By Chelsea Cruz
War. War never changes.
Whether the wars are between humans or superpowered beings, we have watched our favorite characters endure the worst of times before the best (or in some cases, at least a bit better) of times.
Each anime on this list has its own unique take on war, as the conflict maps the framework for the story that follows, whether it’s set in the middle of the chaos or in the wreckage war leaves behind.
The worlds behind these stories are vast and multilayered, making the epic conflict more engaging, and vice versa. Through betrayal, carnage and conflict, it’s hard to look away from the war in Mobile Suit Gundam, Attack on Titan and yes, even The Promised Neverland. Let’s take a look.
Attack on Titan
Combining political discourse, historical drama, and a bit of science fiction and horror, Attack on Titan takes us to a world where Titans terrorize humanity. But these monstrous humanoid terrors are not what they seem.
One could say that the war in Attack on Titan is between the last bastion of humanity and the Titans that seek to consume them. But the real war, the one that feeds right into the plot of the series, actually takes place long before the events of Seasons 1–3—the power struggle between Marley and the Eldian Empire.
This conflict tore humanity apart, and right at the center of it is the secret history of the Titans and their connection to humans, including Eren’s own father, Grisha Jaeger. From there, we learn about the Great Titan War, the prison of Paradis Island and much, much more.
Grim would be an understatement when it comes to the conflict at hand in Attack on Titan. But nonetheless, it stands as one of the most unique depictions of war in anime.
Watch Attack on Titan on Funimation!
The Promised Neverland
Spoilers ahead for Season 1 of The Promised Neverland.
Season 1 of The Promised Neverland focused on three orphaned children trying to outsmart and outwit their caretaker, Isabella, who has secretly been priming them and their siblings as food for a species of human-eating demons. Yep.
Thankfully, Emma, Ray and Norman are the smartest kids at Grace Field House, and they plan their escape once they learn the truth. In The Promised Neverland, war takes on a more subtle, psychological persona.
On the one hand, like Attack on Titan, the struggle here is for escape and freedom, which is its own war. But there’s also the literal war in which the world was split in two, thanks to an ever-present conflict between humans and demons.
The children that do end up escaping the house take refuge beyond the walls, and their escape leads to the answers they seek about how the world came to be how it is.
And maybe, just maybe, they’ll be able to end this war for good.
Watch The Promised Neverland on Funimation!
Mobile Suit Gundam
Everyone loves a space war story, especially one as iconic as Mobile Suit Gundam. But more importantly, it kicks off a series about the trials and tribulations of being at the epicenter of a galactic battle for humanity.
As Earth moved its remaining population to space, clusters of colonies known as the Principality of Zeon launched their war of independence against the Earth Federation.
The Earth Federation’s last hope is Amuro, a teenager who accidentally stumbles upon the Gundam RX-78-2 and serves as its pilot. Amuro also falls in love with Lalah, a Newtype loyal to Lieutenant Commander of the Zeon, Char Aznable, which serves as one of the many anti-war elements in the series.
The series provides commentary on the destruction brought on by war and what it takes for civilization to rebuild itself. In short: the robots might be cool, but war is most certainly not.
But it’s this core conflict that sucks you into the lore of Mobile Suit Gundam, and it becomes clear how this series continues to define generations of anime and mecha fans.
Watch Mobile Suit Gundam on Funimation!