I’ve been a fan of Tabletop RPGs for about 7 years now – everything from fantasy to sci-fi type settings.
And with the rising popularity of D&D on for the past few years, there are definitely a good many anime to supplement the feeling of a fantasy game-like world.
It should be noted that while the isekai subgenre is heavily interwoven with a lot of RPG tropes, they’re not the only D&D-like shows out there.
And given my own personal attachment to the world of fantasy RPGs, I’ve got a lot of shows that fit the bill.
So let’s hop into the world of swords, sorcery, and innovative storytelling to check out some great anime recommendations for any Dungeons & Dragons lovers.
15. Studio Ghibli Movies
This is a very broad entry, which is why it’s so high up on this list.
And it doesn’t cover all the Ghibli movies – but I would feel like I’m betraying the spirit of adventure if I didn’t at least mention Ghibli.
There’s a very good selection of movies to choose from that fit the spirit of adventure, and here’s the most notable that I’ll list for this entry:
Princess Mononoke, Valley of the Wind, and Howl’s Moving Castle.
I could make an entire list myself just dedicated to ranking Ghibli movies on their own merits (which we do have!)
But pick out a few Ghibli films with concepts interest you, and have a good time on a beautiful adventure.
This is an absolutely beautiful show about a wanderer going from town to town to solve people’s various problems.
It may not be filled to the brim with action, or fights.
But this show embodies the spirit of a more small-scale adventure.
It’s absolutely filled with Japanese mythology that could be perfect for your own worldbuilding, and gives a good look into how rural Japan can be used for a setting.
13. The Rising of the Shield Hero
Now we’re getting into a bit more of a traditional style of a fantasy D&D story.
This is an isekai about four people sucked into a world that they have to save with one of four iconic weapons.
Though the party building is a bit light, the worldbuilding of the setting of Shield Hero is very interesting with its darker themes.
And while I think the middle of the first season drags a bit, it does have a very interesting take on adventurers taking on more low-key jobs, showing off how downtime can be used effectively.
12. Seven Deadly Sins
This one offers a more high power adventure to be sure.
Seven Deadly Sins follows characters based (not surprisingly) off the mythological seven sins.
Though in this universe, the sins (while being flawed in their own many ways) are still the heroes of our story.
The world of this anime is packed with beautiful visuals, great character designs, and a very interesting concept of a traveling tavern with terrible food.
11. Demon Slayer
I initially hesitated to put this one on my list.
But after a lot of deliberation on what the essence of the show is about, I think it definitely holds a lot of the spirit of D&D.
Starting with a tragic backstory, we gather our party each with their own quirks, unique abilities, and drives all coinciding to find themselves facing off against the big bad evil guy of the arc.
And it covers a lot of the smaller jobs that adventurers often take on.
Demon Slayer is a phenomenal show in its own right.
It’s also another one that takes great advantage of its Japanese setting, inspiring all sorts of demon powers and designs to go beyond the standard western settings usually used.
10. Log Horizon
Log Horizon is of the many isekai using an in-universe video game as the fantasy setting our heroes end up stuck in.
Though when it comes to that concept, I think Log Horizon is one of the best examples of actually using user knowledge of game mechanics in the story.
If you’re interested in building an isekai D&D adventure, I believe this is easily one of the best that you can draw inspiration from.
With a fun cast of characters and hopefully a third season coming out in late 2021, Log Horizon will continue to show even cooler ways to explore its setting.
9. Magi: The Labyrinth/Kingdom of Magic
I’m blending the two of these shows together, since one is just a direct continuation.
But Magi is a great series inspired by the Arabian Nights story of Alibaba and Aladdin.
If I haven’t made my interest in non-western European fantasy apparent yet, hopefully this will really drive it in.
The character arcs in this show are what really sell me on it for this list.
I adore that it really feels like these three are a trio of friends
Showcasing beautiful locales, flashy magical powers, magic items, a fun high-stakes adventure, and a cast of three main characters that each have very different backgrounds that come together smoothly, Magi is prime D&D adventure material.
8. One Piece
I would feel dirty if I didn’t at least mention One Piece somewhere on this list.
The wacky world building mixed with intense emotional moments is what One Piece is best known for.
With the pure emotion put into the fight scenes, the Straw Hat crew, and the bizarre islands that the cast goes to, it really feels like a world that a group of friends has developed together after playing in it for decades.
