Top 10 Survival Anime [Updated Best Recommendations]

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Survival anime are those where our protagonists find themselves in a new – and totally different – situation. Possibly, in the new setting that our characters have to face, their life is at stake, and it's almost impossible to see an immediate solution which could change the outcome. With eerie atmospheres, or apocalyptic backgrounds, survival anime convey to the viewers what the characters really feel: fear, desperation, anguish. But this is not the only role of this type of anime; in fact, what's so good about a wonderful survival show is to see how the characters manage to adapt, facing their fates head-on. Stick with us until the end to discover ten amazing shows that will glue you to the screen!

As this is an updated ranking, if you crave for even more survival shows, all you have to do is scroll down to read our original article!

10. Mayoiga (The Lost Village)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2016 – June 2016

Mayoiga revolves around 30 individuals who decided to join the tour toward the lost village named Nanakimura. Each of them with their own reasons, they dreamed a life far away from the noisy downtown and daily struggles. Yet, Nanakimura is hard to be found, and when they manage to reach it, it is uninhabited, but with lingering traces of life. What happened to those who lived in the lost village? And what will happen to the newly-arrived villagers?

Even though Mayoiga lacks bloody, and gore scenes, its atmosphere can really strike fear into the viewers. Basically, each of the 30 people who decided to leave their previous lives behind, in order to start a new one, are forced to face what they decided to avoid instead – their problems, their fears, their inner demons – with a very twisted method. A very great survival show, all the more if you like to speculate while watching.

9. Another

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: January 2012 – March 2012

Another revolves around a high school boy named Kouichi Sakakibara, who moves from Tokyo to Yomiyama to live with his grandparents. Because of health problem, Kouichi misses the first three weeks of school, and in the hospital he meets Misaki, a strange girl with an eye patch. When he starts attending lessons, Kouichi soon realizes that Misaki is one of his classmates. The strange thing, though, is that nobody seems to be able to see her, and whenever he asks the other classmates about Misaki, no one seems to know her. Not knowing exactly what's going on, Kouichi decides to get closer to Misaki, hoping to discover the truth.

Another is a horror anime keeping the viewers glued to the screen, as Kouichi's investigations become the viewers investigations. This show has a rapid pace, and it's impossible to not perceive the anguish all the characters feel, while they fear to be the next target of a strange curse leading to tragic deaths. In Another, the feeling of despair and helplessness is tangible, and it's what makes the viewers grow fond of every character.

8. Zetsuen no Tempest (Blast of Tempest)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: October 2012 – March 2013

Yoshino Takigawa and Mahiro Fuwa are best friends. Mahiro has a little foster sister, Aika, and she dates Yoshino, keeping it a secret from Mahiro. One day, Mahiro goes back home to find Aika in a pool of blood. Shocked, he swears he will find the one who killed her, and act consequently. One month goes by, and when a strange girl is about to shoot Yoshino, Mahiro reappears and saves him at the very nick of time. Eventually, he explains what he intends to do, and what is about to happen in that world on the verge of chaos; Yoshino decides to join him.

In Zetsuen no Tempest we have two sides fighting for what they believe it's right. Two parties struggle, and it's very hard to discern the right from the wrong. Consequently, our protagonists are torn: in a world on the verge of chaos, Mahiro and Yoshino try to change the outcome while looking for answers about Aika's death. This is a non-conventional show, that went a bit unnoticed, in which aside from the action, it's the dialogue that keep the viewers glued to the screen. Forget gore, and horror; Zetsuen no Tempest will give you new ways to enjoy a survival anime!

7. Shinsekai yori (From the New World)

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: September 2012 – March 2013

This story takes place in Japan 1000 years from here, and revolves around five children: Saki, Satoru, Shun, Maria and Mamoru. They grow up in a quiet village that is like a utopia, full of vegetation, clear water, and breathtaking views. The utopia they live in though, comes crashing down, unveiling a sad truth. In fact, the five kids discover about the sudden outbreak of the psychokinesis that can make people become violent and destructive, and a real danger for other people's lives. Not only that, they will eventually discover what brought mankind to that point. Trying to save their friends from a world on the verge of the downfall, these five kids begin their journey!

