What do you think of when you hear about fantasy anime? These days, fans are blessed each season with stunning series from the genre.
These include shounen blockbusters such as Jujutsu Kaisen and Demon Slayer and isekai favorites like Re:Zero and Mushoku Tensei.
More recently, Wit Studio ended its amazing adaptation of Ousama Ranking. Despite the praises these shows are getting, there are still other fantasy projects that haven’t received the attention and acclaim they deserve.
If you’re interested in playful dinosaurs, mecha, epic fantasy, humanoid bears, and just a noteworthy anime series, check out this list.
15. The Vision of Escaflowne
Anime already had several noteworthy titles about ordinary people being transported to a different realm before the modern concept of isekai came to prominence.
For one, Tenkuu no Escaflowne is a fantasy series back from 1996.
Two things made this series exciting to watch week after week.
Apart from being an original project, its creator was none other than Shouji Kawamori, the man behind countless mecha designs and acclaimed Macross installments.
Hitomi Kanzaki, Van Fanel, and Allen Schezar boast great dynamics, keeping their love triangle exciting.
Lastly, The Vision of Escaflowne is simply a fun adventure with dragons, machines, and psychic abilities.
14. Magical Sisters Yoyo & Nene
Majokko Shimai no Yoyo to Nene is a family-friendly movie adapted from the seinen manga Noroi-ya Shimai.
As you can guess from the title, siblings Yoyo and Nene are gifted with magical powers, which they use for work.
Everything was going like usual until a colossal tree arose in the forest. Its size alone was odd, but the tree also had urban skyscrapers all around it.
Yoyo approached the tree out of curiosity — and they soon end up in the real world.
They then meet three ordinary kids whose parents transformed into weird entities. It’s up to them (and the children) to uncover the mystery and revert both worlds to a state of normalcy.
Despite premiering less than a decade ago and being produced by ufotable (the studio behind Demon Slayer), this movie barely had traction. It’s a shame given its standout animation and direction. Perhaps its ranking here convinced others to check it out. Better late than never, right?
13. Now and Then, Here and There
Going from Magical Sisters Yoyo & Nene to Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku is a tonal whiplash.
If the former is fun and wholesome, the latter dwells in the darkness of humanity.
Think of it as an isekai gone wrong except without all the otaku-isms.
Shuuzou Matsutani lives a normal life, which takes a sharp turn when he meets a timid and mysterious girl named Lala-Ru.
Once he attempts to protect her from kidnappers, they’re thrown into a world of sand. It’s an unforgiving environment — but Lala-Ru’s pendant might be their key to survival. Unfortunately, Shuuzou and Lala-Ru (and many innocent kids) are at the mercy of the demented Hamdo.
Now and Then, Here and There only has 13 episodes.
But it’s more intense and profound than anime with multiple seasons. Despite all the cruelty, it also asks the audience to hold on to even the faintest flicker of hope.
12. The Twelve Kingdoms
Youko Nakajima excels in everything she does at school.
However, the 16-year-old’s unique red hair stops her from feeling comfortable and ‘normal’ in social situations, leading to her lack of real friends. But as a stern blonde man appears and pledges loyalty, discovers her true identity.
Like the previous three entries, Juuni Kokuki continues the theme of characters being sent to a different world.
From their ordinary school, Youko and two other classmates enter the Kingdom of Kou.
Here, they must grapple with the political, social, and economic complexities of not just Kou but also of other kingdoms.
Fuyumi Ono’s fantasy novel series debuted in 1992 and has yet to end, which is why even this 45-episode adaptation feels so short.
Still, this is a fantastic introduction to the story, especially if you love character development and hefty worldbuilding.
11. Outbreak Company
Premiering nearly a decade ago, Outbreak Company is an isekai parody that features a young hikikomori.
Shinichi Kanou likes to isolate himself and live in his world of anime, video games, and other otaku stuff.
However, his NEET lifestyle ends when he’s sent to the Holy Empire of Eldant. In this realm of elves and dragons (among others), he becomes the Japanese government’s designated envoy.
In particular, Shinichi’s job is to share his vast knowledge of otaku culture.
