6 Anime Like Sword Art Online (SAO) [Updated Recommendations]

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Have you just finished watching the epic series that is Sword Art Online and are wondering if there are other anime out there that are within the same kind of genre? Well, fear not as there are many anime out there that are similar in many ways, some old with similar concepts and some new that have been inspired by the success of Sword Art Online.

What is it about Sword Art Online that you liked? Is it the notion of a virtual world or is it the tension of being trapped within one? Or perhaps you are enticed by the RPG elements or the lovable characters. Well, here is a list of 6 anime that have similarities to SAO but each with their own unique stories and adventures to tell. Let us begin the list!

Similar Anime to Sword Art Online (SAO)

1. Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka (Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?)

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: Apr. 2015 – Jun. 2015

The first entry on our list is Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru or Danmachi for short. It is an anime about a 14-year-old boy named Bell Cranel who lives in a fantasy world and belongs to the Hestia Familia. A Familia is a household that serves under a goddess, with whom they work together to build their resources and reputation. Bell is the only member of Hestia’s household and is only strong enough to make ends meet, so no one else will join their Familia because of their low reputation. Bell works hard entering the dungeon on a daily basis to provide for his goddess while hoping to get stronger to grow the Familia.

One day, Bell enters the ‘dungeon’, a vast and complex underground labyrinth at the center of the city of Orario. Adventurers from all around the world come to the dungeon to fight monsters to collect crystal shards, which can be exchanged for money. Bell encounters a Minotaur who nearly kills him, but a first class adventurer by the name of Ais Wallenstein saves him. After becoming captivated by her strength and beauty, Bell sets out to train himself so that he can one day reach the level of Ais.

Danmachi is set in a fantasy world that is a lot like the world of SAO. There are many similarities within both worlds. For starters, there is the dungeon where adventurers go to defeat monsters in hopes of reaching deeper within to discover more and get stronger whilst reaping the benefits. As you get deeper within the layers of the dungeon, each level is progressively harder with more difficult bosses. Kirito and Bell have special abilities that allow them to be much stronger than anyone else in the game, and they both want to get stronger in order to protect the ones they love. The same voice actor also voices both the protagonists.

2. No Game No Life

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: Apr. 2014 – Jun. 2014

As the second entry on this list comes No Game No Life, a story about two step siblings named Sora and Shiro that get abducted into a world of games. Sora and Shiro are shut-in NEETs that together are known as 'Blank', an undefeated duo that believes they have the ability to win any game. The God of Games, Tet, brings them to the world known as Disboard and challenges Sora and Shiro to settle conflicts between the countries of this world through high-stake games.

In Disboard, the magically enforced system created by Tet prevents physical harm to the inhabitants of the world; therefore they must settle their differences through games. The system requires each participant of any game to pledge forward something of equal value to play. There are sixteen different races in Disboard, one of them being the human race, which Sora and Shiro end up representing. Blank faces their hardest challenge yet as they venture forth into Disboard, fighting their way to become the new gods of the gaming world.

No Game No Life is very similar to SAO in that they both feature protagonists that prefer a different world than their own. Shiro is similar to Kirito in the sense that they are both experts in their respective fields. Kirito has knowledge of the game from being a 'beater' whereas Shiro has a lot of experience from playing games. They both become trapped in another world to fight for something. Kirito fights for his and Asuna's survival whereas Shiro and Sora fight to become the God of games. Both anime have stunning visual graphics and focus a lot on the gaming world.

3. Digimon Adventure

  • Episodes: 54
  • Aired: Mar. 1999 – Mar. 2000

Our next recommendation is an oldie but a goldie; it is non-other than Digimon Adventure. An anime about one magical summer where a group of seven kids gets taken into the digital world, a place where no other humans exist and is filled with strange monsters that they have to befriend in order to survive. Lost in a new world, they are not alone as they soon meet friendly digital monsters called 'Digimon' which appear to help them in their time of need. Each child has an item known as a 'Digivice' that allows them to become partners with their Digimon.

As they venture forth in the new world they live in to find a way home, they find out that all Digimon aren't as friendly as they seem, as they discover the evil forces that lurk within the shadows. What’s more is that evil is corrupting the other innocent Digimon, turning them against each other and bringing conflict to the once peaceful land. Together, they must fight along with their Digimon to overcome their own weaknesses and insecurities in hope to defeat the darkness that is corrupting the digital world.

Digimon is also set within a virtual world like Sword Art Online. The protagonists in both series are trying to find a way home, whilst encountering new aspects of the digital world. Though Digimon is a more child-friendly anime than that of SAO, it has a lot of similar aspects such as surviving in a world with friends and foes. Protagonists that grow stronger to protect the people they love and to advance deeper within the world to discover the truth.

