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Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, the steampunk style is an interesting concept. Imagine living in a world of nuts and bolts powered by steam instead of electricity. Imagine living alongside steam-powered robots with gears whirring within them. The style encapsulates the retro and futuristic vibes that people envision when thinking about alternate history.
Steampunk technology can also be a cool setting for certain stories. Exploring a world built from such machines is fascinating to think about. Some stories have incorporated the idea and did it well.
Perhaps the world is in a dystopian era where the steam machines have dominated over humanity. Or maybe the side effects of these machines have polluted the Earth’s ecosystem. There are so many ways to use this.
Luckily for us, there are anime series out there that do just that. Many of these shows did not only incorporate the aesthetic style of steampunk, but they also incorporated it in the setting.
If you try to picture out the story without the steampunk element, it would have gaping holes in the plot. If you are looking for a steampunk anime to watch, here is a list of them that you should watch.
What is Steampunk?
If you do not know what steampunk is, get ready to be introduced to a whole new world. Steampunk is a science fiction genre wherein the world uses industrial steam-powered technology and machinery.
Steampunk settings are typically set in the 19th century. However, that is not a strict rule to abide by. There are stories with steampunk technology that deals with a dystopian future.
On a general gist, steampunk shows retro and futuristic aesthetics combined into one. They are usually used to portray an alternate history. Instead of modern technology, people would steam-powered machines like airships, computers, and even robots.
The retro and futuristic look may even be adapted into fashion. The style is a popular trend among many mediums like cosplay. Anime and manga are no strangers to this style as well.
What is Considered Steampunk Anime?
To properly set the ground rules of this list, we must define what the term “steampunk anime” means. In this list, steampunk anime is an anime show or movie that incorporates steam-powered machinery in its story.
They can be in any form. Some stories have the steampunk element in the background, which gives breath to the world. We can get an overview of what the world is without any verbal indication.
Some stories have the steampunk element as an important part of the story. They are essential in the main protagonist’s journey. Without them, the story would not make sense at all.
So, these two forms are all included in one huge list. Also, this list is divided into genres of anime like romance, action, and the like. If you are looking for a specific genre, then you can rely on this for help.
Action and Adventure Steampunk Anime
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
- Other Titles: Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Fullmetal Alchemist, FMA, FMAB
- Studio: Bones
If you are a long-term anime viewer, then you would have recognized this anime. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the number one anime in terms of ranking (according to MyAnimeList).
It has a score of 9.15 and has held the title over the years now. The story has steampunk elements within it as most of the machinery is steam-powered. It has 64 episodes that aired from April 5, 2009, to July 4, 2010.
In the world of alchemy, there is one rule amongst many: you cannot bring the dead back to life. Two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, learned this the hard way. Things go awry after they try to resurrect their dead mother. Alphonse lost his body while Edward lost his leg.
The latter then sacrifices his arm to transfer Alphonse’s soul into a suit of armor. Luckily, their neighbors rescued the brothers. Edward received prosthetic limbs from Winry, his childhood friend.
The world obeys the law of equivalent exchange. One must give something of equal value to receive another. Now faced with the grim reality, they become alchemists.
They have a goal in mind: to restore their bodies. To do this, they must locate the fabled Philosopher’s Stone. It is a powerful gem that disregards the law of equivalent exchange. It is said that it can do anything without anything in exchange. Gaining the nickname “Fullmetal”, they set off in their quest.
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
- Other Titles: N/A
- Studio: Gonzo
If you are looking for a full steampunk experience, you cannot go wrong with Last Exile. The show’s main focus is flying through old-looking machinery that can be considered steampunk. In the world of Last Exile, aircrafts small and large dominate the skies. It has two seasons.
The first season has 26 episodes which aired from April 8, 2003, to September 30, 2003. Meanwhile, the second season has 21 episodes which aired from October 15, 2011, to March 24, 2012.
Prester is a world with skies full of aircraft. This is largely thanks to the discovery and application of Claudia Fluid. This fluid is composed of liquidized crystals taken straight from the planet.
With Claudia Fluid, flight became the dominant means of transportation. One specific organization has complete control of the skies, however. That organization is “the Guild.” They have a monopoly on the machinery that uses the Claudia Fluid for flight.
The Guild is also in charge of arbitrating two warring countries. Amidst all this chaos, Sky Couriers roam the skies too. They pilot small airships meant for two people. Although small, they are capable of roaming the skies. Two teenagers, Claus Valca and Lavie Head are couriers who have taken a gigantic quest.
They are to bring Alvis Hamilton, an orphan girl, to the battleship Silvana. In their journey, they soon encounter conflicts much greater than themselves.
