War Anime themes have always been prevalent in works of fiction such as film and television. Anime and anime-inspired games are no exception.
So.. Put on your helmets and prepare for the explosions.
This is a collection of the best war anime from the thrilling 2D battlefield!
So what exactly separates them from the rest?
You name it, they’ve got it.
There’s nothing more exciting than big explosions and even bigger armies fighting it out for supremacy in a high-tension, dramatic setting that can rip out your heart or move you to tears.
So let’s take a look at this collection of the best war anime out there.
- 40. Girls & Panzer
- 39. 07-Ghost
- 38. Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
- 37. Break Blade
- 36. Dr. Stone
- 35. Gunslinger Girl
- 34. Bounen no Xamdou (Xam’d: Lost Memories)
- 33. Overlord
- 32. Arslan Senki
- 31. The Ambition of Oda Nobuna
- 30. Aldnoah.Zero
- 29. Kantai Collection – KanColle
- 28. Darling in the Franxx
- 27. Grancrest Senki (Record of Grancrest War)
- 26. Sengoku Basara
- 25. Heavy Object
- 24. Drifters
- 23. Violet Evergarden
- 22. Angolmois: Genkō Kassen-ki
- 21. Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann
- 20. Berserk
- 19. Owari no Seraph (Seraph of the End)
- 18. Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta (The Pilot’s Love Song)
- 17. Senjou no Valkyria (Valkyria Chronicles)
- 16. Kakumeiki Valvrave (Valvrave the Liberator)
- 15. GATE
- 14. Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou
- 13. Grave of the Fireflies
- 12. Full Metal Panic!
- 11. Hetalia
- 10. RahXephon
- 9. Youjo Senki (The Saga of Tanya the Evil)
- 8. Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Legend of the Galactic Heroes)
- 7. K
- 6. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- 5. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- 4. Kingdom
- 3. Code Geass
- 2. Jormungand
- 1. Vinland Saga
40. Girls & Panzer
Who said we couldn’t go to war anymore?
Most likely no one, and it’s not a real war.
And it’s only for women, to make women more important in Japanese society.
So, you should go see it because you’ll love it.
Armies always seem to be searching for the next best tool. We all know that this is a way to use tsundere’s anger.
In this show, the main character is the best tool there is. The power game is called Zaiphon, and how well it works rests a lot on the soldier who is using it.
So, the story is just about him killing people?
No, he does a Sasuke and gets out of the army. He is now on a path of payback and self-discovery as he tries to figure out what happened to him.
38. Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
And now we’re back to moe war, but this time it’s real war, or at least real virtual war.
Well, it’s Fortnite, which is a real video battle royal. But in a good way!
In the virtual world, “Pink Devil” is the name of our main character.
She’s a small girl with pink armor who just shoots people down like they’re nothing.
In the real world, she is much more tame and has a problem with her height, so switching between the real world and the virtual world gives the story some nice changes.
Don’t worry, even though this is part of the same series, there is no Kirito God. You won’t have to deal with bad writing.
37. Break Blade
You must have known that mechs would be on this list.
Whether you like the mechs in the Break Blade series or not, you have to give them credit for being drawn by hand. So there’s none of the big, messy CGI that most shows have.
I also say “series” because you can watch it as a 12-episode series or as 6 movies.
The story is pretty much the same, so choose whichever one you like. The show itself stays true to the mech formula, with battles between many Transformers rejects that are very impressive and take place on a big scale.
This mecha anime is not the best on this list. But it does what it’s meant to do well, and the story is about war, so it fits the genre.
36. Dr. Stone
You probably wouldn’t call Dr. Stone a war anime. But, hey, how about this? The fight between all of the people still alive on Earth will decide what the future looks like.
Sounds like war to me.
If I’m being honest, it’s more of an educational/entertaining story than anything else. But science is not a safe kingdom at all!
If we ever get a second season, I’m sure the story will get a lot more exciting, since the first season was mostly about setting up the world and giving our heroes the tools they need to fight in a stone age world.
I mean, who wants a big fight with sticks to decide what will happen to people?