Any Anime Like Sword Art Online (SAO)?

4. Overlord

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: Jul. 2015 – Sep. 2015

Coming next is a recent anime known as Overlord. It is the year 2126 where a DMMORPG (Dive Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) known as Yggdrasil is on the verge of being shut down. Within its remaining servers is the leader, Momonga, who is leader of one of the most powerful guilds in the game, Ainz Ooal Gown. The guild consists only of four remaining members, all of which logged off before the server shut down to go back to their real lives. Momonga, decided to spend the remaining time left in game and stayed until the very end.

However, to his surprise, the server didn’t shut down. Momonga is still within the game and the non-playable characters seem to continue to function but appear to have their own personalities. Confused by this phenomenon, Momonga becomes trapped in that world and cannot use normal player functions. He has no choice but to find out what is going on, so he sends his servants to investigate and hopes to find others that were trapped in the game too.

Like Sword Art Online, Overlord is about a protagonist stuck within a fantasy gaming world. Both Kirito and Momonga are overpowered characters that have an advantage over other players and they both feature many intense battle scenes. Similar themes are found within both anime, they both contain the notion of guilds, exploring, hunting and crafting. They both also have many other similar RPG elements. If you liked the intensity and game-like features of SAO, then you will definitely like Overlord.

5. Hai to Gensou no Grimgar (Grimgar of Fantasy & Ash)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: Jan. 2016 – Mar. 2016

An even more recent anime is Hai to Gensou no Grimgar, a survival anime where a group of strangers are thrown into a fantasy world known as Grimgar. Without any of their past memories, the only thing they remember is their name. In order to survive in this world, they must accept the only paying job available, which is to become a soldier for the 'Reserve Army', who are sworn to protect the peace. Even though it may not seem like the real world, their lives are at stake, as they must fight in order to stay alive.

The story follows a ragtag group of weak fighters that were banded together because all the other stronger soldiers created their own groups. Haruhiro, Manato, Yume, Shihoru, Mogzo and Ranta form a party together. They must work and fight together to survive, whilst trying to find their own past memories. They learn to fight and earn enough to make a living, however what awaits for them in the world of Grimgar is unknown.

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar is similar to SAO in the sense that it is about survival, they are trapped within their worlds and must learn to live in the new hostile environment. They both exist within a MMORPG kind of setting and both contain many tear-jerking moments. Both anime also show the protagonists learning new abilities to assist in their adventures and developing relationships with the other inhabitants of the world they now share.

6. Log Horizon

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: Oct. 2013 – Mar. 2014

The last anime in our list of recommendations is a returning entry as it is so similar that it cannot be left out. Log Horizon is about a virtual MMORPG known as Elder Tale, which after a strange update, the players could not log out of. It follows the story of a college student by the name of Shiroe, who is a veteran in the game. Thirty thousand gamers are stuck within the game with no escape; even if they die, they will respawn back into the game. Most players like Shiroe quickly adapt to their new way of living and begin to build their own civilizations.

Shiroe is a well-known strategist with the ability to analyze situations and find the best solutions to complex problems. He finds himself having to negotiate with the non-playable characters of the game in order to bring peace amongst the players and the 'natives' of the game. Shiroe's friend Naotsugu also becomes trapped within the game after not playing it for many years. Together, they form an alliance with other players hoping to bring peace and a safe-haven for other players alike.

There are many similarities between Log Horizon and Sword Art Online, the main similarity is being trapped within a game. RPG elements are also prevalent within both anime, such as guilds, parties and raids. Both feature protagonists that have played the game before but must adapt to living within the game itself, with no idea on what to expect within the new world. The themes are quite similar in the sense that both are about action and adventure whilst trying to survive and make do with what they have and can obtain. Log Horizon brings a different kind of perspective to the similar setting that you will definitely find interesting if you enjoyed SAO.


Well there we have it, six similar yet new and different types of anime to add to your list to watch. What did you think of our list? Is there any other anime that you’d like to recommend that is similar to SAO? Please tell us in the comments below!

Sword-Art-Online-dvd-20160719011552 6 Anime Like Sword Art Online (SAO) [Updated Recommendations]


Author: Karu

My name is Karu and I am from England. Currently living in Japan, I came here to the land of Anime and Manga in hope to one day achieve my dream. Anime has always been a big part of my life and is something that I hold dear to my heart. Every since a young age, I have been watching various different styles of anime.

