Diving into the realm of anime reveals a tapestry of stories where imagination knows no bounds, especially within the fantasy genre. This domain, rich in lore, magic, and otherworldly adventures, has given us some of the most captivating and thought-provoking narratives that have left a lasting impact on fans worldwide. Among these, a few stand out not just as memorable series but as the best fantasy anime of all time. These titles, including Seven Deadly Sins, Promised Neverland, and Inuyasha, offer a blend of enchanting worlds, complex characters, and plots that blend the mystical with the emotional in ways that resonate deeply with their audience.
Fantasy anime for adults often goes beyond the simple good vs. evil narrative, delving into themes of morality, freedom, and the complexities of human (or non-human) nature. Seven Deadly Sins, for instance, takes us on a journey through a richly developed world filled with knights, magic, and ancient beings, all while exploring the themes of redemption and the true meaning of justice. Similarly, Promised Neverland presents a gripping and cerebral story that challenges its characters (and viewers) to question the nature of sacrifice, freedom, and the dark undercurrents of seemingly idyllic societies.
Good fantasy anime doesn’t just entertain; it immerses viewers in universes where every detail contributes to the larger narrative. Inuyasha is a prime example of this, combining elements of time travel, romance, and battle for a compelling story that spans both the historical and the supernatural. It’s these elements—complex characters, intricate plots, and expansive worlds—that make titles like these stand out as not just good fantasy anime, but as some of the best the genre has to offer.
“’InuYasha’ follows Kagome Higurashi, a fifteen-year-old girl whose normal life ends when a demon drags her into a cursed well on the grounds of her family’s Shinto shrine. Instead of hitting the bottom of the well, Kagome ends up 500 years in the past during Japan’s violent Sengoku period with the demon’s true target, a wish-granting jewel called the Shikon Jewel, reborn inside of her. After a battle with a revived demon accidentally causes the sacred jewel to shatter, Kagome enlists the help of a young hybrid dog-demon/human named Inuyasha to help her collect the shards and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.”
Inuyasha is a demon anime series that served as the gateway series for a lot of otaku in the early- to mid-2000s. It’s quirky, funny, semi-informative, and was broadcasted on Toonami, which made it accessible to a wide range of viewers.
The plot of, “find and recover the Shikon Jewel,” while simple, grew increasingly convoluted as more and more characters arrived to help and hinder their mission. Not to mention that Kagome’s determination to periodically return to the modern age in order to keep up with her studies slowed their progress over the nearly-two-hundred-episode series. Still, as Kagome and Inuyasha’s team grew with characters who were affected (positively and negatively, although mostly that latter) by the Shikon Jewel breaking, their antics and hijinks bonded them together as more than companions on a journey.
If you’re looking for an anime that toes the line of a bunch of different genres (romance, comedy, drama, historical, etc.) while still managing to exist beneath the wider “fantasy” umbrella, look no further. That, and you probably unknowingly know one friend who has been quietly waiting for someone to watch this show so they can jump on that nostalgia train.
2Kamisama Hajimemashita/Kamisama Kiss (2012)
“High schooler Nanami Momozono, recently homeless and without a support system, runs into a man being harassed by a dog. After helping him, she explains her situation, and to her surprise, he offers her his home in gratitude. But when she discovers that said home is a rundown shrine, she tries to leave; however, she is caught by two shrine spirits and a fox familiar named Tomoe. They mistake her for the man Nanami rescued—the land god of the shrine. Now, Nanami and Tomoe must traverse the path of godhood together as god and familiar.”
Similar to Inuyasha in its feel, this is another slow-starter story that entices you into following one narrative before that narrative sucks you in like quicksand until you’re in too deep and can’t escape.
And you’ll thank it for trapping you.
Kamisama Hajimemashita turns into a story of love and loss as well as one that explores grieving for futures that were once—but are no longer in—your grasp. It’s a story of how the past doesn’t define you, but it can remind you that it exists and plays a large role in your present, for good or ill. This anime is both entertaining, with its vibrant and hilarious cast, and also absolutely heart-wrenching at other times.
Also, did I mention it’s a love story?
