Ask Not What Fantasy Anime Can Do For You, But What Fantasy Anime Can Do For Your Gaming Sessions.

When I’m not at work, playing Battlefield 1, or rolling some D20’s, I’m usually watching anime. The wide variety of genres and settings coupled with the low cost of a Crunchyroll subscription always give me something to enjoy. One of my favorite genres is fantasy, which in-part encouraged me to actually try tabletop RPGs in the first place. There are dozens of different “fantasy” genres in media, but I’m specifically referring to your classic Tolkien/Mythology/Gygaxian fantasy. I want to share 6 that I really enjoyed and gave me inspiration for characters, home games, and setting in addition to just plain enjoyment today here on Code/Switch!

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

This fight is basically every Pathfinders first trip through Thornkeep.

This entry is the most true to classic fantasy. Grimgar follows a group of novice adventurers in their daily quests and adventures. The show is animated beautifully with combat and magic possessing a realistic weight which is often missing from anime-fighting. The backgrounds are beautiful watercolor paintings and look like honest-to-goodness environments, not  set-piece backdrops. Grimgar also fantastically portrays the myriad of the difficulties a starting adventurer would face. Grimgar is less about being a hero and more about the journey to competency, which is a good change of pace from the generally over-powered under-challenged anime protagonist.

Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?

The music for DanMachi almost single-handedly makes up for Hestia’s lack of clothing. 

I’m going to start apologizing for this show now. The show originates from a series of light novels which sometimes blur the line between tasteful and smut. It also suffers from Anime-Protagonist-Harem syndrome, in which every character that matters has a romantic interest in the protagonist. In spite of all that I love this show (which I’m going to call DanMachi for short).

DanMachi oozes character with its setting, a fictional nation that contains a towering babel-like dungeon that adventurers plumb for treasure. If that isn’t cool enough, the adventurer groups (called familia) are led by an honest to goodness deities. Followers of Vishnu try and outdo followers of Loki by exploring deeper and deeper into this mysterious dungeon. All the while our little protagonist tries to make a splash by himself with his disgraced goddess Hestia. Where DanMachi fails in its use of relationship tropes, it succeeds ten-fold in investing you in the characters respective journeys.

Log Horizon

“Database, Database, Whoa, Whoa.”- Man With A Mission really is the Bob Dylan of anime songwriters.

An anime in the long line of the “sucked into an RPG” genre headlined by Accel World, Sword Art Online, and Overlord, Log Horizon differentiates itself with world building. Log Horizon goes out of its way to explain how the governance of a fantasy kingdom would change and grow in response to hyper-powerful outsiders as the players sucked into the RPG live alongside the NPCs. Heck, there’s a whole arc dedicated to training the young kids stuck in the game to be self-sufficient. The show is very MMORPG inspired with large battles being called “raids” and the all too common after-raid loot distribution disagreements.

Log Horizon is probably the easiest show on this list to have a person new to RPGs (tabletop or otherwise) watch and understand. Log Horizon actually explains concepts like healing, tanking, group composition, and ability management in a way that’s approachable to newbies or veterans. It’s also notably absent of any blood or carnal sin unlike the other entries on this list, and would be appropriate to share with younger enthusiast. Also, the theme is stupid but really, really catchy, season 3 can’t get here soon enough.

Gate: Thus the Japanese Self-Defense Force Fought There!

Opening theme done by the Akeboshi Rockets, famous for making the same song again, and again, and again (Cheeky language courtesy of Mothers Basement).

I included Gate on this list because I love it. That’s just it I love it. Gate starts with a combined hobgoblin, orc, and dragon invasion into modern-day Japan and quickly escalates to a Japanese counter-offensive into a living fantasy world. Gate follows Lieutenant Itami and his squad’s escapades in this world as he make friends with elves, demi-goddesses, and wizards. Gate’s sunny art style hides how dark the series is. The source manga for Gate is gory and bleak, and while the anime does make the series less doom and gloom Gate does address adult subject matters like prostitution, war crimes, and racial (species in this show) domination.

Gate, like DanMachi above does suffer from Anime-Protagonist-Harem-Syndrome and as such probably isn’t appropriate for younger audiences, but Gate really shines as a fantasy series.

KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Beautiful World!

Genuinely hilarious with honest Fantasy RPG chops.

Konosuba is by leaps and bounds the least serious of the shows on this list. Konosuba starts with the death of the protagonist, Kazuma and his rebirth to a fantasy world where he’s conned into helping its inhabitants defeat the army of the evil Devil King. Kazuma quickly finds allies in an air-headed water-goddess, a masochistic crusader, and an incredibly powerful, but useless, magician. The cast of characters has amazing chemistry and KonoSuba revels in putting those characters in losing situations. Failure after failure will have you belly-laughing until it hurts. KonoSuba is an all-time great comedy.

RE: Zero – Starting Life in Another World

I don’t have any funny or snarky comments for this one, it’s legitimately depressing, in a good way.

Did you like Edge of Tomorrow (Live.Die.Repeat) starring Tom Cruise? Re: Zeroes plot device is the same, but that doesn’t spoil the sweet plot-fruit of this show. (Quick side-note, Edge of Tomorrow was originally a manga called “All You Need is Kill”. That name is so metal!) Re: Zero starts off coy and boastful, almost making fun of other “sucked into an RPG” anime, but quickly becomes more somber and sincere than any show on this list. Subaru, your main character starts off smarmy and arrogant but quickly realizes in this new world he’s the most average person he knows. Subaru’s only ability is to turn back time by dying; no super-strength, hyper intelligence, or secret techniques. Every victory he gains is literally paid for in blood and Re: Zero delivers that message forcefully.

Where my anime heads at? Do you incorporate any anime elements into your RPG settings or characters? Did I miss any other important fantasy anime? Hit me up in the comments below!

James Ballod

James blossomed into geekdom like a piranha plant in the crack of a sidewalk. Watered by the muscle-brained lore of Warhammer 40,000 and nurtured in the rough bosom of World of Warcraft, tabletop RPGs came late in life to James. The rich lore and real-world influences in games like Pathfinder inspire James to explore them from every angle. When not being an annoying anime-fanboy he can be found discussing the history of various cuisines and over-analyzing real world influences in works of fiction.

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