Top 26 Best Fantasy Anime [2021]

Hunter X Hunter

Fantasy is one of the most common genres in anime. Today, I’ll be looking at 26 I’d recommend checking out. I’ve tried to keep it varied and fresh, with some obvious selections scattered throughout for newcomers.

Whether it be isekai, adventure fantasy, hard fantasy, soft fantasy, sci-fi fantasy, comedy fantasy, or something more introspective, we’ve got you covered!

Best Fantasy Anime

26. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Kabaneri Of The Iron Fortress

Towards the conclusion of an alternate world industrial Edo era, zombie-like creatures known as Kabane start appearing, and the only way to stop them is by piercing a steel core within their chest. Fail that and get bitten, and you turn into a Kabane.

The series follows Ikoma, a naive but intelligent man who, through circumstances, turns into a half-Kabane and ends up boarding a steam locomotive searching for safety and a solution to the Kabane invasion. This is all told atop the backdrop of a samurai styled action fantasy epic, all designed by Wit Studio and composed by the brilliant Hiroyuki Sawano.

25. Rage of Bahamut

Rage Of Bahamut

Rage of Bahamut is such an oddity. It’s an adaptation of a mobile trading card game with an entirely original plot that… Doesn’t it suck? In fact, across the board, Rage of Bahamut is a damn good time. It follows Favaro, a freelancer on the run from the bounty hunter Kaisar who encounters an enigmatic woman who ends up changing everyone’s life.

It’s got a really good animation for the source material, some brilliant, unforgettable characters, and a really well-developed soundtrack. I wasn’t expecting much going in – and it’s nothing revolutionary – but it’s definitely worth a watch for its unique Western-infused style.

24. Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle

Studio Ghibli’s beloved adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones’ classic fantasy for children is a concise run through a number of books in the series. It features some pacing issues but otherwise is an imaginative and beautiful adventure through a mechanized, magically-infused land filled with fascinating, endearing characters.

Whether it is for the ridiculously good animation and art, or the whimsical characters and world, Howl’s Moving Castle is a guaranteed fun watch.

23. Violet Evergarden

After being decommissioned following the conclusion of a four-year intense conflict, Violet (an android capable of militaristic abilities) is sent to work at a Post Office after losing her owner and general. She is tasked with letter writing, helping various individuals across this episodic story with their emotions and feelings – and in the process, coming to understand them herself.

This is one of – if not the – best looking Kyoto Animation projects, which is saying a lot. Every episode has a stellar production quality, gorgeous environments, and character art that keeps every scene fresh and beautiful to watch. This is all in service to the emotionally riveting plot that twists and turns but is guaranteed to make you stop and wonder at least once or twice.

22. Mushishi

Mushishi

Ginko is a wandering man looking for Mushi, nothingness entities that exist through mimicking other items or creatures. They seem to possess no consciences or cognizance, and this is what intrigues Ginko in their odd and meditative ways.

Mushishi is a beautifully animated and directed show with a methodically sluggish pace designed to make the watcher sleepy – in a good way. It’s warming, comforting, melodic, and never stops being engaging due to its slight fantasy setting and wonderful protagonist.

21. Tower of God

Tower Of God

Tower of God isn’t amazing; as much as its fan base may say otherwise, it doesn’t revolutionize anime as a medium. However, it is a fun and imaginative adaptation of a poorly drawn webtoon complete with an electro-orchestra soundtrack.

It’s essentially a long tournament arc, set in a large, infinitely expanding tower that serves as a competitive arena for those who enter. Reach the top, and you win. It’s simple yet consistently entertaining, and I definitely recommend giving it a look.

20. Little Witch Academia

Little Witch Academia

The Luna Nova Magical Academy is a school for studying witches. Atsuko Kagari is just about to begin, keen to follow in the footsteps of her idol, Shining Chariot. However, within no time, she’s dealing with teachers, homework, bullies, and having to prove herself to those around her.

It’s a charming series (one 30-minute episode, one movie, and a TV-show) that can be a wonderful watch for anyone, telling cute and endearing stories without pandering to the audience. It features Studio Trigger’s signature style, brought to its cleanest look yet in a simple and accessible story about witches in a fantasy world.

19. Re:Zero

Re Zero

Many people love Re: Zero, and though I’m not as enthusiastic, I can understand why. It’s got a gripping core mechanic, some entertaining and fantastically stylized characters, and a world that is drip-fed to the viewer throughout seasons.

We follow Subaru, who is initially happy, if not a bit surprised to find he’s in another world without explanation – but all optimism quickly fades when he finds that he can loop time before death and is tasked with changing events for the better without overwriting reality in unchangeable ways.

Re: Zero possesses some killer music, truly brilliant scene direction, and is willing to take risks. It’s worth a watch for that alone, but depending on your preferences, you might even find a new favorite!

18. God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!

God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World!

