What is Fantasy Anime [Definition; Meaning]

Everyone everywhere has seen a fantasy story told via some medium. Whether it is via a book, a manga, a video game, a tv show, a movie, or more, Fantasy loves to take us to another world where we meet fantastical beasts, magic is a part of this new world, demi-humans are now among us, or maybe we all live in a forest where running from tree to tree or cave to cave underground is our new way of life. Needless to say, the idea of something fantasy-friendly has no set definition. While magic in this new world is something that happens often, it is not mandatory. What if we are suddenly in space? Still fantasy. Sci-fi friendly, but also fantasy. Reincarnation? Still fantasy mixed with supernatural. In fact, it’s pretty hard to have one without the other in some form. So welcome; if you are new to anime or want to know more about fantasy anime in general, join us as we break it down.

Magic & Fanciful Adventure

Fantasy anime loves to abuse magic. People often mistake this for something else, but the fantasy genre, as wide as it is, usually has magic in some sort of form. Now, magic can either be something that everyone has or only a select few in anime. Some train for years and others are born with it. Magic can also give rise to evil as it is always both sides of the coin. Either way, magic is prevalent. Combine that with the supernatural which always manages to work it’s way in, and you have bonafide fantasy with supernatural in anime. Enjoyable, both lend to each other and blur the lines consistently. But first, let’s see what one is.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

  • Episodes: 64
  • Aired: April 2009 - July 2010

Edward and Alphonse Elric live happily with their mother. When she tragically passes one day, the boys turn to a form of magic that they are studying. In this world, Alchemy is a real, viable science. There is but one universal rule: the law of equivalent exchange. What you want must be exchanged for something of equivalent value. Human transmutation is something forbidden by society, but the grief-stricken boys decide to try their luck. When the transmutation goes horribly wrong, Edward loses an arm and a leg while Alphonse loses his whole body. In a desperate attempt, Edward seals Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armor. They are somehow miraculously saved and grow up. Extremely proficient in alchemy, the two are hunting for something that will allow them to bring back their lost physical bodies: The Philosopher's stone. Shrouded in mystery and then that mystery wrapped in lethal danger, the two boys set out to explore their world and learn.

Now while we could have talked about the original, Brotherhood is the better of the two and a retelling that follows the manga closely. However, we do recommend you watch the original Fullmetal Alchemist first to appreciate how much better Brotherhood is. This fantasy anime takes us all the way to what looks like an early 20th century Europe where machines are just starting to come into their own. However, a curve ball is hit with the introduction of the magic system of Alchemy which allows people to create just about anything provided it’s not a human or gold. Wars, monsters, and more lurk in the shadows along with terrible beasts created by Alchemy themselves. A compelling story, Fullmetal Alchemist is a quintessential fantasy anime.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Trailer

Made in Abyss

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: January 2017 - March 2017

In the town that Riko lives in, there is a massive pit in the center known as The Abyss. It appears to be some sort of massive hole leading to countless treasures and monsters that don’t exist on the surface. So, humans have learned to dive into this cave looking for more and they are known as divers. These Divers enter the Abyss at their own risk, search, and then bring back what they find that they can. Riko’s mother is a top-notch diver, but when she disappears one day, Riko takes it upon herself to find out what happened, even though she is forbidden to do so. After a chance encounter with a robot boy named Reg, Riko realizes that she has an ally and dives even further into The Abyss. But can she handle what is waiting for her down below?

Made in Abyss paints a fantastic picture of what a fantasy anime can be. The town has that European but fanciful setting as the characters run around living their lives. There is just this Abyss which everyone takes at face value and no one questions it’s existence. Sure, it’s there and what is inside needs to be explored and learned about, but what you get with Made in Abyss is this disarming sense of fantasy with the real danger lurking in the shadows. Made in Abyss will give you everything you think you need, but then one-two punch you in a way you never expected.

Made in Abyss PV:

Screw Fantasy Alone! I Want Supernatural With Fantasy and I Want It Now!

In case you never thought it was possible, supernatural is more or less a constant fixture when Fantasy is brought into play. Now, that is not to say always, but more often than not, there is some sort of supernatural being, some sort of goblin or devil, or something that should not be, but does. Anime grasp at whatever straws it can get and mixing supernatural with fantasy is no exception. Go to bed one night or die one night to wake up in another world where not only is magic possible, but all sorts of beings are running around. Maybe they are allies, maybe they are enemies. Either way, they are here to stay in the story.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! (Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!)

  • Episodes: 10
  • Aired: January 2016 - March 2016

Kazuma Satou has just died. Rather than being sent to reincarnation or Heaven or Hell, he meets a goddess named Aqua who mocks how he died. You see… it wasn’t so graceful to say the least. Now, Kazuma has two choices, go to a new fantasy world where a Demon King needs to be defeated with the bonus of getting to take one power-up with him, or go to heaven. Since he was a shut in, he tries his luck on this new world. Aqua promises him anything, rather than any sort of boost, so he chooses her. The two wake up in this new world, but as Kazuma soon learns, he was an idiot to choose her. Aqua is useless and she cannot use any magic. She’s a level one user just like him in this new world that looks like an RPG.

Konosuba embodies all that one would expect when the two genres collide. Magical, fantastic beasts need to be defeated while somehow leveling up in a system that looks a lot like a video game. Gods now reside among humans, albeit Aqua does so resentfully, and there are a swath of new beings including magicians, thieves, knights, demons, succubi and more.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! PV


  • Episodes: 26
  • Aired: October 2005 - June 2006

Mushi are beings that exist in our world and are said to be the most basic of all life forms. Those who know about them and how to deal with them are known as Mushishi. Our main character Ginko is a Mushishi. Mushi are all over the place and some are good while others will do you harm. The role of the Mushishi is to know about them, research them, and help those afflicted. As he travels the world, Giko wonders just why these strange beings exist and why they do what they do. He may just discover truths to more than he bargained for.

Mushishi is a quirky story that completely blends in the supernatural by giving the world and society new beings to deal with. These beings help or harm people and each episode is generally a new story into the fanciful nomad life of Ginko as he wanders the earth. Most of the time, he is helping out humans suffering at the heads of these beings, but often manages to pull through. The wide variety of these fanciful creatures too is enough to pique the viewer's’ interest.

Final Thoughts

The Fantasy genre is probably the widest that exists. Anime has shows that go from simple ones like Gabriel DropOut, to dramatic shounen shows like Fairy Tail. If you have finished all of these shows here and would like more to look into, there are great options like Ao no Exorcist, No Game no Life, Soul Eater, Hunter x Hunter, the Fate series, Nanatsu no Taizai, Danmachi, Kuroshitsuji and more. These give you more than enough of a starting point to either learn more about fantasy anime or anime overall. Just know that due to how broad the genre is, you may not like one fantasy anime but love another. Check a couple out! You might find a new favorite show. If you have seen all of the above mentioned shows, do you have more shows that you’d recommend for our readers? If so, be sure to let us know down below. Till next time!

Kono-Subarashii-Sekai-ni-Shukufuku-wo-cd-510x500 What is Fantasy Anime [Definition; Meaning]


Author: Nagareboshi

American by birth; international by choice. I am trying to bring attention to one of my favorite causes; me. I translate by day and write by night. Aspiring polyglot. My dream would be to be the personal translator for Amuro Namie. Other than that, my hobbies include languages, weightlifting, sleeping, karaoke, GOOD coffee and music. When I’m not doing any of the above, I am most likely laughing hysterically at Willam Belli videos or EV farming. I ain’t gunna Rupologize for it neither. Waifu are Shirai Kuroko & Euaerin.

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