10 Darkest Mecha Anime, Ranked

Mecha anime can often fall into the trap of repeating the same old tropes and concepts. Unsuspecting heroes discovering some mech to fight an opposing race still has its place in anime as long as it’s done right. Mecha anime that forge their own identity within the genre thrive or at least maintain a degree of relevancy. Some mecha anime explore seriously dark themes.

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This darkness can come from a psychologically twisted place or persistent violence and war. The reliance and focus on robots in the mecha anime generally does nothing to take away from the human themes and struggles of each show’s characters.

10/10 Studio Trigger Turned SSSS.Gridman Into A Gritty Classic Mecha

SSSS.Gridman appears to follow the generic formula for the mecha genre — the main character finds a mecha and joins forces to save the world. However, when Yuta and his friends meet Gridman, forming the Gridman Alliance, their monster-fighting escapades are not so straightforward.

SSSS.Gridman takes a dark turn when people’s memories are reset after a monster attack, and they can forget about those left behind or presumed dead. While this is no act of gore or immense violence, it is a dark concept for the consequences of an invasion to disappear from memory. Many see SSSS.Gridman as uplifting as it teaches fans to be brave in the darkest hours, but it can never truly move beyond those dark lingering feelings of unsuspecting loss.

9/10 M.D. Geist Brings The Geist Out Of Stasis & Straight Into The Belly Of Another War

The M.D. Geist OVAs may not be winning any awards or accolades, but their dark brutality earns them a mention within the mecha genre. The main character, Geist, is one of several enhanced humans of the MDS, or Most Dangerous Soldiers, who don powerful mecha suits.

Geist is not an average anime protagonist, and his chaotic dominance fits perfectly with the post-apocalyptic setting. M.D. Geist is over-the-top, but its exaggerated approach allows it to own the dark themes without shying away from them. The ideas of war and saving the day are nothing new, but M.D. Geist tries to put its own unique spin on it.

8/10 Valvrave The Liberator Adds A Darker Depth To Its Characters

Valvrave the Liberator is an underrated mecha anime, but it deserves recognition for its compelling story in the dark circumstances of war. It presents a simple premise of feuding factions, but its brutal delivery feels authentic.

Haruto Tokishima is a high school student thrust into the ensuing conflicts. Unbeknownst to him, his school lies on top of one of the legendary Valvraves, and he inadvertently stumbles across and pilots it. While this premise sounds like the classic tale of an unremarkable child who becomes an extraordinary hero through sheer coincidence, this sense of hope doesn’t dominate. Valvrave doesn’t shy away from highlighting the characters’ pain.

7/10 Space Runaway Ideon Hits Hard With The Harsh Realities Of War

Space Runaway Ideon is a 1980s space mecha anime that doesn’t stand out within the genre. However, while it may lack popularity and overall ratings, Space Runaway Ideon leans heavily into its war and conflict themes, producing some intriguing action along the way.

As far as mecha anime go, the death rate is higher than most. Ideon is the titular mech that humanity sees as the answer to all their problems, and it packs the firepower to be just that. Humankind versus an alien civilization is by no means a rare or unique premise for war, but the brutality of such a conflict is felt all the same.

6/10 Blue Gender Sends Humans To The Brink Of Existence

Blue Gender immediately introduces its dark premise of humans being thrown down the food chain by a race of bug-like aliens known as the Blue. Blue Gender becomes an all-out war between the two races as humanity tries to mount a comeback.

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A dark and terrifying feeling comes with such a situation, presenting a vulnerability within humanity that hits the audience with a sense of dread. The ensuing war is dire and bloody, and while Blue Gender may not be among the best mecha anime, it still lingers in the memory thanks to its dark and thought-provoking themes.

5/10 Iron-Blooded Orphans Is One Of Several Dark Adventures In The Gundam Franchise

Gundam has dominated the mecha genre since its inception in 1979. Plenty of different anime series stem from this core mecha concept, and one of the most successful to emerge is Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans.

Iron-Blooded Orphans is a two-season journey that initially takes time to introduce and endear the unlikely family to the audience before ripping that familiarity and comfort away. It is a theme explored by many mecha anime, but Iron-Blooded Orphans handles it in a way that leaves the audience devastated when the conflict endangers and kills these young characters. The horrors of war and its effects on young minds and bodies make for a dark yet entertaining viewing experience.

4/10 Eighty-Six Goes Deep With Its Themes Of Discrimination & War

The premise of Eighty-Six is not groundbreaking. It presents a war in which a group of unfortunate young soldiers is forced to risk their lives, getting little concern or reward from the outside world. Yet, it introduces serious issues of inhumane discrimination, which Vladilena Milize learns more about when she becomes the Handler for the Spearhead squadron of the Eighty-Six.

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Eighty-Six introduces a huge roster of characters before inevitably killing off most of them to demonstrate the world’s brutality. Lena’s journey and growing connection with the Spearhead squad are captivating and intriguing, but it doesn’t take away from the more serious themes. Death, mental deterioration, and discrimination fuel Eighty-Six, giving the anime a deep and dark foundation.

3/10 Getter Robo: Armageddon Is Another Mecha Anime To Send Humanity To The Edge

The Getter Robo franchise has been a pioneer within the mecha genre since its inception in 1974 — to the extent that it inspired the concept of separate machines combining to form one Super Robot. There have been numerous sequels and remakes to follow since then, but the best-received has been Getter Robo: Armageddon.

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Armageddon returns the franchise to its gritty best, but still with the chaotic robot fights of old. A nuclear explosion wipes out most of the human race, bringing them to the brink of extinction. It is an unprecedented threat level and dark twist, even by mecha standards, and can’t be overlooked.

2/10 Neon Genesis Evangelion Is Still Remembered For Its Tragic Themes

Neon Genesis Evangelion debuted in 1995 and has become one of the most important and iconic anime of all time. It stands at the top of the mecha genre and is remembered for the tragedy that drives the story forward.

Director Hideaki Anno’s real-life psychological struggles and depression actively influenced Evangelion’s dark direction, which helped stamp an identity into the series. Evangelion is the saddest mecha anime ever, and the psychological gymnastics it puts the audience through adds many more complex emotions to the experience.

1/10 Bokurano Is As Dark As Mecha Anime Can Get

Bokurano mashes several mecha tropes: a band of kids comes together to save the world by piloting robots. But these kids are tricked into signing their lives away. They take turns piloting the black robot, Zearth, in numerous battles, but are subsequently faced with the show’s most shocking twist.

Bokurano later reveals that Zearth runs on life force, guaranteeing that whoever pilots it will die soon after. Before and after they realize what is happening, the characters struggle with their own personal crises and problems in addition to their current predicament. Bokurano isn’t for everyone, but it rewards those who stick with it until the very end, giving them a seriously dark and riveting experience.

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