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Do you want to play a game? Many anime fans also enjoy games, so it’s no surprise that a lot of anime take advantage of that shared interest when writing their stories. A lot of anime have gamers and games on the side or even as the main focus of the plot. And not just video games, though they are arguably most popular; also card games, board games, and more! Some are causal stories where the players just want to have fun. Others are more high stakes, with lives, the fate of the world, money, titles, and more on the line. And maybe the players can have a good time, too.
Regardless, we have a good time watching anime about games! There are a few titles that immediately come to mind when people mention “anime about games,” but just because they’re well-known may not mean they are necessarily the best or the most recent. That’s why we have created our updated list of the Top 10 Game Anime to give you a fresh list! These anime are some of the more recent game anime that have been released, along with some older ones that are what we feel the highest quality. So let’s get ready to enjoy both games and anime at the same time!
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct. 2011 – Mar. 2012
Chihayafuru follows Chihaya, a girl that always felt overshadowed by her older sister. But as an elementary school student, she was introduced to the competitive card game karuta by a friend. Chihaya fell in love with the complicated game, even joining a club to improve her skills. By the time she reaches high school, Chihaya has become a karuta master. She wants to create a karuta club at her school so that they can eventually compete at a national level, her childhood dream of becoming the top player in Japan in her grasp. But first, she has to make a team, and finding others as inspired by karuta as her won’t be easy.
Chihayafuru is an older anime on our list, but we still feel it deserves its spot here. Firstly, it features a uniquely Japanese card game. Karuta is complicated to learn but fun to play, with more physical and mental demand than your average card game. That already sets Chihayafuru apart from other game anime with such an interesting game at its centre. Chihayafuru is also a well-written anime with great characters and a story that genuinely makes you care about what is happening. Who knows, you might even want to try your own hand at karuta after they have watched it!
9. Summer Wars
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Aug. 2009
Summer Wars is about OZ, a virtual world where people create custom avatars and interact with one another through games, shopping, chatting, and more. OZ has so many convenient applications and uses that a lot of society has integrated it into their systems and everyday life. Nearly everyone has an account. OZ is also known for its tight security system to make users feel safe using it. But that all changes when high schooler Kenji Koiso accidentally breaks the security algorithm, unleashing a very dangerous hacker into the system. And it seems like only he and a strange boy named Kazuma can stop the hacker from creating total chaos!
Summer Wars takes place in two settings, the real world in Japan and the virtual world of OZ. While OZ is more than just a game, it does have game applications within it. When the hacker known as Love Machine takes over the system, he sees everything in the world as a game to be played. And that’s exactly what he does, using people’s avatars and real lives as his playing chips. In order to defeat him, the famous avatar King Kazma challenges him to a Hanafuda card game called Koi-Koi. Eventually, all of the avatars in OZ join in the game to try to defeat Love Machine and keep the world safe. Summer Wars is a mix between being about a video game and a card game and makes that card game incredibly exciting and high stakes.
8. Net-juu no Susume (Recovery of an MMO Junkie)
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: Oct. 2017 – Dec. 2017
Net-juu no Susume begins with 30-year old Morioka quitting her job, and turning to play an MMORPG full time. She chooses a game called Fruits de Mer and recreates herself on the game as a handsome adventurer named Hayashi. She soon becomes friends with a cute healer named Lily and spends all of her time with her in the game. Slowly but surely, Morioka becomes more engrossed in her gaming life as Hayashi than in real life as herself. She begins to not leave her flat except when necessary. And she spends all her time logged in. But when she runs into an awkward stranger named Yuuta at the convenience store who also plays the game, maybe fate has more in store for her than she realises...
Net-juu no Susume is an MMORPG anime, the newest one on our list. While most of these game anime follow a male lead, especially the video game ones, Net-juu no Susume has a female main character. Admittedly she plays as a boy IN the game, but in real life, Morioka is a woman. Net-juu no Susume is a fun and romantic anime as well, and it’s actually quite hilarious! It has its share of action and adventure, but the focus is more on a comedic romance that is set mostly in an online video game and eventually in real life, too. That makes Net-juu no Susume quite a bit different than the other game anime on our list, and something special so that even more audiences to enjoy game anime too!
7. Accel World
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr. 2012 – Sep. 2012
Accel World is about a bullied, overweight middle school boy named Haruyuki. He finds comfort in playing online games - or well, he did until all of his high scores were suddenly beaten by Kuroyukihime, the Vice President of the student council! When he confronts her, she tells him about a strange programme called “Brain Burst,” which accelerates brain activity to the point that reality seems to stop entirely. Kuroyukihime wants to meet the creator of Brain Burst, but can’t do so without winning duels against the programme’s powerful faction leaders. And she wants Haruyuki to help her do it!
Accel World is focused on Brain Burst, which serves as a virtual reality fighting game. Users must duel one another to get points and gain levels, but there is a lot at stake. If you lose all your points, you lose access to Brain Burst forever. That’s why Kuroyukihime cannot afford to lose the difficult battles against the faction leaders as she tries to obtain Level 10. That is also why she has enlisted the help of Haruyuki, someone she normally wouldn’t associate with. But he’s a powerful gamer, and she needs his skill set. Accel World takes the idea of a virtual reality game and adds a fantasy twist to it with the high stakes and ability to stop time itself, creating an interesting anime about a game to watch.
6. Kakegurui (Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul. 2017 – Sep. 2017
Kakegurui is set at a prestigious high school called Hyakkaou Private Academy, with most of its students coming from rich families. By day the school is an average high school, but at night it transforms into a gambling den. The value of this is to teach its students the arts of making money and manipulating people - valuable life skills for their roles in life. When Yumeko Jabami transfers into the school, she’s a different player from everyone else. While most people play the games with the intent to win, Yumeko plays simply for the thrill of playing. And that means she will take any risk and throw caution to the wind for the thrill of the game!
Kakegurui has an interesting concept, shaking things up from the usual prestigious high school trope stories. It also doesn’t go in the direction of a death game, which is what many anime do. Instead, it focuses on gambling and card games, and the social art of human manipulation and lying. Yumeko makes a great main character for a game anime because she cares less about winning and more about just playing the game and having fun. That means she never plays cautiously but always makes the games exciting and fun to watch. Whether you’re a fan of the casino or not, Kakegurui is a new twist on game anime you won’t want to miss.
5. Log Horizon
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct. 2013 – Mar. 2014
Elder Tale is the latest popular MMORPG in Japan in Log Horizon, and thousands of players log in every day. And then one day, the game updates with a new feature that doesn’t allow them to log out again! One of these players is veteran gamer and master strategist Shiroe, who immediately takes to living life in the game and trying to figure out what happened. Alongside his friend Naotsugu and a girl named Akatsuki who insists on calling him “master,” Shiroe sets out on an adventure in the virtual world to bring stability and help everyone find their way back home.
Log Horizon may have a familiar plot to you, but don’t let that let you write it off immediately. This somewhat recycled plot is really well done in Log Horizon, and the anime feels fresh and new despite being an old idea. It’s full of mystery and politics on top of fantasy adventure and action and has well-developed and memorable characters. Log Horizon looks at the world of gaming through the eyes of a real gamer and strategist, and Shiroe’s plans and actions make intellectual sense. It’s not about luck, it’s about skill, and that’s the mantra many true gamers will tell you holds true to game success. Log Horizon brings that gaming mindset to life.
4. 3-gatsu no Lion (March Comes in Like a Lion)
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: Oct. 2016 – Mar. 2017
Rei Kiriyama has already become a professional shogi player by the time he has reached middle school in 3-gatsu no Lion, and the pressure becomes too much for the young man. He decides to move to Tokyo alone at age 17, but his introverted personality isolates him from everyone at school and at the shogi hall, too. When Rei meets three sisters named Akari, Hinata, and Momo, though, things start to change positively. Through his friendship with these girls, Rei learns how to deal with his own emotions, and sustain a healthy lifestyle by interacting with other people as he embarks on a career as a professional shogi player.
3-gatsu no Lion follows the complex traditional Japanese game of shogi, which is an intense strategy game played with tiles. It takes a long time to learn and even longer to truly master. It’s also a rare topic for anime, making 3-gatsu no Lion stand apart from other game anime with its unique focus. 3-gatsu no Lion is a coming of age story about friendship and what it means to enter adulthood, and it’s being told through a story centred on a game. It has a good balance of shogi time along with character interaction and development. Game anime fans can enjoy both watching the game play out on the screen while also enjoying a feature story about what it means to be human.
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jul. 2015 – Sep. 2015
The popular MMORPG Yggdrasil is coming to an end, and in its final hour online, a player named Momonga decides to stay logged in. But when midnight hits, he isn’t ejected from the game as he thought he would be. Rather, the game world seems to have shifted, with NPCs developing their own personalities. Momonga decides to investigate this phenomenon and see what has happened to the world of Yggdrasil. Along with his loyal companions, they explore this “new” world and see if anyone else is also still logged in after the end of the game.
