MMOs are not only something that we play online, but they have also been making their way into other mediums as well. Two creative mediums that have taken a lot from MMOs are manga and anime. Here is our top 6 list of anime that have adapted an MMO theme, which you should check out if you want to expand your MMO addiction. While most of these also have a Manga counterpart, we will only focus on their anime adaption. Additionally, this list focuses solely on animes that are completely about MMOs, leaving out shows that might have story arcs about them, such as Hunter X Hunter.
The .hack series is the oldest show on this list and the one that some argue started the wave of MMO-based animes. Its originality, combined with well written and intriguing characters, is the reason it is on this list of top 6 MMO anime series. The first show is called Sign and the one most people connect with the .hack series. It is about a boy caught in an MMO world filled with everything you expect from the genre with both PvE elements and a player killer. It encompasses this boy, his search for why he is trapped inside the game, and if he can ever return to the real life. The next full-fledged part in the series is called Roots, and it takes on similar concepts in the story, but it does focus even more on terms of the MMO world, especially PvP.
Log Horizon quickly grew in popularity as an anime series and for very good reasons. Log Horizon encompasses what many believe to be the epitome of the sandbox MMO, which is why it’s one of the top anime series based on an MMO world. The story surrounds a new expansion for a popular MMO based in Japan, and everyone online the first day gets trapped in the world. Seeing how their lives are now the game, the players quickly learn that things in the MMO have to be done just like in real life. But as they try to make their lives work in a sandbox MMO they also encounter a lot of NPCs, and quickly realize they need to make friends within the group. Aside from giving a great look into a beautifully crafted MMO, Log Horizon also touches on great concepts surrounding when a human is human and what real life is.
Sword Art Online
Sword Art Online quickly came to be one of the largest and most talked about anime set in an MMO world. The reason for SAO being so heavily discussed is mainly how it speeds up the story and misses many points from the manga, which upsets both the manga fans and people who wanted more out of the first story arc. SAO is set in the anime played through a system called FullDive, which is a headset that plugs directly into your brain. This means that the game is controlled with your thoughts and therefore fully immersive. The first arc opens up the question on how dangerous the game is by trapping everyone inside and if they die there, they also die in real life. SAO goes from a standard fantasy world, to a fantasy elves world, to a futuristic world where guns are everything. The wide variety of different areas explored in SAO and deeper technological concepts makes it one of the top 6 MMO anime series.
Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation
This is the only show so far based on an actual MMO. Unfortunately, it’s one game that will probably never see the light of day in Western society. However, at least we get the opportunity to watch a show about playing Phantasy Star Online 2, and it is really good. While the show does paint the game as the biggest thing that has ever happened to the world, it also tells a great story about a boy getting caught up with the magic of MMOs and the online acquaintances who become real-life friends. It manages to show the genuine love towards the genre and the social aspect of it, which makes it unique from other gaming genres. It is this love for the MMO genre and excellent portrayal of it that makes the series so great.
No Game No Life
Many of the other games on this list tend to focus more on the adventure part of MMOs and contain deep, thrilling plot lines. No Game No Life, however, is a surreal comedy that focuses more on the characters themselves than the world around them. No Game No Life combines RPG and MMO aspects with an alternate reality. The story is about two step-siblings who have made themselves a huge name as undefeated gamers in an MMO, but one day they are given the chance to live in another world very similar to the MMO they have been playing. The comedic aspect, combined with entertaining RPG references, makes No Game No Life one of the better animes set in an MMO world .
Accel World is a show that really has something for everyone. Whether you want intense fighting, humor, drama or just another dose of MMO inspired action while waiting for your in-game raid to start. The story surrounds a very short and fat boy who escapes his bullies by playing single-player virtual reality games. But one day he is introduced to a program that turns out to be an augmented reality MMO about fighting other players. The game then becomes something that makes his life worth living and strengthens him as a human being. It is really nice to see a series that shows how an MMO can be so much more than just a game and how they can help us improve as human beings, which is why it deserved a spot on our list of top 6 MMO anime series.
Please let us know what you think about our list in the comments section. Are there any other anime series that you think should have made the list?Related: Accel World, Column, Hack, MMORPG, Phantasy Star Online 2, Sword Art Online