The 15 Best Mecha Anime Series of All Time, Ranked

The mecha anime genre is one of the most iconic, period. Here are the must-watch mecha animes, from classics to modern hits.
The 15 Best Mecha Anime Series of All Time, Ranked

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Robots and machines once dominated anime series and were more famous than any other characters. The mecha genre of anime gave rise to numerous franchises, merchandise (e.g. collectibles and plushies), and even hobbies (e.g. build-it-yourself action figures).

Mecha anime is a subgenre within sci-fi anime that focuses on mechanical robots, bio-machines, high-tech weaponry, and futuristic settings. Mecha's badass reputation started with Go Nagai's Mazinger Z, which originated many of the genre's traits.

There are different types of mecha anime, including machines that are self-conscious, piloted, remote controlled, etc. Mecha anime series also tend to overlap heavily with themes of war and rebellion.

From classic alien-fighting robots to psychologically devastating plots, here are our picks for the best mecha anime series of all time.

15. Fighting General Daimos

Adventure, Drama, Mecha, Romance, Sci-Fi

Originally aired 1978 to 1979

44 episodes (1 season)

7.24 on MAL

Fighting General Daimos is a classic 1978 mecha anime produced by Toei Animation and animated by Sunrise Inc.

It follows the story of Earth being invaded by the Baam Kingdom, with the giant robot Daimos (piloted by Kazuya Ryuzaki) as Earth's main line of defense. It also features the love story of Kazuya and Erika amidst the large-scale conflict between worlds.

Other mecha anime series with nearly similar plots include Voltes V and Combattler V, with all three anime series comprising what's known as the Robot Romance Trilogy.

14. Zoids: Chaotic Century

Action, Adventure, Comedy, Mecha, Sci-Fi

Originally aired 1999 to 2000

67 episodes (1 season)

7.36 on MAL

Zoids: Chaotic Century is one of the Zoids anime series based on the Zoids model kits by TOMY. It features a planet where the Zoids (bio-metallic lifeforms) are used as weapons of war.

The Zoids are huge mechanical animals that can be piloted. Some have their own intelligence and consciousness, like the organoids that grow more powerful when fused with other Zoids.

Zoids: Chaotic Century follows the story of Van and his Shield Liger, who are caught between the war of empires. The story also features the resurrection of the Death Saurer, a T-Rex-type Zoid that was sealed during ancient times to prevent wide-scale destruction.

13. Knights of Sidonia

Action, Mecha, Sci-Fi

Originally aired 2014 to 2015

24 episodes (2 seasons)

7.64 on MAL

Knights of Sidonia is adapted from the manga of the same name (written and illustrated by Tsutomu Nihei) and produced by Polygon Pictures.

It's set in a dystopian future where humanity lives in a spacecraft called Sidonia after Earth was destroyed. They've adapted to the harsh vacuum environment as they float endlessly in space.

The series follows the story of Nagate Tanikaze as he emerges from the slums of Sidonia to become a pilot of a Garde. These machines are the last human remnant's only hope against hostile alien monsters.

Because it's heavy on CGI animation, you'll find that Knights of Sidonia is starkly different from most other mecha anime series. This CGI animation, however, highlights and further elevates the sci-fi theme of the series, making it one of the top mecha anime series to watch.

12. Mobile Fighter G Gundam

Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Mecha, Romance, Sci-Fi

Originally aired 1994 to 1995

49 episodes (1 season)

7.57 on MAL

Mobile Fighter G Gundam (popularly known as G Gundam or Gundam G) is the fifth installment of the well-known Gundam franchise.

Unlike the other Gundam suits, the mecha in this series feature extraordinary cockpits that encase their pilots in suits that allow them to control the robots via their own movements.

The story follows Domon Kasshu, the pilot of the Shining Gundam, in his battle in the 13th Gundam Fight and the mission to find the Devil Gundam. The series showcases many metal-clanging battle scenes, often involving the iconic Shining Finger finishing move.

11. Magic Knight Rayearth

Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Mecha

Originally aired 1994 to 1995

49 episodes (2 seasons)

7.47 on MAL

Mechs in a magical world are made possible with Clamp's Magic Knight Rayearth series, which is surprisingly popular among young girls. It features the Rune Gods Rayearth, Selece, and Windam as deities who appear as huge robots piloted by Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu.

The trio were ordinary high school teens that were mysteriously brought to the magical world of Cephiro, where they find themselves tasked with saving Princess Emeraude from Zagato.

By awakening their respective elements, their corresponding Rune God aids them in their journey throughout the series, up until their battle against someone they were supposed to save.

10. Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon

Action, Mecha, Sci-Fi

Originally aired 2014 to 2015

25 episodes (1 season)

7.39 on MAL

Another mecha anime that features magic and fantasy is Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon. It's set in a world where people use and manipulate the "light of mana," a seemingly magical ability that allows them to control technology and perform extraordinary feats.

However, there are those called Norma who aren't blessed with the gift, and so they're discriminated against, isolated, outcasted, and forced to work on the island of Arzenal.

Angelise, a royal who's originally bent on eliminating the Norma, finds out that she's actually a Norma as well. This results in her being stripped of her title and sent to Arzenal.

Now known as Ange, she—along with other Norma—is called to fight and fend off the interdimensional dragons using mechs called "para-mail" and "Ragna-mail."

9. Darling in the Franxx

Action, Drama, Mecha, Romance, Sci-Fi

Originally aired 2018

24 episodes (1 season)

7.21 on MAL

Darling in the Franxx is a sci-fi anime series featuring a futuristic and apocalyptic world in which children are known as Parasites and are the only ones capable of piloting the Franxx.

