Who doesn’t love a post-apocalyptic world? Seemingly no one. It is a pervasive genre, even winding its way into anime. We, as in humanity, seem to have a bit of an obsession with our own demise. Perhaps because we fear it so much, but mostly because in a world that is dying, so, too, die the rules which bind us.
I know. It’s deep, right?
Regardless, storytellers in anime love a post-apocalyptic setting because it allows them to explore the human psyche when stressed in a world that is terrifying, obsessive, or too advanced for its own good.
20. Chrome Shelled Regios
Mostly, Chrome Shelled Regios is an anime that gets way too caught up in giving everything very stupid “anime” names, like how the monsters are called Filth Monsters and those who fight them are called Heavens-Blade wielders or how every character looks like their name was picked by throwing Scrabble tiles. Yet, if you can look past stupid names, Chrome Shelled Regios creates a pretty intriguing dead world where humans live in domed cities and are trying to reclaim their land. It is a shame that they don’t focus more it.
19. Blue Gender
Although older, Blue Gender perfectly captures the bleakness of existence that should be present in the post-apocalyptic setting. However, while the thoroughly ravaged Earth is explored, as is Second Earth, the space station where humanity retreated after the giant bugs attacked and pushed humans off the planet, the setting of Blue Gender shines only a fraction as much as its characterization.
If not for its fully fleshed out characters, Blue Gender would be just another story about how one man saved humanity.
18. Humanity Has Declined
It is not often you find a cheery, upbeat anime that also features a post-apocalyptic setting. The two don’t really seem to mix well, you know? Yet, Humanity Has Declined manages it pretty well. In this world, humanity is running short of supplies so, in their need, they turn to the help of whimsical fairies that are able to make what they need. The fact that they managed to create such an upbeat anime that also features a vaguely bleak dying world is actually really quite praise-worthy.
While the manga is considered a masterpiece by its cult following, sadly the anime for Blame didn’t really live up to its potential. While it manages to be dark and foreboding, some may argue that its experimental visual techniques ultimately got in the way rather than help to tell the story. However, this short series was ultimately supposed to pair with the manga and not stand alone, so there is that.
Regardless, the major charm of the manga was exploring the multi-leveled city where its inhabitants are so boxed in that they can’t tell up from down. Combined with an art style that is best described as “scratchy,” the world of Blame was hopeless like no other.
16. Wolf’s Rain
Wolf’s Rain is a rare breed, mostly because it is it is about wolves that shape-shift into human. However, it also has a post-apocalyptic setting made all the more depressing by the main character who isn’t exactly a ray of sunshine. Throughout the show, you get to see a fair bit of the world that actually doesn’t look too different from our own. However, from the point of view of the wolves, it truly is a post-apocalyptic place where their way of life is over.
15. No. 6
In No. 6 you have a world that features both a utopia and a post-apocalyptic wasteland that are ultimately brought together through the two main characters, an elite resident of the utopia city and a fugitive fleeing the wasteland. Essentially you get to see the inevitable dark side of the utopia after events transpire and the elite resident loses his status.
14. Desert Punk
Desert Punk takes place in a futuristic Japan that has turned completely into a desert. Of course, it is more likely most of Japan will be swallowed up by rising seas before it becomes a desert, but this is the setting that we are left with in Desert Punk. This particular series follow a bounty hunter as he goes about his business catching bad guys and chasing skirt. While it tends to focus on comedy much of the time, it is fascinating to see the kind of people that carved out a life in desert Japan.
Tokyo is a city that attracts great disaster like Godzilla attracts other Kaiju. In Coppelion, you see Tokyo go through yet another meltdown, this time, a nuclear one! Throughout the series you follow three, surprisingly radiation-free cute girls that wander around ravaged Tokyo looking for survivors. There are a few things that could be better in Coppelion, but that post-nuclear scenery is not one of them. It is top-notch.
12. Battle Angel Alita
Although only covering a fraction of the majesty that is its source material, Battle Angel Alita combines interesting and intricately designed characters into a fascinating background. In the world of this anime series, a fraction of the people live in luxury above the squalor down below, with the story centered around an android that was found below in the city dump and fixed up by a mechanic. The world is devastated, but through scrapped technology it is made livable.
11. Now and Then, Here and There
Nothing says the world has gone to shit like child militia! That is just one of the many ways that Now and Then, Here and There shows off how the world of the post-apocalypse can be such a terrible place. This anime takes place in a world where war is not only a near constant event, but the world has turned into a desert and precious water is hard to come by. For the main character, it is a struggle, especially since he is also familiar with a world that has not yet been so devastated.