35. Gunslinger Girl
Even though the name is kind of boring, the show itself is anything but.
From my point of view, it’s a little bit better than 07-Ghost. So, it’s higher on the list because of this.
Gunslinger Girl is all about how the government uses people in need as weapons. In this case, the people being studied are little girls.
But “ha ha cute girl go pow pow” is neither edgy nor funny in this show.
No, it shows more about who they are as people.
The people and the world’s morals are all over the place. And all through the show, you can’t help but wonder if the ends were worth the means.
34. Bounen no Xamdou (Xam’d: Lost Memories)
Don’t think that this show will be easy on you when it comes to the stories.
It’s very detailed and has a lot of depth, so you have to pay close attention to fully understand the world.
The story takes place on the Sentan Islands, which are in the middle of a huge war between the Northern Government and the Southern Continent Free Zone.
After the usual unexpected thing happens, our main character gets a new role in society: she joins the Xam’d and uses their power.
It has a lot of great fight scenes, so even if you don’t care much about the story, you can still enjoy the action.
First, there’s the formula for isekai that everyone knows.
The gamer is in virtual reality, the gamer is talking about the game, and the player is stuck in the game for whatever reason.
But this time, the gamer Momonga remembers the old saying, “When in Rome, conquer Italy.”
Momonga (or Ainz Ooal Gown) builds his castle so that he can find other players who are also stuck in the game. And he basically takes over the world with his game skills.
Just so you know, there will be lizards and bad CGI, but the fights are pretty exciting.
32. Arslan Senki
In the year 320, the Kingdom of Paris and the nearby kingdom of Lusitania are getting ready for a war.
In the middle of all the chaos, a young prince goes to the fight to show that he deserves to be the next king.
But then the king gets the Mufasa treatment and one of his guards turns against him. Yikes.
The army falls apart, and the prince has to flee and stay out of sight while he looks for new partners.
There are parts of this story that are made up, but it is true enough to keep you interested and does a great job of showing what it takes to run a country.
31. The Ambition of Oda Nobuna
Here’s another show that has lighter stories than most, but is still very interesting.
Just listen to the main idea: a man is moved back in time during a war, but wait for it… All of the important people from history are now pretty girls.
Wonderful, am I right?
Yoshiharu, the main character, is now in a place where he can’t just tell everyone what will happen in the future because that would mess up the path he should be on.
But he can also use what he knows to get out of trouble and guess what will happen if he wants to. So it has some time travel in it, which makes it an interesting mix.
The fights are pretty good, the idea is fun, and you might even get a few laughs along the way.
Basically, the story is Elon Musk’s wet dream.
People find a hypergate on the Moon, which lets them go to Mars and start living there.
There, they find technology that is much more advanced than what they had on Earth.
And with progress comes a sense of being better than others.
So, the people who now live on Mars think that the “Terrans” are a threat and go to war with their old planet.
If my summary didn’t make it clear, there are a lot of mechas in this world.
It’s a great show to watch if you just want to relax and watch some excitement.
29. Kantai Collection – KanColle
Kantai Collection shows again that nothing is out of reach for anime. There are boat girls in the show.
That’s right, all of your favorite Japanese ships from World War II are now cute girls fighting at sea.
Even the size of the girls is based on the size of the ships, and the amount of food they need depends on how big the ship is.
It has some nice slice-of-life and funny parts, and some pretty cool fight scenes. At the very least, there are boat girls.
28. Darling in the Franxx
Yes, it’s time for miss dar-ling to be the center of attention.
You have the standard semi-apocalyptic world where hordes of enemies attack a city and a special unit has to be sent out to deal with them.
Our main group of characters is pretty big. They are mostly teenagers who have never been outside and are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives while facing the enemy in mechs.
No one knows why the mechs are so sexy.
Is it a comparison? Is it for the fans?
And the most important question of all: what the hell happened in the last arc?
I was left with all of these questions. But the show as a whole is pretty good, so I’ll let that go and still suggest it.
27. Grancrest Senki (Record of Grancrest War)
Let me just set the scene for you.
