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Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin is one of those anime that feels like a punch to the stomach. It portrays the reality of Japanese youth in a time where the country was trying to rebuild itself after World War II; the cruelty of life in prison, where prisoners were not considered worthy of human rights; and the strength of human spirits and friendship. It’s a very unique anime that will have you both horrified and glued to the screen, wondering what will happen next and wishing for a happy ending for all the main characters.
Due to how unique it is, once you finish watching it you may find yourself wanting more stories that challenge you the same way. Here we have six anime that may just fit that bill.
Similar Anime to Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin / Similar Anime to Rainbow
1. Deadman Wonderland
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr 2011 – Jul 2011
Ganta Igarashi has been accused of killing all his friends and classmates, despite his protests that the actual killer was a man dressed in red. For his crime, he’s been sentenced to death inside Deadman Wonderland, a prison turned amusement park where convicts perform acts for the public’s amusement. As if that was not enough, some of the inmates have strange powers, and Ganta is thrown into a dangerous game of intrigue and murder while he tries to clear his name.
Deadman Wonderland, just like Rainbow, deals with the unfairness of the prison system. While Mario is guilty of his crimes, unlike Ganta, there are a lot of mitigating circumstances to what he did. This is similar to what happens to the other inmates in Deadman Wonderland. Most of them are guilty, but when their stories are revealed it’s easy to see the sentence wasn’t fair at all. In the end, what makes both series work is the empathy we feel for the characters, and how their friendship helps them to survive despite the terrible odds.
Ganta shares more than a few traits with both Mario and Joe. As Mario, he ends up as the unofficial leader of his group, and has a very strong sense of honor. And like Joe, he is unassuming and apparently weak unless you threaten someone he loves.
Deadman Wonderland Trailer
2. Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor (Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Oct 2007 – Apr 2008
Few things can ruin your life like sabotaging the car of a known yakuza, but that’s what Kaiji Itou ends up doing in an attempt to feel better with his life. When said yakuza, Yuuji Endou, catches up with him, he gives Kaiji a choice: He either pays a friend’s debt and the car damages working in a labor camp, or he tries to win a gambling tournament in one night to get the payment.
There is a 40-year difference between Kaiji and Rainbow’s timelines, but the way in which Japan sees its youth is quite similar in both series. Both are seinen series, which means we won’t be seeing wide-eyed optimism; instead we’re faced with a deep-seated cynicism in all our characters. Society has failed them, so they can only depend on themselves; however they are also ready to sacrifice everything, their lives included, for what they believe is the right thing to do.
Kaiji is very reminiscent of Ryuuji. Both young men have problems with gambling, theft and fraud; both have trust issues and seem to think thatency money is the solution to all their problems when in fact it seems to be the root of all their suffering.
3. Joker Game
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr 2016 – Jun 2016
During World War II, Lt. Colonel Yuuki of the Imperial Japanese Army is tasked with the control of a Black Ops group named the D Agency. In order to be able to infiltrate and observe all the different countries involved in the War, the eight agents under Yuuki’s command were not recruited from the military, but from civilian life. Together, they must be able to get the most powerful weapon during the war: Information.
Joker Game is set in a time period right before Rainbow, and thus the main similarity between both series is that in a way, Joker Game sets up why things are the way they are for the characters in Rainbow. We can see a stark contrast between a country completely devoted to their emperor and the effort to win the war, and the same country once it was defeated. Both have different perspectives on what the Japanese people expected from their government in those difficult times, and how a strong bond can help to survive.
And that is the interesting thing. While the dynamics are a bit different due to the age of the main characters, both series will give you a taste for fire-forged bonds.
Joker Game PV
Any Anime Like Rainbow / Any Anime Like Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin ?
4. Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku (Now and Then, Here and There)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Oct 1999 – Jan 2000
Survival is the name of the game when Shu, a normal Japanese boy from our present, gets sucked into the future, trying to save a girl named Lala Ru. Things are not easy for Shu there: he may try to keep an optimistic attitude, but the world is now a desert planet where the strongest rule, and only the worst of humanity have survived.
Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku is a heart-wrenching anime from beginning to end. Same as Rainbow, we see the worst possible things that can happen to a child. Shu goes from a comfortable life, to a place where one can go hungry for days; where women are used as breeding stock; where children are soldiers for an endless war. And while the scope is bigger than in Rainbow, the end result is the same: a heartbreaking story where the main character’s only hope is his group of friends.
The main similarity between Rainbow and Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku is the age of the main characters. While other series may show occasional cruelty towards teens and children, both Rainbow and Ima, Soku ni Iru Boku have said cruelty as the main subject. They are horrifying subjects, and both series treat them with the solemnity they deserve while not shying away from showing the full scope of the horror they entail.
- Episodes: 74
- Aired: Apr 2004 – Sep 2005
When Dr. Kenzo Tenma chose to save a young boy’s life, he couldn’t know that he was in fact saving a future psychopath. Now, years later, a series of murders point to Dr. Tenma as the culprit, even as the good doctor realizes that the killer must have been that boy. Dr. Tenma then has to escape the German police as he fights to discover the identity of his old patient, as it seems it’s the only way to prove his own innocence.
Monster and Rainbow both show us that people can be driven to crime when the situation is dire. Dr. Tenma is chased by an uncaring system that is concerned with the easiest solution possible, where the young inmates were abandoned by a similar legal system. Dr. Tenma, just like the inmates in Rainbow, has a strong moral code that makes him better than those who chase him. If what made you love Rainbow was seeing noble characters who remain noble despite the circumstances, Monster will be right up your alley.
There is finally the German connection. While Monster is a story that occurs in current times and Rainbow happens in the fifties, both have many ties to what happened in World War II. Specifically, both touch the subject of depraved doctors using prisoners as their personal playthings.
6. Young Black Jack
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct 2015 – Dec 2015
Black Jack is one of Ozamu Tezuka’s most beloved creations, second only to Astroboy. While the original series was about Black Jack’s life as a renegade doctor after he lost his license, this spinoff takes us to his early years as an intern in 1968. Each case that the young student faces takes him one step closer to realizing that the medical field is filled with corruption, and he has to decide if this is his right path.
Where Rainbow shows us a Japan that is in the process of being rebuilt after World War II, here we see how that effort continued. If what you liked about Rainbow was the glimpse on Japanese history, Black Jack continues those glimpses as we get nearer to the present time. There’s also the rebellious youth element in the story, both within the main characters and as backdrop since 1968 was the stage for many student protests.
Doctor ethics play a big role both in Young Black Jack and Rainbow, due to the subject matter. Both series raise interesting questions about the kind of men who can ignore the Hippocratic oath for their own interests, and how to deal with them.
Young Black Jack Trailer
Whenever human nature is discussed in anime, we can find very interesting answers. Rainbow, as well as the series in this list, show some of humanity’s lower points both historically and individually, and thus have very interesting answers about what it means to be human. So tell us, what other series have you seen that give a similar scope of humanity’s best and worst characteristics?