3Nanatsu no Taizai/Seven Deadly Sins (2014)
“In a world similar to the European Middle Ages, the feared yet revered Holy Knights of Britannia use immensely powerful magic to protect the region of Britannia and its kingdoms. However, a small subset of the Knights supposedly betrayed their homeland and turned their blades against their comrades in an attempt to overthrow the ruler of Liones. They were defeated by the Holy Knights, but rumors continued to persist that these legendary knights, called the “Seven Deadly Sins,” were still alive . . .”
The excitement! The intrigue!
An ongoing series, Nanatsu no Taizai is one that just keeps on giving. The story follows Elizabeth, the third princess of Liones, as she tries to find the Sins to ask for their help to protect the Kingdom once again.
The first season teases bits and pieces about the Sins, and each character is unique with a twist on their personalities that keep them from being archetypes. Examples include a brash, immortal fighter who spends his waking moments trying to figure resurrect his dead girlfriend, the fairy king who was banished because he’s a coward and the brawny knight who is strong during the day but wimpy at night.
It’s these small details that make the cast relatable and memorable, drawing you into the story until you’ll never want to leave the world.
Need more? Here are 7 more reasons to watch Seven Deadly Sins on Netflix.
4Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic (2012)
“Dispersed around the world, there are several bizarre labyrinths known as “Dungeons,” that are rumored to have been made by Magi, a rare class of magician, to hide incredible treasures. Having spent life in isolation, Aladdin, a kind and young magician, is eager to explore the world upon finally leaving his home behind. He soon becomes friends with the courageous Alibaba Saluja after causing the destruction of a local merchant’s supply cart. In order to pay for the damages, Alibaba suggests that they attempt to conquer the nearest dungeon, taking the first step in an epic adventure that will decide the fate of the world itself.”
If that description didn’t reveal just how fantastical Aladdin’s and Alibaba’s adventure will be, I don’t know what will. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic is yet another fantasy anime with lore so rich you can do a Wikipedia-deep-dive and not come up for air for at least a few hours. This show also takes the idea of a “colorful cast” and runs with it literally while managing to make them deep, flawed, and extremely human. It also touches upon ideas of subjugation and what it means to choose your own path under your own power.
Aladdin and Alibaba are warm and loving towards themselves and others, and their actions are so wholesome they’ll make you want to do as they do—just in the real world. If you want a show that will send you deep in the feels, this is certainly one to check out.
5Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari/The Rising of the Shield Hero (2019)
Content Warning: accused rape, prejudice
This anime takes the isekai (“person from Earth ends up in another world”) genre and shakes it up to produce something new. In most isekai anime, the main character arrives in the new world and, through a series of events, ends up being the most powerful hero.
This is . . . not quite that story.
When Naofumi—the protagonist—and three others are summoned from modern-day Japan to the kingdom of Melromarc, they are each given a magical weapon as befitting their new status of Heroes. However, Naofumi, strangely enough, is gifted a shield rather than an offensive weapon like the others.
Although Naofumi initially begins his journey bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, he soon discovers that the Shield Hero’s existence is met with scorn, disdain, and/or outright hatred. When he’s then set up and accused of raping the princess, he decides to take matters into his own hands and stop being so naïve; if the land is going to spit on him and spurn his help—even though he was brought to this other realm for the sole purpose of protecting them—he’ll forge his own path to protect his own.
It’s a darker spin on the heroic trope, and one that becomes a fascinating deep-dive into what being a hero means when no one wants your help, as well as the different paths a protagonist can follow to become their own form of salvation.
6Yakusoku no Neverland/Promised Neverland
Content Warning: body mutilation
“Surrounded by a forest and a gated entrance, the Grace Field House is inhabited by orphans happily living together as one big family, looked after by their “Mama,” Isabella. Although they are required to take tests daily, the children are free to spend their time as they see fit, usually playing outside, as long as they do not venture too far from the orphanage—a rule they are expected to follow no matter what. However, all good times must come to an end.”
If it wasn’t clear from the description, this is a fantasy with a much darker slant. The children of Grace Field House must find a way to escape once they realize that their beloved Mama is raising them as food for literal demons. The sheer amount of futility in so many of these episodes is almost enough to taint the enjoyment of the show. And yet, Yakusoku no Neverland manages to masterfully toe the line between despair and hope, leaving the viewer sitting on the edge of their seat as they watch Emma, Ray, and Norman struggle for survival.
