Best Fantasy Anime Ever (Jan 2024)

Anime enthusiasts searching for thrilling fantasy adventures to watch will discover these titles to be among the greatest animated shows ever made.

The Best Fantasy Anime You Should Watch

Who doesn’t love an amazing fantasy story? From serious tales like Lord of the Rings to lighter-hearted romps like Onward, it’s a genre that begs to be explored repeatedly. Still, few forms of animation have told more fantasy stories than those shown in anime.

With countless good fantasy anime available for viewing, it can be difficult to decide which ones to prioritize. Certain stories stand out above the rest as anime that no fan should go through life without watching. Which are the best fantasy anime?

As they have their own article, isekai anime will be excluded.

Best Fantasy Anime Of Winter 2024

As usual, the current season has over a dozen fantasy anime, especially if isekai stories are taken into account. If someone wishes to be whisked away to a medieval-style realm multiple times a week, they will not be left wanting. Along with a couple of noteworthy leftovers from Fall 2023, Winter 2024 has an impressive selection of fantasy options that crossover into a wide range of other genres. Delicious in Dungeon is an inspired comedy that will leave viewers salivating for a basilisk-based dinner, while Chained Soldier is an action-heavy harem that targets an older crowd. The Witch and the Beast has hit the ground running, and The Unwanted Undead Adventurer has a clever central twist.

Which shows are shaping up to be the best fantasy anime of the season?

Solo Leveling

Hype can be a curse. The more highly-anticipated a show, the quicker it needs to achieve greatness to avoid being labeled as “overrated.” Chainsaw Man and Hell’s Paradise are two recent anime that garnered some criticism for being just good rather than instant masterpieces, and Solo Leveling could very well go down this route in the future. Undoubtedly the most famous manhwa of all time, the source material’s success sparked a rise in popularity for the medium as a whole, along with spawning plenty of imitators. The anime has big shoes to fill.

In an alternative version of Earth where gates to dungeons have randomly opened, some humans have developed abilities that allow them to work as hunters. Sung Jin-Woo is considered the weakest member of the organization, and he is generally only allowed to take part in the easiest hunts. However, during an average operation, the hunters find a secret passage that leads to a chamber that is well beyond their capabilities. Faced with death, Jin-Woo receives a unique offer that might not only save his life but also grant him a significant power boost.

The anime adaptation has been good so far, although it would be premature to definitively declare it a triumph. The top-notch animation is the minimum the show requires, especially since the story is mainly praised for its art and fight sequences. The opening episode was a bit too exposition-heavy, but the pacing will hopefully improve moving forward.

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (Fall 2023 Continuation)

Provided it replicates the source material’s quality, Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End was Fall 2023’s best show in general, not solely fantasy. Offering a fresh spin on the save-the-world formula, the story takes place after the heroes have downed the big bad, and they are now ready to continue their lives.

The eponymous Frieren is an elf who will, naturally, outlive her companions, and she eventually reaches the point when she is the only one still alive. Saddled with an apprentice who used to work for one of her former party members and a warrior who has some confidence issues, Frieren heads out on a new adventure that provides plenty of room for introspection.

Blending action, comedy, and character development, Frieren is the full package and represents the fantasy genre at its best. The anime will continue airing new episodes until March 2024, and a decline in quality does not appear to be on the cards.

Now, here are the best fantasy anime of all time…

Humanity Has Declined

As this anime’s title suggests, Humanity has Declined finds mankind at a low point in its history. It looks like humans are on their way out, with fairies taking their place as the planet’s new dominant inhabitants. As the latter are driven nearly entirely by impulse, they need some guidance, which is provided by an unnamed woman with a realistic disposition.

Humanity Has Declined delivers a blend of surreal comedy, vibrant visuals, and cynicism. It presents a fantasy world that is caught in the middle between two eras, sparking plenty of misunderstandings and bizarre happenings.

Undead Murder Farce

One of Summer 2023’s nicest surprises, Undead Murder Farce is delightfully macabre. Set in an alternative version of Meiji era Japan, the anime follows a bodyless immortal woman, her battle-hardened maid, and an ogre/human hybrid as they investigate cases dealing with the supernatural.

