Survival Anime – And Then There Was One…
Monsters, desolate planets, and battle royales. In these anime, characters are thrown into life or death situations of one kind or another.
Innocent people (and some not so pure) are taken from their everyday lives and thrown into worlds of violence, deceit, and danger at every turn – all for our entertainment! Let’s take a look at 15 anime series, known for being some of the best in this genre.
It’s a survival anime showdown!
MAL Rated 7.51, Ranked #1498 | Aired Summer 2010 | Produced by Madhouse
When hordes of the undead begin attacking Japan, a group of teenagers attempt to escape Fujimi High School. The horrific virus infects several other students and staff members, turning nearly all of them into zombies. Now, the survivors must work together in order to stay alive and stop this sudden apocalypse!
With infamous levels of fan-service and superb action sequences, High School of the Dead is Japan’s extremely entertaining take on the zombie apocalypse/survival genre.
MAL Rated 7.93, Ranked #632 | Aired Summer 2012 | Produced by A-1 Pictures
In the year 2022, gaming technology has advanced to a state where you can control your avatar in the online world, using nothing but your brain! Ten thousand players immediately log in and begin exploring the medieval-like world of Aincrad. However, one day the unimaginable happens when the players realize they can no longer log out. They are trapped in a virtual hell until all one hundred floors of the game are cleared. If you thought things couldn’t get any worse, there’s more; players that die in the game also die in real life. Game over. Can the main character, gaming wiz, Kirito, survive this new world, and help ten thousand others escape unharmed?
Although the survival aspects of this anime aren’t as evident in the second half of the series, Sword Art Online has a very interesting premise. One way or another, you should find yourself entertained.
MAL Rated 7.71, Ranked #984 | Aired Fall 2012 | Produced by Madhouse
Ryouta Sakamoto was minding his own business, playing the popular video game, Btoom! when suddenly he found himself stuck on an island. With no memory of what happened, and nothing but a day’s worth of provisions, a bag of bombs and a weird crystal stuck in his left hand, Ryouta must quickly figure out what is happening.
On this mysterious island, someone is re-creating the game Btoom! as a real life death battle. The only way to escape the “game” is to kill seven other people, before someone kills him. Ryouta may be an expert at the game, but can he really manage to survive the harsh conditions of the island, and kill seven other real, live, breathing people? A heart pounding, Battle Royale-esque survival anime for fans of the genre.
MAL Rated 7.52, Ranked #1471 | Aired Spring 2011 | Produced by Manglobe
Ganta Igarashi’s life is turned upside down when his entire class is brutally slaughtered by a mysterious man in red. Ganta is the only survivor. He is almost immediately accused of murdering his classmates, and is sent to the amusement park-like prison, Deadman Wonderland. Prisoners are forced to compete in deadly games for the entertainment of onlookers which earns them medicine to neutralize the lethal poison constantly being pumped into their necks.
Thrown into an environment where he and his fellow murderous inmates are no more than mere puppets to the sadistic wardens, Ganta soon learns he must do whatever it takes to survive.
MAL Ranked 8.59, Rated #69 | Aired Spring 2013 | Produced by Production I.G, Wit Studio
In a world where giant humanoid creatures known as Titans devour mankind for pleasure, humanity must retreat behind 50-meter-high walls. But when the Colossal Titan breaks down their stronghold, humans will once again know the horror of the Titans. Eren Yeager, who witnesses one of the merciless beasts devouring his mother, vows to join the military and eradicate every Titan on Earth. However, with humanity’s limited combat resources and the Titans overwhelming strength, it won’t be an easy task.
Through amazing setting, action and plot, Shingeki no Kyojin portrays how terrifying it would be if Mankind was no longer at the top of the food chain. Attack on Titan is an absolute spectacle where Humanity is faced with two equally terrifying choices: fight back against the seemingly un-killable creatures, or get devoured.
MAL Rated 8.31, Ranked #378 | Aired Fall 2011 | Produced by Asread
Life gets pretty dangerous for Amano Yukiteru when he discovers that his cellphone can predict the future. Even worse, his is not the only one to be entrusted with this power. There are twelve diary users, and they’re all out to kill one another. The last man standing wins the ultimate prize, The Throne of God. With the help of axe wielding Yuno Gasai – who is absolutely infatuated with him – Yuki hopes to survive this battle royale, and become the next God of space and time.