Overlord is an exciting anime taking place inside of an MMORPG. It’s incredibly action-packed, but as a warning to more faint-hearted viewers, it’s also very violent. The fantasy fight scenes are awesome though, and will satisfy lovers of video games and great action sequences! Overlord is a much darker look at the world of MMORPGs compared to another game anime with similar plot lines and is a lot more intense. For game anime fans that are looking for something more than average with a serious plot and serious action, Overlord is the best choice. It won’t let you down if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty.
2. Quanzhi Gaoshou (The King’s Avatar)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2017 – Jun. 2017
Quanzhi Gaoshou is about a top-tier professional player named Ye Xiu in the MMORPG Glory. When he is forced to retire, Ye Xiu finds a job at a local Internet cafe. But when Glory launches an all-new server, he isn’t able to stay away from the game. Instead, he starts over with a brand new character named Lord Grim. With ten years’ of knowledge and experience playing Glory, Lord Grim immediately gains a lot of attention in the game. But starting from scratch still isn’t easy, and Yu Xie has to climb his way back to the top with all new companions, a new team, and of course his new character.
Quanzhi Gaoshou is a newer MMORPG based on a Chinese web novel. Stylistically, it’s a bit different since it does not come from a usual Japanese source, which makes it a refreshing and new game anime to enjoy. It’s a lot of fun to watch an experienced player start from the beginning, taking the viewer along for the ride this time as he goes through the game. But of course his experience makes him a great player, so it’s always fun to watch him! Quanzhi Gaoshou is full of fantasy action and adventure, with constant reminders that it’s an online video game to keep the spirit of a game anime alive and well.
1. No Game No Life
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2014 – Jun. 2014
Siblings Sora and Shiro are the main characters of No Game No Life. They are famous online as the gaming duo “Blank,” but in real life, they’re actually shut-ins. Their entire lives get turned upside down when they accept a strange challenge to a chess match and get swept into another world. There, the siblings meet Tet, the God of Games. In his world, all disputes whether big or small are settled by high stakes games. Since Sora and Shiro always saw the world and life as a game anyway, it seems like the perfect place for them to make a name for themselves. They set out to unite the different races to overthrow Tet and become the Gods of Games themselves.
No Game No Life has the idea of games at its very core - each episode features at least one major game as the key plot point, and often has smaller games on the side as well. It features a huge variety of games from classic board games to rock, paper, scissors and more. All of the games are high stakes and everyone in the land takes them seriously. No Game No Life makes games the most important part of existence, and those who are good at playing them can have infinite power and control. The title itself says it all - No Game, No Life.
Are you itching for some competitive games now? How much would you be willing to put on the line? How hard would you fight to win? Some of these characters risk everything for their games, but luckily we can sit back and just enjoy watching from the safety of our homes. It doesn’t mean we can’t cheer them on and get excited with their victories all the same, though! And all of these game anime| will fill you with excitement for all kinds of games while watching a literal representation of them in lots of great anime. The only question that remains is which will you watch first?
Did we miss your favourite game anime? Would you have changed our ranking order? Which of these anime are you going to watch? Have you seen any before? What is your favourite kind of game to see in anime? What game would you like to see make its anime debut? We want to know these answers and more, just drop us a question below!
In anime, game genre is not common, it might still be considered an uprising genre so there're a limited amount of series out there. Lately, there has been a boom in game anime and most of the anime under this category have made it to the top in only weeks. This genre can include either card games like Yu-Gi-Oh!, anime based on playing games like No Game No Life, anime that came from games like Pokémon Origins, or simply anime that involve a point system gained by defeating enemies for a certain reason, resulting in a winner or loser.
Strangely, sports or martial arts anime are not considered as part of the gaming genre; mostly “hobby sports” mark their names under the list. It was hard to pick just 10 because they all excel in their way. If I had to pick the best of the best, it would be :
10. Sword Art Online
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Jul 2012 - Dec 2012
Sword Art Online is the best-yet released MMORPG in 2022. This game is not only top-notch with 10 thousand subscribers, it is THE game that revolutionized virtual online gaming. Using a console called “NerveGear,” the players control avatars with their mere thoughts.
The player under the user name “Kirito” finds out, together with all the other players, that he can’t log out. What looks like a bug in the game, soon begins to feel like a nightmare when the game creator (GM) appears in front of the players and assures that it is meant for them to be incapable of logging out. The twisted intentions of the GM is for the players to beat the game without dying. If you do, you not only lose the game but your real life as well. Literally.
Using his gaming knowledge, Kirito attempts to please the sick desire of the GM and free everyone. He embarks on the quest alone but… anyone that has played an MMO knows the chances of a single player beating the game alone; can he make it?.
