In Netflix’s Great Pretender, its cast (most especially through Laurent and Edamura) does an excellent job of embodying wrestling icon Eddie Guerrero’s philosophies of lying, cheating, and stealing as they not only surprise the audience, but make them laugh as they work together, and against each other, in their high-stakes heists. In one moment, you think they’re a team, and the next moment, there is so much backstabbing it puts Game of Thrones to shame...only for our heroes to reunite and come out on top.
With all the shenanigans going on in Great Pretender, it truly lives up to its name. While Great Pretender obviously isn’t the first heist anime, it takes the genre to new creative heights with its unique art style, bombastic soundtrack, and its captivating cast. In addition to Great Pretender, what are some anime we can recommend where the game is to lie, cheat, and steal? Read our six recommendations to find out!
Similar Anime to Great Pretender
1. Lupin III
- Episodes: 23
- Aired: October 24, 1971 - March 26, 1972
Naturally, we have to start this list with the true OG of heist anime, Lupin III. Not only are they alike in terms of plot, but in just about every way you can imagine. Like Laurent, Lupin is a French national with a goofy personality and he uses that to his advantage. Laurent, on the other hand, shows more control with his aloofness as he comes across as calmer and more collected. Lupin’s panicky qualities are expressed through Edamura, who is relatively new to the big leagues in the world of conning.
Many of the character designs presented in Great Pretender share numerous qualities with Lupin III, for example, the lanky proportions for the men and the voluptuous proportions of the women. While the hairstyles of both anime are more in-tune with their times, the way they are edged and rounded share similar techniques. Lastly, both anime use a lot of jazz and blues to bring a balance to the dangerous and comedic qualities.
Lupin III Opening Song
2. Cowboy Bebop
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 3, 1998 - April 24, 1999
The unforgettable classic that helped put Adult Swim on the map; Cowboy Bebop not only pays homage to heist titles like Lupin III, but takes it to Mars and beyond! As opposed to Edamura, who is the closest thing to a normal guy in Laurent’s ragtag group of scammers, Spike is more like Laurent himself. He’s cool, has a mysterious past, and he’s dangerous whether he’s armed or not. Just like how Laurent’s gang consists of people of various backgrounds, the crew of the Bebop all come from different backgrounds to the point you wonder how they ended up together (at least with Spike and Jet) to finally become a family who break the law, but for the right reasons.
However, the heists in Cowboy Bebop don’t exactly involve art or money themselves, but collecting bounties long before Dog Chapman made it cool. In order for the crew of the Bebop to catch their prey, they have to plan careful schemes, work undercover to get close to their target and catch them when they’re most vulnerable. In both anime, you see the characters are capable of having a change of heart, but in the end, no matter how many tries you take yourself out of the game, the game will never take itself out of you. By the way, did we mention that Cowboy Bebop has one of the catchiest soundtracks you’ll ever hear? If you loved the jazz and blues in Great Pretender, then you’re going to love what Cowboy Bebop has to offer!
Cowboy Bebop Trailer
3. Black Lagoon
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 9, 2006 - June 25, 2006
Like Edamura, Rokurou Okajima thought he was living the life of an average Joe (or maybe Tarou in this case?), but life had other plans for him until he found himself kidnapped and then recruited into the world of modern piracy in Southeast Asia. After being abandoned by his company, Rokurou joins the Black Lagoon Company and takes the name Rock. Compared to their colleagues, Rock and Edamura both question the nature of what they do but find themselves good at it. They both believe in non-violence and try to de-escalate situations with their words, except that Rock is much better at it.
Revy, the female lead, shares a lot of common qualities with Abigail, one of Laurent’s most trusted minions. They’re both femme fatales with dark backgrounds, and it has made them cautious and yet deadly when it comes to confronting their enemies. Another fun novelty that is shared between both anime, when you watch them in their original Japanese, the Japanese voice actors do attempt to speak in English and in other languages when interacting with characters from another country. While the English dub of Black Lagoon has a lot of f-bombs, just watching Revy using English swears in the Japanese version adds more punch to the comedy.
