Every so often we hear of various calamities of epic proportions happening all over the globe. It is a normal fact of life: sometimes your environment will be out to kill you and not even anime characters are safe from it all. Other times, a combination of various unlucky circumstances create something so absolutely devastating that we continue to talk about it decades, maybe even centuries later. Being human and all, we never miss out on an opportunity to see who had it worse, but this time around, we’re not concerned with the real world – we’re ranking the most intense, the most calamitous and the most memorable disasters we’ve seen in anime; What’s a little sunshine without a little apocalypse?
10. Dawn of the Dead – HighSchool of the Dead
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2010 – September 2010
Kimuro Takashi and his schoolmates weren’t expecting the entire outside world to go to Hell while they were at school… but it did. When the dead began to rise and one of them kicked off unbelievable pandemonium at his high school, Takashi is forced to kill his best friend Hisashi, right in front of Hisashi’s girlfriend, Miyamoto Rei. Vowing to protect her, the two of them band together with other students and narrowly escape the zombie uprising that their high school has become. Unfortunately for them, however, the world outside had already succumbed to walking dead.
Honey’s Anime writer Hoshi-kun has quite the fear of zombie apocalypses, so he couldn’t resist putting this one in. In a matter of minutes, Takashi’s entire high school is thrown into chaos – in the panic, many friendships were tested (and many people taste-tested) and the gruesome sight of various characters’ mangled remains desperately trying to feast on our main characters isn’t one that is easy to swallow, nor forget. Given the fact that HighSchool of the Dead never got a second season, we’ll never know if Takashi, Rei, or even Hirano Kouta managed to survive it all… Okay, we know Hirano Kouta survives the zombie apocalypse, but what of everyone else?
9. Gastrea Outbreak – Black Bullet
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2014 – July 2014
In 2021, a parasitic virus known as the “Gastrea Virus” infects humans, turning them into vicious insect-like monsters which go by the same name. The remnants of humanity now live behind the security of the Monolith Walls, which are made of Varanium, the only substance capable of hurting the Gastrea. In order to combat the Gastrea, individuals known as the “Cursed Children” – officially known as Initiators, are deployed in tandem with partners called Promoters. The Cursed Children are female children whose bodies contain trace amounts of the Gastrea Virus, granting them superhuman abilities. Together with his Initiator, Aihara Enju, Satomi Rentaro sets out to thwart the Gastrea threat – one black bullet at a time.
The Gastrea Outbreak is possibly one of the most intense apocalyptic moments witnessed in recent anime. From the very beginning we are shown the devastation that the Gastrea can cause, as well as how easily they appear, even within the Varanium walls. Rentaro’s personal affliction towards the virus and its widespread devastation truly creates a universe which quickly grips and absorbs the viewer… hopefully the creepy-crawlies in our universe won’t suddenly grow to the size of small cars and eat our parents.
8. Lost Christmas – Guilty Crown
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: October 2011 – March 2012
In 2029, the Apocalypse Virus ravaged the nation of Japan. Ten years later, Japan has fallen under the rule of the GHQ, a military force focused on restoring order in the country. However, due to GHQ’s cruelty, a second faction has arisen: Funeral Parlour. The group, led by Tsutsugami Gai, acts as resistance to GHQ’s rule. One day, Yuzuriha Inori, a key member of Funeral Parlour, runs into the weak and unassuming Ouma Shu during one of their operations. The incident leads to Shu developing “the Power of Kings”, an ability which grants him the ability to draw out the manifestation of one’s personality – their “Void”. Now that he has a key ability, Shu is inevitably drawn into the conflict between GHQ and Funeral Parlour. Will Shu be able to learn to control his new power and help Funeral Parlour take back Japan?
Everything began on the 24th of December 2029 when Ouma Mana, Shu’s sister, found a certain meteorite. The virus caused her to go insane and as a result, she wanted to repopulate the Earth with her brother being her Adam. Upon seeing Mana’s hair crystallise, Shu was overcome with fear and horror, calling her a monster. This caused her to unleash some of the powers granted to her by the meteorite; however, it proved too much for Mana to control and the conclusion? Innumerable deaths, widespread destruction and the near-obliteration of Japan.
7. Careless Monday – Eden of the East
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: April 2009 – June 2009
November 22nd, 2010. Japan is hit by several missile strikes, an act of terrorism which, luckily, had no casualties. The strange incident was dubbed “Careless Monday”, then quickly forgotten as people went on with their lives. While on her graduation trip to America three months after Careless Monday, Morimi Saki’s life changes forever when she is saved from a little trouble by the enigmatic Takizawa Akira. Cheerful and charming, Takizawa is not without his eccentricities, as he is stark naked and amnesiac on their first meeting, believing himself to be a terrorist. Not only that, but Takizawa is in the possession of a special cell phone loaded with 8.2 billion yen in digital currency. Despite his strangeness, Saki befriends Takizawa, unaware of her entry into a dangerous game involving money, phones and Japan’s very salvation.
