Gia's List: Anime's 7 Most Interesting Apocalypses

by Gia Manry,

Catchy tunes aside, the end of the world isn't something many of us want to contemplate...at least, not in reality. Turns out we totally dig it in our fiction, and that goes for Japanese creators as well as western ones! Here are some of the most interesting takes on the apocalypse you'll find in the anime section.


7. Space Battleship Yamato (Radiation)
In both Space Battleship Yamato and its bowdlerized American version, Earth's inhabitants live underground after an alien attack exposed the entire population to severe radiation. Unfortunately, even moving underground isn't enough to protect the population for more than about a year, at which time the entire population will basically wipe out. With its usual scrappy, can-do attitude, humanity sends out a crew manning a former Japanese battleship, the Yamato, newly-outfitted to fly through space and seek out help from another planet. Of course, it turns out that there are plenty of alien species who would be happy to destroy humanity and take over the earth or otherwise make trouble for the ship...



6. Appleseed (World War III)
There are plenty of different franchises that revolve around a third World War or its aftermath, and Appleseed is particularly detailed example. World War III lasts two years after it initially breaks out, resulting from a U.S.-allied Russia invading the Middle East and supressing Israel. Around that two-year mark the war went neuclear, resulting in devestation and a nuclear winter. Oh, and World War IV, which starts because those involved in WWIII (the U.S., Europe, and Russia) start to look askance at the mostly-untouched Asian nations, which have grown wealthy in the meantime. Appleseed revolves around the adventures of former LAPD SWAT members Deunan Knute and Briareos Hecatonchires, who join up with defense forces in their new home: the island nation of Olympus.



5. Casshern Sins (Robots)
In both the original Shinzo Ningen Casshan and its recent remake Casshern Sins, robots replicate themselves and build an army to take over the world and subjugate humanity. In the original series, a young man named Tetsuya turns himself into an android to fight these robots; the remake is considerably more bleak, taking place after the robot army destroys humanity. In this version, Casshern fights on the side of the robots, and he killed the human race's supposed only chance for salvation, a girl named Luna. After, the entire world is poisoned, human and robot alike. When Casshern wakes up hundreds of years later with no memory of his past, other robots are fighting for body parts in decent shape- and thrilled to try and kill him for revenge.



4. King of Thorn (Disease) - Spoiler Alert!
In Yuji Iwahara's manga and its subsequent anime film, the world does not destroy itself. It at first seems as though the Medusa Virus— so named because its victims' bodies harden and become stone-like after drying up and dying —is simply a disease. In reality, it is an alien species that fell to earth as part of a meteor shower. It landed in Siberia, where it infected a young boy and his family. The boy's sister unwittingly spreads it by trying to burn it, but it instead begins to travel across the world by smoke. Humanity's last chance is 160 young men and women who they choose at random to go into a cryogenic chamber to wait for a cure. When they wake up, though, the medical facility they've slept in lies in ruins, as does the entire rest of the world.



3. Blue Submarine No. 6 (Flood)
Forget the melting ice caps: be worried about your mad scientists. In Blue Submarine No. 6, a scientist named Zorndyke causes the world to flood and begins to populate it with strange, aquatic, half-human/half-animal creatures. He designed the creatures to fight and destroy humanity, a race he believes has ruled Earth long enough. Human cities are almost all destroyed and under water. It's a scenario they are woefully unprepared for, and their world gets smaller by the second. Their only hope is an international fleet of submarines, and the series focuses on a particular vessel: the titular Blue Submarine No. 6. It's a race against time to kill Zorndyke in his Antarctic base before he can flood the entire earth with seawater.



2. Vampire Hunter D (Nuclear war, then vampires)
Sometimes it's not enough to nuke the earth back to the medieval era. Prolific sci-fi novelist Hideyuki Kikuchi clearly decided that this was the case when he established his best-known series Vampire Hunter D. He decided to give humanity nuclear war in 1999 and top it off by a hostile vampire takeover shortly thereafter— apparently the vampires had been preparing for such an occurrence and took over with little difficulty. Interestingly, this isn't where the apocalypse ends: vampires eventually perfect their combination of magic and science in order to perfect the art of prophecy, only to discover that the time of that discovery is pretty much the peak of their civilization, with humans scheduled to take back over soon...making it a double apocalypse?



1. A Wind Named Amnesia (Amnesia)
Forget nuclear war, aliens, vampires, zombies, or whatever you think might destroy the world. In fact, forget everything. That's the basic idea behind A Wind Named Amnesia: a strange wind breezes across the planet, causing everyone in the world to forget everything. Not just who they are, but also every element of society and culture, even how to use tools. Even if there IS something they could actively fight against, they simply de-evolve too much to do so. Except, of course, for protagonist Wataru, who manages to learn again after being exposed to the wind, and a mysterious girl named Sophia who has not suffered the effects of the wind. It's of note, also, that Hideyuki Kikuchi is the creator of both D and Amnesia.


Honorable Mentions: Two shout-outs for Gainax, who always seems to know another way for the world to end. In this case we're talking about: 1) Evangelion, whose alien/angel/Human Instrumentality Project set-up continues to aggravate fans and spark debates to this day (disqualified because a good chunk of humanity lives for most of the series, and there's just not enough room in these lists to go through the ending). 2) Gurren Lagann, whose post-apocalyptic wasteland results from a combination of overpopulation and alien involvement (disqualified because— SPOILER ALERT! —humanity wins).

The new poll: Well, last weekend was Easter, and the obvious tie-in is bunnies, so...let's have it! Your favorite bunny girl, based on either a well-known appearance in a show or official art. List is obviously not all-inclusive so go ahead and vote, then make more nominations in the comments.

The previous poll: Last week we offered up a simple, two-answer poll: do you (generally!) prefer animal mascots that talk, or ones that make cute noises instead? The result wasn't a landslide victory, but the cute noises of characters like Tenchi Muyo!'s Ryo-Oh-Ki, the original Mokona of Magic Knight Rayearth, and of course, Pokémon's Pikachu won out with 53% of the vote, while talkers like Negima!?'s Albert, Mokona mach II from xxxHOLiC, and Sailor Moon's Luna took a healthy 47% (but still second place).


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