As a survival anime, Shinsekai Yori can come across as a bit slow-paced in the beginning. When you get to the heart of the story, though, the events will keep you on the edge of your seats. Five kids discover a shocking truth, and one after the other they get affected by the discovery. Desperately trying to change the outcome of an impossible situation, an escalation of events will unveil an even worse background. Join the journey of these five kids, and beware: you'll remain as open-mouthed as the characters!

6. Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (Assassination Classroom)

  • Episodes: 22
  • Aired: January 2015 – June 2015

The class 3-E has a new way of saying “good morning” to the teacher. In fact, each student does it by trying to kill him in every possible way imaginable. Class 3-E's teacher is Koro-sensei, and he is really out of the ordinary: he is an octopus, responsible for the destruction of the moon. Besides, what he tries to instruct to his students in is the way to kill him, within one year. If they don't accomplish it, he promises he will destroy the Earth.

Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, with its comedy part, may not look as a good fit for a survival anime. We think otherwise, though. Because putting aside the gags, we have a group of middle school students threatened by their teacher who will destroy the Earth if they should fail. Together, they have to adapt to the new situation, and learn how to kill Koro-sensei – which seems an impossible task. So, if you want a more lighthearted show, which can make you stick to the screen just like any other survival anime, Ansatsu Kyoushitsu is your cup of tea!

5. Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance)

  • Episodes: 11
  • Aired: July 2014 – September 2014

After a terrorist attack on a nuclear facility in Japan, all what remains is the word “VON”, written in red. The police are trying to find the culprits, but it seems an impossible task to track down who is behind the attack. Six months after the event, two teenage boys calling themselves Sphinx upload a video on the internet, challenging the police: they promise to destroy Tokyo, sew chaos, and mayhem. While in the beginning it all looks like some kind of sick joke, Sphinx aren't joking at all. This is how the terror begins, and the epilogue will be devastating!

Zankyou no Terror is a different kind of survival anime. In fact, the two protagonists don't have to fight against monster, nor they have to struggle to survive in a difficult environment. Sphinx are just two teenagers, one on the polar opposite to the other, seeking revenge for what's been done to them. So, basically, the situation here is reverted, as the ones sowing chaos, the “bad ones” are the protagonists. But it's teenagers we're talking about, and Zankyou no Terror teaches an important lesson: what goes around comes around. So, we're sorry to inform you that you should prepare tissues, as the chances that you'll shed tears in the end are very high.

4. Mirai Nikki (The Future Diary)

  • Episodes: 26
  • Aired: October 2011 – April 2012

Yukiteru's life suddenly changes the day he meets the Lord of Time and Space – Deus Ex Machina – changing Yukiteru's phone into a future diary. Right after, he learns how there are other people who possess a future diary and all of them will have to join a game where the winner will take Deus Ex Machina's place. But the game is one bloody contest: the twelve contestants will have to try to kill each other. Yukiteru will have a companion that will do her best to protect and save Yukiteru in the name of love – Yuno Gasai – who is a contestant as well. But does Yuno actually have noble intentions, or dies she hide a secret, instead?

Mirai Nikki is very popular among the survival anime out there. With its main concept very similar to the famous Battle Royale, and a protagonist who is a weakling unable to stand on his own feet, Mirai Nikki is absolutely intriguing. Expect bloody scenes, murders, epic fights among the contestants, and beware of the most charming yandere girl you'll ever meet: Yuno Gasai.