Careless Monday is one of our least devastating disasters due to the fact that fortunately for everyone in this universe, nobody actually gets hurt or dies. However, the very incident itself had the potential to be catastrophic for Japan and its significance in terms of the progression of the story of Higashi no Eden is unmistakable – Careless Monday neatly ties together the Selecão, the cell phones and Takizawa Akira in ways one truly does not expect.
6. The Fall of Wall Maria – Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2013 – September 2013
Centuries ago, humankind was driven to the brink of extinction by giant humanoid creatures known as the titans. This forced the remnants of humanity to find refuge behind a concentric circle of enormous walls, tall enough to keep the titans at bay. After 100 years without a single titan encounter, the appearance of a colossal titan shatters whatever mirage of peace humanity once had, as it tears a huge hole in the outermost wall – reminding humanity of its cruel existence as fodder for the beasts. After his mother is mercilessly devoured right in front of him, young Eren Jaeger vows to eradicate the titans and enlists in the Survey Corps, a military unit which combats the titans outside the safety of the walls. Alongside his adopted sister Mikasa and childhood friend Armin, Eren joins the war against the titans, in a race to find a way to defeat them before all humanity is lost.
Nothing will be more jarring than the initial appearance of the Colossal Titan. From the moment of his arrival, you’re overcome with a level of dread that leaves you cold for the entirety of the series. The darkness of Shingeki no Kyojin seems to rush at you all at once in the ensuing pandemonium after the Colossal lays waste to Wall Maria – everything that happens in the 5 minutes after that can only be comprehended as a scene coming straight from the pits of Hell. We’re shivering just remembering that scene.
5. The Awakening of Hakumen no Mono – Ushio to Tora
- Episodes: 39
- Aired: July 2015 – December 2015
15-year-old Aotsuki Ushio is a middle school student and son of an eccentric temple priest. Ushio’s father often tells him stories of monsters known as youkai, but Ushio pays them no mind – at least until he finds an extremely menacing youkai pinned to the wall of their basement by the legendary Beast Spear. The youkai is an ancient beast known far and wide for his destructive power and he attempts to coerce Ushio into releasing him from his 500-year-long prison. A guarded Ushio initially refuses, but when youkai attack his friends, he has no choice but to rely on the beast from the basement; Ushio’s only guarantee of controlling him being the Beast Spear. The incident kicks off the unlikely duo’s journey into the spiritual realm and the chance meeting in the basement changes Ushio’s life forever.
Hakumen no Mono is an ancient evil youkai more powerful than anything Ushio will ever have to face. It is pure, untainted hatred incarnate and has wrought destruction for centuries. Hakumen no Mono’s very existence is what prompted the creation of the Beast Spear and the Spear itself is cognizant of its mission. After losing to a joint effort by the youkai, Hakumen buries himself in a part of the mantle underneath Japan, a part which stands to fall apart and result in the sinking of the entire Japanese archipelago should he reawaken. Not only is he completely devoid of any goodness, he is also a sore loser – a ghastly combination.
4. PDB Outbreak – Earth Girl Arjuna
- Episodes: 12
One hot summer day, 16-year-old Ariyoshi Juna died after going on a joyride with her boyfriend Tokio on his motorcycle. In death, she sees horrific visions of a barren and desolate Earth, one plagued by giant creatures known as the Raaja. Juna is then brought face to face with a wheelchair-bound psychic known as Chris, who presents her with an ultimatum: she may proceed with her death, or earn a second chance at life by becoming the Earth’s protector and guardian, the Avatar of Time.
In the latter stages of the series, a certain bacterium which had been developed by Tokio’s father and various other scientists happens to eat away at various materials in and around Japan. It contaminated the water, ruined food and turned Japan from a thriving economic success into one of the worst disaster zones ever witnessed. The situation was so dire that the American government had even condemned Japan, preparing to let the nation implode and laud it as “a noble sacrifice”. Many characters lost their lives and loved ones and with the Raaja thrown into the mix for good measure, Juna had her work cut out for her.