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, Historical
- Other Titles: N/A
- Studio: Studio 4°C, Sunrise
Written in the name itself, Steamboy is a steampunk-themed anime. When you watch this, your craving for the steampunk aesthetic will surely be satisfied (at least even for a moment).
This anime, however, is not a series but instead a movie. The movie lasts for two hours and six minutes. In our current state of cinema, that is typical. The movie was released back on July 17, 2004.
A special and surprising package arrives in Victorian England. The package is for Ray, a young inventor eager to make new inventions. Yet he did not know that his life was about to change when he received the package.
It contained a Steam Ball. It is a powerful device that can provide any steam-powered machine with limitless energy. The Steam Ball is actually from his grandfather, Lloyd Steam, who lives in the United States.
Although as cool as it may seem, fortune is not too kind to let it fester more. Ray’s grandfather explains that the Steam Ball must not fall into the wrong hands.
O’Hara Foundation is a perfect example of the wrong hands. It is a company bent on wrong intentions and less than noble goals. They aim to snatch the Steam Ball away from Ray. Ray must use all his wits to escape and outsmart those trying to take the item away from his own hands.
Kino is a young teen who forms a bond with his talking motorcycle named Hermes. They roam the various places in the land with no expectations in mind. They meet different kinds of people, and they encounter different types of scenarios. Yet, they cannot interfere, for they are merely observers in new lands.
Action and Mystery Steampunk Anime
- Genres: Action, Mystery, Historical
- Other Titles: N/A
- Studio: Actas, Studio 3Hz
Cute anime girls are standard elements in an anime show. It is one of the ways that attract viewers to it. However, what about cute anime girls working as spies in a steampunk world?
Princess Principal is a unique premise that bodes well in its story and overall quality. Its first season has 12 episodes which aired from July 9, 2017, to September 24, 2017. It also has a sequel movie and a side story.
The world is in the early 20th century. A new substance, Cavorite, has been discovered. This substance can be used to make advanced military technology.
The country is heading towards war. Here, London is divided into two by a wall. There is an ongoing silent war between the Kingdom of Albion and the Commonwealth of Albion. To avoid confrontation, there is one only way to defeat the enemy. It is through espionage.
It just so happens that the individuals trained for espionage are cute anime girls. A skilled driver named Dorothy leads the group. Ange le Carré is an impressive liar and sharpshooter.
She is also a member of the group. Another one in their group is Beatrice, an expert in mimicking someone else’s voice. Together, they use their skills to fulfill their job. Their journey is full of intrigue, mystery, and suspense.
Humanity is trapped within three giant walls. These walls protect them from human-eating giants roaming the land. They must use their steam-powered technology to get rid of these monsters. However, much of the world is unknown. Erren Yaeger holds the key to unlocking its mysteries.
Adventure and Romance Steampunk Anime
Laputa: Castle in the Sky
- Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi
- Other Titles: Tenkuu no Shiro Rapyuta
- Studio: Studio Ghibli
When you look in the distance, do you sometimes daydream about flying islands populating the sky? How cool would it be to jump from island to island among the clouds? You can fulfill this desire by watching Castle in the Sky.
It is a movie made by Studio Ghibli. Studio Ghibli is known for making masterpiece films, and this movie is no exception. It lasts for two hours and four minutes. It was released on August 2, 1986.
Planes and aircraft populate the world’s sky. Yet within this world, government agents are chasing down a young girl named Sheeta. Their eyes are set on the mysterious crystal amulet around her neck.
They succeed and kidnap her into their ship. However, pirates raided their ship. Amidst the chaos, she escapes and meets Pazu. Pazu is a boy with dreams of going to Laputa, the legendary flying castle.
As Pazu tells Sheeta about his ambitions, both agree to go there. So, they set off on a journey towards the castle in the sky. With the help of unexpected allies, they fly towards the castle.
However, evil forces are following them. Government agents are still on Sheeta’s tail. Just like the pair, they are also aiming to go to Laputa. They have their greedy reasons. What mysteries does the castle hold? Will Pazu and Sheeta reach the castle before the government agents do?
Howl’s Moving Castle
- Genres: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Romance
- Other Titles: Howl no Ugoku Shiro
- Studio: Studio Ghibli
Another masterpiece brought about by Studio Ghibli is Howl’s Moving Castle. If you want to feel butterflies in your stomach, Howl’s Moving Castle is a must-watch. It is a thrilling movie with nerve-wracking moments.
It also has its sweet moments between the two main protagonists. It lasts for one hour and 59 minutes. The film was released on November 20, 2004, and it is based on an existing novel too!
In the distance, a castle walks using gears, bolts, steam, and magic. It is the home of the infamous wizard Howl, a rumored womanizer and a skillful magician. These rumors have reached the quaint town of a lady named Sophie Hatter. Sophie is the daughter of a hatmaker in this town.
