In the mid-19th century, foreign invaders and bandits overran the Italian island of Sicily, pillaging the countryside and towns. Fed up, Sicilians banded together in groups to protect themselves and carry out their own justice. Thus, they formed a group of people that were set to protect the family, called Mafia. However, in the early 20th century, all of this changed as “mafia” became associated with organized crime, drugs, violence, and other illicit activities.
These criminal connotations have inspired many Hollywood movies, TV series, and of course, anime. As a result, we’ve compiled a list of the best mafia anime that explore this underground world, from family bonds to illicit activities.
Katekyō Hitman Reborn!
Katekyō tells the story of Tsunayoshi, a clumsy schoolboy who blindly falls in love with a girl who is out of his league. Due to his constant failures, he becomes the perfect personification of failure. Thus, his classmates give him a new nickname, “Loser Tsuna.” However, this all changes when Tsuna meets Reborn, a hitman who is also a baby! Sent by a notorious mafia family, Reborn is assigned to prepare Tsuna to succeed the boss of the Vongola Family. Tsuna has a hard road ahead, but with the help of his new criminal friends and his tutor, perhaps even Loser Tsuna can achieve greatness.
La storia della Arcana Famiglia
In La storia della Arcana Famiglia, when a boss retires, he has to name a male successor to take charge of the family. However, this is not possible as there are no male heirs to the Arcana Famiglia, only a girl named Felicitá. As the members of the family have made contracts with the Arcane cards, they consequently have received special abilities. For The Famiglia to get a proper boss, “The Papa” calls for a tournament between Arcane users. The winner will get his “Papa” seat, a wish of the winner’s choice, and Felicitá’s hand in marriage. However, this does not sit well with Felicitá, and she decides to enter the tournament to choose her own path.
Another famous mafia anime is Baccano! The series takes place during the early 1930s in Chicago. It does not follow one storyline, but many different narratives. Each storyline involves several “unrelated” plots intersecting and crossing each other as events spiral further and further out of control. The anime covers immortal alchemists, mafia operated speakeasies, and many other elements of pulp fiction.
Like many mafia anime, the story of 91 Days takes place during an era where alcohol was illegal. The period of Prohibition poured massive amounts of money into mafia coffers via speakeasies around the country. As a result, the large amount of cash made many mafia families untouchable. This is the case in the town of Lawless, where the law has no power and mafia rule the streets. At one time, Avilio lived in this town, but after the mafia killed his family, he went into hiding. One day, Avilio receives a letter from a mysterious person that ignites his passion for revenge and leads him to return home. After arriving in Lawless, he infiltrates the Vanetti Family and gets close to the Don’s son, Nero.
Brandon Heat and Harry MacDowel are two friends who consider themselves as brothers. One day they are invited to join Millennion, the largest and most infamous mafia syndicate in the area. While they both start at the bottom of the ranks, Harry has ambitions to ascend through the ranks and become The Boss. Brandon, on the other hand, only wishes to support his friend and appease Big Daddy – the current Boss – who has taken custody of the woman Brandon loves. Although the two are like brothers, they must fight each other to protect the things they love. Ultimately, Gungrave tells the story of friendship, betrayal, and greed that spans the course of several years, concluding back at the first episode.
Rounding up our must-see mafia anime list is Gangsta. The series takes place in the mafia-governed city of Ergastulum, where Worick and Nicolas make their living as mercenaries also known as “Handymen.” These two “Handymen” will take any paying job from either police or mafia. While the premise is about two men doing dirty jobs, there is more to them and the citizens of Ergastulum than meets the eye. As the city is a haven for people with special fighting abilities, known as “Twilights,” the two are hunted down by a fierce underground organization. And there will be no way of avoiding the upcoming war.