I found myself crying with each new obstacle the kids encountered, wishing and praying that some stroke of good luck would grant them success. When they failed at anything, I cried, and when they succeeded at one of their goals, I cheered aloud; their losses and gains became my own.
Fortunately, the show is still ongoing, but unfortunately, that means the kids are still suffering. Where the kids will end up and how they’ll manage to carve out a demon-free space remains to be seen, but it’s undeniable that it’s going to be quite an adventure.
Yato is a down-on-his-luck minor deity: no followers, no shrine, and no power. But rather than allowing that to keep him down, Yato puts his name out there—literally. He offers to do any chore, big or small, for the negligible fee of five yen. In the midst of searching for a lost cat (when he said big or small, he wasn’t kidding), he encounters a girl named Hiyori when she pushes him out of the way of a car, taking the hit for him.
Although she’s mostly fine, the impact jarred her soul loose and allowing her to see two parallel worlds: the Near Shore, where regular humans and creatures reside, and the Far Shore, where demons and human souls linger. She finds Yato and gives him five yen to work towards securing her soul back to her body. In his quest to grant her wish, they go through many adventures and are forced to struggle with their friendship, identity, and pasts.
Despite the potential for a grim narrative, Noragami buoys the plot with humor and lighthearted elements that result in unique and entertaining events. This is another show with a generous and colorful cast of side characters, ones who join with Yato’s chaotic pragmaticism and Hiyori’s gentle stability in order to stay with you long after you’ve watched the final episode. And, if you’ve fallen in love with the characters and want more, the manga is still ongoing and proceeds past the events of the anime.
8Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan (2013)
Content Warning: blood, death, violence, gore, talk of euthanization, fantasy-Nazi imagery
This. Show. Has. It. All. A whole civilization trapped inside large walls that are meant to protect them. Giant monsters (Titans) that inexplicably want to murder all the humans in the walls. What’s beyond the walls is a mystery; outside of small, failed, reconnaissance missions the army sometimes goes on, no one ever leaves the walls. They’re safe.
Until the day the fire nation attacked the day a Titan bigger than all others broke the outermost wall and slaughtered almost everyone in the nearest town. Three of the survivors, Eren, Mikasa, and Armin resolve to train up and join the army in order to eradicate all the Titans from the world.
The struggle in this show is . . . real. It has no qualms murdering characters you’ve grown to like, and it also has a true gift of taking everything you thought you knew about this world and tipping it on its side. No matter what you think you might know about Attack on Titan, it surely has a least a dozen plot twists waiting in the wings to keep you guessing about what will come next. Because of this, the show moves quickly, and you’ll find yourself at the end of a season before you remember watching all of it. The fifth and final season is slated to come out Winter 2022, which gives new viewers enough time to catch up and experience Eren, Mikasa, and Armin’s journey towards saving the world.
If you’re not a seasoned anime watcher, Attack on Titan is a great place to start, as we noted in our list of the best anime for beginners.
9Black Clover (2017)
“Asta and Yuno were abandoned at the same church on the same day. Raised together as children, they came to know of the “Wizard King”—a title given to the strongest mage in the kingdom—and promised that they would compete against each other for the position of the next Wizard King. However, as they grew up, the stark difference between them became evident. While Yuno is able to wield magic with amazing power and control, Asta cannot use magic at all. Despite their stark differences, the two friends head out into the world, both seeking the same goal: to become the Wizard King!”
One of the new shows to pick up the Shonen Jump banner after two of the big trio (Naruto and Bleach) ended, Black Clover is a show that is striving in every episode to do its Shonen Jump successors proud. And it’s succeeding.
After a slightly rocky start (too much nostalgia for the old shows and not enough patience for new ones), Black Clover settled into its lore and has become a powerhouse series in its own might. Although it’s a shōnen anime, it finds ways to freshen up the genre.
There’s something so amazing and inspiring about seeing that Asta has neither magic, status, nor support; his weaknesses are trifold. Asta is truly an underdog character, and watching him harness his weaknesses into a strength is so empowering. Asta doesn’t limit himself because of his circumstances, and he never gives up.
Naruto and Ichigo would be proud.
