Gainax has been one of the most influential anime studios ever, thanks to immortal works such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, a true masterpiece for the medium.
That’s not all though, as Gainax worked on Gunbuster, one of Hideaki Anno’s prime works and the foundations for many mecha anime to come.
Gurren Lagann is mistakenly attributed to Trigger by many fans, although it’s not incorrect because the staff that worked on it will later found Trigger.
If you want to learn some anime history, here is the list of the best Gainax anime to watch today.
Table of Contents
11. Medaka Box
Medaka Box is an anime adaptation of a manga published in Shonen Jump that, compared to other titles in the same magazine, has gone somewhat unnoticed.
The story revolves around Medaka Kurokami, the newly elected president of the student council at Hakoniwa Academy, who sets up a suggestion box to collect proposals and suggestions from students.
She’s joined by Zenkichi Hitoyoshi, Kouki Akune, and Mogana Kikaijima, and they soon find themselves facing the threat of the Flask Plan, a project created by the principal to create students with special powers.
Medaka Box is one intriguing fighting anime that definitely deserves more recognition.
What sets it apart is its absurd take on traditional themes of the genre, especially when it comes to the characters’ powers, some of which are ridiculously overpowered.
The show also offers a dynamic mix of comedic moments, plot twists, and intense scenes, keeping you engaged throughout.
In a nutshell, Medaka Box is a fascinating option if you’re seeking a distinctive and over-the-top twist on the usual fighting anime, and we highly recommend giving it a shot.
10. The Mystic Archives of Dantalian
The Mystic Archives of Dantalian is a mystery anime rooted in history, released in 2011 as a 12-episode adaptation of a light novel.
The story revolves around Huey, a young boy who inherits an old house from his grandfather, along with a vast collection of books.
Within this collection, he encounters Dalian, the guardian of the dangerous and boundless knowledge contained within the books.
This initial encounter sets the stage for a complex tapestry of mysteries that gradually unfolds.
The Mystic Archives of Dantalian immerses you in a captivating and meticulously crafted Victorian historical setting, featuring a diverse array of historical locations and architecture that you’ll love.
When it comes to its themes, if you have a soft spot for mystery and the occult, this series is a great pick, while the complexity and significance of the relationship between the 2 main characters add depth to the narrative.
You’ll also find numerous references to literary, historical, and cultural works, which may pique your curiosity and inspire you to explore related subjects.
9. Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is a comedy-focused isekai anime released in 2002 in 13 episodes made by Gainax.
The two main characters are Asahina Arumi and Imamiya Satoshi and their time travels to save their beloved neighborhood where they live.
Each episode is set in a different historical era as the two boys will have to overcome various trials.
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is a fun isekai anime that doesn’t take itself seriously at all, perfect if you are looking for something to watch without having to follow intricate plots.
In fact, the anime is packed with quirky humor and surreal situations, with a plot that follows the main characters as they navigate various realities and alternate worlds, often in a chaotic and unexpected manner.
But at the same time, it delves into deeper themes, like the significance of friendship, personal development, and facing reality, also adding a layer of seriousness.
8. Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is a visual masterpiece by Studio Gainax with plenty of parodistic elements.
Panty and Stocking are 2 angels kicked out of Heaven due to their obscene behavior.
To get access again, they need to exterminate ghosts in Daten City, led by Garterbelt, a local priest. These 2 bizarre angels are far from common, as they have a lot of vices and prefer to do almost anything rather than fight.
This is a vulgar and indecent anime (and that’s intentional). It’s super entertaining to watch and breaks all the stereotypes we have about angelic creatures in the worst way possible.
Panty & Stocking will be always remembered as that ecchi anime where 2 girls transform their lingerie into weapons.
This is a unique anime, and watching it is a real out-of-the-ordinary experience that everyone should try.
7. Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise
Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise is an anime movie released in 1987, unmistakably bearing the distinct style of Studio Gainax.
The plot revolves around two rival nations competing to conquer the celestial vault and establish space supremacy. The main character is Shiro Lhadatt, who belongs to one of the two sides and dreams of becoming an astronaut.
But his life takes a dramatic turn when he’s assigned a mission and encounters Riquinni, a mysterious girl…
This movie is celebrated for its impeccably and brilliantly executed flight and action sequences, remarkably advanced for a production over 30 years old.
But it’s not just about that. This movie delves into profound and intricate themes, including war, religion, identity, and the hunger for power, not to mention the iconic soundtrack by Ryuichi Sakamoto.
It’s the little gem you are probably missing in your collection of anime movies and you’d be amazed to realize how underrated this movie is.
6: Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water
Set in the romantic backdrop of 1889 Paris, the story follows the brilliant young inventor Jean and the enigmatic orphan girl Nadia, who wears a mysterious blue jewel around her neck.
