The mecha genre is one of my favorites to watch, because the themes and issues they tackle are generally more significant in nature and they really highlight the plight of the characters and the obstacles they have to overcome. They have battles that are fun to watch, and those that are done well, feature some of the best character development and stories in all of anime.
While I don’t think mecha is a genre for everyone, I do think there’s a mecha anime out there that every person will enjoy. There’s a lot of variation within the genre with series that delve more into the political side while others lean more into the psychological or sci-fi genres, so I truly feel like it has something for everyone no matter what you are a fan of.
If you’ve come to this post, you’ve already made the decision to seek out the best of mecha anime, but I’ve included anime on this list that will be enjoyable by both avid fans of the genre and those of you who are looking to jump into your first series. With that said, here are the best mecha anime streaming on Netflix now!
Best Mecha Anime on Netflix Right Now
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Episodes: 50 episodes (2 seasons)
Why I recommend it: Out of all the Gundam series, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is my personal favorite. From its opening with MAN WITH A MISSION’s “Raise your flag”, you know this series isn’t going to be like any other Gundam anime and its gritty style makes it stand apart from the rest. Since it’s a stand alone story, it’s more accessible to those of you who have yet to dive into the Gundam franchise. As someone who was once intimated by it all, Iron-Blooded Orphans allows you to dip your feet in without drowning completely under its 40-year history. While it’s accessible to beginners, it’s also a series that long-time fans of the franchise will enjoy as well.
Its story, which follows a group of child soldiers rebelling for their freedom, is impactful and the way both the series and its characters develop over the course of its two seasons is among the best. But it’s also really sad, because you’ll watch these characters, who’ve known nothing but war, struggle to find another meaning in life as they fight together in Tekkadan.
The camaraderie between the members of Tekkadan is all-around heartwarming to watch. They are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for one another, because they are the only family they’ve known. Mikazuki and Orga’s relationship, however, is ultimately what makes this series, but you’ll find yourself emotionally connected to each of these kids and their plight to make a better life for themselves. I really like the fact that every character is important to the story, and each get their time to shine over the course of the episodes. This is one everyone should give a chance whether they are a fan of Gundam anime or not!
Episodes: 27 episodes (1 season)
Why I recommend it: Gurren Lagann is unlike any other mecha series on this list, mainly thanks to its tone and style. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and features a more quirky side to the genre that few have attempted to perfect. And for many, Gurren Lagann is a series that has pushed them to look into the mecha genre more. It’s one that has revolutionized the genre and expanded it into new realms, and for this reason alone, it is not only one of the best mecha anime on Netflix, but it’s one of my favorites of all time as well.
As well as being a stand out in the genre, Gurren Lagann and its characters have a great spirit. There’s so much character development that occurs over the course of the series, especially with Simon, that make it a true joy to watch. It doesn’t have a complicated story, but it’s full of heart and it’s captivating from beginning to end.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Episodes: 50 episodes (2 seasons)
Why I recommend it: Code Geass is a mecha series that doesn’t always feel like a mecha series, which makes it different from the rest. Unlike others on this list, it took some time before this series really hooked me, but when it did, it had my undivided attention. It is easy to see Code Geass as somewhat cheesy at first, but this changes over the course of the first season as the tone of and the events that occur in the anime become more dark and serious.
Lelouch is the shining star of this series. He’s intelligent, self-assured, and collected, but he’s also very much driven by his emotions and prone to hubris. Even though he’s extremely calculated and talented, he is still relatable and there’s something about him that’s just so captivating to watch. His take on justice, which he will achieve at all costs, is very different from that of Suzaku. These two’s differing ideals and takes on justice add a lot of depth to this anime as they rival one another, but more so than anything, it’s how these two evolve that makes Code Geass so riveting to watch.
Code Geass is a chess match between Lelouch and those who stand against him and the rest of the characters are the pieces on his board. There’s a lot of strategy and action that make this one fun to watch, but the issues it tackles are profound as well.
Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn
Episodes: 7 episodes (1 season)
Why I recommend it: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn is part of the original timeline and universe of the original, but it’s one you can still watch on its own. You’ll get more context and all the references if you watch it from the beginning, which will enhance the experience, but it’s not a requirement to enjoy and understand what’s going on in Mobile Suit Gundam UC. This is one of my favorites in the Gundam franchise, because it features innovative mobile suits, crisp animation, but more than anything, it has a great story.
Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn is not just about the battles, but the conflicts and the people. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have incredible battles, because it definitely does. The thing that separates it from other series on this list though is that it really excels in humanizing the “bad guys” and gives characters on both sides a chance to redeem themselves. For me, this is where Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn truly shines.
It’s one you can complete in a little over 7 hours, or you can give it time and watch episode by episode. But you’ll most likely end up binging it in one sitting like I did, because it’s just too good to step away from.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Episodes: 26 episodes (1 season)
Why I recommend it: Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the biggest names in all of anime, let alone the genre, and it’s a classic that takes a more psychological approach. The atmosphere and nuances featured in the original Evangelion series have set a standard, and while it’s an older series from 1995, it’s revolutionary for its time with music and sound that still holds up to this day and a story that influenced many.
While it’s not the first mecha anime, it took the genre into a moodier and darker place and shined thanks to its offbeat nature. But it really excels in the way that it focuses on the characters struggles not just externally via their fights against the Angels, but the internal struggles they have as well. For these reasons and more, the characters have a lot of depth to them and as a result, the character development is done extremely well.
Just because something is a classic doesn’t always mean it’s good, but Neon Genesis Evangelion lives up to its hype. Its lean into the psychological and emphasis on atmosphere and mood make it a true powerhouse in the mecha genre.
Knights of Sidonia
Episodes: 24 episodes (2 seasons)
Why I recommend it: Tsutomu Nihei’s artwork is intricate with scenes that feature levels and levels of detail. This is a huge reason as to why I love his work, but any of his series, let alone Knights of Sidonia, were bound to be a challenge for any animation studio. Putting what fans of the manga think aside, I think its a pretty good effort and is definitely one of the more enjoyable mecha series to watch on Netflix.
Polygon Pictures was tapped to do the animation, which I must say is CGI, and while it’s not the best I’ve seen, it’s definitely better than most. One positive to this is that that the CGI lends itself really well to the battles and the overall environment of the series, but watching the characters themselves in this format is something you’ll have to get used to. I must admit that I almost stopped watching Knights of Sidonia because of the CGI, but I would have missed out if I did so.
Similar to Evangelion, instead of fighting one another with mech, they use them to fight against otherworldly beings. In Knights of Sidonia‘s case these beings are an alien species called Gauna. What’s left of humanity now lives on giant seed ships, such as Sidonia. It’s very much a post-apocalyptic story with humanity on the brink of extinction, but it’s also about their fight to survive and the rise of the series’ hero Tanikaze.
The story alone makes this one worth the watch, but the artwork and visuals are truly breathtaking as well. It’s more in the sci-fi realm than most of the mecha anime on this list, and while it’s not perfect by any means, it’s still extremely fun to watch.
We will continue to update this post if Netflix adds more mecha series to their platform, but as of now these are our favorites in the catalog! While Netflix has a good selection, I want to give a quick shout-out to two mecha series that are currently on other streaming services, Eureka Seven on Funimation and Mobile Suit Gundam The 08th MS Team on Hulu. If you have either of these services, I highly recommend these two as well.
In other anime news, check out all of the anime that’s releasing in 2021, including Back Arrow, a new series made in collaboration with director Goro Taniguchi (Code Geass) and writer Kazuki Nakashima (Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill, and Promare), and Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway.