Who doesn’t love a good fantasy? Since the ’80s, popular culture has had an infatuation with the days of yore when goblins, elves, and trolls once roamed the land and skilled knights fought for their kingdom and honor. Over time, the fantasy genre has grown to include all kinds of different subgenres: steampunk, post-apocalyptic, magical, supernatural, futuristic, and of course, medieval. Just like every other facet of pop culture, anime has explored all of these concepts across thousands of titles, with some even introducing all of them in mass hybrid form. At times, fantasy anime has proven to be a better medium for the fantasy genre than most live-action shows given the creative freedom that Japanese artists have and can assert when creating their animations.
If you don’t know much about the fantasy anime genre, then you are definitely missing out. Not to worry, though: here are some recommendations to get you started on your journey into the anime’s fantasy realm.
Fair warning to all: this fantasy anime is not for the faint of heart. Created by Kumo Kagyu, Goblin Slayer is set in a world of fantasy where adventurers come from far and wide to join the Adventurers Guild hoping to earn gold and glory. Where huge monsters and bigger threats loom on the horizon, an inexperienced priestess decides for her first contract to go looking for goblins. But goblins⏤though small and less of a threat than the average contract⏤are cunning and ruthless creatures, and the priestess’ party is soon raped and killed, leaving her alone to fend for herself. Thankfully, she is rescued by an adventurer simply known as the Goblin Slayer whose sole objective is to destroy all goblins as mercilessly as possible. The priestess joins the Goblin Slayer and together they form a small band of adventurers to continue the Goblin Slayer’s quest to eradicate all goblins.
Goblin Slayer is a dark fantasy anime with lots of gory violence and very direct sexual content. It is highly advisable that you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for this one, as it can get quite graphic at times. That aside, the series is a great watch for fantasy fans.
Another dark anime, Berserk is centered around the kingdom of Midland during an era where supernatural creatures ravage the land and its people. The protagonist, Guts, is a former member of a legendary band of mercenaries who unfortunately played a role in ushering the new era after being partly sacrificed to transform his former leader and friend Griffith into a member of the archdemon group known as God’s Hand. Thanks to Griffith’s ascension to the demon god known as Femto, Guts now fights through hordes of ghouls and demons in the hopes of finding Femto and exacting his revenge. Now part of a new band of warriors, Guts travels Midland looking for any way to get closer to his goal.
Created by the late Kentaro Miura, Berserk is extremely gory and just as sexually driven as Goblin Slayer, but with one notable difference: higher stakes. Full of graphic violence and gore, Berserk is another powerful fantasy anime that is easy to get drawn into if you’re a fan of fantasy anime.
Seven Deadly Sins
Created by Nakaba Suzuki, The Seven Deadly Sins is set in the fantasy kingdom of Liones where the Holy Knights are both revered and loved. However, inside that order of Holy Knights were the strongest and cruelest band of warriors known simply as the Seven Deadly Sins, who were formed out of seven of the kingdom’s most brutal criminals. Once Liones’ most respected order of knights, The Seven Deadly Sins were framed for murder and branded as villains, forced to flee and roam the land as fugitives. Now back together, the Sins fight to clear their name and protect the world from the evil plots of Demon King and his own elite group of warriors, The Ten Commandments.
Seven Deadly Sins is a great action-packed saga that incorporates a lot of religious context in its storyline. The fight scenes are fast-paced and engaging, combining well with the surprisingly suspenseful and deep storyline despite the light tone of its animation. Focused on love, redemption, and evolution, the anime is a humorous and thrilling journey into the fantasy genre.
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Attack on Titan
Created by Hajime Isayama, Attack on Titan is a dark fantasy and dystopian tale that centers around humanity’s fight for survival against giant humanoid monsters known as the Titans. Eaten to the brink of extinction, humanity’s only hope is the military’s diligent Scout Regiment, who is tasked with figuring out the mysteries of the Titans’ origins and how to defeat the monsters once and for all. The story follows young Eren Jaeger, a Scout cadet who has lost his family and close friends to the Titan attacks, as he eagerly does anything he can to play an important role in stopping the Titans. Together with his childhood friends Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlett, Eren experiences a wartime period that will shake him to his core and find out his role is a lot more important than he may have thought.
Attack On Titan is a bloody and horrific anime that illustrates the corruption and twisted ideals that humans are capable of creating when forced to survive a pandemic like the presence of the Titans. The story is a tragic one, as many memorable characters fall victim to Titans throughout the series, leaving many of the surviving characters drastically affected by each event. The fight scenes are often incredible to watch as the animation boldly takes you into the middle of the action with in-your-face angles from almost first-person perspective. That said, it could also get painful to watch, as that same person perspective is used when humans are brutally ripped to shreds and eaten by the Titans. With all the feels of a good horror movie and the intensity of a shonen anime, Attack on Titan is a suspenseful fantasy anime that will both make you cringe and cheer at the same time.
Created by Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist is set in a fictional European land where alchemy and magic is as common as breathing. The story follows young Edward Elric and his younger brother Alphonse as they perform a forbidden alchemy sequence to resurrect the dead mother, only to literally lose parts of themselves in the process, leaving Alphonse without his entire body and Ed missing an arm and leg. Desperate to keep his brother’s soul by his side, Edward performed another alchemy sequence and grafts Alphonse to a suit of armor.
Now determined to figure out a way to return themselves to normal, Ed and Alphonse join the military as State Alchemists in hopes of finding the fabled Philosopher’s Stone⏤a jewel said to give its wielder immense alchemical abilities⏤to assist in their quest. Traveling the land along the way, they find that both the government and the people may not be what they seem.
Fullmetal Alchemist is a fantastic and beautifully drawn saga that takes you through a journey of redemption and self-reflection. The series is well-rounded with suspense and drama that flows seamlessly into exciting action sequences that keep the adrenaline pumping for hours on end.
Created by Yuki Tabata, Black Clover is set in a world where everyone can use some sort of magic (even little kids) and follows the story of two orphans, Asta and Yuno, as they grow up in the Clover Kingdom with aspirations to become the Wizard King. Yuno, who has been a prodigy with magic since childhood, has no problem earning his spell book (known as a Grimoire) and joining the upper echelon of the renowned Magic Knights, an army of magical warriors who police and defend the kingdom. Asta, on the other hand, has no magical energy and instead has to physically fight to prove his usefulness. Luckily, he’s chosen by a rare Grimoire that allows him to use Anti-Magic, a dark magic capable of nullifying normal magic. Thanks to that, Asta is able to earn a spot in the Magic Knights as a member of the worst squad in the army⏤the brutish and eccentric Black Bulls.
Motivated by his achievement and driven by his dream of becoming the Wizard King before Yuno, Asta now pushes himself every day to get stronger as he and the Black Bulls embark on dangerous missions to defend the citizens of Clover from the evil magical forces that attempt to destroy them all.
Black Clover is an action-packed and often humorous magical fantasy tale that is very reminiscent of Naruto and My Hero Academia, as all three center around boys whose normalcy is actually considered a disability in a world where everyone else is capable of using some sort of special ability from the day they’re born. The magical fight scenes are often impressive and the story itself is complex enough that character development is not lacking, even with the minor supporting characters of the series. If you liked Naruto, then you’re definitely going to like Black Clover as well as the other fantasy anime series on this list.