I used to play Dungeons & Dragons a lot- and it goes without saying that being an anime fan means I have a fondness for fantasy anime. I love the idea of chivalry in the face of insurmountable odds, hope in the face of complete annihilation, of underdogs saving the day! Salt and pepper that with grand monsters, and healthy dose of magic and what you have is a formula for anime that I’d surely watch!
In this post I’d like to focus on (relatively recent) fantasy anime that is worth a binge.
5. Record of Lodoss War (ロードス島戦記)
Synopsis: Created from the aftermath of the last great battle of the gods, Lodoss and its kingdoms have been plagued by war for thousands of years. As a quiet peace and unity finally become foreseeable over the land, an unknown evil begins to stir. An ancient witch has awakened, bent on preserving the island of Lodoss by creating political unbalance throughout the many kingdoms and keeping any one from maintaining central control. Only a mixed-race party of six young champions, led by the young warrior Parn, stand between this new threat and Lodoss’ descent back into the darkness of war and destruction.
My Take: Take your classic D&D adventure, turn it into anime and voila’ Lodoss War. My wife and I absolutely love this anime as it has such a great balance of fantasy archetypes and epic story telling with a healthy mixture of comedic relief!
4. Chain Chronicle (チェインクロニクル〜ヘクセイタスの閃（ひかり）〜)
Synopsis: This is the story of the Chain Chronicle, a book that describes everything that happens in the world. The citizens of the remote continent of Yggd once thought that there was nothing beyond their continent. The continent was divided into several regions, each with its own king. Though there were small skirmishes amongst them, a lord, chosen by the kings in conference, always maintained balance, until the evil Black Army arrived. The Volunteer Army, led by Yuri, was no match for the Black Army. During the fighting, the Lord of Black captures half of the Chain Chronicle, as well as the capital.
(source : ANN)
My Take: Based on the mobile game of the same title, the story starts with some heroes already assembled, primed and ready to fight the darkest evil the world has seen– only to fail. What follows is their effort to rebuild a new army that will be powerful enough to stop the growing despair and destruction that looms. Its different in the sense that
3. Gate (GATE（ゲート）自衛隊 彼の地にて、斯く戦えり)
Synopsis: A gate appears in Tokyo’s Ginza district sometime in the 21st century. From the gate pours out monsters, knights from middle-age Europe, and other fantasy-like beings, and they kill many of the citizens of Tokyo. This event is known as the Ginza Incident. The government sends a small group of soldiers from the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to the alternate world beyond the gate. Led by otaku soldier Yōji, they find that the villages in the world are being attacked by a dragon. An elf girl who is a survivor from the dragon’s rampage joins the group in their travels across the dangerous new world.
My Take: Gate is like almost like an anime-style Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court- on steroids and with a tech boost. The characters are likable and their development is something you really start caring about early on. There are epic battles and no shortage of heroics- and it doesn’t hurt to have a love triangle or two in the mix! The battles aren’t just those on the field- as you are given a glimpse of the complexities of inter (in this case) dimensional politics as cultures and not just the people collide.
2. Sword Art Online (ソードアート・オンライン)
Synopsis: The year is 2022, and gamers have lined up on launch day for Sword Art Online, a hotly-anticipated MMORPG that lets players connect to an immersive virtual reality world with special helmets called Nerve Gear. Kirito is one such gamer who’s eager to jump back into action, having spent a great deal of time as a beta tester, and quickly becomes friends with newbie warrior Klein. But soon, Sword Art Online’s 10,000 players discover that not only are they unable to log out, the only way they can return to their physical bodies is by beating the 100-level tower’s final boss – death in the game means death in the real world. Now, with no one else to turn to, Kirito and the other participants must survive the game as best they can.
My Take: Being a fan and early adapter of VR myself, I instantly feel in love with the concept of the story. Couple this with the face that I too played and invested a lot of time in a virtual world I felt drawn to the characters faced their trials every episode. Of course there is romance and all of it’s trappings woven into this action packed mainly sword fighting extravaganza (at least for season 1)- but as the series reveals more and more about who the characters are outside of the virtual world I felt even more vested into what will become of them as the series progressed.
1. Log Horizon (ログ・ホライズン )
Synopsis: Elder Tales is an online fantasy RPG that has become popular worldwide. But when its twelfth expansion package, “Cultivate the Noosphere,” is installed, thirty thousand players in Japan are trapped inside. Among them is grad student Shiroe, who isn’t very good at interacting with others. But to survive in a world full of monsters, he forms a guild called “Log Horizon” with an eclectic group of other players.
My Take: On the surface it might seem that this series is just another one that belong to the sub-group of anime that began with the likes of .hack or even SAO and rightfully so there are a few formulaic plot pieces that are- however the difference lies in how this concentrates on how an MMO guild is run- both from the perspective of a real player managing other players as well as from the character being played running an actual guild — (guildception?)
So there you have it, the list might not be as extensive as you might have expected and I am certain that you might have a few more anime that you feel deserve a spot. Whatever the case, let us know! We would love to hear what fantasy anime are on your top 5 ! If there is anything you want us to cover in the wonderful world of anime please let us know in the comments!