Japanese anime and video games have produced some of the most artistically impressive products in their respective mediums. With that in mind it shouldn’t come as a surprise that video games and anime can go hand in hand. Dating sims and visual novels have been adapted from games to anime and vice versa for years now. However, those aren’t the only game genres that a show can be converted into or from. RPGs provide vast opportunities for exploration, adventure, and escapism; and that’s exactly why some of the best video games and anime ever produced have a counterpart in the other medium. So let’s jump to the list and see which worlds have dominated our gaming systems as much as our televisions.
10. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr. 2013 – Sep. 2013
Attack on Titan blew up the anime world in 2013 with its intense dystopian world and brutal action. If you haven’t seen it yet, mankind has been pushed to the point of extinction by creatures known as titans. Only one stronghold for humanity remains, and Attack on Titan begins with the outer wall of this fortress being invaded. The main defense the city has left is the Survey Corps, whose members are some of the most elite Titan killers around. However, with inner corruption plaguing the city and Titans scratching at the walls, will the Survey Corps be able to come out on top?
Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains follows the first season of Attack on
Titan, hitting on most of the major plot points as you take on different missions with different characters. Though it does cover key moments, if you were to simply play the game, you might feel like something has been missed. The slight issue with the narrative is covered up by the intuitive and thrilling battle sequences. It will be a true delight for fans to finally don ODM gear and zip through the city, chaining combos to takedown Titans.
9. Sword Art Online
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Jul. 2012 – Dec. 2012
The year is 2022 and virtual reality has progressed to an insane degree. Taking advantage of this technology is the revolutionary MMORPG Sword Art Online, which sold out in mere moments. However, everyone playing on the first day gets trapped inside the virtual reality. The only way out is to beat the game, but all players must be careful as dying in the game means dying in real life. SPOILER: They get through that ordeal, but when that arc is handled, the main love interest of the series, Asuna, becomes a hostage in another VR video game known as ALfheim Online.
SAO: Lost Song takes place in the second virtual reality world, ALfheim, that is covered in the latter half of Sword Art Online. Thus, the game gets the added benefit of more intriguing character designs, tons of customization, the ability to fly, and magic. It features a unique storyline with both new and old characters making special appearances in an adventure that lasts easily for 50 hours. Overall, it’s a beautiful world to explore and fight through, but the fighting tends to get a little repetitive.
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr. 2002 – Sep. 2002
Hack.//Sign follows Tsukasa, a young wavemaster, who wakes up in the MMORPG known as The World with amnesia and an inability to log out. Suspected of hacking, Tsukasa is often looked down on by most people he runs into (remind you of anyone…looking at you Kirito). Despite the circumstances, he is still able to form a party, which includes the leader of the powerful Crimson Knights guild, as he searches for how he’s ended up in this RPG world.
Though following a different storyline than the anime, the Hack series of video games still run through the same world, have overlapping characters, and deal with many of the same thematic issues as the show. The Hack series decidedly tackles issues of identity, anxiety, and escapism through its overarching plot. No surprise when the Hack series has the added benefit of Kazunori Ito (writer for Ghost in the Shell) collaborating on it. What separates the game as an especially strong RPG is the need to master character stats as well as combat timing.
7. Xenosaga the Animation
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan. 2005 – Mar. 2005
Four thousand years have gone by since humans have abandoned Earth. Under attack by the alien race known as Gnosis, humanity has been searching for ways to protect themselves against the threat. One engineer, Shion Uzuki, has been on the verge of a breakthrough technology that will allow humanity to stand a fighting chance: KOS-MOS, a specialized battle android. Once fully functional, will KOS-MOS be the savior that the human race has been waiting for?
Xenosaga Episode 1: Der Wille zur Macht is the introductory videogame to one of the most epic sagas in video game history. It has around 80 hours of cutscenes and strategic gameplay that requires players to develop different skills, spells, and combos. Adding to the experience is London Philharmonic Orchestra bring to life composer Yasunori Mitsuda's score as well as designs by the renowned creator Tetsuya Takahashi (Final Fantasy, Appleseed).
6. Devil Survivor 2 The Animation
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr. 2013 – Jun. 2013
Imagine you’re in a world where all of a sudden a phone app comes that foresees brutal deaths. It takes the community by storm, who think it’s just a fun joke. However, these deaths turn out to be preordained by fate as mysterious invaders, known as the Septentriones, have invaded and plan to destroy Earth. With only days left to fight these intruders and prevent the end of the world, a select group of individuals, who have made a pact with the devil to summon demons, are the last chance humanity has left to avoid the apocalypse.
Devil Survivor 2 essentially follows that general plot, but with moralistic choices around each corner, insane battles, and relationships to build it’s even harder to pull away from the game than the anime. It’s turn-based combat is easy enough for most players to handle, but also provides opportunities for tacticians to test their mettle. This is especially true, as characters can die permanently due to one choice. The series is also very similar to another game that’s a little bit further down the list as both are Atlus powerhouses.
- Episodes: 220
- Aired: Oct. 2002 – Feb. 2007
Naruto is one of those anime that just about everyone is familiar with. It follows the adventures and struggles of Naruto and his fellow ninjas from Konoha Village as they battle both foreign and internal threats. Now, Naruto dreams of becoming the Hokage of in order to negate the unfavorable perception of his peers due to being born with the Nine-tailed fox sealed inside of him. Well as Naruto chases down this dream and begins to master his literal demon, he forms new friendships and earns himself an array of enemies.
