Lord of the Rings is the birth of the Western Fantasy Genre. Everything from the Wheel of Time to Neverwinter Nights, to A Song of Ice and Fire to World of Warcraft would not be possible without Lord of the Rings. It's a critical piece of fiction in the 20th century and there's no shortage of fans seeking out similar works. As a medium, anime has a few pieces which evoke some similarities and which are definitely worth a shot for fans of Lord of the Rings. Let's take a look at 6 Anime like Lord of the Rings.
Similar Anime to Lord of the Rings
1. Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)
- Episodes: 1 (film)
- Aired: Jul 1997
Ashitaka, a prince of the Emishi, an Ainu-related people indigenous to Northern Japan, defended his village from an attack by a rabid-demon boar. Before he could slay the beast, the boar cursed his hand, giving him supernatural strength but slowly draining his life away. Traveling Westward for a cure, he gets involved in a conflict between Iron Town and the Spirits of the Forest. Iron Town, led by Lady Eboshi is a haven for the oppressed and outcast in Japanese society, they defend themselves fiercely with gunpowder weapons. However, they must constantly destroy the forest for wood, and thus come into conflict with Princess San, a human girl who fights with the wolves of the forest.
Princess Mononoke and Lord of the Rings share a pretty prevalent theme which is Industrialization as well as the conflict it brings with nature. In Lord of the Rings, Isengard, controlled by Saruman is depicted burning the Forest (Who in the LOTR Universe are living trees called Ents), to fuel his factories which produce weapons of war with modern like regimentation and speed. Princess Mononoke adds an interesting layer to this theme, in that the humans doing it need the lumber from the forest to defend themselves from hostile Daimyo and Samurai. These themes are so central to the plot they immediately struck me as a huge similarity between both Lord of the Rings and Mononoke Hime. They also have more than just this theme, including a fantastic fantasy setting and stunning visual presentation.
Princess Mononoke - Official Trailer
2. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct 2012 to Mar 2013
All around the world, numerous magic structures called 'Dungeons' pop up. Rumored to be the work of Magi, a special type of magician, they contain dangerous traps and monsters but also powerful magical treasure. Those who can master these dungeons become Kings Candidates, special and powerful individuals who may be worthy to be King of the World. Alibaba, with the help of the Magi Aladdin, sets out to capture a dungeon and unwittingly become a kings candidate.
Magi is based in Arabic fantasy but does feel similar to LOTR in a number of ways. Alibaba is an Aragorn-type character, coming out of obscurity and small station to become a very influential figure. There's also a lot of the wonder in Magi of going to a new place and learning a bit about the culture and the people. Magi has a very well thought-out and well-crafted setting, and this type of world building was so crucial in Lord of the Rings. Also, rightly or wrongly, Magi has a very black and white view of Morality, and it goes to show how some of the darker side of people. Lord of the Rings dealt with a lot of these themes as well, showing how normal people could be corrupted to side with Morgoth and Sauron.
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic - Official Trailer
3. Moribito: Guardians of the Spirit
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr 2007 to Sep 2007
Balsa is a wandering spear-woman who happens to save a prince, named Chagum from drowning in an apparent accident. However, it was no accident and Balsa is contacted by Chagum’s mother who enlists her to protect him. Chagum is believed to be possessed by a water demon, and the only solution is his death. Balsa, seeking to atone for lives she took in the past, agrees to the mission. They try to escape and manage to make it look like Chagum has died to appease the attackers. However, the prince is in more danger than he had thought, and Balsa must come to the bottom of what's threatening him.
Moribito might be more eastern Fantasy than Western but it does share Lord of the Rings themes. Balsa is a tough, no-nonsense warrior and doesn't care much for the fine, luxurious things in life. Balsa has a strong moral backbone and we see this in her quest to save lives she believes she owes. Balsa is a warrior but not one who revels in violence or accepts immoral duties from their superiors. She's sort of like a mix of Eowyn, Faramir, and Aragorn in that regard. It's a great fantasy story with an amazing setting and art style and I can't help but feel that Bansa could be an LOTR type character.
Any Anime Like Lord of the Rings ?
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 1995 to Sep 1995
Slayers follows the sorceress, Lina Inverse. Lina's lives a life of adventure, searching for treasure from place to place and fighting to get it. One day she's accosted by bandits and although she's not in any particular danger from them, a haphazard and dim swordsman by the name of Gourry tries to 'save' Lina. Despite not needing the help, the two take well enough to each other and team up. Along the way, they welcome more figures to their group and set out again on the adventuring life.
Slayers is sort of like if Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit went full comedy. The plot is a very typical sword and sorcery, but Slayers doesn't it take itself so seriously and these end up being played up for laughs. It's kind of an older KonoSuba if you will. Or If you're taking a more contemporary look, it's the Martian Successor Nadesico or Irresponsible Captain Tylor of the Fantasy Genre. Think of some of the wit and banter of the Hobbits and stretch that out into a series and you've got Slayers.
5. Lodoss-tou Senki (Record of Lodoss War)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jun 1990 to Nov 1991
Lodoss, an island created in the aftermath of a war between the Gods is on the brink of Chaos. An ancient evil witch has awakened and made designs on shattering the thin piece that has settled through the Island. Intending to resurrect and old goddess of destruction to through the land back into chaos and conflict. A party of 6 heroes including the high elf Deedlit as well as the Human warrior and main character, Parn, must unite in the attempt to fight this evil.
So, like Slayers, Lodoss has the western fantasy setting. However, in this series, it's dialed up to 11. You can feel the LOTR vibes coming from this one, and Lodoss has more akin with the Western Fantasy that was going on in the 80's and 90's than the Japanese Fantasy of that time. It's got Orcs, Elves, Dragons, basically the whole deal. It also looks great, has fantastic animation and a great soundtrack so definitely give this series a try.
6. Juuni Kokuki (The Twelve Kingdoms)
- Episodes: 45
- Aired: Apr 2002 to Aug 2003
The story follows Nakajima Youko who is a typical, mild-mannered high school student. Suddenly a strange man who identifies himself as Keiki shows up and swears allegiance to Youko. Before she can really get a handle on what's going on, she's attacked by strange demons which pull her and some of her friends into a different world. A world where Youko and her friends are going to have to forget their comfortable high school life in order to survive.
The Twelve Kingdoms has a brilliantly realized setting, and even though the characters arrive in it from the modern day, it's not too dissimilar from LOTR. Lord of the Rings is primarily about Hobbits learning to fight in conflicts of much larger beings, or of a mere Ranger who's lifted up to a King. It's about people crossing uncomfortable boundaries to fight for a better world and this is a lot like The Twelve Kingdoms. Also like lord of the rings the different kingdoms are very well detailed and they each have different styles of government, culture, society and morals and ethos. It's got that epic fantasy feel that will make LOTR fans feel at home.
Tolkien's Novels and the Peter Jackson film adaptation have left an indelible mark on the West. So even fans of anime might definitely be interested in Lord of the Rings like series. What do you guys think? Do you like the titles on this list? What other series do you feel are similar to Lord of the Rings? Make sure to leave a comment below!