3. The First Summer of Love – Eureka Seven
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: April 2005 – April 2006
In the backwater town of Bellforest lives 14-year-old Renton Thurston, who wishes to leave home to join the mercenary group, Gekkostate. Unfortunately for him, however, Renton is stuck between his grandfather’s plan to turn him into a mechanic like himself, and his dead father Adroc’s legacy. Itching for a little bit of adventure, Renton gets his wish when an unknown object crashes into his garage. It turns out to be a Light Finding Operation – a robot capable of riding the Trapar Wave particles in the air – specifically, the Nirvash TypeZERO. The pilot is a young girl named Eureka, who requests that he and his grandfather tune up her machine. This is the beginning of Renton’s long journey with the group he idolised for so long, as well as his journey as co-pilot of the Nirvash.
The Nirvash is a special type of LFO which can attain immense power should Eureka find the co-pilot with whom she is compatible. The First Summer of Love was a cataclysmic event which occurred when Renton’s father, Adroc, attempted to synchronise with the Nirvash and Eureka. Due to the fact that he is not Eureka’s true partner, the Amita Drive attachment caused some of the Scub Coral to awaken, increasing the amount of Trapar waves in the atmosphere to increase, which then caused all forms of machinery to malfunction in addition to causing immense energy loss. In order to avoid planet-wide destruction, Adroc sacrifices his own life to fix his mistake.
2. Xerxes’ Annihilation – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: April 2009 – July 2010
“In order for something to be obtained, something of equal value must be lost.” This is the law which bounds all of Alchemy – the Law of Equivalent exchange. Alchemy also comes with a single taboo: human transmutation. Unfortunately for the young Elric brothers Edward and Alphonse, they had to learn this the hard way when they attempted to use alchemy to revive their dead mother. The act costs Edward his left leg and Alphonse his entire physical body. In order to save his brother, Edward sacrifices his right arm and affixes Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armour. With their lives left in shambles, they decide to commit themselves to returning their bodies to normal and it is this goal which drives Edward to obtain metal limbs known as automail and to become a State Alchemist at the tender age of 12. Research brings them to the Philosopher’s Stone, a relic which allows them to forgo the Law of Equivalent Exchange; however, their quest to find the stone leads them to uncover various unpleasant truths about the origins of their country of Amestris, as well as a dark nationwide conspiracy which stands to expose the stone’s true nature.
Four hundred years prior to the events of the series, the great country of Xerxes existed in the Great Desert to the East of Amestris. When an alchemist in the King’s Court created a Homunculus who had extensive knowledge of alchemy, the aging King saw a chance to overcome his human limits and achieve immortality through alchemy. The Homunculus convinced the King to create an array which would encompass the entirety of the Kingdom of Xerxes in order to use the souls of the citizens as a source of power. The citizens had been told that the king intended to construct irrigation canals to defend crops against drought. Long story short, the king himself had been deceived and the Homunculus fashioned the array around himself and his caretaker, creating two immortal bodies which would survive as human Philosopoher’s Stones. The event instantly eliminated the entire population of Xerxes, save for two people, one of whom turned out to be none other than Van Hohenheim.
1. The Second Impact – Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 1995 – March 1996
2015, the world stands on the brink of destruction when giant alien creatures known as the Angels begin to appear. Humanity’s only hope lies in the hands of NERV, an agency under the UN, which has developed the Evangelions – giant robots with enough firepower to defeat the angels. The only problem is finding pilots who can synchronise with the Evangelions in order to reach their true potential. 14-year-old Ikari Shinji’s normal life is completely changed when his father and head of NERV, Ikari Gendou, summons him to NERV in order to become the pilot of Evangelion Unit-01, placing the fate of the world squarely on Shinji’s shoulders.
Long after the appearance of the first Angel, Adam, scientists from the Katsuragi Expedition Team had conducted what was called the “Contact Experiment”, which involves the fusion of Adam and a human “donor”. The result? An explosion so intense, it melted the Antarctic ice cap, caused a shift in the Earth’s axis, brought about climate change, floods and resulted in the deaths of over two billion people. This was the Second Impact, the worst disaster in human history, one which brought about a host of other problems, including war and conflict. By the end of 2001, the Earth’s population had been halved.
Anime is a medium which allows people’s imaginations to run rampant and create intricate worlds and universes completely different to our own. It is because of this that it is possible for people to think up the intense destructive scenes and scenarios which we have come to enjoy for what they bring to our favourite shows. That being said, there are some anime disasters which we couldn’t place, but still feel the need to mention them – remember when the vampires killed off all the adults and kidnapped children in order to rear them like cattle for their blood? Or perhaps when Japan was nuked in response to the various tests performed on ESPers? Often we have seen calamity in anime; however, we know that there’s more and that’s where you come in! Is there a cataclysmic event in anime that we’ve forgotten to mention? Drop a comment below and tell us all the gory details… we’d love to know.