Well, for this list, I’m moving away from the animal theme. This time around, I’ll be taking a look at five of my favorite fantasy anime. However, rather than being a Top 5 list, this list will be presented in alphabetical order.
While the main thrust of this series focuses on characters suddenly finding themselves inside the world of a game, the game in question happens to be in the fantasy genre. The writing of this series really captures the feel and essence of fantasy storytelling. One of the things that really attracted me to this series is seeing how our characters from the real world adapt to the fantastical elements that they find themselves having to rely on in order to make it through the world of the game; over the course of the series we see magic potions, magic spells, griffons, and other elements traditionally associated with the fantasy genre.
But this series’ ultimate strength is in its characters, and their relationships. The writing and story were also strong, and I was always left wanting more at the end of each episode. I also have to give the series some credit for including gaming elements with explanations that don’t bog down the story terribly much. The only drawback is the fact that second season of the series still had a lot of loose ends left. There was obviously an attempt to leave the door open for a future season, which still hasn’t materialized yet. But even with this drawback, I still enjoy Log Horizon for its storytelling and its fantastical elements.
The Seven Deadly Sins
The Seven Deadly Sins is set in a medieval style world, specifically in a region known as Britannia. The Seven Deadly Sins is a band of knights that disbanded after being accused of plotting to overthrow the Liones Kingdom. Ten years have passed since the disbanding of the Seven Deadly Sins, and the Holy Knights have staged a coup, captured the king, and are now tyrannical rulers of the kingdom. Elizabeth, the third princess, embarks on a journey to find the Seven Deadly Sins so she can ask for their help to take back the kingdom.
Right from the description, you can tell that this a fantasy series: royalty, knights, and a medieval style world. But it’s not a simple story being presented here; it’s got compelling storytelling with twists, turns, and surprises that keep the audience interested in what’s going to happen next. This fantasy series also has characters who the audience becomes interested in from the time they’re introduced, but many of them have character development moments that make the audience care about them even more. And the animation in this series really captures the look and feel of a medieval world.
As of this writing, I have seen both The Seven Deadly Sins and The Seven Deadly Sins: Signs of Holy War. And with the relatively recent announcement of another season of the anime, as well as an anime film, coming out in 2018, I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen to the characters and to the fantasy world that they inhabit.
Slayers features a 16-year-old sorceress named Lina Inverse, who loves money, treasure, and food, and uses her magic in a reckless, yet comedic manner. She is accompanied on her adventures by Gourry Gabriev, a wandering swordsman with a powerful sword. Unfortunately, Gourry isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. Their party also includes Princess Amelia, a character named Zelgadis who is a mixture of human and demon, and Gourry’s friend Sylphiel.
Of the five anime that I included on this list, Slayers is definitely the most comical. Our sorceress heroine has a ridiculously powerful spell that she seems to keep forgetting just how powerful it is, Princess Amelia is a self-proclaimed Lady of Justice, and Gourry the swordsman is a brave, yet dumb, knight. But to me, the charm of this series is the fact that it’s a fantasy series that takes its tropes and exaggerates them for comic effect. While the other series I included in this list have occasional humor in them, Slayers is meant to be a comedy through and through.
Snow White with the Red Hair
The protagonist of this series is Shirayuki, a red-haired herbalist in a small medieval village. She becomes the target of Prince Raj, due to the fact that her red hair is very unusual in the world that they inhabit, and he wants to make her his concubine. Shirayuki is rightly offended and runs away. When she enters the neighboring kingdom of Clarines, she encounters Prince Zen. The two of them forge a friendship that blossoms into something more as the series continues. After Zen saves Shirayuki from Raj, she stays in Clarines and works at becoming an apprentice court herbalist.
The first thing that grabbed me about Snow White with the Red Hair was the animation, especially the lush backgrounds. The next thing that attracted me to this series was Shirayuki. I love how much agency she has. While she’s sweet, helpful, and beautiful, she’s not going to let people with sexist ideas push her around. She’s also very independent. Yes, Shirayuki ultimately finds herself dealing with potential romance, but this part of the story doesn’t dull her as a character as much as it could have.
The writing for Snow White with the Red Hair also helps to make it one of my favorite series. The characters are relatable and go through some development over the course of the series, and the story progresses in a logical way.
The World is Still Beautiful
The main character is a girl named Nike, who is the fourth sovereign daughter of the Rain Dukedom and has the power to call forth the rain. The Sun King, the ruler of the Sun Kingdom, sends a message to Nike’s father saying that he won’t invade their land if he offers the hand of one of his daughters in marriage. Nike ends up being the one chosen to become the Sun King’s bride because she loses a game of rock-paper-scissors. When she meets the Sun King, she learns he is named Livius and that he is younger than her. At first, they don’t like each other, but as they get to know each other, their feelings change. Of course, there are various obstacles that get in the way of their budding relationship.
Much like Shirayuki in Snow White with the Red Hair, Nike is another female character with agency. However, their stories are very different. The World is Still Beautiful utilizes its fantasy setting and elements effectively, and it combines these elements with strong storytelling. There were one or two spots where the story kind of stumbles a little, but for the most part, the episodes were well written.