Spies are a very real part of the world, yet they’re not something a person tends to see or hear about every day: they wouldn’t be very good at their job if they were. This sense of enigma feeds into the common imagination and gives stories about spies and secret agents a powerful draw. While they may not be the most popular anime subject-matter, spies have nonetheless provided some of the most interesting, action packed and enjoyable stories in anime.
Thanks to the recent success of Spy x Family, spies and secret agents have snuck back into the subconscious of anime fans everywhere. Though there has certainly been a resurgence of interest in espionage anime, it is not a subject which is necessarily new. After all, spies are trained to be the most elusive, cunning individuals in the World. It should come of no surprise then, that some of the best spy anime are actually hidden in plain sight.
10/10 Ein Encounters The Ghosts Of Her Past In Phantom
Phantom: Requiem For The Phantom
Based on the videogame Phantom of Inferno, the sense of mystery inherent in spy dramas gets taken to a new level in Phantom: Requiem For The Phantom. Instead of the main character, Zwei, working for a top-secret organization in full knowledge, Phantom takes the route of having that organization be so secret that Zwei doesn’t even really know what it is himself.
Zwei has no choice but to begin training with a mysterious girl Ein, or be killed without hesitation. Phantom: Requiem For The Phantom‘s draw is that it lays out its characters as a blank slate without any knowledge other than their incredible covert and combat skills, and shows how human beings will inevitably search for meaning in their lives. Though Ein has all but shutdown and accepted her fate, Zwei’s refusal to give up slowly inspires Ein to open up as well in this dark take on operatives and secret agents.
9/10 Joker Game Doesn’t Tell Jokes Or Play Games
Joker Game is not the classic anime spy experience fans might expect. One of the aspects of the show that makes it interesting is its setting: the show takes place in a realistic 1937 Japan. Given the high-tension world issues taking place during this time, it’s fitting that Joker Game is very much a political military drama, with spies taking center stage in the race to obtain information.
As the truth rolls in, it becomes clear that things may not be as they first appeared on the surface. Joker Game’s very serious take on spies and politics has turned some anime fans off, but ultimately that’s what makes it unique in the world of over-the-top supernatural anime concepts.
8/10 Ittoki Has Been Training To Be A Shinobi His Entire Life And Doesn’t Even Know It
Shinobi no Ittoki
Ittoki is a diligent student that follows an extremely strict schedule of extracurricular activities, as per the suggestion of his mother, with whom he has a particularly close bond. That’s why, upon learning the truth about his mother and then rest of his family, Ittoki’s more shocked than anyone.
In Shinobi no Ittoki, the Shinobi are more modern than ever. They’re equipped with high-tech armor and weapons, combined with powerful Jutsu that makes them seemingly unstoppable. The Shinobi are the most classic form of secret agent in Japanese culture, and Shinobi no Ittoki brings them to life with a modern touch.
7/10 Lugh Is The World’s Finest Assassin No Matter What World He Gets Reincarnated Into
The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated As An Aristocrat
While he starts his old life as an assassin, the world’s finest to be exact, Lugh is reborn as a Goddess’ double agent in The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated As An Aristocrat. As to be expected of the greatest assassin reincarnated, Lugh is a prodigy who quickly proves his proficiency to his new family, who are also all assassins as well.
With Lugh’s great skills from his past life, Aristocrat has some great combat scenes and covert action sequences. The series turns the highly over-saturated isekai genre on its head by making the archetypical “hero” the enemy whom the protagonist is reincarnated to kill.
6/10 Angelo Will Lie Low For As Long As It Takes
In 91 Days, the show’s protagonist, Angelo, becomes something like a spy in order to seek revenge on the mafia that murdered his family. Angelo goes undercover to earn the trust of the mafia, in hopes that he can get close enough to the Don to make him pay.
Revenge is never as simple as it seems, and 91 Days explores the humanity of its characters to emotional effect. Far from working with the high-tech, sophisticated gadgetry inherent in many popular spy series, Angelo’s only tools to work with are his clever wit and his thirst for vengeance.
5/10 Darker Than Black Lives Up To Its Name
Darker Than Black
Darker Than Black goes fully supernatural with its spies, giving them superpowers, such as the main character, Hei, the ability to control electricity. Hei lives a double life as a student while accepting missions from the Syndicate.
Like many series about spies and assassins, the Contractors in Darker Than Black often have a cold, emotionless demeanor that can only come after ample training and/or brainwashing. The name Contractor comes from the fact that every time they use their powers, they pay the price of their humanity. Even Hei has a very mysterious, dark personality that fits the show’s title quite well.
4/10 Every Anime Fan Should See Ghost In The Shell
Ghost In The Shell
The original cyberpunk anime, Ghost in the Shell takes place in the not-so-distant future of 2029. GITS is equal parts intense action and emotionally charged story-telling that explores the struggles with identity faced by its protagonist, Major Motoko Kusanagi.
Ghost in the Shell has all the gun wielding, mission-based plot threads fans of spies and anime will love, along with a deep plot that will leave viewers thinking about it for a long time. Ghost In The Shell has become one of the most notable names in anime, and it is a film that fans of the genre do not want to miss.
3/10 Togo Is Anime’s Answer To James Bond
A mysterious, intelligent protagonist that’s always a step ahead of his enemies, Golgo 13’s Togo has everything audiences have come to expect from a spy series. And of course, there are the women as well. Along with his trusty M16, Togo never fails a mission.
Fans of the classic spy films like James Bond will certainly find a lot to love in Golgo 13. The series never takes too much care to focus on its mysterious MC’s backstory, instead focusing on the mission at hand, much like Togo himself would do.
2/10 Heavy Object Holds Weight In the Mecha Genre
Heavy Object has a bit of everything: it is part mecha, part political drama, and part espionage suspense. There are also some comedic elements and even the occasional fan service for viewers that are into that sort of thing.
Heavy Object has a cool mix of 3D and 2D animation, which adds dimension and a futuristic feel to the show without taking either too far. While it doesn’t do much to revolutionize the genre, Heavy Object is still a really fun series that fans of spy, military or mecha anime will surely want to see.
1/10 Chisato And Takina Are Gunning For The Top Spot
Lycoris Recoil was one of the most exciting new shows of the Summer 2022 season. Chisato and Takina are two talented Lycoris who are as different from one another as friends can possibly be.
The Lycoris are secret agents that exist to defend the well-being of Japan’s citizens. They work in the background without most people even noticing them, and have the capacity to stop crime in its tracks before it ever actually occurs. Lycoris Recoil is a mixture of awesome action sequences and slice-of-life moments that showcase the budding friendship between its two heroines as they struggle to find themselves in light of their complicated double lives.
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