The Red Wedding, but when a demon lord shows up, both sides end up losing.
So, as you might expect, the day that the Fantasia Union and the Factory Alliance thought would bring peace turned out to be the start of even more fighting.
Because this thing that people call “chaos” is now happening everywhere. And a special crest is the only way to get rid of it.
From then on, the story follows the classic pattern of our main character, who is a mage, building her own small army to get the crests, stop the nobles from fighting, and actually bring peace to the world.
It’s about as exciting as a trip can get.
26. Sengoku Basara
We’re taking a break from guns and warship women and going back to the good old days.
Yes, it’s time for some samurais.
Even so, this place is still magical. What did you think this would be?
In Sengoku Basara, Masamune Date and Yukimura Sanada are fierce enemies who have to put aside their differences to beat Oda Nobunaga, the big boss.
But the fight scenes are the best part of this show.
They really don’t hold back when it comes to going over the top. A tornado can be made by swinging an axe.
I also said in another piece that even the horses do front flips during battle.
25. Heavy Object
What is something? I like to think of it as an alternate world where hamsters have advanced weapons.
In other words, they are huge, round tanks that are generally the most powerful weapons in the world of the show.
But it would be boring to start out with something so powerful.
So, the show is about four main characters who find a way to beat Objects (yes, that’s what they’re called) by using story armor and crazy stunts.
And, to be honest, this idea works great for the show. Even though it might seem like the same fight scenes over and over, they never get old.
What did I do there?
Are you sick of wars in the 21st century?
Let’s play some hack-and-slash games again.
Great warriors, who are almost all real-life people, are sent into a world on the verge of war.
Now, they have to fight the “Ends” and destroy the Orte Empire.
Oda Nobunaga, Shimazu Toyohisa, and Yoichi Suketaka Nasu are the only ones on this list who are on it more than once.
If you’re interested in history, you might already have an idea of what they’re like.
The art style and fight scenes in this show are amazing.
But that shouldn’t be a surprise since it’s like Hellsing.
23. Violet Evergarden
This show is high on my list because if you want to be fascinated by war and see what it’s like to be in the army, it’s a good idea to also look into what happens after.
Not the business or the politics of what happened after, but how people felt. About this much can be seen in Violet Evergarden.
She was hurt in one of the last battles of the war, and now she is in the hospital and feels like her life has no point.
So she becomes an Auto Memory Doll and tries to help other people understand themselves while also learning about herself. It gets deep here.
22. Angolmois: Genkō Kassen-ki
Cold Open: It’s the 13th century, and the Mongolian Empire is about to go crazy.
The next place they want to hit is Tsushima Island, so Japan needs to get ready.
The main plot of this show is protecting the island, and our cast of characters is, to say the least, interesting.
No Jesus-like Kiritos, just people. Most of them are actually former prisoners and possibly don’t even like Japan that much.
And I think this is the best way to do things. People aren’t saints or gods, and wars are horrible.
21. Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann
And now we have Gurren-Lagann to prove everything I just said wrong.
This is by far the best robot show I’ve ever seen. Every fight is exciting, every speech is strong, and every mech name is both funny and epic.
The power system is as old-fashioned as it gets. But that doesn’t matter because the characters are so cute and the fights are great no matter what.
I also really like how the tone of the second half of the series changed while keeping what was good about the first.
Also, can we all agree that Yoko is one of the best figures to date? But she has the worst luck when it comes to guys.
Okay, I’ll admit that the 2016 movie wasn’t very pretty. Or the essence. But just watching the three movies in the Golden Age Arc is more than enough to give you a thrill.
Berserk is called a giant for a reason among people who read manga.
It has one of the most difficult, painful, and almost cruel plots ever. But all of these are good.
Guts is a very powerful character as the main character. But, man, if you thought The Shield Hero was beaten up by the world, you haven’t seen anything yet.
I think this mercenary’s story is one of the best out there. So at least watch the movies or read the book to get the full story.
19. Owari no Seraph (Seraph of the End)
Man, this show’s first episode doesn’t hold back at all, does it?
