Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation has got it all: melding of virtual and actual realities, a just so-so protagonist who makes a complete turnaround and shows us exactly what he’s made of, all interspersed with a bit of good ol’ comedic school life.
Itsuki Tachibana is just a very average high school student living a very average life. That is, until he’s suddenly picked up by the all too perfect student council president, Rina Izumi, and made to write out reports on his activities in Phantasy Star Online 2, a virtual reality MMO that’s become extremely popular with players of all ages and from all walks of life.
We all know where the story goes from here—the game is never just a game and our protagonist is in for much more than he never signed up for. That being said, here are 6 more anime that blend some combination of action, school life, virtual reality, and a cast of quirky characters.
Similar Anime to Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation
1. Log Horizon
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct. 2013 – Mar. 2014
Log Horizon blends gaming and reality when all active gamers are suddenly transported to their online gaming world—unable to log out and caught in the throes of understanding their new reality, exploring the limits of the gaming world, and negotiating with the in game natives.
Our protagonist Shiroe, college-aged, beady eyed, and glasses wearing to boot, is a player who depends more on brains than brawn. Joined by his friend Naotsugu and a small but feisty assassin named Akatsuki, Shiroe sets out to make sense of his new game based reality.
Featuring slightly awkward main protagonists and feisty female leads, both Log Horizon and Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation, make for interesting anime with gaming themes. If you loved Aika Suzuki with her weird mannerisms and speech patterns, you’ll love Akatsuki for her similarly intensely in-character personality. Watch Log Horizon for the same flavor of in-show gameplay, guild politics, and off-kilter cast of characters.
LOG HORIZON - Official Trailer
2. DRAMAtical Murder
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2014 – Sept. 2014
In its initial run, DRAMAtical Murder made unprecedented waves for bringing together gaming, anime, and well, yaoi. Spun off of a boys’ love video game, the anime features Aoba, a blue haired youth who, just like Itsuki from PS02, wants nothing to do with the virtual reality video game and instead just wants to live a peaceful life with his grandma and AI pet. However, as with all anime based on gameplay, the game comes calling and Aoba’s peace is more than a little disturbed.
The anime, while clearly alluding to the boy on boy themes from the video game, manages to keep its focus on the action packed, virtual reality game called Rhyme. The plot is a bit darker, and even though the anime keeps itself from straying too far back to its BL origins, viewers will be well aware of all of the dark turns the different routes can take. Will Aoba manage to escape a bad ending? Find out by watching.
Offering the same sense of suspense and excitement, DRAMAtical Murder is a good watch for fans of PS02 who also have a penchant for BL, and enjoy a reverse harem of sorts.
TV anime "DRAMAtical Murder [drama Tikal Murder]" PV 2nd
3. Digimon Adventure tri. 1: Reunion
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Nov 2015
With the 15th anniversary of Digimon Adventure, the crew are back better than ever, and this time as high school students. As anyone who was a child in the early 2000’s can remember, Digimon went on to spawn endless card games, video games, and follow up anime—including Digimon Tamers, a bizarrely self-aware anime in which Digimon is both a massively popular game and a reality.
The crew from Digimon Adventure return 6 years after the end of Digimon Adventure 2, when gates to the digital world reopen and along with a reunion with their dearly missed Digimon friends come a whole host of other problems. As the so-called Digi-Destined fight once again to return normalcy to the world, Digimon Adventure tri. 1: Reunion delivers an action packed dose of old friends, new battles, and an overwhelming bunch of nostalgia.
Featuring a cast of high schoolers, and the usual high school anime staples such as a cultural festival and an onsen trip, Digimon Adventure tri. runs a steady parallel with Phantasy Star Online 02. Lighthearted with darkness right around the corner watch Digimon for the same action-packed high school setting, and well designed battle sequences. Like the characters of PS02, the cast of Digimon must unravel the mysteries in their growingly suspicious surroundings. Without knowing who is friend, who is foe, or what’s causing everything to go awry, the group must band together and fight as a team.
Digimon Adventure tri. series teaser DIGIMON ADVENTURE 15th Anniversary Project
Any Anime Like Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation?
4. Summer Wars
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Aug 2009
Summer Wars features OZ, a virtual world so integrated into reality that it’s uncomfortable even before it falls into chaos and endangers all semblance of normality in the real world.
Protagonist Kenji Koiso is the type of nerdy high schooler whose part time job is to moderate a virtual world. He’s also the type of character who unknowingly unlocks the key to destroying the world and puts it in the wrong hands. The rest of the movie is spent fixing this mistake.
Like Phantasy Star Online 02 The Animation, Summer Wars features ultra strong female characters, some awkward romance made more awkward by all of the bystanders, and underwhelming protagonists who grow with the series. Like Itsuki, Kenji must figure out what it means for him to play and what he is fighting for. Heartwarming and well-paced, Summer Wars is an anime classic definitely worth at least one watch for any anime fan.
SUMMER WARS OFFICIAL TRAILER - SCREENING AT REEL ANIME 2010
5. No Game No Life
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2014 - June 2014
Combining a Full Metal Alchemist-esque Law of Equivalent Exchange with a game based betting system, No Game No Life features a creative spin on gaming reality gone awry.
The protagonists are a pair of siblings, Sora and Shiro, who are invited to an off-kilter gaming reality in which all squabbles, petty or political, minor or major, are decided by wagering on games. This is where it comes in handy that our protagonists happen to be legendary gamers, perfectly primed to excel. And excel they do, as they embark on their quest to become the Gods of their bizarre new reality.
Barring spoilers, Phantasy Star Online fan will find the high stakes gaming, and the No Game No Life quest to support the humanoids similar in flavor to Itsuki and his gangs’ eventual involvement in matters far more serious than just the student council. The fact that Sora is an eighteen year old NEET also echoes nicely with Itsuki’s exquisite averageness. Both series have their moments with lightheartedness, slightly risque humour and are jam packed with action, so if you liked PSO2, check out No Game No Life.
[PV] TV anime "No Game No Life" PV Vol.1
6. Sword Art Online
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: July 2012 – Dec 2012
Sword Art Online is an about a virtual reality game of the same name. Characters can control their in-game activities using just their thoughts—but the price of that novelty is high—as 10,000 players learn when they find themselves locked into the gaming world. If they die in-game, they die in real life, and so starts an unprecedented scramble to defeat the game or to find some other way to escape.
Protagonist Kirito fights to escape this virtual nightmare as he’s joined by a cast of allies and some unlikely enemies. Like PS02, star-crossed romance, and even a little bit of a love triangle give the plot a dramatic edge. Kirito, like Itsuki, must make the journey from adolescence into adulthood while simultaneously balancing the high stakes of his gaming reality, the stability of his relationships, and the impact of all of the action on his own real world. Keeping the themes of high school life, awkward romance, a somewhat underwhelming protagonist, and game turned nightmare reality, Sword Art Online is a must watch for any fan of Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation.
Sword Art Online - Official Trailer
With the popularity of video games and online virtual realities, it’s no surprise that so many anime feature themes in which the game suddenly becomes all too real and chaos ensues. After all, the discomfort isn’t totally unfounded. After putting hours and hours into a video game, reality does become kind of fuzzy and the game does start to become a bigger and bigger part of real life. Each of these anime explore that theme in their own ways, whether the underlying focus is on friendship, growing up, romance, or gameplay technicalities. We tried to feature at least one anime to suit every type of viewer, but comment below and tell us which game based anime are your favorites! Did we miss any big ones? Are there any oldies but goodies that you can remember? Have you ever thought about what would happen if you got pulled into your favorite virtual reality? Happy commenting and happy watching!