Do you love watching a bunch of countries go at each other over land and water? Does it fascinate you how the geography of a place shapes its power relation with the rest of the world? Take the five ninja villages in Naruto. Each village is named after its unique topographical features because those features dictate the strengths and weaknesses of its people. The endless deserts of Sunagakure, for example, help protect the village from foreign invasions since enemies find it extremely difficult to withstand the sandstorms and water scarcity.
If you’re amazed by the idea of geopolitics, here’s a list of four anime that will have you screaming patriotic anthems for a nation that doesn’t even exist.
4. GATE: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri
Do you think world politics is fun? Then what about politics in a different world? What if a portal opened up in your sky right now and an army of medieval creatures stormed in through your street and killed everything on the way?
Now three months later, you’re leading a task force that will pass through the “gate” to a technologically-inferior world in order to understand the region, gather intel and report back to earth. What if every action of yours is accounted for and could be decisive in starting a war of catastrophic proportions?
That’s the life of Youji Itami, who stands at the crossroads of precarious extra-dimensional politics. Watch GATE if you’re in for some exciting geopolitics with implications for our modern world.
3. Legend Of The Galactic Heroes
With 110 episodes, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is the longest anime on our list. Set in space, it’s based on a century-long war between the interstellar superpowers, the Galactic Empire, led by Reinhard Von Lohengramm and the Free Planets Alliance, led by Yang Wen Liand.
Both are geniuses in their own right, but breaking the mould of hero-villain dichotomy, Legend of the Galactic Heroes perfects the maxim of “no victors, only victims in war”. There is democracy, there are coup d'état, skirmishes for resources, there is political drama, but more importantly, there’s the cost of war and geographical control, which here is space itself.
2. Attack on Titan
This might surprise you a little, but Attack on Titan is stunningly geopolitical. It’s different from other anime in that there are no “foreign” countries, there’s no enemy aside from the giant, man-eating humanoids who have reduced the human population to a small fraction, now holed up in walled towns meant to keep the titans out – at least that’s how it goes for 3 seasons.
While most people are content spending their time like livestock, biding the day the titans would break in and eat them, a few dare venture out of the walls. The Scouts – the wings of freedom – are tasked with stretching the frontiers of humanity by exterminating titans and seizing control of resources outside the walls. Every year, only a few of them make it back.
The Scouts, however, discover a great secret. One among them can transform into a titan. Yet that's not even important compared to what they discover next – their biggest threat comes not from the outside, but politically from the inside. Attack on Titan is hardly the monster-killing anime you think it is!
1. Code Geass
Lelouch Lamperouge, an ordinary highschool student – ordinary, aside the fact that he goes to a ridiculously posh private academy and is kind of a prince who’s also technically one of the heirs to the throne (and FYI, his mother was assassinated) – chances upon a supernatural ability to control others. But don’t let that premise fool you, Code Geass is nothing short of a geopolitical spectacle.
As Lelouch hides behind a mask and dons the alternate identity of “Zero” and rallies nationalist terrorists to overthrow his father – the Emperor himself – he becomes the centre of a 5D chess game between three superpowers – The Holy Britannian Empire that rules the North and South American continents, New Zealand, Philippines and Japan; The Chinese Federation ruling over East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia; and the United Republic of Europia, controlling Europe, parts of Russia, Africa and the Middle-East.
What follows is a riveting tale of war and loss, people and land, patriotism and what it means to be free. Code Geass artfully navigates the intricacies of international relations in the guise of a thrilling mecha anime.