Not to mention, as a pirate and sea adventure fan myself, pirate adventures are always a big plus for me as a player.
I know that it’s hard to simply recommend One Piece and move on.
But anyone who has the time and desire really owes it to themselves to learn from the master of worldbuilding, Oda himself.
7. Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
In my opinion, this is an extremely interesting campaign premise that even works in the idea of adventurer levels and stats into the worldbuilding itself.
You can see this in its pantheon of gods inspired from all sorts of different real life cultures, from Ancient Greece, to Norse, to Hinduism, etc.
The diversity of the world is very well crafted.
And once again, hosting a concept of a dungeon in the center of a massive city that holds endless mysteries is really just absolutely dripping with potential to explore with your party.
The world of this anime is one that I’ve personally wanted to run and play in ever since its first season came out.
And one of my favorite parts is that it sports two separate stories as well – with Sword Oratoria following a different group, making this world feel very alive beyond only the main cast.
6. Cowboy Bebop
Although it doesn’t follow traditional D&D conventions of high fantasy with magic and swords, Cowboy Bebop has a very spirited adventure story.
The Bounty Hunters of the Bebop are a great fit for an adventuring party, traveling from place to place, taking one job after the next, and just trying to make some money.
And obviously the personal stories of each character (as well as the story arcs themselves) just sound like they could blend very easily into any fantasy world.
With the amount of life this show has to offer, I recommend taking in the journey at your own pace – and taking some details and story ideas for your characters or world if you’re the DM.
Now I know what you’re thinking.
How could I put a comedy anime ahead of a bunch of other amazing fantasy action stories?
Let’s be completely real here, D&D is not just serious adventures and action. It’s a game played by a bunch of goofball friends who will often opt in to do goofy things that somehow work out (or don’t and fail hilariously).
KonoSuba is the other side of D&D that you can only really understand when you actually get to play it yourself.
The main character concepts all sound like jokes:
A masochist Fighter, a Wizard who only casts fireball, a demoted Goddess disguising herself as a Cleric (with int as a dump stat), and an isekai’d Rogue.
It’s a campaign that shows you can have fun with just some laughs, and revel in the consequences of failure.
Berserk is dark, that should be noted immediately.
It doesn’t shy away or hold back when it touches upon darker subject matters.
If you’re faint of heart and can’t handle some harsh things, you probably shouldn’t watch it.
And on that note, you shouldn’t watch the 2016 series either, as it’s not great.
But the movies and the original show are all extremely well crafted and detailed shows.
Guts is a very compelling main character. And his journey throughout the series is very personal, and at points very harsh.
He goes through a lot.
All that being said, if you want to experience an extremely twisted world the likes of the Dark Souls games (which were not surprisingly inspired by the Berserk series), then you need to watch it.
3. Samurai Champloo
Made by the same person who made Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo is another great example of what really feels like a D&D party.
They clash and bicker and argue a lot.
But at the end of the day, they’re united for a reason.
The inciting incident of the group’s journeys together just seems so perfectly exemplary of a D&D group doing a jokey type of intro, and then dealing with the consequences.
That being said, with the amount of fun adventure in this show, it really is hard not to recommend.
This may be a contentious pick, considering it’s technically a western creation.
But Castlevania is in association with Japanese creators, so I’m counting it.
Regardless of origin, Castlevania is just a D&D adventure filled with intrigue, brutal fight scenes, an interesting world, and amazing characters.
Each season sort of tackles the four pillars of a game of D&D.
The first season is the origin of our party’s gathering, the second season is preparing for the first BBEG.
The third tackles what life is like for the party after splitting for a while – and then season 4 covers the final bad guy our party must face.
It’s beautifully animated, it’s fun, it’s funny, and I can’t recommend it enough.
1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Alright, call it entry level and basic, make my day.
I’ll fight you to the ends of the earth to defend this anime’s placement as number one.
Fullmetal Alchemist is such a great show to encapsulate a tightly crafted campaign filled with plot twists, fun characters, and extremely detailed worldbuilding.
The magic system of alchemy is so versatile that it matches all sorts of different classes.
And its world is full of different cultures to allow for all different types of backgrounds to blend seamlessly.
To avoid droning on for hours, everyone should experience this show if they have any interest in D&D.
Or if you like well-crafted and unique fantasy, or if you just want to enjoy a darn good story.