People who play Dungeons and Dragons don’t tend to limit their fantasy media just to tabletop games. After all, it does require something of a preestablished interest in the genre.
Luckily, there’s plenty to choose from. I’ve reviewed a few fantasy books here at D20Collective, some official releases, and others more recent fantasy publications. There are, of course, far more than I could ever cover. From the modern Game of Thrones and Legend of Vox Machina, to the cheesy 70s sword-and-sorcery flicks, to classic fairytales and Arthurian romance, plenty of media lends itself to fans of DnD.
This includes anime.
Modern trends for Japanese animation have seen large numbers of high-fantasy shows, featuring powerful video-game inspired characters, many of whom have the mindset and perspective of a modern person. These vary in quality, some being very good, others very bad, others merely generic and dull. But there are also plenty of more traditionally tabletop-esque anime that make for great inspiration, or just plain fun watching with your tabletop group.
Here are 5 anime that I like to recommend to DnD fans:
Record of Lodoss War
If it’s Dungeons and Dragons that you want, you can’t get much closer to it than an anime directly inspired by a DnD Campaign! Record of Lodoss War was originally a series of published ‘replays’ – transcripts of TTRPG games.
The anime (one entry among a whole catalogue of novels, tv shows, manga, movies, and more) follows a party of adventurers as they make their way across the cursed continent of Lodoss, experiencing various adventures, making various friends, and expanding their knowledge of the fantastical world that they live in. Each character has their own race and class combo – including clerics, wizards, thieves, dwarves, and elves – much like a DnD party would. And the episodes really capture the feeling of watching a game.
Sorcerous Stabber Orphen
Another epic high-fantasy adventure, the Sorcerous Stabber Orphen catalogue includes a light novel, manga, anime, and a reboot (for those of you who are picky about your animation quality and style). This one is more singular-plot focused than Lodoss War, following the main character across a single quest, albeit with various mischief and tangents along the way.
Instead of a valiant team of adventurers, we start this anime off with an introduction to a reckless and violent moneylender, who we are told used to be a prestigious student-mage. Now, though, he’s getting involved in marriage fraud. But things go wrong, as they do, and by the end of the first episode we’re launched into a race to track down a dangerous beast – and turn it back into Orphen’s long-lost sister.
Rune Soldier Louie
Let’s say that you love the worldbuilding and style of Lodoss War, but you’re looking for something more lighthearted. Well, you’re in luck, because Lodoss has a sister series: Rune Soldier Louie.
Taking place in the same world (and created by the same director), on another continent, Rune Soldier Louie follows a more-brawn-than-brains mage who’s looking to join the local adventurer’s guild. He has a little trouble, since he’s not really all that great at his job, but he manages to make a few friends and assemble his party. Soon, they’re off to magical hijinks of their own!
The series goes through several few-episode arcs, each telling us a little more about the world and characters. They’re much funnier, and a little more risqué, than Lodoss.
More famous than Rune Soldier Louie, and just as much fun, is the long running series Slayers. This massive series started out as a few light novels, and expanded into half a dozen series, movies, media-tie-ins, and more.
It follows teenage sorceress Lina Inverse, who cares much more for gold than glory or goodness, as she stumbles her way into a team of fighters, paladins, mages, and more. While she mainly wants to eat, steal gold from bandits, and gather more magical power to terrorize the local villages, she soon finds herself swept up in the quest to stop the mysterious machinations of a powerful priest. And that’s just the first series!
Later series have their own story arcs, and we get to watch as she and her ragtag team meet new friends, discover new enemies, and face down nearly unbeatable foes. It’s also got some fantastic theme songs!
Okay, I admit it. This one is probably a little too cutesy for ‘serious’ gamers. If you’re looking for war gaming inspiration, Akazukin Cha-Cha is probably not the anime for you. But if you want an adorable story of a little magical girl as she learns about the fantasy world she lives in, with the help of her fantastical friends, you’re in luck.
The series does also have a through-plot. Cha-Cha isn’t just an adorable magical girl, she’s also a princess, being targeted by the evil king who turned her parents to stone. And while the first arc focuses mainly on introducing the cutesy cast, later arcs follow a genuinely quite good adventure as she goes to rescue them. Each of these characters also falls into their own class/ability tropes, making them easy to see as an adventuring party. And the detail that’s put into the magic of the world (and how Cha-Cha struggles with it) makes for pretty good DM inspiration.
Do you have a favorite DnD-style anime? Have you watched any of the ones I’ve suggested? I’d love to hear your thoughts, or hear any suggestions in the comments below!