3. Danganronpa: Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei The Animation (Danganronpa: The Animation)

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: July 2013 – September 2013

Makoto Naegi won a lottery as the “Ultimate Lucky Student”, gaining the chance to attend Hope's Peak Academy. This high school only accepts elite students who receive a title describing their own talents and skills after being enrolled. Makoto Naegi, though, is just an ordinary boy who won that title by chance, so he is overly happy to have the chance for a bright future. The moment he steps into the Academy, he faints and, waking up, he realizes that he is trapped into the school, with no way out. Monokuma – the school president in the form of a little bear – makes an announcement to the 15 students: they will be able to graduate only if they manage to kill one of their classmates, without being discovered!

Well, if the idea of being trapped in a school, with a scary teddy bear as the school president, and the premises that graduation means killing someone without being discovered wasn't enough, there's another treat. Being discovered after killing someone means automatic death for the culprit. Feel for yourself the despair, and the fear Makoto Naegi and the other students will go through! As a survival anime, Danganronpa wields a strong plot and a lot of mysteries that will stick you to the screen from beginning to end.

2. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: April 2013 – September 2013

Shingeki no Kyoujin revolves around titans trying to eat human beings out of mere pleasure, and the remnants of humanity trying to fight them, or at least, trying to make sense of the situation. Our protagonist is Eren Yeager who, after his mother was devoured by a titan, decided to enlist into the Survey Corps – an elite military unit – in order to fight against the titans outside the walls, trying to get some sort of revenge.

Shingeki no Kyoujin is the most unpredictable survival anime of this list; in fact, while watching it, you cannot predict who's going to die, how, or when, and many deaths will be totally unfair, merciless, and heartbreaking. Once you understand you cannot grow fond of any character, you'll begin to feel the same anxiety the characters feel, and in many occasions, you'll be left open-mouthed. Shingeki no Kyoujin is a must-watch among the survival anime!

1. Gantz

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: April 2004 – June 2004

Let's end this ranking with Gantz, that revolves around Kei Kurono, who is your typical Japanese high school boy bored with life and cynical to no end. One day, coming back from school, due to some very cruel circumstances, he dies with his childhood friend – Masaru Katou – by being run over by a train, while they were trying to save a homeless person fallen on the rail. After dying, though, Kei and Katou wake up in a room with no way out, and only a black ball that shouts orders. Together with other dead people, Kei begins a deadly game, fighting against aliens with the possibility to have his life back as a reward.

Gantz is cruel, grotesque, and gory, but it is more than the mere splattering of blood, more than death, and violence. It is a mirror reflecting the ugliness of the society, and depicting the faults and unsightliness of the human nature in the cruelest way. In short, this survival show is not for the weak of heart; it wields a claustrophobic feeling that there won't be light at the end of the tunnel. Pick it up only if you are ready to face all this!

Final Thoughts

And so, our ranking of ten survival anime ends here. Survival shows manage to increase suspense, leave the viewers with bated breath, and at the same time bring them to cheer for the unfortunate protagonists facing the overwhelming odds! With the right amount of action, drama, hints of horror, and eerie vibes, they are your cup of tea if you like shows with a rapid pace, able to raise your heartbeat too! Now, please, let us know what you think, and what your favorite survival anime are, in the comments below. See you next time!

Zankyou-no-Terror-wallpaper-700x467 Top 10 Survival Anime [Updated Best Recommendations]


Author: Mari Mari

An italian girl currently living the Japanese Dream. I'm an anime and manga enthusiast (I mean... very enthusiast. XD), and my other hobbies are writing, reading, playing volleyball, listening to good music and thinking about pointless things.

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Zankyou-no-Terror-wallpaper-700x467 Top 10 Survival Anime [Updated Best Recommendations]

Disaster. Despair. Feeling hopeless and powerless to change the outcome. These are many of the most important aspects in a good survival anime. In making the viewer really feel the fear that characters experience, the two are connected. However, the most important part of any survival anime is not one of these listed above. In fact, it is in showing how the characters are able to adapt and continue in the face of all impossible odds.

