Politics is one of the most captivating plot devices you can find, and not just in anime but across various forms of entertainment like TV series, movies, and books.
And that’s precisely why today we’ve gathered a list of the best anime featuring political intrigue if you want to see how mind games and strategy play a role in Japanese animation.
So grab a snack, choose an anime, and prepare to immerse yourself in the complex and thrilling world of political maneuvering.
Table of Contents
Babylon is a 2019 mystery and detective anime based on a light novel and released in 12 episodes.
Zen Seizaki works as a prosecutor at the Tokyo Public Prosecutor’s Office, where he’s investigating a mystery connected to a pharmaceutical company.
But his investigation takes a thrilling turn when he discovers a bundle of mysterious documents hidden in an anesthesiologist’s filing cabinet.
These documents reveal a complex web of political intrigue that can potentially disrupt Japan’s entire nation.
Babylon is an outstanding choice if you enjoy the fusion of politics with a contemporary backdrop and a detective-driven crime story.
This series also boasts excellent animations, making it an anime that shouldn’t be overlooked.
24. Night Raid 1931
Night Raid 1931 is an original anime released in 2010, consisting of 13 episodes packed with action, drama, and mystery.
The story unfolds in 1931 in China, a time when a complex tapestry of plots and conspiracies is laying the groundwork for World War II.
In the shadows, the Sakurai Kikan, a super-secret intelligence team, operates to thwart the darkest schemes and eliminate formidable threats.
Night Raid 1931 offers a great mystery narrative set within a historically accurate background, infused with fictional elements that provide an intriguing twist.
So if you have an affinity for spy stories, we’re confident this series will captivate your interest
ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. is a mystery anime with strong political themes based on a seinen manga.
The story takes action in the kingdom of Dowa, where there is great peace and prosperity. The kingdom is divided into 13 districts, which are kept under observation by the ACCA organization.
But when rumors of a coup begin to spread among the people, it is up to Deputy Commander Jean Otis to investigate the matter.
ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. is an interesting anime and definitely worth discovering, featuring a story full of political intrigue and distinctive animations.
It will definitely not be the best anime on this list or even the best-known, but that doesn’t mean you might like it.
22. Record of Grancrest War
Record of Grancrest War was released in 2018, spanning 24 episodes adapted from a light novel.
On a continent where war is rampant, the lords possess the power of the coat of arms, with a mission to protect the people.
However, this principle has been lost and these powers are used to fight wars between two factions, the Fantasia Union and the Factory Alliance.
But one day, a group of warriors decides to stop this havoc.
Record of Grancrest War is another solid choice on this list if you’re seeking a mix of fantasy, political intrigue, adventure, and action, all presented with modern animation and vibrant settings.
Aldnoah.Zero is a 2014 series comprising 24 episodes within the genres of action, war, mecha, and politics.
Humanity, due to misunderstandings and various sparks, ended up in a terrible war with the Bars empire from the planet Mars.
The conflict ended in tragedy, with huge losses on both sides and 15 long years have passed. But old sparks and hatred are ready to start another painful fire.
If you’re a fan of mecha anime intertwined with political and Sci-Fi themes, Aldnoah.Zero is a series that absolutely belongs on your watchlist. Don’t miss out if this is your cup of tea.
20. How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom
How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom is a recently released isekai anime, spanning from 2021 to 2022, with 26 episodes.
Kazuya Souma is summoned to another world as its hero, and his adventure begins in a rather unusual manner.
After presenting his wise plan to strengthen the country’s economy and military, the king unexpectedly abdicates the throne to him, placing Souma in a challenging position.
This is because the country is currently engaged in a war with neighboring states, making the situation far from easy.
Adding to the complications, Liscia, the daughter of the previous king and now Souma’s consort, appears to harbor a deep dislike for him.
With the assistance of 5 generals and his knowledge of the modern world, Souma must now rescue the kingdom for which he has become responsible.
How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom is an isekai anime that builds upon traditional foundations but sets itself apart through its well-crafted world-building and incorporation of great political intrigues.
All of this comes with a hint of romance, so if that piques your interest, you should definitely give it a chance.
19. Joker Game
Joker Game is a 12-episode anime released in 2016, set just before World War II, ensuring a rich backdrop of political intrigue.
The year is 1937, and the world stands on the brink of WWII. To gain a tactical advantage, Japan established The D Agency, an intelligence unit comprised of highly skilled spies.
Joker Game offers a compelling anime thriller, steeped in political intrigue against the backdrop of real-life history, albeit with a heavy fictionalization.
