Whether you like it or not, you cannot change the fact that everything is political. Discussion on politics happens not just during the election season but almost every time. In anime, political concepts are talked about rather subtly, like when the MC wants the world to change (for better or for worse, of course). However, while many anime consider hardline politics a taboo topic, there are also shows that never falter in putting such a discussion on the table.
If you’re a person who loves to ponder and wonder about everything, you might love some political anime . . . like the ones listed below:
Arslan’s father, the King, is well-feared but highly respected by everyone, but no one can change the fact that he’s a cruel person. That’s why when he was abducted by a neighboring kingdom, Arslan took the opportunity to take back the throne that’s rightfully his. But before that, he’s got to learn how to be a benevolent King, who rules with love and never fear.
Among the things Arslan learns on his journey is why should everyone be free. Slavery should be abolished, first and foremost, if he wants to be a great ruler. But more than that, he should create a society where no person is forced to become a property of another person.
Shoukoku no Altair
Orphaned by war, Tughril Mahmut slowly climbed through the ranks until he became a respected pasha for the Kingdom. Expectations for him was high, given that his mentor and foster grandfather was considered to be one of the wisest living generals. And of course, he was determined to prove his worth despite his youth and low-born origins.
This anime tackles wars and how they affect citizens who have nothing to do with them. Mahmut is a brilliant strategist, much better than his mentor, and he’s willing to sacrifice everything for all wars to end.
The last surviving humans live inside a huge dome, which serves as a semi-utopic society: everything is given to them, provided that they work to sustain the place. Natsume, who lost a limb as a child, couldn’t find a suitable job for herself. Much to the dismay of her friends, Natsume volunteered to be a tank, tasked to battle monstrous beings outside the dome.
The anime chronicles the journey of a young and seemingly naive girl as she tries to prove her worth in her world. In her quest to become a valuable member of her society, she accidentally uncovered the truth as to why they’re living like that in the first place.
Jean Otus cares not about politics. All he wants is to do his job well and receive his salary, so he can bring home food for her sister, who is too busy with her work. But because he’s a government official, the most trusted one at that, he cannot help but learn about the controversies that hound his bosses and the nation he’s serving as a whole. At one point, he tried brushing everything off, but as he continues to do his job, he realizes that every story he’s heard is centered on him.
This is a political spectacle, except the main character just stands on the sidelines. Those who are involved in the quest for power are mere actors in the “drama” that unfolds in front of him.
Shingeki no Kyojin
Attack on Titan starts off like an ordinary action anime, in which the main characters fight humongous monsters called Titans. But as the story progresses, the anime just gets deeper and deeper. At first, they were just killing off the Titans, and then they start to want to know where Titans come from, so they can formulate a plan to eliminate them once and for all. Everything goes haywire when they learned that Titans are formerly humans, and eradicating all Titans in the world is akin to committing a genocide or experimenting with eugenics.
There are other anime shows that touched genocide and eugenics, but not as extensively as Attack on Titan. People in the show are really weighing it out if “saving the world” really means killing off millions of people or at the very least preventing them from reproducing.
Light Yagami believes the world is tainted so he should correct it. With the help of his Death Note, a notebook given by a grim reaper, he starts purging on petty criminals, who he consider to be the scum of society. Soon, he went after political figures and other powerful individuals who abuse their positions for their greed. For him, as long as the world gets to become a better place, it doesn’t matter if a lot of people get killed. This philosophy is taken from Macchiavelli’s “The Prince,” the book where the saying “the end justifies the means” is lifted from.
It’s the hallmark of an excellent political anime to question the moral values of its viewers. That’s why for a lot of people, it’s hard to judge whether Light was doing the right thing. But of course, everyone knows that he wasn’t entirely in the wrong, too.
You know it’s a political anime when it talks about the revolution of the oppressed, and that’s just what happened in Code Geass. Lelouch, in an unforeseen circumstance, receives a great power to control those who looks at him directly in the eye. He was a privileged individual from the start, given his race and wealth. But as he immersed himself with struggles of other people who weren’t as lucky as him, he realized that something must be changed. True, at first, he wanted to get to the throne for his own benefits, and he ultimately made a lot of flawed decisions. Even so, he changed over the course of the anime, and in the end, he knew that he can lead the revolution but not a whole nation.
Code Geass tackles racism like no other anime ever did. It didn’t sugarcoat anything, and it certainly didn’t paint the oppressed to be a problematic bunch who “deserved to be oppressed.” Indeed, it was one of the most well-written political shows, and everyone (anime fan or not) would learn a lot if they take their time to watch it.
Whether or not you love political anime, you’d really have a good time watching the shows mentioned above. This list, of course, is incomplete. So, comment down your favorite political anime that wasn’t mentioned. #