“Nemeses are powerful and mysterious demonic entities that fall from the sky and vaporize anything they touch. The only ones who can combat these creatures are Sorcerers, those who have survived an encounter with a Nemesis but were infected in the process. Seth, a Sorcerer from Pompo Hills, sets out on an adventure to exterminate all these Nemeses. Accompanying him are Doc and Mélie, fellow Sorcerers who share his ideal. Their main objective is to bring about a world where Sorcerers are no longer persecuted for being infected, and to that end, desire to destroy the source of the Nemeses themselves: the mythical Radiant.”
This one is both odd and amazing. Unlike every other title on this list, Radiant is an adaptation of a French comic. But, despite its non-Japanese roots, Radiant is such a modern, magical adventure. Seth follows the patterns of a shōnen protagonist (see: Dragonball), but he does so in such a way that also allows him to grow as a character. Most shōnen protagonists “power up” and then discover how their newfound abilities have evolved them as a person, but Seth does it in real time. He also, unlike some of the others on this list, is not willing to throw away everything to achieve his dreams; the tears he sheds and hesitation he reveals upon deciding to leave his foster mom in the earlier episodes isn’t played for laughs or brushed off as not being manly. Leaving your home, even to follow your dreams, is hard, and Radiant doesn’t shy away from displaying that.
If you’re in the mood for something different, but with familiar flavors, this is certainly one to give a chance.
11Full Moon wo Sagashite/Searching for a Full Moon (2002)
Content Warning: mentions of suicide, depression, discussions of death
Full Moon wo Sagashite is a much older, more poignant show. It ties fantasy with themes of death and hope, following our young protagonist: Mitsuki Koyama. Our cinnamon-roll, twelve-year-old protagonist is an orphan with throat cancer. She lives with her music-hating grandmother, but despite this, Mitsuki wishes to be a singer like her late parents. She also hopes to fulfill a promise with her childhood friend, Eichi, one they both made to pursue their dreams.
Mitsuki’s cancer, however, prevents her from breathing easily and from singing loudly. There is a surgery she can undergo but doing so has a high likelihood of damaging her vocal cords. She refuses to do the surgery, not wanting to risk never being able to sing again.
As if the deck wasn’t already stacked against her, two Shinigami (“death gods”) enter her life and accidentally let slip that she only has a year left to live. When she resolves to chase her dream with her remaining time, they offer her a deal: if she agrees to die without protest at the end of the year, they’ll help her sing so that she can leave the world without regrets; when she agrees, they give her the ability to transform into a sixteen-year-old version of herself, free of illness. Without her illness restraining her, she soon gains a singing contract as the artist, calling herself Full Moon.
Watching this show will remind you that dreams are meant to be chased, no matter how impossible achieving them might seem. You never know when your time might be up, so it’s best to strive toward your goals, no matter the obstacles you have to overcome.
One of the aforementioned Shonen Jump Big Three, Bleach follows Ichigo Kurosaki, a delinquent-looking protagonist with a heart of gold. Ichigo spends his days taking care of his sisters, trying to be a normal high school student, and interacting with the random ghosts that exist around his town.
Completely normal circumstances.
Then, one day, he comes across a strange sight: a girl, dressed in a black Reaper outfit, fighting a vengeful spirit called a Hollow. He rushes in to help and, in the process, finds out she’s a Soul Reaper (a being who interacts with the human world in order to take out Hollows so that they don’t harm humanity). When she gets injured and can no longer fight, Ichigo agrees to take on her Soul Reaper mantle and takes her.
However, Rukia (the Soul Reaper) and Ichigo realize they can’t transfer the powers back, and thus, Ichigo has to take on Rukia’s job while she coaches him through it. She sees potential in him, and she decides she will make sure he doesn’t waste it.
Of course, things don’t stay so even-keel, and Ichigo finds himself pulled into a hundred different directions as he gets entangled in the world Rukia is from, Soul Society. Yet, he doesn’t let the chaotic slant to his life stop him from shaking his core values; watching a protagonist who is so wholly and unapologetically themselves is a not-so-subtle way of telling the viewer that they, themselves, can do the same.
There’s no shame in being yourself. (Unless you’re one of the main characters from the Bounto arc. Sorry, but there’s no hope for any of you.)