In short, we live in a world after the end of the world, where vampires and the last humans fight each other.
Yuuichirou, who looks like Eren, is our main character. He is determined to kill every vampire after seeing a massacre. But later on, things get much more complex because nothing is what it seems to be.
He joins the Moon Demon Company, an army that has to kill vampires and is led by Guren, the best boy in the series. As you watch, you’ll be drawn in more and more.
The fights are very flashy and move well, but by the end of the show, things get a little crazy.
18. Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta (The Pilot’s Love Song)
To be honest, the only reason I watched this show was because it reminded me of Skyblock from Minecraft.
This is because the show is about an island in the sky called Isla.
There, the main character goes to Cadoques High’s Aerial Division, and it feels like a typical anime about high school, except that it takes place in the sky.
But, boy, does that change in the middle!
Then there are amazing fights and sky battles where dozens of planes zigzag across the sky, shoot at each other, and sometimes make me cry.
Is it the best show of all time?
No. But should you watch it if you like fights in the air and drama about people?
17. Senjou no Valkyria (Valkyria Chronicles)
In war, we tend to forget about the little guys.
The countries that are stuck between big powers and end up being taken over through no fault of their own.
Well, Senjou no Valkyria is about a little guy who fights back.
Not only that, but our main characters are pretty much thrown into war at the last minute.
One of the things that drives the show is how their characters change and even how they fall in love.
Also, we have to give credit where credit is due: the fights are amazing. And the show doesn’t use mechs or demon kings, so it feels much more… not like that.
16. Kakumeiki Valvrave (Valvrave the Liberator)
An elitist empire named Dorssia is entrenched in near constant dispute with JIOR. The two powers use a “take-no-prisoners” policy.
This is where Kakumeiki Valvrave drops the viewer with a secret infiltration of a module carrying highly advanced mecha suits.
From there, the dispute escalates, and the module declares its independence from both JIOR and Dorssian control, thus becoming a target for both.
Have you ever thought about what would happen if magic and science fiction met on the battlefield?
So let’s find out!
But the sci-fi army is represented by… well, us. After a gate opens in Japan, soldiers and monsters that look like they came from the Middle Ages start coming out and causing trouble.
People aren’t too happy about this turn of events, as you might expect. So, the modern military makes use of what makes it unique: modern weapons.
Our main character is sent outside the gate to see what’s going on so that peace talks can start. Of course, it’s not that simple.
This is an interesting mix of fantasy and current warfare, but one of the characters is named Pina Co Lada, and I want to be caught in the rain.
14. Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou
Two clans are pitted against each other in a bitter dispute for who will place a new Emperor on the throne and destroy the other.
Despite the bad blood between the two clans, their heirs have become involved in a taboo love affair. War anime and romance… the perfect recipe for disaster.
13. Grave of the Fireflies
Grave of the Fireflies is a somber reminder of the devastation Japan faced during World War II. The story follows a pair of siblings trying to survive in the countryside after the city of Kobe is firebombed by American forces.
Grave of the Fireflies eschews action and jigonism to show how everyday people suffer during war. It’s one of Studio Ghibli’s best and most emotional efforts.
12. Full Metal Panic!
A private war anime steeped in mystery swirls around a young high school student named Chidori.
Protectors are sent to keep her safe, but even they are left in the dark about why the young woman is the target of so many organizations.
Hetalia blends real-world history with comedy. The series personifies varies countries, with an emphasis on those take played a major role in World War II.
There’s plenty of witty jokes and observations, but nothing too controversial or inflammatory.
Instead of focusing on death and war crimes, Hetalia is content with poking fun at cultural differences and light-hearted stereotypes.
Think of it as the original Drunk History.
This anime pulls many influences from famous literature such as J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Silmarillion and historical peoples such as the Aztecs to create a world warped and thrown off balance.
This is accomplished via the Tokyo Jupiter, in which the passing of time and the reality fed to the people living there vary from that outside of the odd formation.
In RahXephon, the people of the world are at war with a foreign civilization in a much more subtle context than most war anime produce.
