If you aren’t new to anime, then you know what’s going on. However if you are new, then it's time to talk about something that Japan has a penchant for: war. Japan loves to explore this terrible yet very real topic through anime as well. Whether or not it is due to what happened to Japan in WWII or what happened before that with the subjugation of Korea and Manchuria, Japan really loves to explore war. Sometimes it’s very blatant and the show has tanks, explosions, and more. Other times, war may not be in play per se, but there is conflict and it can be only solved militarily. A common medium is the Gundam franchise. Another common factor used is drama. So much death and drama fuels the story. So if you are new or looking for more, then sit down and join us as we explore this genre of anime!
We Found War in a Hopeless Place
One thing is for certain, war is never good and creates not only death but deep sadness. That sadness also exists in the backgrounds of anime. There are rarely moments of happiness in military anime and those anime truly devoted to war and the military. There are exceptions which we will get into below, but for the most part, expect dramatic, morose stories that will either move you or go right over your head for being too violent. It is not an insult, but sometimes anime wraps up a story deeply within the presented product and you have to pay attention to more than just the fighting to see what is really going on.
Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2017 - March 2017
There is a man who works at a company. His name does not matter because he is not present for much of the story, but he is crucial. Ruthless, he does anything he can to move up the ladder at his company. When he is too cruel, a former employee gets their revenge and pushes him in front of a train. However, time stops. A voice calls out to him. Claiming they are God themselves, they ask him a series of questions, but due to the fact that not only does this man outright deny God, he refers to the voice as “Being X.” There is a flash of light, and now, we meet a young orphan who grows up in a European-styled world at war with people who can use magic and do so for the military. We meet Tanya, and then learn that she is not whom she appears to be. She is the man from our world sent to this new one by Being X. At times, being X reveals themselves to Tanya to meddle with their life, but then at other times, it almost seems to help Tanya think in new ways. Now, due to superior magical abilities and intelligence from the other world, Tanya rises in the ranks quickly. She now no longer can have a peaceful life as she is too good at her job and there is a bloodthirsty government hellbent on ruling the world.
In the beginning, we would agree that what the man received, he had coming. However, that sadness that we mentioned in the introduction is what is present here. That sadness is lurking as Tanya not only watches people have their happiness crushed, she witnesses her own happiness being torn away from her left and right. Whether it is due to Being X or it is due to the Empire that she works for, she doesn’t get the peace and happiness that she wants. While tanks are less present, we have magical ones that fly in the sky and allow militaries to fight battled in the sky more or less. There are regular infantry men and women, but these mages are much more desired. If you enjoy the pomp and circumstance that comes with military, then you will love Youjo Senki. Just be ready to stare into the void before watching this military anime as it is dark.
Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Die Neue These - Kaikou (Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These )
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2017 - June 2017
Two powers are locked in an intergalactic war that never seems to end. the Free Planets Alliance broke off from the monchary-run Galactic Empire a long time ago, and the Galactic Empire has been on the warpath to get them back. Fortunately for the Free Planets Alliance, they have a brilliant orphan-now-commander in Yang Wen-li. Wen-li is able to handle everything that comes his way as long as he clearly thinks. At the same time, the Galactic Empire has their own ace in the hold in Reinhard von Lohengramm who has his own ideas, but is sharp enough to know that he should not speak them aloud. Meanwhile, he hates the aristocracy and wants to dispose of them and restore things to their former glory. These two men battle it out among the heavens. These Galactic Heroes are going to do their best to bring home a victory in this massive battle of wits.
If you are looking for that serious vibe with all of the pomp and circumstance that a military anime creates, then Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu creates the perfect setup. Two warring factions are not only going at it across light years of space, the viewer is actually put on both sides of the conflict by learning backstories as well as what Wen-li and Reinhard are thinking and both, by the way, are pursuing their own passions and standing firm in their beliefs. Just one has plans to take down a rebel government while the other wants to assure its existence. Now, this is a remake of the original and while it’s not as good, it still makes an excellent foray into what to expect from a good military anime. One word of caution is that the original is over 100+ episodes and while this is a remake, this is easier to jump into than the original. However, should you choose to do so, you will no regret it.
Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Die Neue These - Kaikou PV
More than Just Tanks
If you have watched even three anime, you know that while Japan loves a good military anime, they love it when you make it cute. Adding the moe factor takes away from the war, death, and killing aspects of a military anime and softens the blow while helping viewership sympathize with the characters. This is trueest with Girls und Panzer which boasts a massive middle-aged men fandom and proves to be incredibly popular to the point that it is now in a six part movie sequel process. However, long on the explanations of how things work, Girls und Panzer is not for the faint of heart no matter how cute the girls are. Rather, we bring you another which helps push that moe factor just a little bit further.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2008 - September 2008
In Strike Witches, World War II has played out completely different. The Neuroi, aliens who came to Earth, are the main antagonists and threaten not only humans, but life itself. The Neuroi take the shape of ships and one has to blast their way through it to hit the core, to defeat them. It’s worse too as the larger ones release a poisonous mist that can kill humans. So, young girls are needed. Why? They can land into special plane leggings that not only allow them to fly, they can carry massive weapons giving humanity a chance to fight back. The 501st Joint Fighter Wing unit is one such group full of girls known as Witches. They take off from land, patrol, and fight the Neuroi when spotted. These girls are going to try their hardest to take back Earth from this menace.
This gets you everything we were talking about. From the overflow of moe, to the cute girls, to said cute girls talking about massive weapons and brutal battles, Strike Witches is an excellent look at the military genre of anime with a twist. You get a bit of daily life with the 501st Joint Fighter Wing while also getting your does of actions. Rather than uniforms too, the girls run around in shorts and either underwear or a leotard.
Strike Witches Trailer
Military anime is one of those genres where, you can either hear about order and decorum nonstop or it’s only facet of the story. Still, expect that lingering sadness along with some of the most fanciful adventures you can imagine. If you are looking for more military anime, Fullmetal Alchemist, Kantai Collection, High School Fleet, Aldnoah.Zero, Full Metal Panic! Owari no Seraph, and more! Check a couple out! You might find a new favorite show. If you have seen all of the above mentioned shows, do you have more shows that you’d recommend for our readers? If so, be sure to let us know down below. Till next time!