Top 10 Steampunk Anime You Need to Watch

The top steampunk anime shows just how cool this genre can be. Steampunk mixes science fiction and fantasy, giving anime creators a lot of room to get imaginative.

The best steampunk anime ever dive deep into this creativity. They build fascinating worlds and tell stories you won’t forget.

Just like other sci-fi and fantasy, steampunk stories in pop culture come in different types. But they all share a few key ingredients in their world-building.

Typically, a steampunk world mirrors our own from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Here, tech might be more advanced than in real life, but it’s powered by steam rather than electricity.

You won’t find digital gizmos here think more gears and gadgets. Steampunk often delves into the effects of industrialization on people and society, making it a recurring theme in these stories.

1) Drifting Dragons

In 2020, among the heap of anime hits, Drifting Dragons slipped under the radar for many. But it’s a gem worth discovering.

It’s like a softer, friendlier version of Moby-Dick. Picture this. the sky is the ocean, and instead of whales, there are dragons. The crew of the airship Quin Zaza? Well, they’re basically steampunk whalers.

Whaling has a real-life rep that’s not so great, and that might make some folks uneasy. But, setting that aside, you’ve got to admit it’s a seriously original idea.

Drifting Dragons (Credit: Polygon Pictures)

Now, some anime fans might be put off by Drifting Dragons because it uses 3D animation. But honestly, it’s pretty slick when you see it in action.

The mix of steampunk and fantasy in the show sets it apart. There aren’t many other anime quite like it. The art style gives it a distinct look that fits perfectly with its fresh concept.

2) Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Zombie apocalypses are kind of overdone these days. So, if you want to make a mark with a zombie story, you gotta bring something new to the table. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress does just that.

It takes the zombie idea and gives it a cool twist, making it stand out from the rest. The art and direction are top-notch, adding style points to the mix.

Unlike the typical steampunk anime that often unfolds in Victorian Britain, Kabaneri takes us to an alternate Japan wrecked by zombie creatures known as kabane.

Top 10 Steampunk Anime You Need to Watch
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (Credit: Wit Studio)

Humans seek refuge in fortified train stations and journey between them aboard massive armored trains. The kabane are downright terrifying, and the action scenes pack a brutal punch.

What’s really neat is the steam-powered samurai vibe throughout the series, which adds a distinct atmosphere and opens up some cool plot twists.

3) D.Gray-man

The first episode of D.Gray-man kicks off by telling us it’s set in The End of Fictional 19th Century. Technically, it’s a historical anime but it’s a bit all over the place when it comes to technology.

There’s magic thrown in too, which messes with the whole tech vibe. Basically, the show doesn’t stick to a specific level of technology, and it dives headfirst into the fantastical side of things.

Top 10 Steampunk Anime You Need to Watch
D.Gray-man (Credit: TMS Entertainment)

In D.Gray-man, the main character, Allen Walker, is no ordinary guy he’s a pro exorcist. He’s up against this big bad called the Millennium Earl, who’s into some seriously dark stuff.

He traps souls in metal bodies and makes them do his bidding. Even though the show is all about the supernatural, it keeps things rooted in the 19th-century look. The gloomy streets of London-like settings add tons of mood to the series.

4) Steamboy

Before Ghibli’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Steamboy  held the title of the priciest anime film ever made. It comes from Katsuhiro Otomo, the mastermind behind the iconic 80s anime Akira.

Steamboy whisks us away to an alternate 1863, where steam-powered inventions are way ahead of what actually happened in history.

Top 10 Steampunk Anime You Need to Watch
Steamboy (Credit: Sunrise)

In Steamboy, the main showdown revolves around these three super devices called Steam Balls. Everyone’s scrambling to get their hands on them because they promise endless steam power, which could revolutionize technology.

With its hefty budget, the movie shines in character design and animation. The Victorian England backdrop gives us some stunning scenery and backgrounds to feast our eyes on.

5) Samurai 7

Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai isn’t just a top-notch samurai flick it’s often hailed as one of the greatest films ever made. It’s no wonder that its idea of seven warriors defending a village has been a hit in pop culture.

Many have borrowed from it over the years. One of the coolest interpretations of this concept is Samurai 7.

Samurai 7 walks a fine line. On one hand, it closely follows the original film, even keeping the same names and personalities for the samurai.

Top 10 Steampunk Anime You Need to Watch
Samurai 7 (Credit: Gonzo)

Akira Kurosawa himself is even credited as one of the creators. But here’s the twist it expands the story big time to fill out a 26 episode run.

It doesn’t stop there, it adds some seriously cool steampunk stuff like airships, robots, and cybernetic samurai.

Yet, despite all these flashy touches, Samurai 7 keeps the serious tone and emotional depth of Kurosawa’s masterpiece intact.

6) Castle in the Sky

Among Ghibli’s impressive lineup, Castle in the Sky stands out as a prime example of steampunk anime.  Other Ghibli movies touch on steampunk themes, and even Princess Mononoke dives into industrialization issues typical of the genre.