But if these elements pique your interest, it’s definitely worth giving it a chance, as you might love it.
18. Moribito Guardian of the Spirit
This is an anime from 2007 inspired by Nahoko Uehashi’s series of novels and produced by Geneon Universal Entertainment.
The story revolves around the Shin Yogo Empire, facing a catastrophic drought that threatens famine across the land.
To avert this crisis, the Star Readers turn to an ancient myth that foretells the defeat of a water demon by eight warriors, a solution to the impending drought.
But a twist of fate occurs when the water demon manifests itself within Prince Chagum. Faced with this dilemma, the emperor orders his son’s execution, but a mercenary named Balsa intervenes to save him.
Balsa is entrusted by Chagum’s mother with the task of protecting him, and together, they embark on an adventure to evade the emperor’s hunters while along the way, they explore the profound values of life and family.
Moribito is your choice if you’re seeking a blend of political intrigue with a touching, psychological, and emotionally charged plot.
17. Spy x Family
Spy x Family is undoubtedly one of the most popular anime of 2022, with the adaptation still ongoing with a season 2 planned to be released soon.
Twilight, one of the world’s top spies, has spent her life taking on undercover missions to make the world a better place.
One day he receives a particularly difficult assignment, and to succeed in his new mission he will have to form a temporary family and start a new life.
Joining him will be the beautiful and mysterious Yor, and Anya, a little girl with mysterious powers they will have to care for.
Spy x Family is a truly comprehensive and exquisite anime, weaving together elements of slice of life, comedy, romance, action, and even a backdrop filled with political intrigue.
It’s evident that its immense popularity is well-deserved, right?
16. GATE: Thus the JSDF Fought There
GATE: Thus the JSDF Fought There is an excellent example of an isekai set in a modern world instead of a fantasy one, providing a breath of fresh air for the genre.
We are in a modern Tokyo, which one day is shocked by the opening of a mysterious portal from which all kinds of entities emerge, from knights to orcs, and even dragons.
As a countermeasure, Japan decided to send a group of elite soldiers led by Youji Itami to the other side of the portal for a political negotiation, and in case it failed, the use of force.
GATE was released in 2015 with 24 episodes and is perfect for you if you are seeking a unique isekai experience, coupled with political and diplomatic complexities, along with a touch of action and fantasy.
15. Crest of the Stars
Crest of the Stars is an action romance anime released in 1999 in 13 episodes from which a sequel was also made in 2000 called Banner of the Stars.
The story is set in a future where humans are at war against an empire of genetically modified beings called Abh.
In this setting Ghintec, an ordinary boy, is about to become a count of the Abh, so he must learn their customs, along with Princess Lamirth.
Crest of the Stars packs vintage Sci-Fi, action, war, romance, and more than a few political intrigues into its 13 episodes, making it a series not to be overlooked.
14. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Ghost in the Shell – Stand Alone Complex is a series released in 2002 with 26 episodes that offers an alternative take on the original manga and the two movies directed by Mamoru Oshii, while retaining the same iconic characters.
Set in the year 2030, the series follows Section 9, a special police force dealing with cases related to robotics, medicine, and computer technologies.
The central character remains the iconic Makoto Kusanagi, as in the original material.
Ghost in the Shell – Stand Alone Complex is an excellent choice whether you’re a long-time Ghost in the Shell fan or looking to explore the series.
This is because it offers a fresh perspective on the original story and boasts modern animation that surpasses the 1995 movies, so don’t miss it.
13. The Heroic Legend of Arslan
The Heroic Legend of Arslan is an underrated war-themed and political anime with a great and compelling fantasy world as its backdrop.
In the prosperous kingdom of Pars, the capital city of Ecbatana shines as a beacon of prosperity, ruled by the wise King Andragoras.
But Arslan, the young prince of Pars, initially lacks the qualities to be a respected king, as demonstrated by his inauspicious performance in his first battle.
To redeem himself, he embarks on a transformative journey, rallying loyal followers along the way. Their mission is to safeguard their kingdom from the looming threat of Lusitania.
The Heroic Legend of Arslan is your ideal pick if you’re in search of exceptional political intrigue alongside a well-developed and closely-knit group of main characters who can immerse you in their crusade.
All of this unfolds within a picturesque Arabian setting, which is quite a rarity in the world of anime.
12. 12 Kingdoms
12 Kingdoms is a 2002 anime released in 45 episodes from the light novel of the same name.
The main character, Yoko Nakajima, is a high school student who is highly bored with her life.