Let’s take a look at some of the best examples of this type of anime.

10. Devil Survivor 2 The Animation

  • Episodes: 13
  • Air Date: Apr. 2013 – June 2013

Yes, Devil Survivor 2 The Animation is based off of a video game, but that doesn’t change its compelling story and execution. When a group called the Septentriones begins to invade Japan, some heroes decide to step up and defend their country. They sign a deal with the devil, turning them into the Thirteen Devil Messengers. The group sets out to drive back the Septentriones, who appear once a day. However, there is a catch – the Septentriones must be defeated before seven days are up.

This anime is a classic example of the type of fight-to-survive anime that usually make up this list. However, it is placed on the lower end because it includes many cliché plot points. And being a videogame adaptation, it has very little depth beyond what is included in the game. Yet, this does not diminish this adaptation too much – the fight sequences are still exciting, and the basic theme of the video game continues on strongly throughout the animation. It is a shorter anime, and a good introduction to what you can expect from the video game. The despair of being caught in a hopeless fight still comes across well, and the survival aspect is particularly enticing when you pair it with the original gameplay aspect.

9. Shiki

  • Episodes: 22
  • Air Date: Jul. 2010 – Dec. 2010

Shiki, an adaptation of a horror novel, is the story of how two young men must try to solve the mystery behind a sudden epidemic turning the small town of Sotoba into a nest of vampires. After the abrupt demise of young Megumi Shimizu, antisocial Natsuno Yuuki must overcome his own pain in order to help in the greater danger occurring in Sotoba. Meanwhile, Toshio Ozaki, a young doctor, starts to doubt the disease that killed Megumi is as simple as it seems. While this anime may seem like a simple story of vampires vs. humanity, the lines begin to blur between good and evil – what is the meaning of a monster?

Shiki is one of the better survival anime out there. It shows a deeper side to the genre, giving the viewer more questions to ponder than just, “Will the characters make it out alive?” And while it does have some of the qualities needed for survival anime, its air of mystery and psychological thinking outweighs some of the hopeless feelings one might get from a different anime in the genre. But if you are a fan of vampires or mystery, Shiki is a must-watch!

8. Owari no Seraph (Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: Apr. 2015 – June 2015

While Owari no Seraph is a relatively new anime, it still packs quite an emotional punch! When an unknown virus suddenly starts killing off everyone above the age of 13, vampires seize their chance to enslave humanity. Yuuchirou and Mikaela Hyakuya are among the survivors taken to the vampires’ encampment, along with the other children from their orphanage. When the makeshift family tries to escape, Yuuchirou alone makes it out alive. Hell-bent on avenging his loss, Yuuchirou joins in humanity’s fight and enrolls in the Japanese Imperial Demon Army. Yuuchirou starts to make friends and earns his own demon weapon, but everything is not as it seems. What will Yuuchirou and his friends discover as they defend their freedom?

The second anime about vampires on our list, Owari no Seraph is more than just an epic shounen. Each episode takes you deeper into the mystery of the virus’ spread until you find yourself asking who the real monsters are (similar to Shiki). The difference in Owari no Seraph is the powerless emotions the characters experience. Not only do Yuuchirou and his friends have to deal with an unusual virus, but they must also struggle against the vampires, the demons contained in their weapons, and the angelic race out to destroy humanity. With so much the group has to face off against, it’s a wonder they are able to survive at all!

7. Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku (Magical Girl Raising Project)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: Oct. 2016 – Dec. 2016

A twisted magical girl anime, Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku tells the story of Koyuki Himekawa, a girl who plays a social role-playing game called the Magical Girl Raising Project. When Koyuki is selected by the admins to become a real-life magical girl, she is thrilled to transform into her in-game character, Snow White. The admins eventually decide to cut down on the number of magical girls they’ve selected, and the girls are told that those with the least amount of rewards will lose their powers. But when something mysterious happens to the first loser, Koyuki and her friends begin to discover that this game they’re playing is more serious and deadly than they’d ever imagined. Is being a magical girl even worth it?

