I’m not the biggest fan of military movies or war focused stories (at least not realistic ones). I find them a little bit depressing to be honest. There are exceptions, usually science fiction or fantasy is enough of a hook (such as Starship Troopers), and I’ve definitely noticed a soft spot for anime that brings in the military (though being told something is military focused isn’t the draw).
Today I’m looking at my favourite military focused anime. Authenticity isn’t a concern. I don’t care whether the ranks and positions are wrong, whether characters would actually be able to behave in certain manners in a real army, or whether the military exists or is part of an entirely fictional setting. I’m just concerned with anime that I really ended up enjoying that had a strong military focus. As such, I’m sure there are many great military anime that aren’t going to get a mention and I’d love to know your favourites so feel free to give them a shout out in the comments below.
Honourable mentions this time around go to the entire Gundam Franchise, which I continue to have a love/hate relationship with as the various entries either really grab me and pull me in or I end up abandoning fairly early on, and Heavy Object. Now Heavy Object is an anime in general that doesn’t get enough conversation so I really wanted it on my top 5 list, but the numerous flaws with the show prevented me from putting it above anything on the list. That said, I really liked Heavy Object, a lot more than I expected.
Number 5: Attack On Titan
Now, I won’t deny that season two of Attack on Titan saw my patience wearing thin after a fairly big slow down in the second half of season one. But, the early episodes of season one really grabbed me and while the titan at the wall was a big part of that, so was Eren and crew’s original military training. It is such an integral part of the show and the characters and those early episodes were really good. Season three also picked up a lot of things and part of it is the power structure of the world including where the military fits into that. All and all, while this isn’t one of my favourite of all time anime, the military influence is quite strong and some of the better moments comes when the story focuses on these elements.
Number 4: Full Metal Alchemist and Brotherhood
Whether it is FMA or FMA Brotherhood, the military focus of Armestris is pretty clear. Love the uniforms, as impractical as they appear, and a lot of the drama in the show comes from the higher ups withholding information from subordinates. Also, characters are regularly compelled to act against their own nature because being in the military does mean following orders. Both versions of Full Metal Alchemist really do an excellent job of showcasing both the problems of large military organisations as well as the camaraderie and loyalty that can grow between soldiers working for a common cause. All and all, a solid anime with a military focus to sink your teeth into.
Number 3: Code Geass
Right, so we’re really moving away from realistic here, but I love Code Geass. The ongoing war, the terrorist tactics, the military responses and escalation of weapons of mass destruction… despite the mechs and the fantastical political scenario so much in terms of the themes and ideas are incredibly relatable but it ends up being over dramatised and becomes pure entertainment. From Lelouche’s flamboyant persona as Zero to the amazing feats Suzaku pulls off, everything about this story is great entertainment, even if a little tragic if linked back to reality.
Number 2: GATE
This one had to be on the list. In fact, this was where I started and I felt for sure GATE would end up being number one. Alas, I remembered something better, but for now I’ll just go through why I love GATE. It reminded me a lot of the early Stargate episodes with the military going through to other worlds and Daniel Jackson trying to talk with the populations why they looked for resources and the like. Yet, it had all the crazy anime trapping we’ve come to expect from isekai with elf-girls and magicians, and of course Rory Mercury… Want to see the Japanese military face off against a fire-breathing dragon? Helicopters taking on bandits storming a fortress? GATE was great fun to just strap in and watch.
Number 1: Full Metal Panic
Lastly, we get to my number one entry on this list. When thinking of military focus of course I thought of the number one military maniac himself, Sousuke Sagara. I absolutely loved Full Metal Panic’s ability to balance a fairly serious military style story with hired mercenaries and various agencies as well as the high school comedy aspects. It doesn’t make a huge amount of sense if you stop and think about it, but it absolutely gets the fun factor right and some of the fight sequences and the tactics they come up with are incredibly impressive.
And there you have it, my top 5 military focused anime. As I said, I’d love to know yours so leave me a comment.
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