The Franxx has a bizarre cockpit that requires both a girl and a boy to pilot it together. The series also features Zero-Two (a female human hybrid with Klaxosaur blood) and the romance between its characters that spice up the plot of the series.

8. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Action, Mecha, Sci-Fi

Originally aired 2002 to 2005

52 episodes (2 seasons)

8.42 on MAL

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is an anime series based on Masamune Shirow's manga of the same name. It features a cyberpunk plot in which nearly the entire population consists of cyborgs or tech-modified human beings.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex features sentient-type mechs that have their own consciousness—like Motoko Kusanagi, who only has her brain and spine as the only original human body parts in her.

7. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Action, Drama, Mecha, Sci-Fi

Originally aired 2015 to 2017

50 episodes (2 seasons)

8.05 on MAL

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans has a plot that incorporates a dark theme into a typical Gundam storyline and its giant robot battles. It's the 14th entry in the long-running franchise from Sunrise, which proves that the mecha series still has some life left.

The plot follows the story of teens who were formerly child soldiers who defected from their former company and established their own mercenary group.

It also features the ASW-G-08 Gundam Barbatos, an incomplete unit that was patched up with salvaged parts from fallen units.

6. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Action, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Originally aired 2006 to 2008

50 episodes (2 seasons)

8.70 on MAL

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion from Sunrise is an anime series centering on fan-favorite Lelouch vi Britannia, who's the villain protagonist. He leads a rebellion against the Holy Brittania Empire with his ability called Geass: Power of Absolute Obedience.

This anime series features mechs (called Knightmare Frames) and their fight for dominance. Code Geass combines its characters' supernatural abilities with badass robots into one compelling story.

5. Neon Genesis Evangelion

Action, Drama, Mecha, Sci-Fi, Suspense

Originally aired 1995 to 1996

26 episodes (1 season)

8.35 on MAL

While Neon Genesis Evangelion might have had a low-budget production, it told a legendary story that not only featured the badassery of mechs but also the psychological devastation of its pilots.

It features the Evangelions as both biological and mechanical figures who were created to fight off the so-called Angels.

The mixture of blood and muscle tissues found in the Evas (short for Evangelions) made them more cyborg than robot, but they also had batteries and cockpits fitted in their bodies.

4. Gurren Lagann

Action, Adventure, Mecha, Sci-Fi

Originally aired 2007

27 episodes (1 season)

8.63 on MAL

Gurren Lagann (also called Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) is another anime series produced by Gainax, the same animation studio that produced the aforementioned Neon Genesis Evangelion.

The story is set in a dystopian future where humanity lives below the surface after the land above ground is deemed hostile, full of creatures that terrorize those who live above.

It follows the story of Simon and his adventures as he breaks the law and sets out on a journey above ground. Accompanying him is Kamina (a fellow digger who also aspires to set foot on the surface) and Yoko (a girl who belongs to a group that fights beastmen).

Their mechs are called "gunmen," which they pilot as they fight their way through and against mysterious humanoids called the Anti-Spiral. The gunmen are powered by their pilots' Spiral Energy.

What makes the mechs in Gurren Lagann unique is the appearance of the machines, which feature heads as their bodies. The rest of the machine—arms, legs, and cockpits—are attached to said heads.

And when Team Dai-Gurren merges all their gunmen, they make a very intimidating machine called the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

3. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury

Action, Mecha, Sci-Fi

Originally aired 2022 to 2023

24 episodes (2 seasons)

7.92 on MAL

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury is the latest entry in the Gundam franchise—and, unsurprisingly, one of the best.

While this one features a narrative that's typical of the many Gundam series, The Witch From Mercury has a few key differences from those other series that make it truly stand out.

The main character is a female Gundam pilot named Suletta Mercury, a survivor of a deadly incident that was caused by the plots and schemes of Earth's people against "people from space."

Most of the mechs in The Witch From Mercury have the typical pilot cockpits, but the main ones feature advanced GUND technology that allows pilots to directly control their machines with their brains.

2. Kuromukuro

Action, Mecha, Sci-Fi

Originally aired 2016

26 episodes (1 season)

7.14 on MAL

Kuromukuro is a unique mecha series that moves away from your usual heavy artillery and laser cannons and instead opts for machines that specialize in kenjutsu (a Japanese sword-wielding technique).

Despite being set in the modern-day world, the main mecha and its samurai pilot come from a distant past—about 400 years ago—where alien machines are believed to be the mythical "oni."

After waking up from his 400-year sleep in the "black box," Kennosuke finds out that he once again needs to fight the oni with his "Black Relic," a machine that requires two people as its pilots.

The second pilot is Yukina, a modern-day girl who looks exactly like the princess Kennosuke was serving in his original time.

1. 86 -Eighty Six-

Action, Drama, Mecha, Sci-Fi

Originally aired 2021 to 2022

23 episodes (2 seasons)

8.28 on MAL

86 (stylized as 86 -Eighty Six-) has a pretty dark premise that revolves around themes of social discrimination, featuring the inhuman 86 who are deprived of their rights by the government.

The series features a war in which the primary offensive force consists of legged machines called Juggernauts. Because the all-machine war involves remotely operated mechas, the battlefield is said to be bloodless and deathless.

But that's just what the government wants you to believe. In reality, these Juggernauts are piloted by the 86, with Handlers only serving as overseers and tactical support.

Apart from twisted ideas of superiority and racism, 86 -Eighty Six- incorporates a lot of interesting elements that kick things up, including artificial intelligence and the sinister truth about the machines.