With government-enforced lockdowns around the world due to COVID-19, now is as good a time as ever to binge watch some anime. Post-apocalyptic anime, in particular, mirror the times we’re living in with themes centered around the nature of humanity and fragility of human society.
Many people are drawn to the post-apocalyptic genre, not because they love scary stories, but because of the unique form of escapism the genre offers. After all, an apocalypse is the only scenario where people are free of societal expectations, laws, and rules.
Go ahead and lose yourself in one of these post-apocalyptic anime while you’re at home practicing social distancing.
1. Gantz: O
Highly-acclaimed manga series, Gantz has spawned an anime adaptation, three films, and a video game. Gantz: O is the CGI anime film based on the Osaka Arc of the original manga.
The film follows Kato, a high school boy who lives alone with his younger brother. On the way home, he hears reports of strange creatures attacking people in Tokyo. At the train platform, Kato sees an old man being attacked by an armed assailant. When everyone else runs away, Kato charges in and gets stabbed during the altercation.
The monsters are grotesque and the action scenes are incredibly thrilling.
He later wakes up in a mysterious apartment surrounded by strangers who break the news to him—he’s dead. Not only is he dead, but he must participate in a survival game to rid Japan of the mysterious creatures invading Tokyo and Osaka.
Akin to Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, the art in Gantz: O is incredibly beautiful and you should watch the film just to see the amazing CGI they were able to pull off. The monsters are grotesque and the action scenes are incredibly thrilling. For those who enjoyed films like Battle Royale or The Hunger Games, Gantz: O will be right up your alley.
- Genres: Action, horror, apocalypse, sci-fi
2. Highschool of the Dead
Highschool of the Dead is a must-see anime for fans of the zombie genre. The anime follows a ragtag group of high school students in Tokyo, trying to survive the zombie plague and get back to their families. It does a good job of playing into classic zombie genre tropes while presenting deeper themes of fear and the loss of hope.
The anime was based on a manga of the same name by Daisuke Sato and lasts just 12 episodes—short enough to binge in a single day. Unfortunately, Sato passed away from a heart condition back in 2017, leaving no hope for a second season.
The only negative comment I have about Highschool of the Dead is the anime’s overuse of fan service (overly sexual scenes). If that’s something you look for, more power to you. However, these scenes often distract from the apocalypse story at the heart of the anime.
- Genres: Apocalypse, action, horror
3. Now and Then, Here and There
Produced in the late ’90s, Now and Then, Here and There employs a classic art style that still holds up to this day. The charming soundtrack helps set the scene of a young boy named Shuzo enjoying his youth, driving his parents crazy, and chasing after his crush in the middle of the Japanese summer.
One day Shuzo meets a mysterious blue-haired girl named Lala Ru. Time stops when Shuzo speaks to Lala Ru and strange people appear, trying to abduct her. In an attempt to rescue Lala Ru, Shuzo is transported with her to a post-apocalyptic wasteland completely devoid of water. Failing to escape her captors, Lala Ru gives Shuzo a blue pendant which holds the key to survival in this new desert world—water.
- Genres: Post-apocalyptic, science fiction
4. Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is about the last surviving remnants of humanity after the majority of the human race was wiped out by large creatures known as titans. To survive, the remaining humans built massive walls hundreds of meters high around the last bit of land they had left. After years and years of peace, the titans became a myth, a nightmare of the past that most people had forgotten. That peace is broken when a titan larger than ever before knocks the wall down and hordes of titans swarm in, killing and eating everyone in their sight.
This is one of the few anime that can inspire true terror and fear without the use of jump scares. It blends classic shonen action elements with an incredibly dark and mature story.
- Genres: Action, dark fantasy, post-apocalyptic
Blame! is a cyberpunk CGI anime film released as a Netflix original. It’s based on the manga of the same name and is set in the distant future where humanity is nearing extinction. After years of progress, the AI and cyborgs that humanity created became infected with a virus causing them to spiral out of control. The militant cyborgs known as The Safeguard are tasked with hunting down the last human survivors.
Blame! is an action-packed and sometimes gory sci-fi film reminiscent of Blade Runner and The Terminator series.
The film follows a girl named Zuru who hopes to save her dwindling human tribe by searching for food in the ruins of the city. After many of her friends die in a battle with The Safeguard, Zuru is saved by a mysterious wanderer named Killy who believes he can regain control of the cybernetic network.
Blame! is an action-packed and sometimes gory sci-fi film reminiscent of Blade Runner and The Terminator series. Cyberpunk fans should definitely check it out.
- Genres: Action, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi
Naturally, we couldn’t include every apocalyptic anime on this list, and we left out some already well-known titles, such as Tokyo Ghouls and the iconic Akira which predicted the Tokyo 2020 Olympics turmoils. Hopefully one of the anime on this list is scary enough to make you feel good about staying home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Let us know your favorite post-apocalyptic anime in the comments below. Most importantly, please stay home and stay safe!