But Castle in the Sky nails it. Apart from the awesome flying machines and airships, the world it paints feels like a blast from the industrialized early 1900s.

And at its core, the story revolves around the search for a legendary ancient city the castle in the sky itself.

Top 10 Steampunk Anime You Need to Watch
Castle in the Sky (Credit: Studio Ghibli)

In Castle in the Sky, things get real when Sheeta, our main gal, accidentally wakes up one of the ancient city’s robot guards.

Suddenly, we see just how dangerous the lost tech from the city can be. Sheeta and her pal Pazu team up to stop the bad guy, Colonel Muska, from getting his hands on that power.

It’s a race against time to keep the world safe from some seriously scary technology. Castle in the Sky, much like other Miyazaki films, packs a strong message of peace and brings up environmental issues.

Muska’s desire to use the lost tech as weapons is painted as downright wicked. And let’s talk about that giant tree at the heart of the lost city it’s not just for show.

It’s a powerful symbol, and by the end, it becomes crucial to the plot. Miyazaki once again weaves together themes of nature and the consequences of greed in a way that leaves a lasting impact.

7) Princess Principal

The opening of Princess Principal has a vibe that could easily fit into the soundtrack of Persona 5.  There are more similarities between the two than you might think.

Sure, the girls in Princess Principal are spies, not thieves like in Persona 5. But they’re all about sneaky missions and undercover work, just like the Phantom Thieves.

Let’s not forget their slick spy outfits they wouldn’t be out of place among the Thieves’ getups either. While Princess Principal may share some stylistic vibes with Persona 5, it’s got its own unique flair.

Top 10 Steampunk Anime You Need to Watch
Princess Principal (Credit: Actas, Studio 3Hz)

Set in a steampunk version of Victorian Britain, it’s a fresh backdrop for a spy tale. Having an all-female main cast adds another layer of distinction.

With its mix of steampunk, political intrigue, and unexpected twists, Princess Principal is a must-watch for any anime lover. It’s a blend of elements that sets it apart and keeps viewers hooked from start to finish.

8) The Case Study of Vanitas

The Case Study of Vanitas wastes no time in standing out from other vampire anime series. Right from the start, the opening scene tells the history of Vanitas like a whimsical fairy tale, with a distinctive ink-and-paper animation style that looks straight out of a storybook.

It sets the tone perfectly. And speaking of books, the actual Book of Vanitas a powerful magical tome becomes a central piece in the plot.

This unique blend of storytelling and magical elements gives The Case Study of Vanitas its own special flavor that anime fans won’t want to miss.

Top 10 Steampunk Anime You Need to Watch
The Case Study of Vanitas (Credit: Bones)

The Case Study of Vanitas takes late 1800s Paris and gives it a steampunk makeover, complete with giant airships that look like buildings.

But despite all the fantastical elements, the Paris in the series is still very much recognizable, with iconic landmarks popping up throughout.

While the show has its own quirky sense of humor, it doesn’t shy away from deeper emotions and the darker side of vampire lore.

It’s a unique blend of humor, depth, and horror that keeps viewers hooked episode after episode.

9) Last Exile

Last Exile tells the tale of air couriers Claus and Lavie, who are on a mission to deliver a girl named Alvis to the crew of the pirate ship Silvana.

While the military elements of the series might remind you of historical dramas like Sharpe and Master and Commander, the action takes place in the skies instead of on the seas.

But the storyline often feels like a steampunk twist on classic space opera anime. It’s a unique blend of genres that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.

Last Exile heavily relies on CGI, especially for its battleships and environments. While the CGI might not hold up as well today, it’s not because it was poorly executed.

Top 10 Steampunk Anime You Need to Watch
Last Exile (Credit: Gonzo)

It’s just that technology has advanced a lot since the series premiered in 2003. But what the series lacks in visual fidelity, it more than makes up for with its phenomenal soundtrack.

With its jaunty Celtic style, the music adds a lively and adventurous atmosphere that perfectly complements the story.

Despite any visual shortcomings, the gripping plot and outstanding soundtrack make Last Exile a standout steampunk anime worth watching.

10) Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has secured its place as one of the most beloved anime series ever. Some fans even consider it a strong candidate for the title of the best anime of all time.

Let’s talk about world-building it’s top-notch. Drawing inspiration from early 20th-century Germany, the series boasts a unique design aesthetic that distinguishes it from other fantasy and steampunk shows.

With its engaging characters, gripping plot, and standout world-building, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a true gem in the anime world.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood stands out not just for its engrossing plot and characters, but also for its intricate world-building and magic systems.

Top 10 Steampunk Anime You Need to Watch
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (Credit: Bones)

Creator Hiromu Arakawa poured a lot of effort into crafting a fictional world that feels rich and believable. What’s truly impressive is how she grounded the alchemy system in real historical understandings of alchemy, magic, and chemistry, adding depth and authenticity to the story.

But let’s be real it’s the unforgettable characters and gripping plot that keep fans hooked. All these elements combined make Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood not just a standout steampunk anime, but arguably the best one of all time.