“Son Goku is a young boy who lives in the woods all alone—that is, until a girl named Bulma runs into him in her search for a set of magical objects called the “Dragon Balls.” Since the artifacts are said to grant one wish to whoever collects all seven, Bulma hopes to gather them and wish for a perfect boyfriend. To find the Dragon Balls, the two set off on the journey of a lifetime.”
I’m not sure if it’s possible to know of anime and not at least have heard of Dragon Ball; it’s possibly one of the most classic of the classics on this list!
Although Goku may not be . . . the sharpest tool in the shed, his heart is in the right place, and he tries so so hard whenever he puts his mind toward success. Although many episodes might seem more humor than plot, that’s part of the shows charm
Dragon Ball is the type of story that became the benchmark for the shōnen genre: the protagonist has to fight an opponent but they’re not strong enough, so they have to train in increasingly strenuous ways to get enough power to beat the opponent. A tried-and-true method, to be sure, but Dragon Ball spices up the results in such a way that it keeps the story from being stale. And, when you grow to know and love the characters, you can sit down and watch all the episodes across its various sequels and spinoffs.
It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Content Warning: gore, body horror, prostitution, disturbing images
“Daigo Kagemitsu’s—the greedy samurai lord—land is dying, and he would do anything for power, even renounce Buddha and make a pact with demons. His prayers are answered by twelve demons who grant him the power he desires by aiding his prefecture’s growth, but at a price. When Kagemitsu’s first son is born, the boy has no limbs, no nose, no eyes, no ears, nor even skin—yet still, he lives. This child is disposed of in a river and forgotten. But as luck would have it, he is saved by a medicine man who provides him with prosthetics and weapons, allowing for him to survive and fend for himself. The boy lives and grows, and although he cannot see, hear, or feel anything, he must defeat the demons that took him as sacrifice. With the death of each one, he regains a part of himself that is rightfully his.”
Another one on the darker trend, Dororo is one of Osamu Tezuka’s brainchildren. This story is, despite its content, surprisingly heartwarming. But also terribly, horribly dark. You’d best prepare yourself to see some of the worst aspects of humanity, so much so that you begin to wonder who is truly demonic: the humans or the demons?
But, this is a story of two lost children finding themselves in each other and in their journey together. It tugs at the heartstrings and doesn’t shy away from asking difficult questions: who is really in the wrong and who is in the right? Is the sacrifice of one worth it if it will save the many? Who will you root for, when the success of the protagonist means the death and destruction of an entire nation? What is right and just when a nation is going to war? Having to grapple with these themes and ideas truly puts Dororo in a caliber of its own, making it a necessary addition to a list of best fantasy anime.
“Moments prior to Naruto Uzumaki’s birth, a huge demon known as the Kyuubi, the Nine-Tailed Fox, attacked Konohagakure, the Hidden Leaf Village, and wreaked havoc. In order to put an end to the Kyuubi’s rampage, the leader of the village, the Fourth Hokage, sacrificed his life and sealed the monstrous beast inside the newborn, Naruto. Years later, despite being shunned because of the Kyuubi inside him, Naruto struggles to find his place in the village and become the Hokage.”
720 episodes of pure and unadulterated ninja goodness, Naruto is an absolute much-watch. Naruto, of eponymous fame, is an absolute delight. Book-dumb but emotionally smart, this boy will wiggle his way into your heart and never leave. He’s just a lonely boy who tries his hardest to be noticed and loved, however possible. But, if sunshine boys are not your cup of tea, this show has so many characters, you could literally pick a random one off the street and wait to get a backstory.
Or, if you’re not in it for the characters, the plot is so dense, but divvied out to viewers in such a masterful way. By the end of it, you’ll have hours of note about various villages, alliances, betrayals, and backstories, but you won’t even have noticed you’d collected them. There’s a reason that Naruto was considered one of the big Shonen Jump three, and from the first episode, when Naruto is beaten down and beaten down and beaten down and continues to get up, the show makes it clear that this is a hero, and you’re going to love watching him—and the others he pulls into his orbit—thrive.
