater
Whenever something with a pulse threatens a human, shooting it seems like the best move. And sometimes it’s the only option.
However, what happens when traditional weapons don’t work? We get screwed.
And that’s the setup for God Eater, as monsters called the Aragami start wiping out humanity bit by bit. After a while a certain weapon is found that can kill these monsters, but it’s far more complex and scarce than your typical gun or sword.
So the story follows a special unit created for the sole purpose of killing all of the Aragami, and bringing peace to humanity once more.
13. Ergo Proxy
If that last pick seemed a bit too basic for your taste, as you’re not like other weebs, then maybe Ergo Proxy will be more up your alley.
The premise is that a giant ecological catastrophe wipes out a good chunk of humanity and has them living inside of special domes.
Luckily, they have androids on their side to help them survive.
But whoops! The androids suddenly start catching a virus that makes them self-aware.
There are so many mysteries that follow this seemingly simple plotline, and the show really lives up to its psychological tag.
Akira is a bit difficult to define under the category of “post-apocalyptic”. But I’ll try anyway, it’s a doozy.
In the world of Akira, after a boy attains psychic powers, a giant explosion is heard around the world, thus igniting the spark for WWIII.
Fast forward to the present and the city has been reborn… but another psychic soon emerges, making the officials worry that a repeat is about to ensue.
Perhaps with even more force than the previous one. What happens? Well, gotta watch to find out.
Plus, Akira is just an amazing anime movie in general so go watch it.
11. Black Bullet
In Black Bullet, a deadly virus starts spreading across the world at alarming rates. Those infected will turn into monsters.
Just like in God Eater, these monsters can’t be killed with regular means. Only by a special material.
So the government creates a line of soldiers, females injected with some of the monster’s blood, who use their superhuman strength to battle this colossal threat.
I just want to also point out that the show is about a virus set in 2021, and at this point that worries me beyond belief… especially since as a man, I don’t even get the superhuman strength.
If you watched Girl’s Last Tour and want something to fill a similar void in your heart, then try Coppelion.
In its world, nuclear radiation has killed of most of humanity. Except three adorable high school girls, logically.
So the three girls roam around, try to survive, and figure out what to do next. While also somehow getting into more trouble than just nuclear radiation.
I’ll be honest here, it isn’t as well written as Girl’s Last Tour. But if you want some braindead fun it will scratch that itch.
9. Humanity has Declined
That’s right, time for more comfy apocalypse content.
In this world, humanity is in a bit of a pickle. Not because of any monsters, but rather because we suck at resource management.
Okay it’s a big pickle, and most of humanity has died out.
This has led to fairies taking over, for the most part. But the fairies aren’t really conquerors, rather sugar hungry little children.
So our protagonist is tasked with being the combining link of the two factions and oh my god it’s so adorable.
8. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
To be frank, this is one of my all time favourite shows and a must-watch for a weeb.
It’s set in a world where humanity has been pushed to live underground while Beastmen control the surface.
They eventually start a revolution after finding the key to controlling mechas, and start to claim back the Earth’s surface. However, life isn’t that simple.
And perhaps there was a good reason why they were pushed underground in the first place…
And maybe, just maybe, there’s a threat out there even beyond just the Beastmen.
7. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
Kabaneri is like a bastard child of a few of the shows on this list.
People most often compare it to Attack on Titan, as it’s about giant monsters attacking humans who were forced into living behind fortified walls.
But like a zombie flick, the monsters here(Kabanari) can turn other people into their kind by biting them.
Mash those two concepts together, throw in some Akira-style cyber-punk into the mix, some pretty dope action scenes, and you get Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.
If we’re talking about dystopias, I can hardly imagine a world more gloomy and depressing than that of Berserk.
Although only the Golden Age arc has been animated in a way that doesn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out, even these three films give us a good sense of the darkness that envelops Guts’ world.
Especially that third movie. Talk about gore, betrayal, and nudity. No wonder it was originally in adult magazines.
So if you want a truly messed up world, watch the Golden Age movies and then transition to the manga. And then promptly go to a church or something.
5. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Besides zombies, a common happening in post-apocalyptic movies is nuclear fallout.
And we have it baby.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind tells of a world where nuclear war, cutely named “Seven Days of Fire”, has left the Earth in shambles. We see poisonous toxins filling the air and giant bugs swarming the newly jungle-covered Earth.
But near the sea it’s a bit calmer. So the Valley of the Wind resides there.
It’s a nice little town with a lovable queen called Nausicaä and… wait, what’s that flying towards us? Oh no, not again…
Definitely check this out if you haven’t already. It’s got beautiful Ghibli animation with some very memorable characters.
4. Blame! – The Movie
While on the theme of movies that depict believable premises for our demise, we have Blame!
In this movie, Elon Musk finally creates AI. And as we could all predict, it turns against us.
Flash-forward into the future and we see our protagonists wandering a now desolate world where humans are a rarity. They do stumble upon hope, as it’s said that if they find a person with a certain Net Terminal Gene, it could be possible to shut down the AI overlords.
I personally would’ve just unplugged the computer. But hey, to each their own.
3. Expelled from Paradise
I feel like the title of this movie is rather subjective.
The movie goes like this: as per usual, we manage to completely ruin Earth.
But luckily technology isn’t against us this time. So we all ditch our physical bodies and just decide to VR chat forever on a server located on a space station.
That sounds pretty sick to me, to be honest.
But of course, it can’t all be that simple. And one day their virtual world gets attacked by a hacker. So our protagonist, who’s like a police mod or something, has to return to her physical form and chase him around the now desolate Earth.
2. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
This show might sound a bit basic. But it’s rather fun.
So, humanity gets max level technology and starts traveling the universe with their pet robots and whatnot.
Then some strange creatures suddenly appear and wage an all-out war against humanity.
In the midst of the battle our protagonist, alongside her trusty robot, crash land on an ocean-covered and somewhat desolate Earth. Unfortunately for the protagonists, their initial fear of pirates turns out to be the least of their worries…
Adventure and intrigue await in this classic post-apocalyptic anime. Absolutely worth the watch.
1. Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito
For my last pick, I wanted to select something to ease the nerves.
I mean, we just went through dozens of scenarios of how we’d all die or get real close to death.
So Planetarian also has a lot of us die due to nuclear fallout. But you’ll forget about that quickly.
The centerpiece of this movie is a talking robot who starts telling interesting stories to a scavenger that happened to find her. Since humanity is intergalactic at this point, prepare for a lot of fun astronomy stuff here as well.