Kazuma is a bit of a loser on his way home when he’s run over by a car. He awoke in limbo and affronted by an obnoxious goddess known as Aqua. Either he moves onto heaven or is reincarnated in a video game fantasy world with one thing of his choosing. After some bickering, he chooses the former and decides to take Aqua with him out of spite – much to her upset.

Now in an unfamiliar world and given an opportunity to live a better life, Kazuma quickly forms a party and proceeds to aim for the top. However, they spend most of the time destitute.

It’s an irreverent subversion of the isekai format that relies on the watcher having experience with the genre, so definitely hold off on this one until you’ve seen a few – then give it a shot. It’s got its funny moments and is consistently entertaining across its run.

17. Habane Renmei

Habane Renmei

Rokka wakes up from a cocoon, with small grey wings and a halo, surrounded by people just like her. They’re in a dream-like village surrounded by overwhelmingly large walls, only free to leave on the mysterious Day of Flight.

It’s short, beautifully produced, and has a dark though uplifting narrative and style that can whisk you away if you give it a chance. The fantasy in this one comes from the aesthetic and mystery of the world, slowly built up episode-by-episode until an emotionally fulfilling climax.

16. The Secret World of Arrietty

The Secret World Of Arrietty

Much like Howl’s Moving Castle, Arrietty is an adaptation of a beloved novel (The Borrowers) by Studio Ghibli. However, I feel it does a better job at adaptation with twists and turns included to keep the experience fresh.

Even the most mundane of things look fantastical and amazing in this film due to the shift in perspective is so small brings. The sense of scale makes every environment pop with detail and charm, all wrapped up in a simple, family-friendly narrative.

15. Made in Abyss

Made In Abyss

The production quality of Made in Abyss matches the narrative and world-building. That is to say, it’s all incredibly defined and complex despite the simple premise. It’s got a gorgeous background aesthetic, one of the best soundtracks in anime, and rounded brilliant character designs that all pop.

Though it’s flawed and not at all perfect, Made in Abyss is a stellar watch all the way through due to the amount of effort and care placed into its creation and world-building.

14. Humanity Has Declined

Humanity Has Declined

Humanity is near extinction due to constantly decreasing birth rates, and a new race has become the most common species on the planet: fairies. They’re small, relatively dumb, infantile, and quite a nuisance. Watashi is a young woman tasked as an arbiter between human-kind and fairy-kind, and we follow her struggles.

It’s got an existential undercurrent but never stops being a cheery delight to watch, straying from cute to morbid territory with relative ease across a pastel-shaded and wonderfully developed world.

13. Paprika

Paprika

Satoshi Kon’s works are celebrated by anime and cinema fans alike due to his uncanny way of using the medium to tell mature harrowing or absurdist stories. Paprika is no exception – to the point it was copied conceptually and transformed into the blockbuster film, Inception.

However, Paprika far outclasses its realistic counterpart, with a dream-like art style that never stops being fantastic. It’s an oneirology adventure with constant displays of imagination and an incredible yet unique soundtrack.

12. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind

This is a streamlined, simple fantasy epic with the trademark Ghibli aesthetic you’ve come to expect, laying the foundation for later movies like Princess Mononoke or Pom Poko. It’s rife with beautiful animation, whimsy, and charm, telling a concise environmentalist story with some incredible character and creature design included.

You really cannot go wrong with Nausicaa – whether it be for action, a good female protagonist, or a densely realized mythical world.

11. Mononoke

San, Mononoke Hime

Mononoke is a visual masterpiece, blending a traditional Ukiyo-e aesthetic with a distinct anime character design to tell a wandering medicine seller’s story. He stumbles upon an inn infested with malevolent and angry spirits in his journeys and promises to exorcise them.

It’s not just the art style that makes this anime a watch. Mononoke is a brilliant horror fantasy with rich internal lore that only gets more interesting with every episode.

It’s not a completely easy watch, but man, is it worth it.

10. Dorohedoro

Dorohedoro

Dorohedoro is a filthy, disgusting, disturbing show filled with unusual, uncomfortable characters. It’s all very funny, somehow. It’s set in Hole – a destitute corner of civilization where humans and mages live in tandem (unequally) – and follows Kaiman, a tall man with a crocodile head on the hunt for who killed him and made him this way.

It’s got a really good core mystery, but the first season acts as a tour of Hole with an episodic flair leaving you constantly hungry for more. It’s eccentric and unique; I cannot wait for a second season!

9. Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night

Fate Zero And Fate Stay Night

Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night are directly connected but can be watched in either order (I’d advise starting with Zero). They follow the 4th and 5th Holy Grail Wars, where seven mages (masters) must compete to the death to be granted any desire they want.