Naruto: Rise of the Ninja is one of the rare entries in the Naruto game series that is not strictly a fighting game. In fact, it’s fighting is simplified in order to properly tackle an explorative world. It’s a world that is rife with tons of enemies and gorgeous visuals. As it follows the first 80 episodes of the anime series pretty closely, it’s a gorgeous walk down memory lane for fans of the series and an easy introduction for those who have never watched the show.
4. Makai Senki Disgaea
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2006 – Jun. 2006
In the pits of the underworld, we are introduced to Laharl, the son of one the greatest demon overlords, who has just woken up from a two-year nap. Though two years isn’t much to a demon, a lot has happened while he slumbered. For starters, his father died, which has created a power vacuum. Well, like any true demonic heir, Laharl believes that the position is his to take and will do just about anything to sit at the top.
If any game has ever been deserving of an anime adaptation, Disgaea is definitely the one. It’s humor, insane characters, and plot will take you on one crazy ride. Though the anime is a solid depiction of all these things as well as an overall pretty enjoyable romp through the Netherworld, it lacks a few things that only the video game can provide. Each entry in the Disgaea series has massive amounts of items, equipment, and special moves. It also requires quite a bit of strategy to successfully get through the story, and you can ever deck out character stats to insane levels, perfecting their respective battle techniques.
3. Inazuma 11 Go
- Episodes: 47
- Aired: May 2011 – Apr. 2012
Another series on the list that has multiple great entries within both the anime and video game world. Matsukaze Tenma, a first year who loves soccer, has exceptional dribbling skills, but still has lots of room for improvement. The story starts with him entering Raimon Jr. High ten years after the first Football Frontier International, where Raimon has become famous for its soccer. However, an organization called Fifth Sector has taken control of soccer over the years, and the passion that Raimon once had for soccer is no longer there.
Though it’s not the latest game, Inazuma 11 Go is still on the 3DS, so more accessible, and is an easier entry into the series when compared to Inazuma 11 Go 3: Galaxy. The game provides one of the most unique experiences out there. It fuses football (soccer for the U.S. audience) with random battles, field strategy, and some over-the-top special skills. It will easily capture your attention with its innovative gameplay, but to top it off, Inazuma Eleven Go has a classic anime vibe with its school setting and off-kilter club team rivalries.
So are you ready to take on other players and call forth dragons to enhance your power? Don’t worry too much if you think you’ll be automatically over powered with such techniques. Your stats will be the deciding factor like any true RPG.
2. Persona 4
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct. 2011 – Mar. 2012
In Persona 4, Yuu Narukami moves from the city to the quiet country town of Inaba to live with his uncle and cousin. Quite quickly he finds himself hanging out with another transfer student, Yousuke Hanamura, the energetic Chie Satonaka, and the heiress Yukiko Amagi. Sounds nice, but this quiet town starts experiencing some brutal murders that coincide with the start of a strange television channel that appears at midnight when it’s raining. As fate would have it, Yuu and his friends shortly find themselves caught chasing down the mystery behind the murders and the midnight channel by actually entering a television. From that point, anything imaginable can happen as they meet new people, battle shadows, and try to apprehend the murderer.
Now, the Persona series started back in 1996, and has always been a strong RPG experience. A mixture of good and bad endings depending on choices, mysteries needing to be solved, and a compendium of mythological demons to capture and battle with. However, it really started to get attention in the West with Persona 3, which introduced a relationship component and different battle system to the series that was perfected in Persona 4. To describe Persona 4 more specifically, you need to understand that it’s a mix between a dungeon crawler and dating sim that involves a grimoire of demons, unique mazes, and a story of epic proportions. Amazingly enough, Atlus is able to combine these elements seamlessly into a unique experience.
If you haven’t started the series, it might be difficult to begin with this gem as it belongs to the PS2. However, Persona 5 is coming out soon, along with its own anime, and is bound to be an experience beyond expectations.
1. Pokemon (Original)
- Episodes: 276
- Aired: Apr. 1997 – Nov. 2002
Is there any real contender besides Pokemon that has as much prestige and as many accolades behind it? The Pokemon TV and video game series have been running side by side for practically two decades. With each new region that gamers explore, viewers can expect an animated adaptation to follow suit soon after. If you have somehow managed the impossible and never even heard of Pokemon, then to sum it up as simply as possible one could say it’s a franchise that requires you to capture creatures and then battle them against one another.
Despite the show deliberating ignoring some rules of logic, it’s still the epic ride as you follow Satoshi/Ash region through region, training new pokemon, with his beloved Pikachu by his side. Heck, the series would actually do just fine as long as Pikachu is there. Though, it’s easy to understand the immediate likeability of Pokemon with its growing list of pocket monsters to catch, interesting characters, and intense battles; the mystery of Ash’s inability to age will forever be unsolved.
Pokemon as a video game series just reached its 20th anniversary this year and has not lost any of its appeal. Its simple formula is unerring and has only needed some tweaks over the years. More than anything the else the game has simply been given new features that tie together seamlessly with the initial idea. With Pokemon Sun and Moon coming out soon, the Pokemon franchise is being just an innovative and fun as ever.
Before another word is said, a proper shout out needs to be given to Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children as it tackles one of the greatest video games of all time. Being a one-shot movie, it didn’t feel quite appropriate for the list, but it does introduce you to some of the most historical figures in video game history, and its graphics are gorgeous. Both the game and movie are worth your time, which is, in fact, true of this whole list. Video games and anime are practically a perfect couple. They have so much in common, but at the same time cover up the weaknesses of the other. So were there any awesome series that take on the challenges of both mediums that were forgotten?