As they delve deeper into the secrets of Nadia’s stone, they discover that they’re not the only ones on the hunt for this treasure.
With shady figures hot on their trail, Jean and Nadia take to the skies in a daring aerial flight, exploring breathtaking and otherworldly settings that will leave you spellbound.
Nadia is a magical 90s anime that’s got it all, from adventure, Sci-Fi, mystery, and even a great romance subplot, with a lot of inspiration and references from Jules Verne’s works.
At its core, it explores the timeless struggle between human innovation and technology pitted against the awe-inspiring forces of nature, a theme that remains just as relevant today.
The anime also delves into the more delicate aspects of life, like the profound connection and transformation that can happen between two people when affection and closeness come into play.
Gunbuster is one of Hideaki Anno’s early works, the same director known for creating the iconic anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. This series also constituted its basis in terms of influence and ideas.
Set in the near future, Earth is threatened by an alien race, and Noriko Takaya, a girl living by the sea in Okinawa, enrolls in a military training school for robot pilots to combat this threat.
But becoming a pilot is no easy task, and the anime follows Noriko’s rigorous training, with the help of her Coach Ota.
Gunbuster is undoubtedly a landmark in the mecha genre, leaving an indelible mark that would influence the genre for years to come.
This is the series that introduced the iconic Gainax Pose, where characters stand confidently with their arms folded, and the Gainax Bounce, known for its physics involving… well, you know what (or if you don’t, google it).
But don’t let these two elements fool you into thinking it’s a purely comedic series.
On the contrary, Gunbuster delves into themes such as sacrifice, determination, and the effects of relativity when traveling at speeds greater than light.
4. His and Her Circumstances
If you were hoping to discover a great vintage romance anime by reading this list, then your quest could end with His and Her Circumstances.
Yukino Miyazawa, the protagonist, is a model student who excels in all aspects of her life. She is highly popular and a talented athlete.
But her dominance is challenged when Souichiro Arima, who possesses equal skill and ability, enrolls in their high school.
This sets off a fierce rivalry between the two characters, which gradually evolves into something more profound.
His and Her Circumstances is an anime that stands out due to the distinct and lively natures of its two outstanding main characters and one of the best enemies-to-lovers situations.
Even in a romance anime, Hideaki Anno managed to leave his distinctive mark by infusing the second part of the work with a serious and introspective tone, diverging from the original source material.
This creative shift didn’t sit well with Masami Tsuda, the manga’s author, at all.
FLCL is one of the most experimental and innovative anime ever that shines for its fast-paced action, pacing, and fantastic animations made by Gainax.
The series is set in a small Japanese town where the young protagonist, Naota, lives. His older brother has left for America to play baseball, causing Naota to feel lonely and abandoned.
But his loneliness is broken by his brother’s girlfriend, Mamimi, who develops a strange attachment to him.
And what seems like a simple slice of life soon turns into one of the most over-the-top stories you’ll ever witness.
The best way to define FLCL is to tell you that by watching it, you’ll have an experience.
FLCL is an absurd, vibrant, colorful anime with a cryptic narrative that will make you question the reality of what you’re seeing, complete with constant fourth-wall breaks.
What many people may not be aware of is that this anime also holds significant importance in the anime industry, being one of the pioneers in experimenting with an animation style that blends 2D with CGI.
2. Gurren Lagann
Gurren Lagann is undeniably one of the best mecha anime ever and quite possibly one of the best anime released in the last 20 years.
The story follows Simon and Kamina, who are tired of living underground and dream of seeing the sky. One day, they discover the head of a robot called Lagann while digging underground.
After activating the mecha, they reach the surface and take possession of its body, leading them to war against mysterious enemies.
Gurren Lagann combines fantastic animation curated by Studio Gainax, impeccable action, a well-rendered setting, and believable romance subplots.
You’ll find yourself captivated by its fast-paced, frenetic action, and its profound themes exploring personal growth, courage, and the battle against oppression will tug at your emotions.
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Created by Hideaki Anno and the Gainax studio in 1995, the anime portrays a world under attack by mysterious cybernetic entities known as Angels that threaten the peace of humanity.
To fight them, the Special Agency Nerv uses special mechas called EVAs. The protagonist, Shinji Ikari, is hired by this group to pilot one of the robots, EVA 01, and attempt to end these attacks.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most important and well-known anime ever.
Even today, after decades of its release, it continues to generate new theories and interpretations about its story, even after the end of the Rebuild movies.
This series is among the best vintage anime and one of the most representative shows of the 1990s, and undoubtedly Studio Gainax’s prime work.
Evangelion will always be a one-of-a-kind and incomparable work due to its approach, that’s not simply psychological but contains several philosophical layers.