Plot armors are a narrative device that, if abused, inevitably ends up ruining a fight, and sometimes if used all the time, entire series.
How many times have you witnessed a standout fight that was taking you by storm only to be ruined unnecessarily by random power-ups born out of flashbacks?
Or likewise, those scenes when the protagonist, who should be losing big time, for one reason or another gets back up? Annoying, isn’t it?
But don’t worry, that’s what we are here for, and that’s why we have created the ultimate anti-plot armor anime list.
As always this listicle is purely based on our opinions and knowledge.
Table of Contents
Charlotte is an underrated anime that is also worth watching because of its short length and speed with which events are narrated.
The scenario presented by Charlotte is that of a world in which a small percentage of the teenage population can develop special powers. Among them is Yuu Otosaka, a high school student, who keeps his mind-control power hidden.
One day he will be approached by Nao Tomori, and taken to a special school for empowered boys like him.
One of the factors that make Charlotte interesting is that yes, powers are present, but they are very limited, and almost weak when compared to other similar series.
This dynamic therefore gives a certain sense of realism to the events, making the fights purely cunning and without plot armor.
This is also helped by a solid and psychological plot, which does not go for action but more for the characters and their interactions.
14. Bungou Stray Dogs
Bungo Stray Dogs is a mystery manga with supernatural elements written by Kafka Asagiri and drawn by Sango Harukawa.
Atsushi Nakajima, the main character, is an orphan boy who lives with others like him in an orphanage. After being kicked out of the same, however, he finds himself wandering homeless.
And it is at this time that he rescues a man attempting to commit suicide, one Osamu Dazai, a strange detective who together with his partner Kunikida are part of a peculiar detective agency.
Indeed, both are endowed with supernatural powers and deal with cases deemed risky for the police force. It is clear that Atsushi’s fate is now linked to that of the 2 investigators.
Bungou Stray Dogs is an underrated anime that can offer an excellent combination of investigation, action, and supernatural.
And another of its merits is that, without being a crude or overly mature story, it presents a plot that goes smoothly, without exaggeration or plot armors.
On the contrary, the deaths that will occur are clear and definitive, with no flashbacks to thwart them.
13. Akame Ga Kill!
Akame ga Kill! follows a young boy called Tatsumi, who comes from an impoverished village and decides to join the Night Raid led by Akame in his quest to help his hometown.
This is a group of assassins that is supporting the cause of the Revolutionary Army and is trying to overthrow Prime Minister Honest who is manipulating the child Emperor.
Akame Ga Kill! features action, sad moments, gore, and even romance. It’s also known for not having any kind of plot armor within it.
Not to mention that no character is safe and could die at any moment, this absence of plot armor is mainly reflected in the main character.
When we see Tatsumi win, he earned the victory through hard training, and never through flashbacks that give him strength.
12. When They Cry
When They Cry is an anime based on a sound novel of the same name published in 2002 by 07th Expansion.
The plot chronicles the lives of Keiichi Maebara and his friends who live in Hinamizawa, a small country town plagued by a macabre curse, linked to the worship of a local god Oyashiro.
After the protagonists begin to investigate the mysteries surrounding the quiet ghost town, the situation will begin to escalate, with various characters committing terrible acts as the truth is revealed.
An anime that has the virtue of constantly keeping you in a constant state of anxiety with the tension sky-high between one gruesome scene and another.
And as in between gory scenes you will have no time to relax, there is obviously no room for the slightest kind of plot armor either.
When They Cry doesn’t cut any corners, with scenes of almost unjustified violence.
Shiki is an anime with pronounced horror scenes and atmosphere, with some nice splatter moments as well.
In a remote rural village in Japan, the lives of the inhabitants are suddenly disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious epidemic.
As Toshio, the village doctor, tries to discover the causes of the disease, the number of deaths begins to increase and how these occur become increasingly strange.
Is this an epidemic or is the truth related to the world of the supernatural?
As already mentioned, this anime is marked by gruesome and horror scenes, with intense splatter moments.
But rest assured that it is not one of those splatters so absurd that they almost make you want to laugh, achieving the opposite effect.