Black Lagoon Trailer
Any Anime Like Great Pretender ?
4. Persona 5 The Animation
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 8, 2018 - September 30, 2018
Ren and Edamura are a lot alike in that they enter their worlds as victims of their circumstances. Like Edamura, Ren is convicted for a crime he never committed, but thankfully only gets probation (in large part due to still being a minor, while Edamura was never fully aware of his company’s schemes). Naturally, their criminal record results in them becoming outcasts. This aspect also briefly addresses a bigger problem in a worldwide sense as it relates to re-integrating those with criminal records into society. While it’s understandable and human nature that people are distrustful towards those with a record, the fact that they can’t get a job is what leads them back to a life of crime, and we see this in both anime.
While both Persona 5 and Great Pretender are part of the heist genre, this feature is also expressed differently in their own distinguishing ways that serve to tell their own stories, but serve the same purpose-to fight corruption for the little guy. In terms of art, both anime use vibrant psychedelic colors in their backgrounds but in the case of Persona 5, this applies when the cast enters the Metaverse, while it’s commonly used throughout Great Pretender. Lastly, both anime have addicting blues and jazz music that are largely sung in English for you to get your groove on.
Persona 5 The Animation Trailer
5. Banana Fish
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July 6, 2018 - December 21, 2018
For those who want something a lot darker, then we got Banana Fish for you. Considering the time between the end of the manga’s serialization in 1994 and the anime’s premiere in 2018, some appropriate changes are made to modernize the story (for example, Griffin fought in Vietnam in the original manga while he fought in Iraq in the anime). Other than that, the anime follows the manga accurately well.
While Great Pretender is more of a comedy anime with its illegal activity, Banana Fish’s story is a lot darker, but by no means are they different. Like Edamura, Eiji, a photographer from Japan, is kind of forced into a life of crime, and is exposed to numerous horrors of a pre-Giuliani NYC, but set in modern times. What Banana Fish also does great is how it portrays the highs and lows of the Big Apple just like how the first arc of Great Pretender gives its audience the highs and lows of LA.
Banana Fish trailer
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: January 8, 2010 - June 25, 2010
Like Great Pretender and some of the other anime we have listed, Durarara!! has an ensemble cast but takes it to new heights as each episode gives us a different story based on who the main character is for that episode. What they all have in common is that they all operate in the underworld, some by choice, some by circumstance. Like Edamura, Mikado was just a regular guy but moving to Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district sucked him into a world of crime and other forms of insanity.
While Durarara has comedic elements, in comparison to the slapstick nature of Great Pretender, the comedy in Durarara!! is darker. Like Edamura, it’s not just Mikado who is forced into his world by circumstance, it applies to a good percentage of the cast as well, and they all have their own reasons for choosing to stay, and there are those that want to leave but can’t. Lastly, while Durarara!! doesn’t exactly apply the pop art techniques of Great Pretender, what they share artistically is how they portray their environments. Just like how Great Pretender does a great job of capturing Los Angeles and Nakamise in Asakusa, Durarara!! masterfully portrays Ikebukuro as if you’re actually there!!
If there is one thing we can take from Great Pretender and the six anime we recommended for you to check out, it’s that crime probably does pay, if you do it for the right reasons. Either way, you’re going to find yourself in a moral dilemma and we see this with Edamura every time a new heist starts. Not only do we see this with Edamura, but we also see it with Rock and Eiji because it’s all they know. With Laurent, he does it for the thrill and this is represented through Spike and Lupin.
Finally what we also find appealing about all these anime is that they portray real life locations (except for Cowboy Bebop, of course) to tell their stories. Some take place in Japan, and there are others take place in other parts of the world. If you ever visit the places portrayed in them, you’ll probably think if you can pull the same heist as the cast of their respective anime. Other than that, what are some heist anime you feel others should check out? Leave your recommendations in the comments.