Super Robot Anime Subgenre
Mecha anime isn’t always about human-controlled robots or huge mechanical systems that allow humans to further their clashing goals. A subset of the subgenre, super robot anime combines the power and tone of Super Sentai series (think Power Rangers) with the cool action scenes found in shounen anime. It’s mecha but with the specific focus on idealistic heroism brought about by towering blocks of intelligent machines and their human friends.
Not to be confused with the mecha subgenre as a whole. While mecha encompasses everything robotic and remotely mechanical – where technology is realistic and used as part of a versatile military arsenal – super robot anime focuses on large-scale robots that don’t adhere to logic and are by far the only majorly advanced technology used in the series.
More than meets the eye. Robots in the super robot subgenre aren’t just the pinnacle of human invention; they operate on a mysterious level where logic just doesn’t apply. These robots can be fueled by emotion, only operate for one person, or transform to tackle a situation previously thought impossible. These aren’t just robots; they’re super heroes.
Completely unique. Forget mass-produced war bots, the robots in super robot series are wholly unique. Due to either the complete lack of knowledge and resources to make more, a stroke of genius, or surviving the fall of civilizations, robots in this series are unlike any other.
A boy and his bot. Due to super robots only answering to one person (or multiple people but only for specific parts), the robot and its pilot/s have an unbreakable bond. The robot might even have its own name and special powers, and the pilot is one of the few things able to give it strength.
Unashamedly shounen protagonists. The super robot subgenre and shounen demographic are so close that some aspects of one leak into the other. For super robot series, this means young protagonists will often be energetic and passionate who will do anything for justice and friendship.
Shounen. Big robots and big robot fighting has been the domain of boys’ series for decades, and will likely continue for many more. Many of shounen’s staple tropes make its way into super robot series, particularly when it comes to the demographics’ love of endless optimism and super cool moves.
Mecha. The overall focus on robots and mechanical objects remains the same in both subgenres, though mecha is more focused on serious fights and military battles whereas super robot series can be anything from (mostly) harmless fun to saving the universe.
Action. It’d be a shame to keep all the super powerful robots to yourself. That’s why they go all-out in battles for just about anything. Also used as a means to bring the robot and pilot closer, encourage new powers or fuel sudden growth.
Here's our top 10 'Best Super Robot Anime Recommendations'
1. Gurren Lagann – As humanity is doomed to live life underground, a band of brothers dreams of breaking through to the surface. When one of the boys, Simon, finds a mysterious robot head buried underground, the discovery sets in motion a galactic-scale battle for freedom. A super robot anime through and through that beats the competition in sheer scale.
2. Gunbuster – As humanity begins to take its first steps in space, the threat of annihilation by aliens looms ahead. To combat the growing extraterrestrial threat, Earth develops giant robots and none as giant and robotic as the ultimate weapon Gunbuster. As young Noriko trains to be one of the few people in the world to pilot it, she must fight against the odds. A short super robot series with strong focus on character growth.
3. Neon Genesis Evangelion – As Earth stands on the brink of complete destruction at the whims of aliens, a special branch of the United Nations develops robots to combat them. Each unique robot is capable of defeating the extraterrestrial threats, but at the price of extreme stress and psychological damage on their teenage pilots. A series that walks the confusing line between super robot and regular mecha (also referred to as “real robot”).
4. Mazinger Edition Z: The Impact! – When a new source of energy is found beneath Mt Fuji, plans to use it to solve the world energy crisis are interrupted by the scheming evil Dr. Hell. As he fights to seize power for himself, Kouji Kabuto pilots the Mazinger Z to take Dr. Hell head-on. The newest (and greatest) installment of the defining anime of the super robot subgenre.
5. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet – Across the galaxy, humankind battles with the Hideauze, but their latest efforts to destroy the enemy’s superweapon result in Lieutenant Ledo falling into a wormhole. Now flung across the galaxy and crash-landed an unknown planet, Ledo must keep close to his only reminder of home: his companion weapon and robot Chamber. A super robot anime that focuses on the world around the boy and his bot.
6. King of Braves GaoGaiGar – When Zonders appear on Earth and launch attacks against humanity, it’s up to the Gutsy Geoid Guard to deploy their ultimate weapon for defense: GaoGaiGar. With a mysterious robot lion at its core, GaoGaiGar teams up with other fighting robots to save Earth. An older series made to sell toys that nonetheless captures your heart with over-the-top fighting action.
7. New Getter Robo – The only solution to save the world from demons is to build giant robots to take them down. The latest and greatest incarnation of these robots is the Getter Robo, so strong and complicated that it must be piloted by three oddballs. The more modern remake of yet another classic 70s super robot anime that focuses on teamwork and action.
8. Tetsujin 28 – As World War II ravaged the world, Dr. Kaneda devoted his life to developing fighting robots. Now that the war is over and Dr. Kaneda is dead, criminals use his robots for crime. As Dr. Kaneda’s son discovers the existence of a more powerful robot, he rushes to snatch it from the criminals’ sights and dedicates it to protecting peace. Another adaption of a classic, but with a more serious tone.
9. Mobile Fighter G Gundam – With humankind scattered in colonies orbiting Earth, there is a need to decide who gets to rule them. And what better way than to do so by making representatives fight in giant robot suits? As Japan’s representative is chosen for battle, it’s apparent that his motives are not victory but rather revenge against his brother. The Gundam franchise’s take on the super robot subgenre with varying results depending on what you like more.
10. Valvrave the Liberator – As the human population disperses into space, the powers that control them separate into the military alliance and the economic nations. Between these lies the small but prospering nation of JIOR but all that is about to change when the military alliance attacks. Amidst the commotion, high school student Haruto discovers the powerful Valvrave and uses it to defend his home, paying a steep price. A recent series that turns things around with some interesting twists.