The Magical Girl Raising Project quickly transforms into a sort of death game for the participants. Sure, this anime has all the makings of a good magical girl anime – but it also includes much of the despair and helplessness in a good survival anime as well! One flaw of this anime is that it contains a lot of characters, and not a lot of episodes. The impact of each character’s loss is diminished because there are so many at first. However, the later episodes really start to pick up as fewer girls are available to play this “death game.”

6. Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru (Yuki Yuna is a Hero)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: Oct. 2014 – Dec. 2014

We know what you’re thinking – another magical girl anime makes the list for top survival anime? Just hear us out on this one. Yuuna Yuuki wants badly to be a hero, so much so that she spends each day after school helping other people out! She and her best friend Mimori Tougou, along with Fuu and Itsuki Inubozaki, make up the Hero Club. One day, the club members discover that an app on their phones is calling them to actually become heroes and defend their world from monstrosities known as Vertexes. To battle the Vertexes, they must become magical girls! But will the Hero Club be able to keep fighting when they discover the truth behind their powers?

This anime grows on you over time. From the beginning, it seems like a simple series focused on some magical girls who also have school activities, but it quickly gets much darker than that. Yuuna and her friends must struggle through their battles with the Vertexes as they slowly lose pieces of themselves, and this adds a level of despair to their situation. As you watch, the girls lose all hope – they feel they cannot change their situation in any way, and that they truly have no choice but to continue. Viewers grow to care about each character in turn, wanting them to survive through the horror they must go through. Basically, we can’t say much more without giving away the whole series – just go watch it for yourself!

5. Gakkougurashi! (School-Live!)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: Jul. 2015 – Sep. 2015

This anime follows a group of girls who are all part of the same club at Megurigaoka Private School, called the School Living Club. Carefree Yuki Takeya is the most enthusiastic of the club members, who include club president Yuuri Wakasa, athlete Kurumi Ebisuzawa, the serious Miki Naoki, supervisor Megumi Sakura and the club dog Taroumaru. The club spends their days in the school doing anything to ignore the reality of the world around them. The truth? The members of the School Living Club have barricaded themselves inside the school to protect themselves from the outside world. The other girls struggle to not only survive the danger, but also to keep up false appearances for Yuki, who is living in her own carefree world.

Gakkougurashi! is one of the most surprising anime, where almost every episode shows its audience a surface level plot, all while disguising the real situation underneath. While the characters continue to hide the truth from Yuki, they also hide the truth from the viewer. Survival for these girls means the ability to continue their pretense – protecting themselves both physically and mentally. They are feeling so powerless in their situation that they must pretend to be a part of something else to get by. The drama of their situation is thrilling, and the characters really come to grow on you by the end of the series.

4. Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: Apr. 2016 – Jul. 2016

The undead are rising, in horrific forms known as Kabane. Zombie-like in nature, the only way to destroy these Kabane is to strike them through their steel-covered hearts. A servicer for the trains which connect human civilizations, Ikoma is eager to fight these monsters, as he has been perfecting a weapon to better end the Kabane for years. However, his chance will come sooner than he expects, when the safe fortress that is his home falls under attack!

While the series takes a similar approach to many other zombie-apocalypse tropes, it has its own flair in the steampunk elements strewn throughout. On the other hand, the more cliché elements still have a strong effect on its despairing feeling. The Kabane are familiar as horrific monsters in many of their qualities, and their steel-caged hearts represent an added challenge for humanity to overcome. If there is any way that Ikoma and his comrades can win the war against the Kabane, it is impossible to see, as more and more problems continue to plague their travels.