16Cardcaptor Sakura (1998)
Cardcaptor Sakura features the youngest protagonist on this list, clocking in at a whopping ten-years-old, which is one of the reasons we included it on our list of the best magical girl anime as well. A classic, produced by the famous CLAMP company, the story follows Sakura Kinomoto, a girl who finds a magical book in her basement that seems to call to her.
Of course, she opens it. (She’s ten. Impulse control is not yet one of her honed skills).
Upon opening it, she learns that the book was sealed shut because it’s filled with magical cards that vanish into thin air moments later. A yellow-winged creature also emerges from the book and informs her that she’s opened the Book of Clow and released the Clow Cards. They’ll wreak havoc on the real world and, because she’s the one who released them, she must now collect them before they can cause too much trouble. Of course, with any sort of magic involved, there are secrets upon secrets stuck in the lore of all the cards, as well as mysteries surrounding Clow Reed, the magician who made them.
And yet, although this story has the potential to have Sakura face major consequences for endangering the world, it rarely, if ever, crosses the line into full drama. But, your heart will still race, and you’ll still cheer Sakura on as you journey with her retrieving the Clow Cards.
Cardcaptor Sakura shows us the life of magic and wonder that many kids wished they could’ve experienced in the real world. Every episode is doused in the sweetness and innocence of childhood, while still leaving ample space for Sakura and her friends to navigate the beginning of their teen years as they start to grow up. Cardcaptor Sakura is near and dear to my heart, and if you give it the chance and sign up for a beautiful adventure, it’ll ensnare you, too.
17Boku no Hero Academia/My Hero Academia (2016)
Another Shonen Jump newbie(ish) that appeared to fill the Big Three hole, Boku no Hero Academia quickly jumped into the metaphorical anime waters, shouting, “I am here!”
In a society where 80% of the world have supernatural powers (think more superheroes, rather than paranormal, although there seems to be room for both), Izuku Midoriya is part of the other 20%: quirkless and, according to society, useless. Despite this and the danger it might pose to him, he wants to be a hero and save people, like his idol, the hero All Might.
Before anyone gets too excited about this being Black Clover in another font, I will include the slight spoiler that Izuku does gain a quirk within the first few episodes (but I won’t tell you how), and it serves to transform his life into a chaotic, dangerous adventure. The narrative explicitly tells you that this is the story detailing how he became the best hero, and, based on how he’s done within the already-aired episodes, it’s clear he’s well on his way.
This show is X-Men meets anime, with yet another varied and colorful cast of characters who all have their own powers, hopes, dreams, and weaknesses. Seeing them grow into the next generation that will protect their world is so inspiring. It’s like this cast has never heard the word no, or if they’ve heard it, they’ve never understood it. If people in the real world were half as determined as this cast of loveable characters, no one would have unfulfilled wishes in their lives.
Certainly the anime with the longest episode count (968 as of this article posting and still ongoing, One Piece is in a caliber all its own. Eiichiro Oda, the creator, has found a formula for taking the most basic ideas and turning them into something magical and original.
Bounty hunter who goes after pirates? Make him a pirate.
Womanizing cook who loves food? Make him a pirate.
Historian with nation-toppling powers? Make her a pirate.
. . . Okay. Perhaps Oda’s plan is to just make everyone a pirate.
And yet, it works, and still manages to keep you guessing where the crew is going to go next. Nothing is too unrealistic for Oda, and if you think this is going to be a pirate show that takes place wholly on the sea, you’re going to be in for a surprise.
Luffy and his crew have no limits and no desire to be anything but themselves, unapologetically. With every action, breath, and conversation, they never change who they are at their core, and for that, they make each other better and stronger, until they’re no longer a crew, but in fact, a family.
This show has the humor, the drama, the angst, the feels. It has everything.
If you turn this show on, buckle up for a wild ride, one that will leave you smiling and crying in equal measure.
See Also: One Piece Treasure Chest Cookie Jar
19Yu Yu Hakusho (1992)
Another classic, Yu Yu Hakusho stars another delinquent with a heart of gold and more attitude than the show knows what to do with. Yusuke Urameshi is a fourteen-year-old (what is it with all these teens getting into cool adventures?) delinquent who almost everyone believes is going to amount to nothing. And yet, despite being scorned for most of his life, one day, Yusuke jumps in front of a car to save a little boy and dies.
