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10 Best Anime Every Dungeons & Dragons Fan Should Watch

Summary

  • Anime series like Goblin Slayer and Record of Lodoss War are directly inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, incorporating elements from the tabletop game.
  • Other anime series, such as The Rising of the Shield Hero and Demon Slayer, share similarities with the structure and characters of a typical D&D campaign.
  • The crossover between anime and D&D is extensive, with many isekai shows embracing RPG tropes and mechanics, making them enjoyable for fans of the tabletop game.


Anime and Dungeons & Dragons are perhaps two of the most popular geek hobbies in existence, and the only thing that can be better for fans of both is when they overlap. Anime (particularly shonen) is known for high action and fantasy, making the appeal obvious to fans of D&D. Since D&D was so impactful on the RPG genre as a whole, and many fantasy anime implement RPG elements into their storytelling, many anime owe more of their existence to the tabletop game than fans might expect.

There are a great many anime out there that are actually inspired by tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons. There are also plenty of anime series which, despite not being directly inspired, do share a lot with the average D&D campaign, in terms of how the story is structured and how the characters behave. That applies both to very serious settings and more comedic ones, which many a D&D campaign has devolved into.


10 Samurai Champloo (2004)

Original series directed by Shinichiro Watanabe and produced by Studio Manglobe

Jin, Mugen, and Fuu in Samurai Champloo key art.

Number of Episodes

26

Where to Stream

Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu

Set in an alternate version of Edo-era Japan, Samurai Champloo stars a young girl, Fu, on her quest to find “the samurai who smells of sunflowers,” and in order to accomplish this goal, she strong-arms two masterless samurai into escorting her on this mission, promising them they can resume their duel once they succeed. It’s a long and strange quest across a Japan that’s changing, faced with all manner of enemies and one-off encounters, giving the show a structure that feels a lot like a D&D campaign. While Samurai Champloo‘s story largely remains a personal one, the party dynamic between the three main characters will certainly feel familiar to experienced players.

Fans of Samurai Champloo might also enjoy creator Shinichiro Watanabe’s other hit series, Cowboy Bebop, available on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Netflix.

Watch On Crunchyroll

9 Goblin Slayer (2018)

Based on the light novel by Kumo Kagyu

Adventuring party in Goblin Slayer

Number of Episodes

24

Where to Stream

Crunchyroll, Funimation

Goblin Slayer is a dark and serious anime series that’s directly inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, and fans of D&D will surely notice the references to the popular tabletop game scattered throughout it. Series creator Kagyu Kumo has even said as much in the original Light Novels. The series follows the Goblin Slayer, an unnamed Fighter whose only mission in this world is to kill goblins, despite the whims of the gods who control the world. It’s rather short, with only twelve episodes and a movie at present, but its popularity has ensured its return, with the release of a second season of Goblin Slayer in October 2023, slotted for another twelve episodes.

It is recommended that fans of Goblin Slayer watch the movie Goblin Slayer: Goblin’s Crown, before proceeding to season two.

Watch On Crunchyroll

8 Record of Lodoss War (1990)

Based on the replays and light novels written by Ryo Mizuno

D&D How The Lodoss Anime Setting Foreshadowed Critical Role - Lodoss heroes

Number of Episodes

13

Where to Stream

Crunchyroll, Funimation

The original story for Record of Lodoss War actually dates back to 1986, when it was first published as a D&D “Replay” in a Japanese magazine. It was later adapted into a novel by the Dungeon Master, and then eventually became a full-fledged, 13-episode anime OVA series in 1990. The story of Record of Lodoss War follows the young son of a fallen knight named Parn, who winds up as the leader of a group of adventurers wandering the earth. Record of Lodoss War eventually spirals out into a bigger plot, with the fate of the world at stake, as D&D campaigns often do. There’s also a 27-episode anime adaptation from 1998 which has a slightly different take on the story.

Watch On Crunchyroll

7 The Rising of the Shield Hero (2019)

Based on the web novel by Aneko Yusagi

Key art for The Rising of the Shield Hero

Number of Episodes

50

Where to Stream

Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu

The Isekai genre which The Rising of the Shield Hero belongs to owes a lot to D&D, and this series is no exception. As an Isekai, The Rising of the Shield Hero begins with an Otaku from Japan named Naofumi being summoned to another world as a hero. The original spin is that for Naofumi, it’s been anything but an escapist fantasy, as despite being given a legendary shield, he is mocked, antagonized, and quickly run out of town over a crime he didn’t commit. Naofumi ends up working with a bird monster named Filo and a tanuki girl named Raphtalia who used to be a slave and must still solve the problems of this world, despite how he and his companions are treated.

