It seems the concept of MMORPG is the anime industry’s new favourite. When we hear the word MMORPG, the first anime that comes to mind is Sword Art Online, the anime that set the trend for other such anime. Set in future (in 2022) people can control their game avatars through their thoughts with the help of new equipment called “NerveGear.” Things take a drastic turn when the players realize that they are trapped by the creator and the protagonist Kirito must figure out a way to get back to the real world. The show has been really popular and has received praise from fans across the world. With that said, here’s the list of best anime similar to Sword Art Online that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these anime like Sword Art Online on Netflix, Crunchyroll or Hulu.
16. Digimon Adventure
‘Digimon Adventure’ is one of the oldest isekai anime. The series is really entertaining. It came around at a time when ‘Pokemon’ had started garnering a huge fan following. I remember watching the show as a kid. The anime revolves around a group of kids who just want to have fun in a summer camp. But when it begins to snow, they are surprised. The kids then receive strange devices. These devices end up sending them to a digital world where there are strange monster-like digital creatures.
The kids are the DigiDestined and are each paired with a Digimon. Together, they must train and fight to evolve into better fighters to save the digital world from the evil force which is corrupting all the Digimon. This is a fun anime for kids. It has a total of 54 episodes with each episode being around 24 minutes in length.
15. Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku
‘Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku’ is another anime which is set in a game-like world. Most of the anime on this list is going to be quite similar in feel. The protagonist of the anime is Ichirou Suzuki, who is a programmer. His job is to beta test games to find out bugs. His job is quite taxing and he has not been getting any sleep. But one day, he does get to relax and he falls into a deep slumber only to wake up later and realize that he is in a completely different world now.
This is a game-like world which is sort of a mix of all the worlds from the games he has been beta testing. His physical features have changed to a younger version of himself and his name is Satou, which is the name he used for testing the games. Before he could grasp his situation, an army of lizardmen attacks him and he ends up casting a powerful spell to dispel them. This maximizes his stats and his level boosts up to 310, making him a powerful being. With this, he sets out to explore this new world since he does not know how to get out of this world.
Look, many anime on this list are about main characters who are unable to log out of the game. I mean you already knew that, right? That’s what ‘Sword Art Online’ is all about. Many even say that ‘Sword Art Online’ is actually sort of based on ‘.hack//Sign’. It is, without a doubt, one of the more interesting titles on the list.
Tsukasa is the alias of a young Wavemaster, the protagonist of the anime, who wakes up in an RPG world. He is unable to log out and does not remember the events which led to him waking up in this world. This world is known as The World (man, that’s creative!) and there’s a guild by the name of Crimson Knights who think Tsukasa is a hacker because he was seen with a tweaked character. Tsukasa thus decides to avoid the knights as well as other characters he encounters in this world. He runs into a magical item which takes the form of a guardian promising him protection. As the anime progresses, we see Tsukasa being helped by Subaru, the leader of the Crimson Knights and many other players to find out the reason for the former’s inability to log out. They need to figure this out before the situation becomes dire.
13. Guilty Crown
‘Guilty Crown’ is an anime which takes place in the future. The year is 2039 and Japan as a nation has fallen after the events of ‘Lost Christmas’. The event was initiated after the outbreak of the Apocalypse Virus. Currently, a powerful independent military force by the name of GHQ controls most parts of the country and are trying to restore order albeit in a cruel way. The only resistance that opposes them is the Funeral Parlor. This a guerilla group led by Gai Tsutsugami who is a freedom fighter.
Shuu Ouma is a weak, normal high school student but a run-in with one of the strongest members of the Funeral Parlor changes his life forever. He ends up gaining the “Power of Kings” which allows him to draw out the manifestation of an individual’s personality. Now, he must train hard to control his power and become an unwilling participant in the war against GHQ, which will lead to the uncovering of various secrets about the Lost Christmas, GHQ, and even his own group. The series has a total of 22 episodes with each episode being 24 minutes in length.
12. Druaga no Tou: The Aegis of Uruk
‘Druaga no Tou: The Aegis of Uruk’ has a lot of similarities with ‘Sword Art Online’. Both the anime take place in a tower-like setting where the goal is to move up and reach the top. Also, the anime is very similar in style and tone to ‘Sword Art Online’. The first season of the anime has a total of 12 episodes, each of which is around 25 minutes in length. ‘Summer of Anu’ is a unique summer which occurs after certain intervals. During this summer, the Sky-God Anu suppresses the power of the demons in the tower. This gives the country of Uruk a special opportunity of invading the tower and defeating the demons to move up. There’s an entire city that has been built at the lowest floor of the tower which serves as a base for many who try to conquer the tower. Yes, the soldiers aren’t the only group of people gunning for victory. There are adventurers as well as treasure hunters who have come following the rumours about a special treasure present on the top floor of the tower.
11. Hataraku Maou-sama!
‘Hataraku Maou-sama!’ is sort of a weird one to be seen on this list. But indulge me here for a moment. I mean, if a human were to end up in a game-like world, it would probably have a fantasy or supernatural elements. But what if someone who is from that world wants to have a sort of isekai experience. Well, one of the answers is that the world will be a lot like ours. This is why I decided to put ‘Hataraku Maou-sama!’ on this list because from the perspective of Satan, he is in a sort of isekai world like Kazuma from ‘KonoSuba’, who has to deal with difficult stuff like earning for his living.