Let’s not exaggerate by saying that Shiki is one of the most gore of all series, with a psychological and mature plot, so you don’t even have to worry about plot armor.
10. JoJo’s Bizzare Adventures
The Bizarre Adventures of JoJo started as a shonen manga written by Hirohiko Araki in 1987 and the anime adaptation is still ongoing with the recently ended 6th arc.
Each arc has a separate protagonist, although there are some main characters that appear in more than one.
The plot revolves around the adventures experienced by the various members of the Joestar family over time, with a protagonist on each side.
So we will see all kinds of settings, ever-changing and distinctive protagonists and characters, and a unique style but little plot armor.
The only few times we come to think of it is during Stardust Crusaders, the third part, which follows the stereotypical fighting anime standards.
And occasionally in Golden Wind, where the protagonist wins because of his overly strong power.
But apart from these few examples, the fights in JoJo are based on cunning and skill. This anime has no problem in letting characters die and being nasty when necessary.
9. Yona of the Dawn
In a story about treason and revenge, the main character princess Yona is betrayed and forced to escape from her kingdom.
She will do everything in her power to reclaim her place, as shown by her resolute nature. The story is set in a fictional kingdom that takes inspiration from the Three Kingdoms period of Korea, around 57 BC to 668 AD.
On her journey she will be accompanied by her faithful general Python example to sort values within grouped by dataframek, but along the way she will meet a great many male characters, creating a respectable reverse harem for herself.
Yona is one of the best female protagonists in recent years, and she deserved this title partly because we won’t see plot armor around her character.
What we will see her achieve, the battles she wins, and the satisfactions will all come from her deep personal growth, both as a woman and as a warrior.
Gantz is an anime series based on one of the most famous seinen manga. It’s divided into several series, all falling under the horror, splatter genre with the presence of terrifying creatures to say the least.
The main character is Kei Kurono, a boy who gets hit by a train and dies but after his death he founds himself in his perfectly healthy body and is forced to participate in a game-like competition.
He and other recently deceased people will be tasked to hunt down and kill aliens armed with futuristic weapons.
The show is known for its intense graphic depiction of traumatic scenes that involve violence, gore, and sex, to portray the various limits of the society we live in.
In fact, Gantz is a mature anime addressed and designed solely for an adult audience. So rest assured that, in its uncompromising rawness, it won’t get lost in things like plot armor.
7. Fate Zero
This anime from 2011 is based on the light novel by Gen Urobuchi and narrates the Fourth Holy Grail War events 10 years before Fate/stay night. So Zero is a prequel for all intents and purposes.
There will be many characters that we will see return in Fate/stay night, such as Saber and other Servants.
But the real feather in the cap and protagonist is Kiritsugu Emiya, Shirou’s father, which we will finally see after hearing about it often in the main series.
Fate Zero, as in all Fate but more shows us a good and complete story, and especially absent from the plot armor.
Fights are based on strategy or brute force and betrayal, and they are all realistic and excellently executed, with no victories happening for no reason.
We also mentioned this great franchise in our list of the best anime with familiars or summons, if you like the subgenre.
6. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphan
300 years after the conflict between Earth and Mars, a woman named Cordelia begins a journey to Earth to discuss the independence of the Martian city of Chryse under Earth’s rule.
The 2 main characters, Mikazuki and Orga, are escort members to Cordelia. But when a rebel group takes advantage of the situation, Orga unleashes a coup. Mikazuki, to cope with the situation, will be forced to pilot an old Mobile Suit.
Iron Blooded Orphans is one of the best-known series of the colossal Gundam franchise also because the plot armor is totally absent.
And this factor is quite noteworthy since Gundam is also known for the massive presence of this narrative device.
This anime relies entirely on the psychology and skill of the pilots during fights, and it doesn’t let its hand restrain itself when it comes to killing characters.
It’s not a new thing, as we can notice in Zeta Gundam too but this series caught our attention for the theme of this article.
5. Attack on Titan
One of the most popular works in recent times, if not the most in the period when his manga was at the finish line. Isayama’s Attack on Titan doesn’t need much of a premise.
