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Just as there are endless ways the world can cease to exist as we know it, there are myriad post-apocalyptic possibilities for life after the end. What would happen after a major catastrophe is so interesting to us humans that it's no surprise storytellers keep coming up with more and more ideas about “what if...” and bringing them to us in the form of feature films, novels and of course, our favorite medium, anime!
New anime keeps coming out every season, so today we bring you an update of our recommendations for Post-Apocalyptic anime!
10. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (Koutetsujou no Kabaneri)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr 2016 – Jul 2016
The country of Hinomoto is going through an industrial revolution when zombie-like monsters known as Kabane arise and start attacking people. They can only be killed if their iron-coated hearts are pierced and they infect who they bite, transforming them into Kabane as well. Survivors have built stations to protect themselves from the monsters and they all communicate through steam-powered locomotives called Hayajiro. Ikoma works in one of these stations and invents a weapon especially created to exterminate the Kabane. His station is attacked, most people killed or turned into monsters and he finally has a chance to test his weapon.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress has a very similar feel to Attack on Titan. Something suddenly happens and seemingly mindless monsters appear and threaten to destroy humanity. Fear and hate abound but also mistrust since you can't always tell when someone's been infected and your station or village could be the next one to go. Then there's corruption, and of course a brave hero who will do anything in his power to bring humanity back from this apocalypse.
9. Sunday Without God (Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul 2013 – Sep 2013
Imagine one day suddenly humans become unable to reproduce or die. Even when mortally wounded, death won't come. Surely it would seem God had abandoned humankind. That's what happens in the world of Ai Astin, a 12 year old girl who is one of this stagnant world's “grave-keepers” which means she can put the living dead to rest. She lives in a small village and is ready to help all her villagers pass on when she needs to. Until Hampnie Hambart shows up and massacres them all. Now Ai is left to wander with Hampnie as she learns about the truth behind the state of the world, and decides to save all those left behind by God.
That's right, more zombies! And much like in other additions to this list, here we have a world that is teetering between barely holding on and disappearing. Really, if people can't be born and the gravekeepers are eventually putting all the living-dead to rest, there would be a point where all humans would be gone. There is also an unknown reason for the cause of man's demise and a heroine who is searching for herself, answers and salvation. This is a beautiful post-apocalyptic zombie anime full of mystery and action!
8. Desert Punk (Sunabouzu)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Oct 2004 – Mar 2005
After a catastrophic event, Japan is turned into a wasteland and the Kanto region is now the Great Kanto Desert. The few still surviving in this barren land live by the “survival of the fittest” rule. One of those hanging on to life in the wasteland is a little guy they call the Desert Punk. He's a mercenary, bounty hunter and handyman who does anything for the right price. Oh and he's girl crazy, to put it nicely. His name is Kanta Mizuno and he's strong, agile and quick to take action.
In Desert Punk, it's implied that the apocalypse was brought on by some sort of a nuclear catastrophe. Japan isn't the only country affected, but it's where the story takes place. Most people can't survive in the harsh environment, and the ones that can are as harsh and unforgiving as the wastelands themselves. Unlike other anime, where survivors come together, in Sunabouzu, we see a post-apocalyptic world that brings out only the worst in mankind and a free-for-all attitude. It's an oldie but goodie!
7. Rakuen Tsuihou: Expelled from Paradise
- Episodes: Movie
- Aired: Nov 2014
After a massive disaster leaves Earth devastated, most of humanity was uploaded digitally without their physical bodies to a high-tech space station orbiting the destroyed planet. The station is called DEVA and without physical needs to fulfill, its inhabitants live peacefully. Until one day, a hacker calling himself Frontier Setter infiltrates the DEVA system and begins spreading a message trying to gather followers. Angela Balzac is an agent of DEVA's law enforcement and she is sent to the surface in an organic body to stop the hacker. Along with her partner Dingo, she discovers who Frontier Setter is, as well as the truth behind those still left on the wasteland and DEVA's utopian world.
This one is a very high-tech post-apocalyptic scenario and some of the ideas are similar to Ergo Proxy. Expelled from Paradise shows us what humanity could be like without the limitations that come with a human body, but like other anime in this genre, there's usually a high price to pay for such a paradisiac life after the apocalypse and many are left behind and forgotten.