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Top 5 Anime by Karu

Original Article Below

If you’re a fan of Sword Art Online, then you’ve inevitably asked one simple question: “What else is out there that’s like this!?”

That’s a very good question! Allow us to give some suggestions below that follow either the world setting, action based, or one of the other many factors that made this an all-out amazing show.

Similar Anime to Sword Art Online (SAO)

1. Log Horizon

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: Oct. 2013 - Mar. 2014

Elder Tale, a wildly successful MMORPG released its twelfth expansion, and subsequently pulled in 30,000 Japanese players! The players must fight and try to live on in this world they’d only been players in before. Through many trials and a lot of error, the players finally learn how to come together and find a way to live with each other peacefully in this strange new world. However, all is not as it seems and their peace is threatened. Shiroe and his friends, Naotsugu and Akatsuki go through these trials together and find creative (sometimes devious) solutions to the many problems they face.

This anime has a very similar world setting as SAO, as well as comedic relief styles. All in all if you loved SAO (at least the first part!) like we did, definitely give Log Horizon a shot!

2. Accel World

  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired: Apr. 2012 - Sep. 2012

In the year 2046 neural links have been made that allow people to access computer information by thinking about it, combining the virtual and real worlds. Haruyuki Arita, the lowest of the low in his schools social status, is offered a program said to change the rules of reality. Because of his social situation he accepts the program from Koroyukihime, the most popular girl in the school. His entire life is flipped upside down in a matter of moments when the program Brain Burst completes its installation.

This popular anime shares the same world setting as SAO, and is by far one of our favorites. If you can get past the initial pathetic-ness of the main character, you will love this show.


  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: Oct. 2012 - Dec. 2012

Ryouta Sakamoto awakens on an island, with no idea how he got there or what was going on. All he remembers is he was playing the hit game Btooom! on his computer, of which he was one of the best players. He’s got a days’ worth of provisions and a bag of (what he quickly learns are) bombs. He later learns the only way to escape the island is by being the last competitor left alive in a twisted real life game of Btooom!

This is a thrilling tale that brings a video game to real life in this twisted thriller. If you haven’t yet heard of this, you need to jump on it!

Any Animes Like Sword Art Online (SAO) ?

4. Future Diary
[Japanese Name: Mirai Nikki]

  • Episodes: 26
  • Aired: Oct. 2011 - Apr. 2012

Amano Yukiteru, a 2nd year in middle school goes about his days writing in his cell phone diary of the events that occur around him at all points in time. He invented a God of Time and Space named Deus Ex Machina to speak with when he gets lonely, who turns out to be a real God! Deus decides to bestow upon him and 11 others different cell phones, each with the ability to tell an aspect of the future. The point of this, however, is for them to use their phones to systematically kill each other off until there is only one remaining. The last contestant left alive with take the place of Deus himself as the new God.

This is a thriller of thrillers, relating to SAO in how it is so action-packed and you barely have time to recover from one twist when the next comes along. Added bonus of a psychotic stalker girl named Yuno Gasai, you’re sure to be on the edge of your seat while you binge-watch this incredible series!

5. .hack//Sign

  • Episodes: 26
  • Aired: Apr. 2002 - Sep. 2002

In what is known as the predecessor to shows like SAO, this series is set in an MMORPG called only, “The World.” The main character, known only by the alias Tsukasa, wakes up in The World with slight amnesia and the inability to log out. He quickly finds a rare item known as a Guardian who swears to protect him from all harm. His only quest is now clear, to find out what happened to him and why he’s not allowed to leave. With the help of some friends and allies, they search for the answers.

This being the predecessor to the video game sub-genre, we highly suggest watching it. The story is enriched and leaves you wondering what exactly is going on. By the third episode you want the same answers Tsukasa wants, and you’ll stick by his side until he gets them!

6. The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk
[Japanese Name: Druaga no Tou: The Aegis of Uruk]

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: Apr. 2008 - Mar. 2009

Jil is a fighter with the desire to do nothing more than vanquish all the demons in the tower during the “Summer of Anu.” During this time, all the demons lose their power thanks to the Sky-God Anu, and the people, soldiers and “climbers,” fight to destroy the tower and gain peace. That’s not all there is to it though: it is said at the top of the tower lies a legendary treasure known as the Blue Crystal Rod all the climbers’ desire.

The first episode of this show will throw you for a complete loop, and you’ll be left more confused than when you started. This is a good thing! The show itself bases the more realistic acts on the imagination of Jil in the first episode (which is hilarious). The sense of the tower, and fighting their way up definitely relates to SAO and you will not be sorry you watched this through to the end.