But this changes when a mysterious man named Keiki enters her classroom, claiming to be her servant and guardian as she is the future queen of his kingdom.
The two are forced to flee from dangerous monsters, and Yoko begins a new life in a world unlike her own.
12 Kingdoms stands out as a great isekai that delves into political themes and complex entanglements, boasting a more mature tone compared to the isekai genre’s norm.
So, if you’re interested in an isekai anime with political intrigue and a serious tone, without excessive comedy, 12 Kingdoms might be perfect for you.
11. Magi The Labyrinth of Magic
Magi is in our opinion one of the most underrated fighting anime ever, and fortunately for you, it’s rich in political intrigue, so don’t miss the chance. It was released in 2012 in two seasons by far.
A Magi is a magician whose inclination toward magic is so immense that they can be said to shape the world.
Each Magi chooses a worthy candidate to become a king, and then helps them conquer strange labyrinths called Dungeons.
Above all else, the Magi supervises their elected representative as they build a country that might one day bring the world to its knees.
The main character, Aladdin, is one of these Magi, and he will choose to protect Alibaba, a young and talented boy.
Magi is an incredible series that we highly recommend you explore.
It’s packed with fantastic fights, fleshed-out characters, excellent humor, and a beautiful setting inspired by One Thousand and One Nights that is simply incredible.
10. The Beast Player Erin
The Beast Player Erin is a 50-episode anime that provides a unique experience compared to the other entries on this list.
This 2009 anime is set in Ryoza, a fantasy realm comprising the provinces of Shin-Ou and Tai-Kou. These two provinces have enjoyed a lengthy period of peace, but recent tensions are pushing them towards the brink of civil war.
Erin resides with her mother, Soyon, who is a doctor responsible for caring for the kingdom’s formidable lizards known as Touda. But when one of the Toudas under Soyon’s care meets a tragic accident, she is wrongfully accused.
Erin embarks on a journey to save her mother but ends up being swept away by a river, awakening in an entirely different place.
Here, she encounters numerous new people and begins her quest to uncover the truth about her kingdom, all while it teeters on the precipice of civil strife.
The Beast Player Erin is a fantasy/political anime worth discovering, featuring a vibrant setting filled with fantastical creatures and intertwined with complex political intrigues.
9. Yona of the Dawn
Yona of the Dawn is a 2014 anime consisting of 24 episodes that deserves more recognition, adapted from a well-regarded shojo manga.
The story revolves around Princess Yona, who is betrayed and forced to flee her kingdom. Determined to reclaim her rightful place as ruler, she embarks on a journey filled with adventure and self-discovery.
Throughout the series, you’ll witness Yona’s transformation from a pampered princess to a skilled fighter, guided by her loyal bodyguard and love interest, Hak.
This anime tells the inspiring tale of a resilient female protagonist who transforms from a vulnerable princess into a formidable leader over the course of the story.
All of this comes with a lot of political intrigues, sprinkled with romantic moments, set in ancient Korea, making the entire experience nothing short of magical.
8. The Rose of Versailles
The Roses of Versailles is a cult anime released in the 1980s and based on one of the most important shojo manga ever, written by Riyoko Ikeda.
The story is set in a historical context in 18th-century France, portraying life at the court of Versailles from the coronation of Louis XVI until the Revolution of 1789.
The events unfold through the lives of Marie Antoinette and her noble friend Oscar François de Jarjayes, the commander of the Royal Guard who was raised as a boy.
The Roses of Versailles is a cult vintage anime that you should definitely catch up on if you are a fan of anime adapted from shojo works.
And when it comes to political intrigue, you won’t be disappointed, as there will be plenty of them and even based on real events.
7. Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is one of the biggest media phenomena in recent years, and it’s clear why.
In Attack on Titan, humanity is relentlessly pursued by heartless giant humanoid creatures known as Titans, forcing them to seek refuge within massive walls, cut off from the rest of the world.
Eren Yeager, a young boy driven by a deep desire to eliminate all Titans, discovers that he possesses the power to transform into one, offering a chance to level the playing field.
Attack on Titan is a mix of fantastic characters, a story full of plot twists, and great animation from both studios that worked on it, MAPPA and Wit.
When it comes to political entanglements, well, you’ll discover them as you watch.
Fans already understand what we’re alluding to, as they know why we can’t reveal more than that.
6. Code Geass
Code Geass is a 2006 series, and we’re quite confident that labeling it as one of the most popular psychological anime is not inaccurate.
Japan has become a colony of the British Empire and is now known as Area 11.