It’s really dark and gritty, particularly throughout Zero and Heaven’s Feel, with plenty of twists and turns featured throughout the fantasy world-building epic. It’s not a perfect piece of work, but it’s garnered an increasingly huge fan base for its characters and lore, so you’ll probably enjoy it! Just make sure you watch the Ufotable adaptations and not Deen.

8. Spice and Wolf

Holo, Spice, And Wolf

Spice and Wolf is the story of a traveling merchant, Kraft Lawrence, who one day meets the wise wolf woman, Holo, and takes her under his wing as they head north towards her birth place.

They have stellar wit and some incredible dialogue, all set across a gorgeous medieval world where economics is the name of the game. It’s an adaptation of Isuna Hasekura’s beloved fantasy novel series and is one of the nicest romance anime out there.

7. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

This is perhaps the most highly regarded anime ever made, an emotional journey through the self and sin across a well-developed fantasy world. It concerns two brothers, Edward and Alphonse, as they search for the Philosopher’s Stone in order to restore the latter’s body and the former’s arm and leg.

It’s got a deep, engaging magic system used by some of the most lovable characters across anime. You really cannot go wrong with Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, as it appeals to both hardcore and casual anime fans equally with its succinct shounen narrative never dragging with filler content.

6. Attack on Titan

Mikasa Ackerman, Attack On Titan

How could we not mention the colossus titan of a series that kicked a hole through cultural barriers to unleash its well-animated narrative upon us? With one of the best scores in anime – Hiroyuki Sawano once more – Attack on Titan is by far one of the most dynamic and action-packed in the medium, constantly sending the camera swooping and sailing through the skies in time with the soundtrack and combat.

The plot has only gotten better and better, too, building upon the foundation of the first season to world build an intensely different story than those initial episodes might have you believe.

5. Land of the Lustrous

Land Of The Lustrous

This anime is something special; aesthetically simple yet narratively complex. It tells the story of Phos, a ‘gem’ (crystal-like person) who is considered useless among her flock due to her brittle nature. The Gems fight against their invading adversaries, the mysterious Lunarians, in short (for now unfinished) story about memories and personality through a drop-dead gorgeous backdrop.

The character designs are distinct and wonderful, including those illusive Lunarians, and the plot and lore are leaked consistently throughout the show to keep you consistently engaged.

4. Castle in the Sky

Castle In The Sky

Based on the third story of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Castle in the Sky tells the story of two children – Sheeta and Pazu – as they attempt to find and reach Laputa before the militaristic colonizers on their tail get there first.

It’s a whirlwind adventure with some truly gorgeous animation and art, especially for its age, and never stops being entertaining. It’s actually amazing how well this movie has aged, still able to compete with contemporary releases (even surpass them) in terms of heart, imagination, and scale.

3. Berserk

Berserk Anime

Guts, the wandering black swordsman on the path of revenge and self-actualization, is one of the most iconic characters in all of manga and anime. Through the horrific, tragic, heartbreaking, and epic, he battles against all odds and takes many wounds along the way. Despite the high regard of the manga, it’s had a tumultuous adaptation history.

First, there was a TV-show towards the end of the 90s that features some truly gorgeous music, voice acting, and environmental backgrounds but didn’t hold a huge budget for the action – it only covered the Golden Age arc up to the Eclipse. Then, we received the CGI/traditional-blended trilogy retelling of that exact same story in the early-2010s.

Each film increased in quality to become a definitive way of watching (even if it does skimp on much characterization). Lastly, we received two dreadful CGI seasons, finally extending beyond where those two left off.

I recommend skipping the last of those and waiting for another remake – but, of course, reading the manga would be the best way to enjoy the story.

2. Princess Mononoke

San, Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke is the definitive Studio Ghibli experience in my eyes. The story is succinct but complex, with every player having their own motivation and ambition with no clear-cut evil. It’s perhaps the epitome of the environmentalist motif explored time-and-time in other works, telling the narrative of an industrialized society fighting nature for survival instead of finding a way to live in tandem.

The character design and animation are just as good as its soundtrack, weaving wonderful orchestral compositions into emotionally climactic moments to make this one of the most accessible yet dynamic films on this list.

1. Hunter x Hunter

Hunter X Hunter

Hunter x Hunter is incredibly broad in scale, telling a collection of genre-distinct and tonally assonant story arcs all consistent with the main narrative. It’s got a gargantuan cast of unique and imaginative characters, all given their own appropriate place in the tale, and all animated gorgeously (courtesy of Studio Madhouse).

I would consider this the best fantasy for a number of reasons: it’s unfinished but still publishing, getting better with every arc; it’s already large – nearly 150-episodes without a single episode of filler and paced wonderfully; and it’s wholesome with some of the darkest moments of shounen I’ve ever seen. You’ll smile, you’ll cry, and you’ll enjoy every moment.

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Amar is the Chief Nerd at Near Bear and can be mostly found binge watching Netflix, researching tech, shooting things on PS4, and arguing over who is the strongest Avenger.
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