Star Wars is a series that’s incredibly near and dear to my heart. I do several rewatches of the entire franchise per year, from the prequels to the sequels, and the many shows.
There’s something about the grand universe, between Disney canon and Legends that resonates deeply.
Naturally a pop icon franchise such as Star Wars has influenced (and been influenced by) many different sci-fi/fantasy series out there, anime being no exception.
After all, let’s not forget that Star Wars has quite a few moments that are very inspired by Samurai movies.
And given the classical use of the Heroes’ Journey that the original trilogy uses, there are plenty of shows that bear strong similarities – even if the setting is quite different.
If you love Star Wars like I do, and if you want a few anime stories that have some of the same storytelling beats, then here’s some recommendations to look into.
15. Star Wars: Visions
Okay, I know, I know. This is absolutely cheating and I acknowledge that – but given all the attention I couldn’t just not mention it.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Star Wars: Visions is an anthology anime about 9 different stories within the Star Wars universe that are all made in different distinct styles.
These are all anime, made in Japan, with striking visuals from various animators.
And they have a bunch of unique stories to tell.
The show just oozes all sorts of style. I highly recommend it if you’re interested in a literal Star Wars anime.
14. Demon Slayer
Demon Slayer’s beginning actually bears a lot of resemblances to Star Wars’ original trilogy.
Our protagonist, Tanjiro, is living a normal life with his family – until one day while away from home, he comes back to his family being tragically murdered.
This moment sets him off into his journey to fight against the evil demons with a bright eyed outlook on life.
And even though Tanjiro doesn’t whine like Luke, Zenitsu certainly does.
13. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
This Ghibli movie’s recommendation comes mostly from the main character herself, Nausicaa.
She holds a lot of similarities to Rey in the sequel trilogy.
And we see similar ideas in this anime too:
Being a resourceful scavenger, exploring and traveling what is shown to be such a vast world, and eventually it ends up getting into a story far over her head originally.
The beginning of the movie in particular just gave me massive vibes of similarities to The Force Awakens.
12. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
This one holds some fairly direct similarities to the classic story of sides pitted against each other.
Our protagonist Ledo actually starts off in this war, and then is transported somewhere untouched.
This, of course, ends up being the planet Earth.
And many people in this anime thought Earth was unlivable all these years later, having been abandoned for exploring the stars to find new homes instead.
I think the idea of re-discovering old secrets has always been an interesting concept, reminding me a lot about how Luke learned about the old forgotten secrets of the Jedi before the Empire.
11. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
This may be a bizarre choice (Har har). But one of the immediate themes that I thought of when I was watching JoJo’s is the themes of a legacy throughout time.
The Skywalker Saga has always had plenty to say about bloodlines, and how each descendant lives up to the identity of their past ancestors.
And while the day-to-day happenings in each of these settings are quite different, the bloodline (and seeing how it unfolds over time) is such an interesting concept that I always love exploring.
10. Space Dandy
This is more of a goofy pick, but Star Wars has some very goofy things in it.
Embracing some of the silly things in Star Wars is absolutely pivotal in being able to enjoy the series, in my opinion.
So Space Dandy offers a way to see how sci-fi can be used to perpetuate crazier things, but also using that same setting to tell serious stories is very similar.
I think Space Dandy sometimes gets a bad rep from those who’ve only seen screenshots – but its universe is capable of being able to tell engaging and deep stories.
9. Kill la Kill
Ragyo is the Emperor, and clothes are her empire.
So I know the statement above is a lot to unpack, but it is true, if you’ve watched the show.
Ryuko and Satsuki are pitted against each other.
And it isn’t until later in the series where the true threat becomes clear. If Satsuki takes the place as Darth Vader, then that leaves the mastermind who pits them against each other…
I think you know what I’m getting at if you’ve watched the show.
And if you haven’t, I highly recommend watching to find out.
8. Outlaw Star
What’s more iconically “Star Wars” (or any sci-fi for that matter) than a rag-tag group of people traveling through space on adventures?
It’s hard not to think of the crews of the Falcon, and more specifically Han Solo, when thinking of treasure hunting space rogues looking to get into all sorts of trouble.
I often consider Star Wars at its best when it uses more Space Western elements, and Outlaw Star does a great job at that.
7. Last Exile
Just imagine steampunk Star Wars with a solid focus on the dog fights that are shown throughout the movies (and some of my favorite games).
Something that I’ve always found interesting about Star Wars is the WW1 style dogfights that the franchise makes use of for the space battles.
The Last Exile is one anime that does a great job of matching a similar feeling, partially through the use of the steampunk-era style ships, and it makes great use of the themes of tension between classes too.
6. Samurai Champloo
Here we get samurais, the origin of Vader’s suit, and the styles of fighting in the original trilogy.
Samurai Champloo is probably one of the best shows at exhibiting some of the fights we remember from Star Wars.
If we assume Mugen has the high energy and active fighting style of the prequels and sequels, then Jin is the exemplar of the more precise fights of the OT.
If you want a fun samurai adventure that gives you an absolute treat of amazing fight scenes, then this show is an absolute must-watch.
5. Ghost in the Shell
This Cyberpunk classic is honestly another must-watch if you like any sci-fi at all.
Or if you like the themes of Droids being more than just servants in the Star Wars universe.
Ghost in the Shell has a lot to say about the idea of artificial life. And it has one of the most beautiful sci-fi worlds that’s ever been designed in anime.
This dark and chilling story should be experienced by anyone who wants to watch something that’ll end up leaving them with more questions to think about by the end.
4. One Piece
If there’s one thing about Star Wars that appeals to me more than anything else, it’s the massive universe that it’s developed over the years.
All the different planets and peoples that live there… it’s fascinating.
The unique environments & the adventure that comes from exploring them is something that’s equally explored in the massive anime monolith that is One Piece.
One Piece has a deep story with immense effort put into each of the islands we visit. Plus we get so immersed in the people we meet along the way that it’s so easy to get sucked into the goliath.
If you love the worlds that Star Wars offers, then you’ll probably love the islands that the Straw Hats visit.
3. Gurren Lagann
This is certainly a show that breaks the scale of Star Wars – like really, the Star Wars universe is a child in comparison.
But that’s not a problem in the slightest.
Gurren Lagann is an amazing coming of age story about a young boy being sucked into a fight that’s massively over his head.
Simon’s journey isn’t quite as starry-eyed and optimistic as Luke’s journey is.
But the growth they both go through to become adults (and to save their universes) is a classic story worth watching.
2. Cowboy Bebop
Here’s another anime that’s similar to Outlaw Star, as the crew of the Bebop has another ragtag crew of misfits.
But if Outlaw Star follows Han, then Bebop follows The Mandalorian.
With many darker themes detailed throughout the series, Bebop takes a mature approach to the space-faring group of bounty hunters, who are there to survive and get paid.
The crew of the Bebop all have their own deep issues that they try to work through during the run of the show, each of them reflecting a lot on what this kind of life can lead to.
And while there isn’t really a Baby Yoda proper, there is Ein.
And Ein is worth dying for.
1. Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Image a war between an all-encompassing Galactic Empire, and a rebellious Alliance of fighters who want freedom for the galaxy.
What am I talking about, you ask?
Well, that pretty much accurately summarizes the classic story of both Star Wars and Legend of the Galactic Heroes.
No other anime so purely exemplifies the sci-fi epic of Star Wars more than this one. Although there aren’t quite as many space wizards running around…
If you have some time to give this classic anime a shot, you won’t regret it.
It’s gorgeous, fun, and has a ton of heart.