She has taken on the mantle of making hats. So, she works hard in her shop and is content with her life. However, her life suddenly changes one fateful day.
While on a walk, circumstances led her into an uncomfortable situation. Luckily, Howl rescues her from it. After the brief encounter with the wizard, she goes home. That night, a mysterious woman enters her shop.
It was another magician known as the Witch of the Waste. Jealous of Sophie’s encounter with Howl, she turns Sophie into an elderly woman. Wanting to go back to normal, she joins Howl and his odd companions.
Nadia: Secret of Blue Water
Nadia, a young inventor named Jean Roque Lartigue, and a captain of the submarine Nautilus named Captain Nemo join forces. They set on a quest to save the world from Gargoyles. These sinister foes have one plan in mind: to take over the world.
Cardia Beckford carries a deadly substance within her heart. Known as the Horologium, it can produce infinite power. Yet, it destroys everything she touches. One day, she is set to leave her home to be a prisoner. Luckily, the gentleman thief Arsène Lupin saves her. She joins him and his companions to set off on a journey.
Action and Drama Steampunk Anime
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
- Genres: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural
- Other Titles: Koutetsujou no Kabaneri
- Studio: Wit Studio
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is most possibly the best definition of what steampunk anime is. The technology used in this show is similar to that of steampunk.
The reason why the machines are like this is part of the story. It has truly incorporated steampunk as a vital element into the plot. So far, it only has one season. However, it has a movie sequel. The first season has 12 episodes. It aired from April 8, 2016, to July 1, 2016.
Humanity has just reached the industrial revolution. Tons of machinery have been produced. Suddenly, mysterious creatures appear, disrupting this process. They seem to come from a virus. These creatures are vicious, tearing humans apart without end. To kill them, one has to destroy their steel-coated hearts.
If these creatures bite someone, the victim suffers becoming one of them. The circumstance throws the world into chaos. Only the most fortified civilizations have stood against them.
One of these civilizations is the island of Hinomoto. They have managed to repel these forces by making a giant wall. There is only one way in the fortress, and that is through heavily-armored trains.
Strong and young men like Ikoma handle and make these trains. He manages to create what he believes is an effective weapon against the monsters. He is eager to test it out, but soon he realizes that his wishes will come true sooner than expected.
- Genres: Adventure, Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
- Other Titles: N/A
- Studio: Madhouse
Metropolis is a hidden classic among anime watchers. If you are a fan of steampunk and old anime, then check this one out. After all, older anime shows have a certain charm to them. Metropolis, like some in this list, is a film, not a series. It lasts for one hour and 49 minutes long. It was first aired on May 26, 2001.
Metropolis is a city where humans and robots live alongside each other. Yet within this city, unrest grows as prejudice is steadily becoming rampant. A detective by the name of Shunsaku Ban is with his nephew Kenichi. They had just arrived in Metropolis. They are in search of a scientist named Dr. Laughton.
The people suspect that the scientist is violating human rights through trading organs. They discover the scientist’s laboratory, and Kenichi finds something.
He finds a mysterious girl who has no memories. Eager to understand the world and her past, Kenichi helps her in her journey. So, the both of them run away together.
The detective follows the pair only to uncover more secrets the city has to keep. He discovers the underground ruler of Metropolis, Duke Red. Meanwhile, people are hunting down the girl. Kenichi desperately tries to protect her from harm. Yet her hunters are rooted in the city’s mysteries.
Adventure and Fantasy Steampunk Anime
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
- Genres: Adventure, Fantasy
- Other Titles: Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä
- Studio: Topcraft
Studio Ghibli does not make Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. However, it was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. He is the co-founder of Studio Ghibli. As mentioned previously, the studio is known for crafting masterful stories. It is largely thanks to the brilliant mind of Hayao Miyazaki.
This movie is one hour and 57 minutes long, and it was first released on March 11, 1984. This anime film is old, but it is still an excellent classic.
A disastrous nuclear war has devastated the world. The war almost ended all life on Earth, but luckily some survived. A millennium has passed since then. The apocalypse is known as the “Seven Days of Fire” made a massive impact on the planet.
A dangerous jungle now spreads far and wide into the corners of the Earth in response to the event. This jungle is full of poisonous spores, gigantic insects, and deathly traps. Humanity cannot dare to go in them.
However, there is hope. Far away from the jungles, a kingdom lives in peace. This kingdom is known as the “Valley of the Wind.” Yet the kingdom’s peace is threatened when an airship from another kingdom, the kingdom of Tolmekia, crashes abruptly in the Valley.
Nausicaa, the kingdom’s princess, discovers something vile among the ship’s wreck. Suddenly, an invasion from the Tolmekian army emerges. Nausicaa must repel these forces and the jungle’s steady creep into the Valley.
- Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
- Other Titles: N/A
- Studio: Xebec
Clockwork Planet is among the freshest entries in this list, even though it was released in 2017. In this story, the world is running on turning gears and cogs. You cannot get any more steampunk than that!
The show is based on a light novel, and it only has one season so far. It contains 12 episodes, each roughly spanning 24 minutes. It aired from April 7, 2017, to June 23, 2017.
According to legends, the Earth was destroyed a long time ago. Thankfully, an excellent clock master named Y saved the planet. He replaced the inner machinations of the Earth with cogs and gears. A millennium has passed.
The world still seems to be turning great. Naoto Miura, a boy who dreams of becoming a clock master too, becomes disappointed from the little progress he has made. Suddenly, a coffin falls from the sky towards his apartment.
Inside the coffin is RyuZU, a female automaton. She was forged and made by none other than clock master Y. Maria Bell Breguet, another clockmaker from a distinguished family, hears of this.
She, along with her bodyguard Vainney Halter, team up with Naoto. Through the action-packed moments, they discover a horrible truth. The clockwork planet is slowly dying. The cogs and gears are slowly starting to wear down.
Lag Seeing has lost his mother and has lost everything. Now, he has become a letter that is being sent to Gauche Suede, a Letter Bee. The two go on a rocky start, yet eventually, both of them become friends. Lag then discovers his passion: he wants to deliver important letters to people.
Historical Steampunk Anime
The Empire of Corpses
- Genres: Sci-Fi, Historical, Psychological
- Other Titles: Shisha no Teikoku
- Studio: Wit Studio
This film has a bit of a weird premise at first. Imagine a zombie apocalypse, but the zombies are the workforce of the country. However, once you get into the meat of things, you will fall in love with it.
The steampunk setting in this film is vital to the story. The technology used is important to how things have developed. The film lasts for two hours and was first released on October 2, 2015.
In the 19th century, humanity discovered groundbreaking technology. They can now reanimate the dead. However, the souls of the dead cannot be returned. So, these reanimated corpses are simply bodies used to do labor. Yet one man, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, succeeded in reanimating a corpse with a soul.
Mysteriously, he disappeared after this breakthrough. Another brilliant mind, though, aims to pick up the pieces that the doctor left.
John Watson is a medical student in London. He has made a promise in the past to his now-dead partner, Friday. Fueled by the desire to fulfill that promise, he is scouted by a government agency.
He is tasked to gather the notes that Dr. Frankenstein left. He thinks that the doctor’s discovery might be the answer to his problem. However, he soon learns that the path he has taken is not an easy one. He will have to face challenges to advance his research.
Vanitas no Karte
Vanitas is a vampire who felt like an outcast from the world. Legend says that his sadness led him to create the “Book of Vanitas.” Years later, in the 19th century, researcher Noé Archiviste was saved from a vampire attack. His savior is Vanitas’ human assistant. Taking on the mantle of Vanitas, he teams up with the researcher.
In a world of samurais modifying their bodies to incorporate machinery, there exists peace. However, this peace is constantly threatened by bandits. Villagers of Kanna Village have succeeded in recruiting seven samurai to fight off the bandits.
It is a long list, so here is a recap of the 18 steampunk anime you should watch:
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
- Last Exile
- Princess Principal
- The Empire of Corpses
- Laputa: Castle in the Sky
- Howl’s Moving Castle
- Samurai 7
- Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
- Letter Bee
- Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water
- Vanitas no Carte
- Code: Realize
- Attack on Titan
- Clockwork Planet
- Kiko’s Journey
There is much to unravel here, but do not worry. The list is separated into guides so that you can have an idea of what to expect. If you are looking for some romance, you can go to the “Action and Romance Steampunk Anime” section.
Something not tackled would possibly be a comedy. If you want to laugh, you can go for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Much of the themes among the shows here tend to be serious.
If you want a short experience, go for movies like Castle in the Sky, Steamboy, Howl’s Moving Castle, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, The Empire of Corpses, and Metropolis.
If you want a long experience, then you can go for Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. It only has one season, but it has 64 episodes. Attack on Titan is also pretty long, spanning multiple seasons.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: Some of the shows mentioned here are available on Netflix. However, it may depend on the region. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Castle in the Sky, and Howl’s Moving Castle are pretty accessible, with over 20 countries that can watch them.
Answer: Last Exile and Castle in the Sky focus very heavily on the flight aspect. In Last Exile, the main point is that they are air couriers getting amid the chaos in the skies. In Castle in the Sky, they reach the castle through aircraft.
Answer: Yes! There are a lot of them. Many of the suggestions listed here are films. They also know how to utilize the medium. Films include Castle in the Sky, Steamboy, Howl’s Moving Castle, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, The Empire of Corpses, and Metropolis.