MAL Rated 8.21, Ranked #297 | Aired Summer 2009 | Produced by Bones, Kinema Citrus
Two young children visit Tokyo for a robot exhibition, but their visit takes a terrifying turn when there is an 8.0 earthquake. Now the siblings hope to survive this tremendous force of nature, and the new, devastated Tokyo landscape.
As one of the more ‘realistic’ anime on this list, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 does a great job of portraying what sort of chaos may arise from this kind of natural disaster.
MAL Rated 7.72, Ranked #1000 | Aired Fall 2003 | Produced by Madhouse, Telecom Animation Film
In the 22nd Century, Earth is seemingly uninhabitable and mankind now populates the surrounding planets. On a school trip, a mishap results in six students being stranded on a mysterious uninhabited island. The students must now band together to survive. A true survival anime for casual and hardcore fans alike looking for some Survivor-esque hut building, resource gathering, and exploration.
MAL Rated 7.47, Ranked #1628 | Aired Summer 2013 | Produced by Lerche
Only the most talented, innovative students get to attend Hope’s Peak Academy. Acceptance is a great honor. The 15 students accepted into the academy that year are beyond excited. Their excitement quickly turns into shock when it is revealed that the students are trapped in the school. The only way for them to escape is for one of them to successfully murder one of their classmates without being caught. If they are caught, they will be executed, and the rest will continue with the death match until a lone student remains. It’s one hell of a high stakes school year.
MAL Rated 8.34, Ranked #189 | Aired Fall 2007 | Produced by Madhouse
Kaji is a good-for-nothing freeloader. One day, he discovers he has been tricked by a co-worker, and can’t pay off a huge debt he is now responsible for. He is given a chance to redeem himself by participating in a gambling tournament of sorts on a cruise ship. Of course, none of this is exactly legal – which makes the story that much more interesting!
This is the beginning of Kaji’s life of survival, and he’s about to discover just how far people are willing to go when their backs are against the wall. A true standout and one of the best survival anime for fans who enjoy survival games.
MAL Rated 7.29, Ranked #2290 | Aired Spring 2004 | Produced by Gonzo
This is one anime that is not for the faint of heart. In this series, recently deceased childhood friends Kei and Masaru are thrown into a deadly game of survival, in which their skills and morals are tested.
MAL Rated 7.43, Ranked #1777 | Aired Spring 2006 | Produced by Bones
Mysterious masked men sent two brothers to a broken planet where chances of survival are slim. Given nothing but a knife and satchel, they search for civilization on a planet which seems to be overwhelmed with plants. The brothers soon realize that in order to survive on this desolate planet, they must be willing to throw away their humanity.
MAL Rated 8.66, Ranked #47 | Aired Spring 2010 | Produced by
Six teenagers are sent to a reform school on serious criminal charges. Will the cellmates be able to help each other survive the grueling conditions of their new, personal hell? With cruel guards, and an avoid-at-all-costs doctor, the boys will have a hard time mentally and physically surviving their sentences. If they do, who knows what sort of people they’ll be when they get out?
Not only is this one of the best survival anime out there, this title also took out a spot on our list of the most underrated anime.
MAL Rated 8.07, Ranked #112 | Aired Spring 2009 | Produced by Production I.G
On a trip to Washington DC, college student, Saki Morimi, encounters Akira Tokizawa. She soon learns that Japan fell victim to a missile attack, and Akira is involved in a game in which the objective is to ‘save’ Japan. With 8.2 billion yen to his name, Akira must use this money to complete his mission if he hopes to survive.
MAL Rated 8.17, Ranked #337 | Aired Spring 2009 | Produced by Bee Train
America is now a dangerous ghetto, run by the mafia, where assassinations are a daily occurrence. A Japanese tourist gets caught up in the mess when he is captured and brainwashed by the human weapon Phantom – a woman named Ein. Given the name Zwei, the innocent tourist is now forced into a world of danger where he must fight to survive.