Watch On Crunchyroll

6 Demon Slayer (2019)

Based on the manga series created by Koyoharu Gotouge

Number of Episodes

55

Where to Stream

Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu, Netflix

While it isn’t directly inspired by a D&D campaign, Demon Slayer is the sort of anime fans of tabletop games would enjoy. After his family is slaughtered except for his sister, who was instead turned into a demon, Tanjiro sets out to avenge his family and restore his sister to normal. It’s a quest worthy of any campaign, and of course, the stakes continue to rise as Tanjiro learns more about demons and being a Demon Slayer. Tanjiro puts together a party of his fellow young Demon Slayers, with the occasional help from Demon Slayer’s more experienced Hashira, and together it’s them versus the demon-infested world.

Demon Slayer is set to return for Season 4 in Spring 2024, which will cover the highly anticipated Hashira Training Arc.

Watch On Crunchyroll

5 KonoSuba (2016)

Based on the light novel by Natsume Akatsuki

Number of Episodes

20+2 OVAs

Where to Stream

Crunchyroll, Hulu

A more comedic series, KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World is an Isekai that follows Kazuma Satou, a Japanese NEET who is reincarnated in a parallel fantasy world that runs on RPG-style mechanics after dying in the most embarrassing way possible. Kazuma ends up with the useless goddess who reincarnated him, Aqua, the masochistic warrior Darkness, and a young mage who favors explosions named Megumin. The party is about as dysfunctional as it can get, leading to all sorts of hilarious antics. Despite the hilarity though, Konosuba has the kind of genuine heart that all the best D&D campaigns have.

Watch On Crunchyroll

4 That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime (2018)

Based on the light novel series by Fuse

Promotional artwork from That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime's anime showing characters posing in front of a blue sky background

Number of Episodes

48+5 OVAs

Where to Stream

Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu

Like KonoSuba, That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime is an Isekai set in a world that runs on RPG mechanics, with its protagonist Rimuru having been reincarnated as a mere slime… albeit one with some incredible unique skills. Rimuru strikes a bargain with a trapped Storm Dragon, gaining massive power from him, and begins remaking the world a better place for monsters, starting with a village of goblins. Slime has its share of war and action, but it has much more of a political bent to it than most Isekai, with a big focus on nation-building. While politics isn’t an important part of every RPG session, D&D players looking for political intrigue can look to That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime for inspiration.

Watch On Crunchyroll

3 Made in Abyss (2017)

Based on the manga created by Akihito Tsukushi

Riko and Reg in Made in Abyss

Number of Episodes

25

Where to Stream

Amazon Video

Made in Abyss is set in a magical world centered on a giant, seemingly bottomless pit, from which magical artifacts are recovered. Explorers who go down into the depths (Cave Raiders) are greatly admired by Riko, a young girl who aims to be like her Cave Raider mother. She embarks on a quest with a boy robot named Reg, but the depths of the Abyss are affected by a deadly curse that gets worse the deeper one goes. Despite starring children, Made in Abyss shows how deadly and dangerous a D&D-style adventuring environment would actually be in the world’s most nightmarish dungeon.

Watch On Amazon Video

Based on the manga written & illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa

Number of Episodes

64+4 OVAs

Where to Stream

Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu

Fullmetal Alchemist isn’t set in a typical fantasy world, but rather one based on the early 1900s, featuring a unique “magic” system in the form of Alchemy, which obeys very strict rules akin to D&D magic. Following the Elric brothers, who aim to restore their bodies to normal after a disastrous attempt at raising the dead, there are few plots more suited to a tabletop campaign. Naturally, this quest turns out to be tied to the fate of the world, and it’s no accident that the Elrics are involved. While both the 2003 version of Fullmetal Alchemist and Brotherhood are great watches, Brotherhood‘s broader scope makes it a fantastic recommendation for D&D fans.

Watch On Crunchyroll

1 The Slayers (1995)

Based on the light novel written by Hajime Kanazaka

Slayers' Lina Inverse and Gourry Gabriev

Number of Episodes

104

Where to Stream

Funimation

The Slayers may be one of the anime most like a real D&D campaign, mixing slapstick humor and buffoonery with deadly serious “save the world” plots. The story follows Lina Inverse, a sorceress of immense power who cares mostly about learning magic and making money, yet often ends up with the fate of the world on her shoulders.

Lina’s companions read like a typical D&D party: The extremely lawful Amelia, the dumb-as-a-rock warrior Gourry, and the secret-obsessed priest Xellos. Slayers ran for a long time, with 5 seasons released throughout the 1990s and 2000s, so the style can vary some, but it’s a hilarious and captivating experience regardless. Though it might be delightfully retro, The Slayers still holds up decades later as the best recreation of Dungeons and Dragons in anime history.

Watch On Funimation

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