Although Netflix’s adaptation of Castlevania may have aided in mainstreaming video game anime, anime adaptations of video game series have been around just about as long as consumer video games themselves. Since the late 1980s, hundreds of them have been made, and several have amassed large followings.
On the other hand, Castlevania’s popularity has cleared the way for adaptations of some of the more obscure video game titles. This year, Netflix has announced a slew of anime titles slated to hit its platform one after the other.
This demonstrates that anime adaptations are no longer limited to best-sellers or graphic novel games, which can only benefit both gamers and anime viewers. Here’s a list of some of the most popular anime shows that are adapted from video games.
The Steins;Gate franchise has arguably had a far greater success in anime than in games. Several anime adaptations have been released over the years, all of which have been quite popular, but none more than the original series: Steins;Gate.
A blend of science fiction and cautionary tale, Steins;Gate is based on a graphic novel of the same name in which the protagonist travels across time. It is adapted from the first in a series of visual novels that follow the members of the Future Gadget Lab as they investigate time travel.
Steins;Gate is amusing, dramatic, and suspenseful, but above all, it is a series that focuses on its people and their problems in unique and engaging ways.
2. Virtua Fighter
Virtua Fighter is a prequel to the series’ first installment, with each character appearing as a younger version of themselves. In his mission to find the ‘eight shining stars’, mythological items that only real masters can get, martial artist Akira Yuki forges new relationships in each episode.
The anime has a straightforward narrative with many action sequences, using characters from both Virtua Fighter and Virtua Fighter 2. Fans of Virtua Fighter and other classics like Tekken and Street Fighter will like the fast-paced battles.
As mentioned earlier, Castlevania is a Netflix original series set in a world of vampires, vampire hunters, and wizards. When Count Dracula seeks vengeance for his murdered wife and causes mayhem, such forces unite to restore order. A never-ending sequence of violent escapades ensues.
The first two seasons focus on Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, while the latter feature characters and plotlines from Castlevania spin-off games such as Curse of Darkness. The Netflix anime series replicates the games’ over-the-top violence and provides more in-depth backstories for characters like Trevor Belmont and Alucard.
4. Dragon Quest
With the first game released in 1986, Dragon Quest is one of the most popular video game franchises of all time. The series has now been converted into almost every genre conceivable, including manga, anime, and a few films. Dragon Quest: Dai no Daibouken, released in 1991, was the greatest of the anime spawned by the franchise.
Many consider the series produced by Toei Animation, the company behind the Dragon Ball anime, to be the studio’s greatest work. Fans of Dragon Ball will recognize the visual style and tempo, but the plot and wonderful character development it fosters will keep viewers captivated until the very end.
No list of video game franchises is complete without talking about Pokémon, a cultural phenomenon that marked a whole generation of kids. The big father of anime, Pokémon is one of the reasons why tens of anime conventions are now being held every year, Netflix is introducing huge amounts of anime content, casinos often offer no deposit bonuses in the form of free slot spins, which often feature an anime theme, and there are now even anime-themed workout routines based on many popular anime characters.
The anime, which premiered in 1997, follows a ten-year-old Ash Ketchum on travels to hunt, capture, and train the titular animals. He learns various life lessons in his quest to become the best Pokémon trainer in the world.
Pokémon was released a year before the anime with Pocket Monsters Red and Green on the Nintendo Game Boy (marketed as Red and Blue in the US). The game has become so successful that it has been included in every Nintendo portable systems iteration. The Pokémon trainer Red, the character who inspired Ash, was the focus of these Generation I Pokémon video games.
6. Inazuma Eleven
The plot is remarkably rich for a series that is largely about soccer. The show is based on the video game series of the same name. Mamoru, Shuuya, and Yuuto are all fantastic personalities, and their relationships with the supporting cast offer some of the most memorable scenes in the series.
The art style is appealing, and the use of bold colors truly helps to distinguish the series. Its representation of soccer games, on the other hand, is where it really shines. The images and edits combine to create a frenzied atmosphere throughout the sequences, keeping spectators on the edge of their seats until the final whistle.
7. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
Over the years, the Fate series has extended into various genres, but the majority of its popularity has come from its multiple anime series, specials, and films. Some of the features on MyAnimeList are rated nine, but Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works is the most popular multi-episode series.
It premiered in late 2014 and has an 8.19 rating based on over half a million user ratings. It chronicles the tale of the Holy Grail War through a mage called Rin, who actively participates in it throughout a single 12-episode run. She must fight a succession of more formidable opponents with the help of her servant Archer and classmate Amiya to obtain the final reward.
8. Senjou no Valkyria
Senjou no Valkyria is a popular anime series that did an excellent job of replicating the spirit of Sega’s legendary game. It’s a slow burn at first, but once you get beyond the first few episodes, it’s an interesting watch with a tale that does its best to stay true to the original material.
The graphic style is remarkably similar to that of the game, and the characters all have unique personalities. As the series proceeds, much of the comedy is gone, but considering that this is a war drama, this is to be anticipated.
9. Final Fantasy
Many people believe the Final Fantasy franchise to be one of the finest in gaming. With 15 main series games and several spin-offs, it’s no wonder that many efforts to adapt the franchise into anime have been made. They haven’t always been successful, but there are many excellent adaptations available.
The best of the lot is Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete, which adds to the theatrical edition in several ways. It includes a deeper look at some of the characters’ backstories, and an extended rendition of Cloud and Sephiroth’s combat sequence.
This OVA is a must-see for anyone with even a casual interest in the Final Fantasy VII Compilation.
10. Dragon’s Dogma
Ethan is a ferocious warrior on a mission to defeat the Dragon who stole his heart. However, every step he takes to pursue revenge unleashes his own inner demons. The protagonist’s mental battles give reality to his character, and there is plenty of excitement for medieval fantasy aficionados.
The open-world landscape seen in the Netflix anime series is explored in greater depth in the 2012 video game, which also features a richer plot. Even though the visuals in the video game are still cutting-edge, they are heavily influenced by more traditional aesthetics. On the other hand, the Dragon’s Dogma anime uses a more sophisticated CGI concept due to advances in visual rendering technology.
11. Devil May Cry
Although Devil May Cry is most known as a video game, it did inspire a one-season anime series. The series, titled Dante, stars fan-favorite private investigator Dante, who owns his own devil-hunting agency.
The narrative appears to be based on the first two games in the franchise, and it brings back characters like Trish and Lady while also adding new characters like Dante’s buddy Morrison and Patty, a girl he saves and bonds with. As one might anticipate, the anime is packed with action sequences that pay homage to the classic hack-and-slash game.
12. Digimon Adventure
Digimon Adventure, the first Digimon anime, follows a Pokémon-like path with its young heroes caring for ‘digital dinosaurs’. Unlike Pokémon monsters that occur in nature, Digimon monsters appear on computer screens. They appear to live in a parallel realm known as the ‘Digital World’.
Digimon began its start with the Namcai product line of the same name, which included digital pets similar to Tamagotchi. These toys generated the video game Digimon World, which generated a significant background story for the virtual dogs’ fictional history.
Digimon Adventure has aged nicely, embracing coming-of-age and societal issues that the game never brought up.
- Street Fighter
- Mega Man
- Professor Layton
- God Eater
- Tales of Vesperia
- Angels of Death
- Dragon Nest
To be fair, the list is endless and contains many titles you are likely to meet as you continue to watch anime.