The main character is Lelouch, a guy who gets caught in the crossfire after a normal day at school and manages to escape after receiving the Geass from C.C., a mysterious girl.
This power enables him to have absolute power over others simply by direct eye contact, allowing him to control their minds.
This is where his revenge against the British Empire begins, sparking a terrible war between the two factions.
Code Geass is well-known for its intricate psychological and political entanglements, so you can’t go wrong if you’re seeking an anime in this genre, and we have no doubt about that.
The problem with Code Geass is in the execution because the cliffhanger that brought us Season 2 is quite lacking.
We still like some of its ideas, like the ucronian setting and the focus on the alternate world, even though there is so much room for improvement.
Psycho-Pass is a 2012 anime released in 12 episodes that includes a thrilling and dystopian storyline filled with investigation, drama, and Sci-Fi.
Psycho-Pass is set in a futuristic society where it is possible to monitor and control an individual’s mental state and personality.
With those data, it can be assessed the probability of a person committing a crime or not, the so-called Crime Coefficient, and arrest the individual before the crime is even committed.
But as you may have guessed, this will soon trigger doubts about the morality of this system in the main characters, sparking an investigation and revolt that will even involve political intrigues.
Psycho-Pass is a complex and structured anime with no small amount of depth, but that is its undeniable strength.
What we love about this anime is that it makes you think about the implications of such a system in reality.
Set in the year 245 B.C., Kingdom tells the story of Xin and Piao, two war orphans. The two, now reduced to servants, spend their time dreaming of fighting.
One day Piao is noticed by Shobunkun, adviser to Crown Prince Ying Zhen, who takes him with him to become a servant in the capital city of Kanyou. Upon his return, nothing is as before.
The story of Kingdom is a fictional adaptation of the Chinese historical period known as the Warring States Period, which ended in 221 B.C.
This happened after Ying Zheng, King of Qin, completed the conquest of the other Chinese states by unifying them.
Some characters are inspired by real-life figures, although some names were changed to Japanese for adaptation.
Kingdom is possibly one of the best works you can find regarding large-scale war operations, tension on the battlefield and political intrigues in an ancient and traditional setting.
And this is further enhanced by Xin’s character growth, which will give him several benefits during battles, as showcased by his war finesse.
3. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
This is an absolute masterpiece of battle shonen and one of the best anime of all time.
Based on the manga written in 2001 by Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is the animated series that most faithfully deals with the plot told in the original work.
Edward and Alphonse Elric are two brothers who live in a world where alchemy reigns and is used for a variety of purposes, whether in war, medicine, or even related to everyday life.
The two brothers have a specific purpose, which is to regain their lost bodies.
When they were young they tried to bring their late mother back to life using alchemy, and it went wrong, since as powerful as this magic is, it cannot go against the laws of nature.
Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is considered a masterpiece precisely because of its incredibly complete story, and we can’t agree more.
All in the same anime you will find some excellent fighting scenes, perfectly written characters, psychological/drama moments, and even a lot of political intrigues in its setting, plot and lore.
2. Mobile Suit Gundam
To be fair, all the Gundam series revolve around politics, war, and their consequences.
We’ve included the original series that initiated it all, but you can certainly consider (almost) the entire Gundam franchise for this list.
It has been half a century since humanity, due to overpopulation, began relocating to space colonies.
In the year 0079 of the Universal Century, Side 3, the farthest group of colonies from Earth declared themselves the Principality of Zeon and fought for independence, seeking to subdue all other space colonies.
That’s the beginning of a devastating war, that will forever alter the course of history in the universe.
While Gundam series that are part of the Universal Century (the original timeline) are must-haves, you can find a lot of satisfaction in watching pretty much any Gundam.
Particular mention goes to Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury, a standalone addition to the franchise that we recommend to beginners.
While its start can give off slice-of-life vibes, the gist is always the same: war is terrible. And yes, you will find a lot of political games and disputes among different factions!
1. Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a fantastic vintage anime released in 1988 as an adaptation of a novel, divided into 110 episodes.
The story is set in the distant future, where humanity has colonized and expanded throughout the cosmos. Amidst the chaos of war, two protagonists emerge: Reinhard von Lohengramm and Yang Wen-li.
Both characters possess exceptional leadership skills, intelligence, and talents.
Reinhard is a natural leader with charismatic qualities, while Yang’s extensive knowledge of military history allows him to draw from past battles for his advantage.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is an unfailing choice if you are looking for psychology, warfare, Sci-Fi and some of the best political intrigue you can find in general.
So don’t let its vintage animation style stop you from watching this incredible little gem that this series is.