In an alternate world, humanity is hunted by giants, huge humanoid life forms that feed on people, becoming natural predators of them.
Eren, Mikasa, and Armin will have to live with this threat, training to kill these life forms in order in order to get revenge.
And among the reasons without a doubt, we find a solid story, full of twists and turns, deep characters, and dynamic action scenes accompanied by excellent music and animation.
But another of its great merits is that plot armor is present, but really reduced to a bare minimum.
Occasionally we’ll see Eren winning because he’s the protagonist, or Mikasa becoming an inhuman war machine to protect her loved ones.
But, overall, Attack on Titan is a straightforward and raw series that makes very few discounts, especially on the deaths, which will be a lot.
A 24-episode anime created by Madhouse studio from Hitoshi Iwaaki’s manga of the same name, bringing it to the present day by debunking it from its vintage setting.
The work stars Shinichi Izumi, an ordinary student whose right hand is infested by a mysterious alien parasite interested in taking over his body. Migi, a nickname given to the parasite, is just one of a race of parasites intent on taking over human bodies to conquer Earth.
The forced coexistence between the two leads them to clash with other malicious parasites in an ongoing struggle for their survival and that of humankind.
But what seems like an almost bizarre and comical situation will soon turn out to be chaotic and bloody as the two realize how violent and bloodthirsty the other parasites are.
And this is the exact reason why the plot armor will be really reduced to the bone.
The parasites Izumi will face are extremely unpredictable and bloodthirsty, and Izumi will win against them initially because of Migi’s help, and later because of her training and improvement of her fighting skills.
We can think of one and only one event that can be considered plot armor, and it’s related to the death of a key character that we can’t anticipate, which will radically change Izumi.
But we are talking about isolated events and a few, so don’t worry.
3. Boogiepop Phantom
Boogiepop Phantom is a 12-episode anime, fantasy/horror genre, released in 2000, based on a light novel also adapted in 2000.
The story recounts events in a small town where, 5 years after a chain of murders, mysterious cases of student disappearances begin to occur, bringing to mind the horrors that have already happened.
These events will connect the protagonists to Boogiepop, also called the God of Death.
The anime was a huge success at the time, also receiving several praises for the multiplicity and depth of the characters, and for the author’s deep and remarkable research in creating the work.
Plot armor is totally absent this time, giving the story a 100% investigative and thriller feel, with a mystery to be uncovered by sheer and pure ingenuity alone. Clues don’t miraculously stand in front of the protagonists.
2. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
A 2011 short anime produced by Shaft and Aniplex, Puella Magi Madoka Magika is a masterpiece that has affected how Majokko is perceived.
The protagonist Madoka Kaname is shy and indecisive and will quickly get dragged into a much worse reality.
Even though the plot starts as stereotypical, the atmosphere starts changing from Episode 3, quite early considering that it’s 1/4 of the length of the series.
The relaxed and playful atmosphere is just a facade, as the focus is on dark and deep themes. As the plot thickens, you will get to learn many gloomy details and the plot can only get darker.
And in contrast to what happens in classic Majokko anime, the plot armor is also abandoned in favor of a dark, almost stark story, with no room for stretches. And indeed this is not only one of the best series without plot armor, but one of the best anime with no power of friendship too.
There are no better choices if you want an anime with basic Majokko elements that takes a totally unexpected turn.
A masterpiece of the dark fantasy and sword and sorcery genres by the notorious mangaka Kentaro Miura. Its 1997 anime adaptation is famous for its vintage style and its fitting setting.
There are few other works that can match this one due to the complexity of its characters and for starring two incredible personalities: Gatsu and Griffith.
You can’t miss out on the 1997 adaptation as it represents one of the best examples thanks to the setting and the enemies.
The manga is still the better alternative but the old adaptation is a nice pick if you want to taste some good old vintage design.
And this time it wouldn’t even need to be said because it’s quite obvious, but plot armor we won’t even see the distant memory of it.
Berserk is notorious for having one of the rawest, most psychological, and undiscounted stories ever, with many, many gory deaths and intense moments even for the main character, Gatsu.