SAO is downright on point when it comes to MMORPGs which has captured its viewers. In real life, MMOs have surpassed the 10 million subscribers making them extremely popular and desired (like SAO in the anime). This anime explains everything a basic gamer should know, so even if you’re not into gaming, the series is still enjoyable.
This anime captures all of MMOs main characteristics: party system, guilds, teamwork and friendship. Deep down in every gamers heart, we all wish we encounter an alternate reality like SAO one day, regardless of the cons. Cross your fingers for 2022!
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct 2012 - Dec 2012
Online Game, Btooom!, consists on winning battles using only bombs. The game looks like a shooter game from the future. The best Japanese player in the game, Sakamoto Ryouta, is challenged to compete against the top players in the world. He accepts but there’s a catch, it's not in the game; instead you play Btooom! in real life! Eh? Wait, this game was with bombs...right? Darn.
Ryouta needs to stop thinking selfishly and consider that his life and everyone’s life around him is at stake. He gets stranded on an island and is unable to leave until there is only one player alive. In a twisted game of life and death, how far will professional gamers go to save themselves?
Games coming to real life, seems like a dream come true for gamers right? well unless you play a game like Btooom!, no thanks. This one shows how strategy is the key for winning any game and how gaming knowledge can maybe save your life one day.
8. .hack//G.U. Trilogy
- Episodes: 1 Movie
- Aired: March 25, 2008
The .hack series is considered the father of the game anime genre. In my opinion, G.U. is the center point of all the series; we get to see what happens after the original story. Unlike previous .hack's, the protagonist of G.U. is known to be an ex Player Killer Killer (PKK) Haseo, who has the reputation for being “The Terror of Death”.
It’s no secret that this series is the second round for .hack, as the game itself is called “The World:R2”. Haseo encounters the legendary Kite, our previous protagonist, but he doesn't seem as friendly as usual; actually he is now a bug of the game.
When defeated by Kite (known as Tri-Edge), Haseo loses all his data and is forced to play under a new avatar called Skeith, who has the ability to Data Drain, the same ability used by Kite to turn him into a noob. As a personal revenge and the wish of the GM, Haseo embarks on a search for Tri-Edge, and anomalies called AIDA, whose corrupt power leaves anyone killed by them in a coma in real life.
This OVA is all CG which is great, because it makes it feel like we're watching a game but with an anime feeling added to it. It’s enjoyable even if you're unfamiliar with the .hack series, but if you have seen I’m sure you’ll be already craving to play the game again by the time it’s over.
It’s needless to say why I chose this to be in the top 10 best game anime list; it captures to perfection what video gaming is all about inside an MMORPG. You can either enjoy the movie at once or the same story is playable in the game, .hack//G.U.. Too bad it’s for the prehistoric PS2.
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr 2004 - Jun 2004
Sometimes people die “before their time,” but what does this mean? Kei and Masaru are about to find out. They die saving a drunk homeless person that fell into the subway tracks. Instead of a heaven, they end up in a room full of people who also seem to have died tragically. Unable to get out, they have no choice but to play a twisted game forced upon them by a black ball that inhabits the room called, Gantz.
Gantz offers them one more chance at life if they are able to beat the game. It consists of killing aliens, robots or monsters that inhabit the human world. The prey are not happy about it, in fact, they’re very violent. As games offer challenging content, Gantz doesn't slack off. Dying during a mission loses your chance of living again. The way these monsters kill is brutal, surely you don't want to lose. Oh, as a regulation, your teammates can also betray you for more points! Fun times!
Gantz is more like a hunting sport game and the trophy is to live again. Of course regular people will never want to end up like our protagonists, but hey, gamers have to admit they’re at least curious about “what if” Gantz is a real thing? Let’s play some more games as eh-em... research, just in case.
6. Death Parade
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 2015 - Mar 2015
When we die, who decides if we go to heaven or hell? Death Parade is a good answer. People who die at the same time in real life end up at a bar named Quindecim; unaware of their deaths. This bar is locked up and no one can get out. As the people try to escape the bar, the game begins.
The bartender, Decim, offers them the exit if they agree to face each other in any type of game decided by a roulette. As the only way out, the players are forced to agree and play, but there’s a twist to this. The game is played using your senses, it actually hurts you more the closer you are to the end of the game. As the game progresses, the players slowly remember how their deaths happened. Finally, the last round of the game is the decisive moment of judgement of whose soul is lost forever and who gets one more chance in life by being reincarnated.
Death Parade shows the true nature of people via a game. It depicts the innermost intentions of humans, mostly being dark and crooked when survival is at stake. When you lose a game, how do you react? Do you get mad? Agitated? Did you think about the feelings of your opponent? Good! Let’s hope we never end up at Quindecim.