He’s quickly visited by a Grim Reaper who informs him that it wasn’t his time to die.
Through a series of trials and near-failures, Yusuke is then given the chance to be revived, if he agrees to work for the King of the Spirit Realm (the afterlife . . . sort of) as a Spirit Detective. It’ll become his job to chase after any Demons or Spirits who escape from the Spirit Realm and start making trouble in the Human Realm.
Of course, Yusuke remains the same in half-death as he did in life, and his splash of heroics all tend to have a dash of audacity towards the universe. Honestly, he’s a one-of-a-kind character who you can’t help but love: straightforward, brash, and unflinchingly honest to his core. Yusuke provides a type of nobility not seen in many protagonists nowadays, and his uniqueness is refreshing. Not to mention that the rest of his team ends up being filled by two morally gray demons, a human, and a peppy Grim Reaper with blue hair who wears lovely pastel colors.
(It’s like the start of a bad joke, but one that’ll have you cackling all the same).
20Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009)
Not to be confused with the previous version that came out in 2003, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an anime that faithfully adapts the events in the manga.
Edward and Alphonse Elric, two brothers who are skilled with the power of alchemy, performed the ultimate taboo when they were younger: trying to resurrect their mother. As a result, Edward loses his arm and his leg, and Alphonse loses his whole body, only able to remain on the mortal plane by having his soul forced into an unfeeling suit of armor. The two embark on a journey to find a way to get their bodies back.
This anime has all the things: war, friendship, depression, grief, self-loathing, self-confidence—the list is nigh-exhaustible. In my opinion, it is one of the greatest stories to be told in the modern age (am I biased? Yes.). The cast is lovable, relatable, and human in the most painful and realistic of ways.
Not to mention the actual plot beats—from the boys attempting to bring their mom back to life to Edward’s use of alchemy in the final battle, even the smallest detail becomes important to the overarching storyline. You’ll find yourself teasing out bits of Amestrian lore, tying it to how Xerxes once functioned, and how it might eventually affect cities like Drachma and Creta.
If it sounds like gibberish now, it won’t by the end of the show.
If you’ve somehow missed seeing this anime so far, I highly advise you to secure a chunk of free time (if possible) and get to bingeing. We also included Edward and Winry from FMA in our list of the 50 cutest anime couples.
Also, maybe buy a box of tissues, just in case, as this fantasy anime can bring the cries.
21Sailor Moon (1992/2014)
No fantasy anime list would be complete without Sailor Moon.
Sailor Moon is one of those anime that everyone has heard about; to this day, it acts as a gateway series. But, if you haven’t watched the whole show (either the original 90s version or the more recent 2014 reboot), you’re missing out.
Usagi Tsukino is a normal fourteen-year-old girl who rescues a cat with an odd, moon-shaped scar on its forehead. However, after the rescue, she finds out that the cat can talk, and that the cat is actually an advisor to the Moon Kingdom (exactly what it sounds like: a kingdom on the Moon). She’s been tasked to find the Moon Princess, who was reincarnated without her memories on Earth. Although the viewer will likely put two and two together about who the mysterious, amnesiac Moon Princess is long before the cast does, the show does a great job of allowing you to love the cast and the plot despite its obvious trajectory.
And the characters. Act. Their. Age. (A rarity in anime).
Usagi cries a lot and is afraid of fighting and being injured, similar to most normal fourteen-year-old girls. But despite that, her loyalty to her friends knows no bounds, and it’s her determination to save them all whenever trouble comes to town—even if it’s just because she wants to eat more desserts with her friends post-calamity—that proves to be her true power, rather than her magic. She’s the superhero many of us wanted to be when we were younger, the one who got to fight the villains while still getting to live a semi-normal life.
For many anime-watches, she was and is the dream, and for that reason alone, Sailor Moon sits at the top of this list.
Varied and spanning across decades, this list of the 21 best fantasy anime is sure to give you some fun entertainment if you’re looking for a new show to check out. What do you think—agree? Disagree? Hit us up on Twitter.
Honorable mentions that weren’t quite fantasy enough to make the list: Sword Art Online, Tiger & Bunny, Saiyuki, Hunter x Hunter, and Fruits Basket.