6. Casshern Sins
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Oct 2008 – Mar 2009
Casshern Sins takes place after an event known as the Ruin, in which a war almost annihilated all cyborgs and humans and left the world barren. Casshern is a robot warrior that awakens with no memories of his past and nothing but anger within him. Everybody hates him and blames him for the demise of humans and robots alike. He wonders around trying to piece his memories together and trying to figure out his role in the wasteland and atone for his sins.
Imagine waking up in a barren world where all you meet hate you and hope is non-existant. This is Casshern's reality and the only world he knows. Most people have lost all sense of justice and morality. And it's up to the cyborg who caused it all to find a way to restore humanity to the way it was meant to be. This one is a bit trippy but has a strong message.
5. Owari no Seraph (Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr 2015 – Jun 2015
After a virus breaks out that wipes out all humans over 13 years of age, vampires enslave the ones left and use them as cattle. Yuuichiro and Mikaela Hyakuya are two boys from an orphanage who are taken captive along with their orphan friends. Mikaela plans an escape to get them all out of the clutches of the vampires but the plan fails and the only survivor is Yuuichiro, who manages to get away. Years later, Yuuichiro is part of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, whose sole purpose is to eradicate vampires and take back Japan. Yuuichiro does everything to take revenge on the vampires who slayed his family.
Owari no Seraph has a familiar apocalypse setting, a virus spreads and most of humanity dies. But then, vampires enter the scene! This post-apocalyptic reality is a veritable war zone full of deceit, supernatural creatures and a thirst for revenge, not only from Yuuichiro, everybody fighting on the humans' side has lost their families and/or friends and it's time to get even.
4. Now and Then, Here and There (Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Oct 1999 – Jan 2000
One day, regular Japanese school-boy Shuuzou Matsutani (Shu) comes across a mysterious girl, Lala-Ru, on his way home from school. Through this encounter, he is transported to a desolate world suffering from drought and engaged in an unforgiving war for water and survival. Lala-Ru is taken captive and Shu must endure the horrors of war if he intends to find her and help change the reality of that post-apocalyptic world.
Now and Then, Here and There takes place when a boy is suddenly transported to a post-apocalyptic world that isn't his own. (or is it?) The apocalypse for this world came in the form of a murderous drought that resulted in a violent war which turns children into soldiers and women into slaves. Sometimes, the fight for survival can bring humanity together, but other times it just tears people apart even more. In Ima, Soko, ni Iru Boku, it is the latter. This one's certainly a classic.
3. Ergo Proxy
- Episodes: 23
- Aired: Feb 2006 – Aug 2006
Thousands of years after an ecological catastrophe, what is left of mankind is forced to live inside the domed city of Romdo. AutoReivs are humanoid robots that assist people with their every-day needs. However, suddenly, these robotic assistants start contracting a virus that gives them self-awareness. Re-L Mayer, an investigator for the Intelligence Bureau and her AutoReiv partner Iggy are in charge of looking into the case and the murders related to it. Throughout the investigation, they unravel the true past and present of the world they live in.
The cause of this apocalypse is an ecological disaster brought on by rapid global warming. It happened so long ago that the people living in this world, don't truly know why or how it all happened or how they got to where they are. But they are fine and don't question it. Except for Re-L. This one is full of twists and turns that I can't really mention because I'd hate to spoil it for you!
2. Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 2013 – Sep 2013
The appearance of giant, humanoid creatures known as Titans, who take pleasure in devouring people, marked the near-extinction of humanity. That was centuries ago and now the survivors of the apocalypse have erected walls that have kept them safe over the last one hundred years. That is until a colossal Titan, bigger than any ever seen before, shatters the outer wall along with the residents' false sense of security. Eren Yeager witnesses and experiences painful losses during the attack which motivates him to join the Survey Corps military unit and swears to kill all Titans. Along with his childhood friends, Mikasa and Armin, they fight with everything they've got to stop the second coming of the Titan apocalypse.
This apocalyptic scenario is terrifying mainly for two reasons. Number one, nobody knows where these monsters came from. They just showed up one day and started eating people. There are so many questions! Why are they humanoid? How did it happen? Why do they eat people!? Number two, they are gigantic human-looking creatures, which is creepy on its own, but they also eat smaller humans! The first time I watched Shingeki no Kyojin I seriously got goosebumps when I saw the titans. It has to be one of the best post-apocalyptic anime out there.
1. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
- Episodes: 27
- Aired: Apr 2007 – Sep 2007
Humanity has been terrorized by an army of “Beastmen” and their mechas and forced to live underground. The small communities can't communicate with each other or go out to the surface.This has been going on for so long, that the remnants of humanity have never seen the world above. Kamina, a young delinquent with big dreams, decides he will break out from underground and invites Simon who considers him his older brother. With the help of Yoko, a badass girl who wanders the surface battling Beastmen, they set out to fight for humanity's right to the Earth's surface.
In Gurren Lagann, the apocalypse came in the form of an outside enemy who divided humanity and conquered with violence, technology and fear. But while most of humanity has given up on the possibility of ever returning to what life once was, there is a man who fights because he is full of hope and faith that it can be done. And he's willing to do anything to that end.
For many reasons that I can't mention, Gurren Lagann earns its place in number one because it's full of surprises, has an amazing story and may even get you to tear up here and there. You really must watch it if you haven't already!
Considering how messed up some of the scenarios in these series are, I don't know what's worse, trying to stay alive during the apocalypse, or living through the aftermath! There are as many ways for the world to end as there are ways for the survivors to make things work for them, or make them worse. From zombies and cyborgs to wars and vampires, the anime on this list show us how the dark sides of humanity can come to light in life-or-death situations like the end of the world. But we also see that as long as at least one person has the drive and heart, there is a glimmer of hope for mankind.
Some other series that didn't make it on the list but are worth the watch are Knights of Sidonia, Witchblade and Gakkougurashi!. This last one especially is one of my favorites! If you haven't seen it. Do it now!
Which post-apocalyptic anime world would you chose if you had to? Is there an anime you'd like to add to the list?
Let us know in the comments!
You have survived the Apocalypse and have managed to stay alive through the fallout. Now you are piecing your life back together. What is your world like now? Is it a utopia, where everything you could ever ask for is there… Or is it a dystopia, where you are in your worst nightmare?
For this Top 10 List, we will be looking at post-apocalyptic anime, those that are set months, years and decades after the downfall of mankind. The kinds of worlds that we will be looking at will be both utopias and dystopias. Worry not, for the future is not set in stone.
10. Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 (Space Battleship Yamato 2199)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2012 – September 2013
The world has been devastated by meteorites sent by an alien race called the Gamilas, and more are on the way. Making life on earth almost impossible, but all hope is not lost. Two humans receive a message from the far away planet of Iscandar, whose inhabitants have technology that can set the earth back to the way it was, before the Gamilas attacked. It is up to the inexperienced crew of the Space Battleship Yamato to get to Iscandar and back before it’s too late.
Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is on the very end of the spectrum for post-apocalyptic anime, since most of the events that would cause the world to end, are happening now. But, this remake of the 1970s anime is worth mentioning here.
9. Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (Sunday Without God)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2013 – September 2013
In this world, God has left and now no one can die… but, no one can be born either. Before God left, he left behind Gravekeepers, the only ones able to put someone to rest. The anime revolves around a young girl named “Ai Austin” and her journey to save the human race.
Sunday Without God shows a word that has grown stagnate, where there is no change. The human race is slowly dying out and will become extinct when the last Gravekeeper puts the last human to rest. That Gravekeeper would be doomed to walk the world forever alone, which is a fate much worse than death.
8. Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: September 2012 – March 2013
Millennium have passed since the end, Japan is now a utopian society. Villages are peaceful and barred from the outside world. Each village is ruled by those who posses “Gods’ Power,” a form of psychokinetic power. Life for Saki Watanabe is peaceful and she is happy, because she is about to get her powers and join the leading class. However, this perfect society has a darker side, one that puts humanity on the very edge of survival.
From the New World brings peace to the world and shows how one person utopia is another person dystopia. It will keep you watching until the end and the surprise that waits.
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2009 – September 2009
In the not too distant future, of Shangri-La, the gold based economy has crumbled and plants have taken over the world. A new carbon based economy was put into place and countries are fined if they use too much carbon. The world’s ecosystem is now too dangerous for humans to live in. Small communities of have been built in the ruins of Akihabara, Shinjuku and other small towns, so people can live. One company had decided to build a new city in the sky, Atlas, the city of the future. This city has a darker side, one that the main character, Kuniko, will discover.