3. Another

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: Jan. 2012 – Mar. 2012

Class 3-3 at Yomiyama North Middle School has been shrouded in mystery since 1972, when a popular student named Misaki died during the school term. Flash forward 26 years later – transfer student Kouichi Sakakibara joins class 3-3 and is concerned by the dreary atmosphere hovering over his classmates. But no one will tell him anything! To make matters worse, there seems to be a girl in the class that only he acknowledges. Mei Misaki wears an eyepatch and doesn’t say much, but Kouichi is determined to learn the truth about her, and about the unfortunate curse on class 3-3.

Another is a perfect example of the typical horror anime, and is very well done, keeping the audience in suspense throughout the episodes. Kouichi’s determination in discovering the truth is the same response viewers have as they watch the series. Not only that, but Another is also a great survival anime. No one is safe from the curse on class 3-3! It’s almost best not to get attached to characters, as many of them will not make it through the school year. And as the students are fighting off a supernatural curse, it heightens the feeling of danger and helplessness – an intangible curse is not easy to fight.

2. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)

  • Episodes: 25
  • Air Date: Apr. 2013 – Sep. 2013

Shingeki no Kyojin is all about survival, as mankind is forced to live behind walls to avoid facing the giant Titans, large humanoids whose whole purpose seems to be eating people. But when a Colossal Titan breaks a hole in the wall, chaos ensues! Young Eren Yeager is forced to flee as he watches his mother being eaten by a Titan. From that moment on, Eren vows to kill every last Titan. Together with his friends Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert, Eren joins the military and enlists in the Survey Corps, where he can put his anger to good use on the front lines against the Titans.

As this series progresses, the desperation of the characters becomes more and more apparent. Eren and his squad-mates appear to be optimistic about their chances when they first join the Survey Corps, but as they lose more people and discover unnerving things about themselves and the world around them, they start to lose hope. Although this anime was already included in the previous list for top survival anime, we felt it should be included again. Shingeki no Kyojin is really one of the best anime out there, particularly in the survival genre. And with the recent release of the second season, people all around the world are being reminded of how interesting this show really is!

1. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

  • Episodes: 11
  • Air Date: Jul. 2009 – Sep. 2009

Mirai Onozawa, a middle school student who is unhappy with her life, brings her younger brother Yuuki to Odaiba during summer vacation. Yuuki is fascinated with robots and wants to go visit the robot exhibit there, so Mirai reluctantly takes him. But when a massive earthquake rocks the city, the two kids are trapped in Odaiba, uncertain about how or when they will be able to get home. Luckily, they meet Mari Kusakabe, a kind woman who decides to help Mirai and Yuuki. Together, they will try to find a way home as the disaster continues to paralyze the vast city.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is not your typical survival anime. The characters don’t have to fight any monstrous beings or compete against one another to survive a challenge. This series has much more reality to it, and that makes it frightening. Mirai and Yuuki are both quite young, and they struggle to make it back home through the devastated Tokyo landscape. The story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once – a masterfully done anime. That is why we ranked Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 at the number one spot on our list! It connects deeply with its audience, because they recognize that this survival situation is one that could be very real, and very scary, at any time.

Final Thoughts

Of course, there are many anime in the survival genre. These included on our list are only a few – but we believe these few to be among the best. Their ability to make us feel the characters’ despair, anguish and loss of hope is what makes them able to connect with us. And perhaps it even teaches us something about how we can survive our own problems!

What did you think of our list? Did we leave anything out? Let us know in the comments section below!

Zankyou-no-Terror-wallpaper-700x467 Top 10 Survival Anime [Updated Best Recommendations]


Author: Meghan May Dellinger

Konnichiwa! I'm a writer/daydreamer who gets a little lost along the path of life from time to time. I love watching anime and playing all kinds of video games - everything from RPGs to first-person shooters. I hope to be an author someday, but until then, I'll share my words with the world any way I can! I love making new friends, so don't be afraid to leave a comment!