These people are often referred to as the “Mu” and are most notably recognized by the color of their blood.
9. Youjo Senki (The Saga of Tanya the Evil)
I’ve never been scared of a little girl as much as I was in Youjo Senki.
Tanya doesn’t spend much time on the standard “discover the world and be constantly confused” act that isekai usually have.
She goes all the way in.
This little blonde Nietzsche fangirl quickly moved up in the army and showed no mercy on the battlefield. Or even toward those who work for her.
But you can never say she doesn’t get the job done!
The fights are awesome.
A character like Tanya, who is cynical and mean about the world (and Being X), is refreshing.
And the mix of magic and military works really well.
8. Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Legend of the Galactic Heroes)
Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu is one of the more expansive war anime, with over 100 episodes and vivid characters and worlds with intricate politics and culture.
The story works through the culmination of a 150 year war between two great powers within space.
They are the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance. It can be easily guessed that this anime had a great influence on its followers, such as Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
Seven Kings rule seven gangs, from small to astoundingly large and highly trained organizations – all of them vying for supremacy beneath the apathetic eyes of the Silver King.
This was until, of course, the Seventh King decides to incite mutiny and trouble for the others and so the order begins to collapse as powers clash.
K is on a bit of a smaller scale as wars go, when compared to those that span worlds, but it is no less a poignant and heart-wrenching watch.
6. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
I don’t really need to explain what this show is about because it’s so famous that even regular people know what it’s about.
And the camera work is so exciting when they use their maneuvering gear.
Levi’s storyline had some of the best fights and photography in the whole show. Also, they had lots of Levi, which is always a good thing.
And if you’ve read the manga, you already know that if the manga was fully turned into a show, this one would have been number one.
5. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
This show is definitely one of the best anime shows out there.
The only reason it’s not number one is because I think the other two songs have a better military/war vibe.
FMA is still great, though. The idea of alchemy is always fun to watch because fights involve a lot of skill and are much more interesting than just yelling at each other.
The best thing about Brotherhood is that some of the older personalities are added to and given more to do.
Newcomers Yao Ling and Olivier Mira Armstrong have also changed the game, and they add a lot to the show’s already strong cast of characters.
If you haven’t seen FMA Brotherhood yet, you should definitely check this out.
Don’t panic, but this story doesn’t take place in Japan.
Yes, it does take us back to a bloody time in China’s past.
There are many smaller parts of the country, and each one wants to take over the others.
We follow Xin, an orphan who wants to become the best general this side of the Yangtze River, throughout the story.
After some spoilers, he is forced into the army under the young king Ying Zheng, where we see in bloody detail how not fun war is.
There are also some great big fights in this show. And it stays pretty real, which is great if you’re sick of fiction.
3. Code Geass
The anime scene has been ruled for years by the future Death Note.
Maybe it’s just my taste, but I find stories about rebellions so much more interesting than regular war stories.
Code Geass is all about bringing back Japan’s former greatness and getting back at Britannia for what they did to our main character, Lelouch.
The Geass has great drama and story progression because of the way power works. I think of a certain Nunnally scene.
It’s fun to watch the characters, especially the main ones. And I thought the finish worked out well.
Don’t even think about making another season.
This anime tackles war from a different perspective. Rather than one side versus another, Jormungand introduces viewers to an international arms dealer smuggling weapons into various countries to facilitate wars.
Of course, despite the protagonist’s attempts to remain a “neutral party” in the warmongering, humanity cannot be diminished that easily and he is faced with some difficult choices.
1. Vinland Saga
This show, which came out in 2019, is a real gem, in my opinion.
It’s a story about getting even, but it’s about so much more than that.
Vinland Saga takes place during the time of the Vikings. It shows what it meant to be a fighter, or a Viking, and how hard wars were back then.
I think the characters are so real, even when they sometimes have superhuman strength or speed.
Askeladd stands out because it’s not often that you see such a complex character with believable strengths and flaws, especially one whose every choice seems crazy but makes sense for that character.
He also fools around with people, which was always fun to see. It’s worth watching, and I think a lot of anime fans will like it.