What Constitutes a Post-Apocalyptic Anime? [Definition, Meaning]

How will humanity fall to its knees one day? Who knows. What we do know is that thinking about it is fun and it has proven to be a popular medium throughout storytelling in anime. There are all sorts of outlandish, wild theories as to how, one day, humanity or the Earth will be decimated beyond repair and the survivors retreat somewhere. It tickles our fancy as we wonder how humans have messed up. So, we decided today to help out newer fans to anime by providing them with a background on the Post-Apocalyptic genre/archetype used in anime, and three different shows that do a great job of showing where the story can take you.

What is a Post-Apocalyptic Anime?

Post-Apocalyptic anime actually come in two different formats. One shows or tells you that the world or humanity has been destroyed and we as a race have moved on while others just show you a world, let you get used to it, and then some character goes on to have a monologue about how humanity was destroyed in some form or another. Ironically, humanity almost always ends up in some form of a bizarre dystopia where people do not realize how much they are being lied to or some sort of fear is set in place so that humans do not dare to step outside of the society or town that they live in. Questioning authority will almost always get you killed and if you are lucky, everyone’s memories are erased. If not, then everyone goes around pretending as if nothing has ever happened and that person gets to deal with their trauma silently.

So how did we do it? How did we destroy ourselves? A government so out of touch with the people was elected and thus forms a kakocracy? Or was it a nuclear war that wiped up upwards of 99% of all humanity? Maybe a monster drove us to space? Either way, while the stories vary, it all ends with humanity with a ruined planet, and living somewhere out of desperation where the past is forgotten. An absolute government is necessary and rules the people through deception or fear. Meanwhile, the main character is there to shake things up and return the truth to the spotlight. However, they never realize how close they are to risking everything by doing so.

Ergo Proxy

  • Episodes: 23
  • Aired: Feb. 2006 - Aug 2006

Romdo is a city. It’s the only one of it’s kind, or so the citizens think. They live out their day to day lives being encouraged to “make waste” because that is what a good citizen does. Assisted by AutoReivs, their companion humanoid robots, the citizens live their lives in bliss. That is, until a strange virus known as the Cogito Virus infects them and makes the robots act as if they are human with a soul. Re-l Mayer, an investigator for the police and daughter of the ruler of Romdo, sets out to crack this mysterious virus and the incidents around them. However, this puts her in the path of Vincent Law, an immigrant, and eventually in the path of a dangerous, violent monster known as the Proxy. As Re-l gets closer to the truth, she will have to turn her back on everything to survive.

Ergo Proxy is a classic, quintessential post-apocalyptic anime. She lives in an incredibly dystopian society where she is told and taught to fear everything outside of the dome. In fact, even outside, she only wants to go back. It is only through exploring the world that she realizes that other domes and societies do and did exist in differing capacities. However, when the proxy gets loose, the people disappeared. Now, the actual story behind everything is that an ecological catastrophe destroyed the surface forcing everyone into the domes, but it’s clear that life can be lived outside of Romdo; it just is a difficult one especially at the beginning of being outside. One other great thing shown is how poorly equipped post-apocalyptic governments are at controlling their own people as well as what happens when you try to enforce absolutes.

Ergo Proxy Trailer:

Are There Other Forms of Worlds & Destruction?

You bet your sweet bippy there are. A ruined world is a very broad idea and doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s completely inhospitable. You just might have to watch out for the watching eye of a government, or killer plants, or weird beings that walk the earth, but always watch out for the threat of death. The other fun thing about post-apocalyptic worlds is that unlike with Ergo Proxy where Re-l is never in too much danger since the proxies seem to be around her all the time but never kill her, is that the worlds that our characters step out into can be a threat adding a new level of danger and depth to the story. We see this in shows like Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) and Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress) where not only is home under attack, but stepping outside of it is even more dangerous. There’s another great post-apocalyptic anime that suits this idea well.


  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired: Apr 2009 - Sept 2009

The future that conservatives deny has come true: we are now in a world where savage earthquakes as well as global warming have destroyed the planet and Japan in particular. What has resulted is that nature has reclaimed what we once dominated. Civilization is on its last breath unless we do something. There is the sealed city of Atlas, but getting in is next to impossible as only the wealthy can. There’s a whole group of hackers as well who want to hack into countries around the world and claim wealth for Japan and themselves. And the poor? Well, day to day life for them is an extreme struggle. Classism is real y’all. One girl threatens the balance for that in that she will lead the people into Atlas where they will all live in harmony. This is the story of Kuniko.

If you are a conspiracy theorist or just love a good takedown of the elite, then this anime is for you. While yes, it certainly is set in a financially crippled Japan that has been ruined beyond all measure, there are lots of deadly creatures lurking about in the forms of plants. Forget the government in Atlas being dangerous, the real danger can be getting far enough that the plants get to you! This anime runs two cours and manages to have so many smaller stories going at once that you cannot help but get hooked.

Shangri-La Trailer

Shinsekai Yori (From the New World)

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: Sept. 2012 - Mar. 2013

Set in the town of Kamisu 66, Saki Watanabe, and her classmates Satoru, Mamoru, Maria, and Shun are all students at Sage Academy, a school for psychics. Everyone in this city has psychic powers. It is how many day-to-day things are handled. As their powers awaken too, they get to work more with them. However, when an excursion leads to them heading to a place that they are not supposed to go, they encounter a strangle, translucent, rainbow-colored creature that works for them. Confused, they press it for answers and what they uncover is a past where psychics murdered countless non-psychics before eventually isolating themselves in order to keep peace. When Saki starts to question why Shun, a boy she liked, left things take a turn for the worst and these teenagers, who have the emotional and mental capacity of children, have to learn what the real world is like outside their little paradise.

Shinsekai Yori appears on our thriller anime list as well for an introduction into the thriller genre, but it is also an excellent example of a world ravaged by humanity. When psychics wiped out humans, it also destroyed a large chunk of the population. Though some were spared, we cannot go into too much detail without spoiling you. If there was something to be said for this fantastic anime, it would be that absolutely nothing is as it seems. The world in Shinsekai Yori seems to have taken a massive step backwards in time with not even a hint of technology. People use their powers to travel around on boats and do small things in their everyday lives all the way to using them to fight threats. Stepping outside of their towns, a forbidden action by their totalitarian government, will only enlighten them even further to a harsh reality.

Shinsekai Yori PV

Final Thoughts

Today we have covered what we feel to be three excellent anime that are perfect for fans getting into post-apocalyptic anime as well as features to look out for. Other great ones when you are done are shows like Wolf’s Rain, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, Gurren Lagann, Owari no Seraph and more! The best part too is that these anime always have different bleak futures making interesting stories come to life. If you have suggestions for newer anime fans that are must-see or excellent post-apocalyptic anime, then be sure to let us know down below! Till next time!

ergo-proxy-wallpaper What Constitutes a Post-Apocalyptic Anime? [Definition, Meaning]


Author: Nagareboshi

American by birth; international by choice. I am trying to bring attention to one of my favorite causes; me. I translate by day and write by night. Aspiring polyglot. My dream would be to be the personal translator for Amuro Namie. Other than that, my hobbies include languages, weightlifting, sleeping, karaoke, GOOD coffee and music. When I’m not doing any of the above, I am most likely laughing hysterically at Willam Belli videos or EV farming. I ain’t gunna Rupologize for it neither. Waifu are Shirai Kuroko & Euaerin.

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