5. Log Horizon
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct 2013 - Mar 2014
“With no fear of death” is how people of this world live. They are conscious that they are stuck inside a game and cannot die, what they fear the most is “for how long”. Players of Elder Tales need to rebuild their lives now that this game has become their reality. This is centred around the social interaction of the characters and a bit less around battles like other anime similar to it. Shiroe, along with the members from a guild he formed named Log Horizon, sets off to discover the potential of this new life.
What’s fun about this anime is that it’s more light regarding drama and it’s filled with comedy. The people behind this anime feel like they had first hand knowledge of MMOs and the kind of people who play it; they created characters that certainly are possible to find in real life games.
This anime helped us pick right back up from where SAO left us. Although not as SAO fans expected, it has it’s own shine and is, in fact, not so similar. It’s still loyal to actual online games with not so much romance or sexy shots involved.
4. C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: Apr 2011 - Jun 2011
Kimimaro has a simple dream of becoming financially stable. A mysterious man appears at his door and offers to make his dream come true, in fact, even better by offering an insane amount of money. The man in return asks only for Kimimaro’s future and out of curiosity, he withdraws the money. He is given a black card that when used it gives you the option to make a deal inside an alternate world called, The Financial District. The deal consists of challenging opponents by betting a large sum of money. The challenges are fought with special avatars called assets, who are only visible inside this world.
Games of gamble is the basis of this anime, and it shows how dark and confusing playing for money can get instead of having fun. This anime is sadly underrated! Maybe the long title and complicated story scares many people away. But if you like to submerge yourself deep in thought and have an existential crisis, this anime was made for you.
3. Summer Wars
- Episodes: 1 Movie
- Aired: August 1, 2009
Natsuki is ashamed of going back home during summer vacation without a boyfriend, so her plan is to hire one! She picks a math genius, Kenji, for the job, who secretly has a crush on her so he can’t refuse. What he later finds out is that he’s not home alone with her, but instead together with all of her gathered family. In commemoration of her granny’s 90th birthday, Natsuki’s big family came to live together.
Kenji receives a text message containing only numbers; convinced that this is a math challenge, he decides to solve it. It turns out to be that this number was linked to the world of OZ. Everything in the world is linked to OZ. The world runs on it and modern society depends on it. The numbers Kenji cracked triggered a virus to destroy OZ.
Summer Wars shows what the power of unity can achieve. It mixes Japanese culture, games, internet and future technology in one masterpiece. The battles in the world of OZ are that of games and even the fate of Japan is decided by winning a game online.
2. Selector Infected WIXOSS
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr 2014 - Jun 2014
Selector Infected WIXOSS is a card game anime. In this world, the card game is called WIXOSS, and it's just a regular magic card game. For special girls called Selectors, the game is more than it seems. Selectors have a LRIG card that can speak to them and other Selectors. LRIG grants any wish these girls want at the cost of winning a certain amount of battles.
The protagonist is named Ruu, the first girl to ever become a Selector with no wish. The penalty for losing the game 3 times is extensively worse than the wish being granted. As Ruu and her friends discover the real meaning of the battles and the cards, the anime crawls down deeper into you making it one you'll definitely recommend.
It’s strange to stumble upon a card game anime and surely, this one will not disappoint. Even though the anime has a round ending, a movie will be released soon in Japanese theatres.
1. No Game No Life
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr 2014 - Jun 2014
NGNL is a dream come true for any gamer. Two siblings, Sora and Shiro, are known as the unstoppable players, “Kuuhaku“. There is no game they have lost and for this reason, they are challenged by a mysterious person in a chess match online. As they cannot step down from a challenge, they accept and win. Instantly, after their victory, they wind up falling into a new world where they are greeted by a little boy named Tet, who calls himself the God of Games.
This world is called Disboard, and in here every type of problem is solved by playing games. The conflict could be as complex as deciding the fate of a whole nation. The things at bet have to be of equal value for both sides. Usually characters in the same position as Shiro and Sora, would make all the efforts to try and return to their real world but, why would they? For them, this is the ideal world. They aim to rule this world and fix all the social and political problems it may have. The only way to do this is winning every challenge until they can eventually reach Ted and defeat him.
The series is not only about serious gaming, it’s really funny too. Besides anime, NGNL is available in manga and light novels as well.
It’s game over for this list. If you love games, I'm sure you'll agree with our selection. High-end anime that capture the essence of gaming are the best, but you end up with mixed feelings of whether to watch more anime or play more games. That’s tough… but that’s why multi-screens were invented!.
How about we play a game now? In the comments, post what games are worthy of becoming an anime or vice versa! Let's see what game gets the most points! Who knows, maybe our plea will be heard.