Blending history with fiction, Undead Murder Farce envisions a timeline where humans live alongside demons, vampires, and other monsters, although this coexistence is hardly without its detractors or issues. The leads are nuanced and world-weary, and the same can be said for side characters who feature in the cases.

Magi

Spanning two seasons, The Labyrinth of Magic and The Kingdom of Magic, and a spin-off series, Adventure of Sinbad, Magi takes inspiration from Arabian Nights’ classic stories. Figures like Aladdin, Sinbad, Ali Baba, and Morgana serve as the protagonists of this fantasy anime.

Magi begins quite unassuming in its first season as it revolves around Aladdin and Ali Baba entering massive towers in search of treasure, but the show expands significantly as it progresses. The Kingdom of Magic is especially enthralling as it explores this world’s political and social climate more closely. The spin-off series is also a lot of fun and perhaps even better than the main show.

Violet Evergarden

Based on Kana Akatsuki’s light novel series, Violet Evergarden is named after an Auto Memory Doll designed specifically for war. Once that conflict subsided, Violet found herself working as a messenger, a role that causes the doll to gain direct experience with human emotions.

Violet Evergarden follows an episodic format as most entries revolve around one of the protagonist’s missions. While the fantasy anime is a bit inconsistent at times, at its best, Violet Evergarden is harrowing, moving, and unforgettable. The movie is also fantastic and well worth seeking out even by those who are not especially huge fans of the series.

Mushi-Shi

“Fantasy” is such a loosely defined concept that it expands to include hundreds upon hundreds of shows; however, generally speaking, fantasy anime tend to take place in unique worlds and have a decent amount of action. Mushishi opts for something different.

Adding fantastical touches to a familiar world, Mushishi centers around Ginko, a guy who travels around Japan searching for Mushi – magical creatures usually found in nature. Largely consisting of self-contained stories, Mushishi is a calming and beautiful show, a fantasy anime that blends the extraordinary with the mundane.

Hunter X Hunter

Highly regarded as one of the greatest action shonen anime ever, Hunter x Hunter starts as a rather stereotypical entry in the genre before eventually revealing itself to be rather unique. In this universe, Hunters exist to investigate the world’s secrets and, occasionally, take on a dangerous foe. This loose definition of “Hunters” grants the anime the freedom to play around with the structure of its arcs, including storylines that barely feature the protagonists, Gon and Killua.

Featuring a fantastic power system and a strong roster of characters, Hunter x Hunter is a brilliant fantasy anime.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Alongside Dragon Ball Z and Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has cemented itself as THE gateway anime. A complete adaptation of Hiromu Arakawa’s manga, FMA:B envisions a world built on the law of alchemy, meaning that people can create anything, but they have to give something of equal value in return.

When their mother dies, the Elric brothers try to bring her back, an experiment that leaves Edward without a few limbs and Alphonse lacking a body. To right these wrongs, the siblings become State Alchemists and seek to find a Philosopher’s Stone. FMA:B tells a brilliant story of loss, hope, forgiveness, and regret; the anime can be hilarious, devastating, or exhilarating, sometimes in the same episode.

Attack On Titan

Launching in 2013, Attack on Titan was arguably the most popular anime of the last decade. In its gripping opening episode, AoT establishes that humanity has been reduced to cowering behind huge walls designed to keep out Titans, massive humanoid creatures with big appetites.

After witnessing the death of his mother, Eren Jaeger sets out to wipe out the Titans. That’s just the first episode, and things get very complicated from there. AoT has gone from strength to strength since its debut season, culminating in a gripping final season that is almost nothing like the first. For anyone searching for a darker-than-average fantasy anime, AoT is the benchmark.

InuYasha

It’s hard to deny how much InuYasha fever spread after it first aired in the United States back in 2002 after already having massive popularity in Japan. Heck, it was so well-liked that it even spawned a trading card game. The series spanned over 160 episodes following the story of Kagome and Inuyasha trying to reunite the shards of the Shikon Jewel.

InuYasha is a beloved classic for a reason, and any anime fans who have still somehow not seen it should change that as quickly as they can.

Mononoke

Mononoke follows the “Medicine Seller” as he tries to kill the malevolent spirits that give the show its namesake, although the arcs focus just as much on the humans being haunted as they do on the “mononoke”.