Shangri-La shows us what might happen if we don’t change our ways. It is a post-apocalyptic world that we might inherit because of our actions.
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 2013 – December 2013
March 11th, 2011 showed the world what an earthquake could do to a nuclear power plant. Yet, we didn’t listen to them. In 2016 another nuclear power plant went critical and went into meltdown, causing Tokyo to be evacuated. 20 years later, the Self Defense force sent three girls in to search for survivors. These girls; Aoi, Ibara, and Taeko, are Coppelions, genetically altered humans that can stand the higher radiation levels. Their job, search for survivors and get them to safety.
A nuclear disaster might not wipe out the whole world, but those it does effect would be the same as if the world has ended. In the past, several nuclear plants have gone nuclear and gone into meltdown. Those living around the plan had to move and start over. These places are still heavily radiated.
5. No. 6
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: July 2011 – September 2011
Years after the last great war, mankind is scattered and are living in a handful of small city states. Over all, life isn’t that bad. All you have to do is follow the rules and everything will be alright. However, Shion decides to do the right thing and lets a boy, Nezumi, stay at his house for a night. That night changed Shion’s life and made him an outcast.
No. 6 brings to light that one person utopia can be another person dystopia and how one little act of kindness can be seen as assisting a criminal. That action could cause you to be kicked out of paradise and tossed into hell.
4. Ergo Proxy
- Episodes: 23
- Aired: February 2006 – August 2006
The world has been destroyed by mans foolishness. The methane hydrate layer has been exposed, making life, outside of dooms, almost impossible. It is anything but an ideal world. Your daily life is controlled by robots called AutoReivs, but these robots have been infected by the Cogito virus. A virus designed to make the AutoReivs go mad. It is up to Inspector Re-I to find these AutoReivs that have been infected by the Cogito virus before it is too late. Along the way, she uncovers a mysterious monster called Proxy and sets out on a journey to find the origins of the Cogito virus.
The future in Ergo Proxy is a scary one. It shows the results of our own foolishness when it comes to our environment. Even without humans, the planet will survive and wild life will thrive.
3. Wolf’s Rain
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: January 2003 – July 2003
In the not so distant future, wolves have been hunted until extinction and humans are living their life as if nothing has happened. Unannounced to them, wolves are not gone, they just learned how to adapt and now can morph into humans. But, their numbers are limited and they are searching for a new home to grow.
The Apocalypse doesn’t have to be a human thing to happen. Wolf’s Rain shows us that we are already living in a post-apocalyptic world for some animals. It shows us the fight for survival that all species have to go through to live in a post-apocalyptic world. If you haven’t seen it, you should stop reading and go watch it, you won’t regret it.
2. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- Episodes: 25+
- Aired: April 2013 – Current
It is now several hundred years after the birth of the Titans and the near extension of the human race. The remaining humans were able to build three giant walls to hold the Titans back and technology to fight them. Life returned to normal… for a time. Over 100 years have passed since the last Titan was sighted near the city and those protected by its walls, started to forget. That all changed one day when a Titan bigger than the Maria Wall appeared out of thin air and destroyed their safe haven. Causing a flood of smaller Titans to swarm into the outer layer, devouring anything they saw. Now, several years later, Eren and his foster sister Mikasa have joined the military and are sent on a mission to reclaim the Maria Wall.
It is not wise to forget a threat that almost caused our extension. Those who lived near the edge of the boarder soon found this out the hard way. If it is an outside force that causes our apocalypse, we would be wise not to forget who they are or else we will be doomed to repeat it.
1. Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku (Now and Then, Here and There)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 1999 – January 2000
In the distant future, the world has grown hotter and most of the water has been lost to evaporation. The world has turned into a harsh place. The mad king, Hamdo, with his army of brainwashed soldiers is set on world conquest. Shuuzou Matsutani is transported to this land, when he was trying to talk to a blue haired girl named Lala-Ru. Now, all Shu wants to do, is get home. He is unaware that his actions will change the world forever.
Now and Then, Here and There is the most frightening version of a post-apocalyptic world. It might be a little old, but it is still the best post-apocalyptic anime to this date.
The end can come in many ways, natural disaster, alien attack or mans own foolishness. Life will go on, might not be the way we are use to it, but life will go on.