The demon lord Satan is forced to retreat to Earth after being defeated by Emilia, a hero. He vows to complete his conquering of the world of Ente Isla but first, he needs to rise up in the world of humans where his magic does not work. Will Satan be able to survive in this world without his powers while working at a restaurant by the name of MgRonald’s? The anime is really fun and entertaining and has a total of 13 episodes with each episode being 24 minutes in length.
10. No Game No Life
‘No Game No Life’ is a really popular isekai anime. It is sort of an ecchi anime too, with pretty lolis and stuff. If you are into such stuff, then great! Siblings Sora and Hiro are a deadly gaming duo who call themselves “Blank.” They are quite famous in the gaming world and their username ‘Blank’ has achieved a sort of legendary status. After winning a game of chess, they are transported into another world known as Disboard, where all the disputes are settled by games. Yes, no violence or war just games. The winner wins the dispute while the loser has to pay. Now, they must defeat Tet, God of Games in order to unite sixteen races of Disboard and become the god of this new world.
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9. Accel World
Haryuki is an overweight kid who is bullied by fellow students of his school. He finds solace in a virtual world by playing squashes. Things take a dramatic turn when he is given an opportunity to merge the real and the virtual world by a program known as “Brain Bust” but, in order keep the program running, he must fight others and score points. Popular anime news website, Anime News Network called it similar to Sword Art Online but with better characters.
8. Log Horizon
How can anybody miss Log Horizon when talking about similar anime to Sword Art Online. After the latest update, thirty-thousand gamers are trapped inside a game. Among them is a socially awkward graduate student Shinroe, who must get out of his comfort zone and lead the other players to defeat the monster. The extent of its similarity to Sword Art Online remains limited to the storylines. Log Horizon is a unique anime in its own right.
‘Btooom’s plot is similar to that of Sword Art Online but is much darker in tone. The protagonist Ryota Sakamoto is an unemployed 22-year-old professional player who is trapped inside a game where he meets his love interest and Ryota’s in-game wife, Himiko. Now the players must play it through in order to be alive. This anime is for those who love a dose of hotness mixed with some excitement. Though it failed to work its magic in its home country, Japan, it became very popular in the United States. It is based on a manga of the same name which recently concluded.
6. Re: Zero
Subaru lands up in a mysterious fantasy world wherein he gets murdered. Much to his bewilderment, he wakes up to live the same day again. Re: Zero is an adaptation of a light novel of the same name, written by Tappei Nagatsuki. It has received awards from anime-manga magazine “Newtype” in 2016 for its direction, screenplay, and characters. It was also felicitated in Sugoi Japan Awards in 2017 for the same. Re: Zero was the most-watched anime on Crunchyroll in 2016. Don’t you feel that’s a terrific achievement for an anime?
5. Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
In a game-like world, a group of people, who have no knowledge of their name, must annihilate anything that threatens the peace of this world in order to survive. Here, the group of teenagers have to get jobs to survive and the only faction hiring is the military. So if you are strong enough, you will get a job; otherwise, you might as well starve to death. It is based on a light novel series of the same name, written and illustrated by Ao Jumonji and Eiri Shirai, respectively. This anime banks on two things: animation and character development. Don’t miss the action scenes either.
‘Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka’, shortened to ‘DanMachi’, is a popular adventure anime. The setting of the city is an RPG-like fantasy world, which is why the title has found a place on the list. In the world of ‘Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka’, Gods and humans coexist. Bell Cranel, the protagonist of the anime, dreams of becoming the greatest adventurer in the city of Orario. His life changes when he meets goddess Hestia who is in search of followers. Together, they embark on a quest to fulfil their goals (in a fantasy world, of course!). Though the plot appears appealing, it’s not as good as Sword Art Online. It is based on light novel series, written by Fujino Omori and illustrated by Suzohito Yatsuda (he is also known for Durarara!). Though it’s similar to Sword Art Online, it does have a very unique feel to it.
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3. Quanzhi Gaoshou
‘Quanzhi Gaoshou’ is probably one of the most famous Chinese anime out there. It is again an isekai anime where most of the action takes place in an RPG world. Ye Xiu, a professional gamer who was forced to leave the gaming world, returns with a new name to regain his lost glory. He starts working in an internet cafe and when the game releases its 10th server, he gets back in the game using the name ‘Lord Grim’. It is based on a Chinese web serial novel named ‘The King’s Avatar’. This anime is worth a watch especially because of the action scenes. It can be likened to an unearthed gem — one that is actually good but not that popular. Give it a watch and see for yourself.
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‘Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!’, shortened to ‘KonoSuba’, is one of the funniest and most popular isekai anime that you can watch. Though ‘Sword Art Online’ has a sort of serious setting, ‘Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!’ goes on to show the funny aspects about a game-like world. After death, Kazuma Satou is provided with two options: either to continue on to heaven or reincarnate in a fantasy world; he chooses the latter. Little does he know he has made a grave mistake.
He makes another mistake when the goddess Aqua (the one who gives him the previous options) asks him which item would he like to choose to help him in the new world. He chooses Aqua herself but turns out she is more useless than he would have ever imagined. It’s not a usual cyberpunk anime like others on the list. What sets it apart is its comic atmosphere. Konosuba won the second place for Best Comedy in Anime Awards 2016.
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‘Overlord’ is probably one of the most famous isekai anime. Momonga, the leader of the dark guild Ainz Ooal Gown and a powerful wizard is trapped in a virtual reality game (known as Yggdrasil). Left with no choice, he embarks on a journey to conquer this new world. It is based on a critically acclaimed novel series of the same name written and illustrated by Kugane Maruyama and so-bin, respectively. With remarkable animation and plot, it is, in my opinion, a tad better than Sword Art Online.
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