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Japan already proved with movie legend Battle Royale its capability of creating memorable survival stories. Anime of this genre depict scenarios in which characters strive to survive. It doesn't matter whether it's other characters, monsters or the environment itself - something is out to kill our heroes.

Let's all appreciate our relatively safe lives for a second while we go through this list of Top 10 Survival Anime.

10. Log Horizon

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: October 2013 - March 2014

Let us start slowly, with a show that’s not as disturbing or bloody as some of the following recommendations of this list. Log Horizon is targeted towards all those people that wish they could live inside their favorite video games. Hero Shiroe and his friends are transferred into the world of Elder Tale, a highly popular online multiplayer game. Now they have to face new challenges as they try to find their spot in the new world they were thrown into.

Log Horizon is a show that delivers what it promises, not more and not less than that. It’s fun to watch and easy to enjoy in the evening when you want to unwind. The story itself does have action scenes but its focus lies more on the dialogues and interaction between the different characters. Log Horizon is certainly worth a try.

9. Sword Art Online

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: July 2012 – December 2012

If you liked the idea of Log Horizon, chances are you will also enjoy Sword Art Online. It’s set in the near future where people are able to control personal avatars in an online universe with their brain waves. But our hero Kirigaya Kazuto, as well as other players, soon realize that they are unable to log off. Their only chance is to fight for their survival.

Some of you might think that the story is basically the same as Log Horizon, and I cannot deny that the plots resemble each other. Still, they both have their special charm and can be enjoyed for individual reasons. Sword Art Online has good character design and a great soundtrack, and personally, I really enjoyed the action scenes.

8. Danganronpa

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: July 2013 - September 2013

Danganronpa is the first show of this list set in a high school. But it isn’t a normal high school. In order to graduate the students have to kill one of their classmates. If the killer gets away with it he’s promised a life of success and the other students are exterminated. If not, he himself will be murdered. Who’s able to survive this cruel game in order to graduate?

Danganronpa is one of those shows that combine a dark and cruel concept with cute characters. Head of the school is a teddy bear called Monokuma, that surveys every step the students make inside school grounds. It’s a really interesting show that will catch hold of you and won’t let go until the last episode. The main strength is the fact that it doesn’t only have an attention-grabbing storyline, but other mysteries as well that are slowly unraveled as the story progresses.

It’s worth a watch, so give Danganronpa a try if you haven’t already.

7. Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom

  • Episodes: 26
  • Aired: April 2009 – September 2009

With Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, we’re slowly starting to get to the darker and psychologically touching shows. This show revolves around the Mafia situated in America and how a Japanese tourist gets dragged into their world of assassination, death and cold murder. Given the code name Zwei, he has to fight in order to survive the new life that was forced onto him.

I recommend this show for everyone that enjoys stories set in an urban environment of modern days. And even though the action scenes are great, especially for fans of guns and shootings, Phantom focuses more on the relationship between the two main leads, Ein and Zwei. This show has a great fanbase so check it out if you want to find out what the hype is all about.

6. Highschool of the Dead

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2010 - September 2010

For those of you that enjoy stories set in a high school environment, we present Highschool of the Dead. Chances are you have at least heard of this widely popular show. The story revolves around a group of high school students trying to survive in a universe where the outbreak of a new plague has turned the majority of the population into zombies.

Good Zombie anime are hard to find these days, so Highschool of the Dead is definitely a must-watch. It features a bunch of different characters that all manage the apocalypse differently. It’s a show aimed for a wide base of audience, so it’s likely that you will enjoy it no matter what you’re into. We have a lot of blood, a lot of fights and a lot of fanservice.

Check it out if you’re a fan of the living dead.

5. Btooom!

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: October 2012 - December 2012

Next up is a show whose name pretty much sums up what happens throughout the episodes. Ryouta Sakamoto is a pro at the hit video game Btooom. What he didn’t expect is he himself becoming a part of the game. One day he finds himself alone on an island equipped with some food and lots of bombs. His goal is to find the other players on the island and to eliminate them before they can kill him.