This fantasy, horror anime combines a mix of breathtaking visuals, intense psychological analysis, and mind-blowing fight scenes to make an anime unlike anything else available to watch.

One Piece

With roughly 1000 episodes and more than a dozen movies, One Piece is an absolute juggernaut of an anime franchise. While Eiichiro Oda’s manga is the best way to experience the Straw Hats’ story, the anime adaptation is still a memorable watch. Brimming with imagination and colorful characters, One Piece captures a sense of adventure better than nearly every other series, and Oda’s world-building is second to none.

Typically, each arc introduces a new island with its own novel touches, personalities, and struggles, and they are all fascinating in their own ways. The end is on the horizon for this legendary shonen story, and when that happens, the industry will say goodbye to a one-of-a-kind fantasy anime. With so many episodes to go through, this anime is difficult to recommend to newcomers; however, those willing to take on the challenge will find this is a journey worth embracing.

Fate/Zero

Fate/Zero follows the events that happen before another famous anime and visual novel Fate/stay night. There are many epic battles and adventures that take place as Kiritsugu fights against six others in the Fourth Holy Grail War.

The show is so popular it resulted in numerous spinoffs, including one where the main characters are drawn in chibi form and run a cafe. Those who enjoy the series will find so many other shows in its universe to watch that it will take a long time to run out of content.

Black Clover

Spanning 170 episodes, it’s hard to deny just how long Black Clover ran before it finally finished airing in 2021. Based on the popular shonen manga of the same name, Black Clover follows Asta and Yuno, two orphans abandoned at the same church who both seek to become the Wizard King.

The story is filled with amazingly powerful magic and even was so popular that it led to an ONA, two OVAs, and even a movie. Anyone who loves high fantasy and magic will absolutely adore Black Clover, and the anime is not done quite yet.

Made In Abyss

What lies at the bottom of the Abyss? There are said to be ancient treasures, creatures, and more hidden within its depths. A young girl who aspires to be an adventurer like her mother meets a robot made of technology unheard of outside the Abyss that looks like an ordinary young boy. The two decide to adventure its depths in order to find where the robot was made but find things are far more harsh and difficult in the Abyss than either of the two could have ever expected.

Made in Abyss is arguably the best dark fantasy anime of the last few years, and season 2 aired during the Summer 2022 season. Despite having cute character designs and an awesome premise tailor-made for adventure and high jinks, this anime is not afraid to tear the audience’s heart out, something both seasons and the Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul movie accomplish.

Studio Ghibli’s Fantasy Movies

When it comes to anime features, Studio Ghibli is undoubtedly the biggest name in the industry. While not averse to producing realistic dramas, the studio is primarily known for its fantasy narratives, particularly films directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Most of Studio Ghibli’s movies are, at minimum, good. They have gorgeous animation, brilliant music, and memorable characters. Thematically, Miyazaki’s projects tend to explore nature, war, and human progress. Conversely, Isao Takahata’s films tell smaller-scale stories set within the real world, albeit with the occasional fantastical touch.

People who have yet to dive into the studio’s filmography should start with Castle in the Sky. Miyazaki’s movie holds up extremely well after all of these years and serves as an excellent showcase of Studio Ghibli’s style of storytelling. My Neighbor Totoro is a slice of life revolving around a family whose daughters interact with spirits. While lacking the epicness that defines most of Miyazaki’s other projects, My Neighbor Totoro is absolutely overflowing with whimsy and warmth. Spirited Away is the only anime to win an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and it is arguably Miyazaki’s greatest movie. That said, Princess Mononoke also lays claim to that distinction.

Isao Takahata’s masterpiece, Grave of the Fireflies, is the opposite of fantasy; however, Pom Poko and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya fall within the genre. The former is a cautionary tale about the importance of preserving nature and tradition, all told from the perspective of shape-shifting Tanuki. Takahata’s final film, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, adapts a classic Japanese story about a girl born from a bamboo shoot. Beautiful, touching, and complex, the 2013 movie is one of Ghibli’s best.

Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind predates Studio Ghibli, but the 1984 movie stands comfortably alongside the director’s subsequent releases.

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