The special charm of Btooom! comes from the fact that the first episodes are already really dark. The anime shows blood, death and rape without disguising it. Its main strength though are the fights themselves. Ryouta has the abilities and skills he acquired from the video game but now he has to use them in real life. It’s not a straightforward killing spree where all contestants blow each other up, but a game that requires tactics and planning. This show managed to keep me on my toes until the last episodes.

4. Attack on Titan

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: April 2013 – September 2013

Is anyone surprised that I included Attack on Titan on this list? Probably not.

Just imagine yourself living in a world where giant Titans are out to eat you alive. Attack on Titan might be the cruelest Survival anime that also really tries to make you feel the desperation and terror of its characters.

What’s so special about the show in my eyes is the fact that you cannot predict who’s going to die or get wounded next. Eren and his friends trained the better part of their lives to kill any Titan approaching them, but sometimes life isn’t fair. That’s what Attack on Titan teaches its viewers. It’s also the first show that made me really fear for the main characters lives, so it definitely deserves a spot on this list.

3. Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor

  • Episodes: 26
  • Aired: October 2007 - April 2008

Kaiji is one of my personal favorites even though it might not be as popular as other shows on this list. It shows the struggles of gambling addict Itou Kaiji who participates in a rather unique game. He gets the chance to fight other players in an adjusted game of Rock Paper Scissors in order to win enough money to get rid of all his debts. Can he win one last game that might turn his life around?

This one goes out to all those viewers that like survival anime but don’t necessarily want to see too much blood or gore in general. Suspense is created through Kaiji’s struggles and his constant attempt to find new techniques that could guarantee his victory. Don’t be put off by the rather unique character design – after some episodes you will learn to appreciate the thin faces and long noses.

A special recommendation for fans of shows like Death Note or No Game, No Life.

2. Deadman Wonderland

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2011 - July 2011

Deadman Wonderland portrays the worst case scenario of being accused of a crime that you didn’t commit. High school student Ganta Igarashi is trialed for brutally murdering his classmates and thus being sent to Deadman Wonderland – the first privately owned prison set in a dystopian future. What he didn’t expect was that Deadman Wonderland is in fact an amusement park where inmates compete in bloody games for the entertainment of the masses.

If you’re looking for great action scenes and are not afraid of seeing blood then Deadman Wonderland is a strong recommendation. The design as well as the development of the main characters is really unique and great to watch. Even though the show itself doesn’t have too many episodes and the ending came way too fast it still stayed in my mind for a couple of days after.

A great show if you want a good anime that you can finish in one weekend.

1. Mirai Nikki

  • Episodes: 26
  • Aired: October 2011 - April 2012

Mirai Nikki might be the most popular Survival anime out there. Not only that but it also created the infamous character of Gasai Yuno, one of the most psychotic girls found in anime.

The story starts with Amano Yukiteru’s common phone diary turning into a Future Diary that’s able to predict upcoming events. But he’s not the only one – he’s one of twelve contestants that try to kill each other in order to get the chance to turn into a god. If I had to describe the anime to someone who hasn’t watched it I would call it the anime equivalent of Battle Royale. So if you’re a fan of the famous movie you will most likely also enjoy Mirai Nikki.

It’s not only the main idea that’s intriguing but its further development as well that makes Mirai Nikki so special. Check it out if you’re ready for a psychological thriller that will keep you entertained for a long time.

Survival anime are a unique genre since they are a combination of action, drama and sometimes even horror elements. Watching these heroes on their struggle for survival will quicken your heartbeat and make you sweat.

Which one is your favorite? Comment down below and let us know.

Zankyou-no-Terror-wallpaper-700x467 Top 10 Survival Anime [Updated Best Recommendations]


Author: Cornelia Wagner

Coffee enthusiast, world traveler and writer at heart. Left Europe to live and study in the insanity called Tokyo.

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