It’s a difficult task when he has no idea about Eldant’s norms, politics, and social issues, but he luckily has an anxious half-maid elf and a flat-chested queen for guidance.
Yes, this is a fantasy harem.
Still, Outbreak Company knows when to be serious — and I really like how it handled topics like discrimination and self-esteem.
10. Heart and Yummie
Did you know that there’s an anime movie about dinosaurs? Released in October 2010, Omae Umasou da na begins with a dinosaur choosing to adopt a lonely egg.
Eventually, it cracks open and viewers are introduced to the first MC, Heart.
Heart lives for a while with his adoptive parent’s family, but his natural urges soon become too much to ignore. You see, he’s a carnivorous dinosaur, unlike his plant-loving (i.e. herbivore) family. And so he sets off — and intriguingly finds an egg.
This time, the egg turns out to be a herbivorous dinosaur. Heart should be a predator to his fragile prey, but he opts to name him Umasou and raise him like his own child.
Heart and Yummie might be a children’s film, but teens and adults will certainly appreciate the gorgeous natural landscapes and the heartwarming story about natural enemies choosing to co-exist.
9. Yuri Kuma Arashi
Original anime series these days don’t get enough love, which is ironic when Yuri Kuma Arashi is largely about love and its persevering (or stubborn) nature.
Amusingly known as Yuri Bear Storm, this seinen involves a long-standing rift between human-like bears and ordinary humans.
They once lived happily together, then the bears became hungry for human flesh.
The Wall of Severance keeps the two societies apart, but the love between Kureha Tsubaki and Sumika faces peril when two bears sneak into their school.
With anime like Mawaru Penguindrum and Revolutionary Girl Utena, Kunihiko Ikuhara is no stranger to praise from critics and discerning viewers.
Sadly, his works are often too surreal, symbolic, and eccentric to garner mainstream appeal — and the same goes for this project from both Lapin Track and Silver Link.
8. The Tibetan Dog
I already included fantasy anime starring dinosaurs and (humanoid) bears, so why not include a massive dog from the mystical land of Tibet?
A young boy named Tenzin is coping with the death of his mom. To help manage his emotions and take a break from his typical life, he and his father reside in the aforementioned autonomous region. And it’s in Tibet where he befriends a massive dog.
Tibetan Mastiffs are known for their size, so it’s not that unusual.
What’s amusing, however, is this dog’s golden hair.
Tenzin now has a furry companion, but can he adapt to the countryside? Furthermore, how will his dad react to their special bond?
Animated by none other than Madhouse, this adventure movie from 2011 is a refreshing anime packed with breathtaking scenes of rural life and, well, a pack of big dogs.
7. Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan
Hisone to Maso-tan is only one of many victims of the so-called Netflix prison that stops it from reaching its peak popularity.
Apart from this, it’s an original series without typical big action elements, so there’s really no sizable built-in fanbase.
Still, Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan is one of the past decade’s most commendable new offerings.
While its human MCs are adorable girls like in K-On! and Lucky Star, they’re also part of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.
Thus, this isn’t a regular CGDCT anime.
It’s a fantasy with comedy and drama in a military setting — but that’s not all!
As the title suggests, Hisone Amakasu becomes a dragon pilot when she meets Maso-tan, a dragon that also turns into a plane. That sounds ridiculous (what isn’t in anime?), but don’t doubt this project when it has industry veterans Hiroshi Kobayashi and Shinji Higuchi handling directorial roles.
6. Maria the Virgin Witch
How can the concept of virginity and witchcraft coincide in medieval France?
In Junketsu no Maria, the titular MC is tired of the unceasing bloodshed among humans during the historical Hundred Years’ War.
Using her supernatural powers, Maria constantly meddles with warring humans in the hopes of finding peace. Similarly, her owl familiar, Artemis, uses her succubus skills to weaken soldiers, influence choices, and collect military information.
However, not everyone approves of Maria’s peacekeeping measures.
From soldiers and fellow witches to the Church and angels from the heavens, her naysayers will stop at nothing to continue the war.
Michael the Archangel even enacts a decree that will make Maria lose her virginity if she uses magic to interfere again. Will the peace-loving witch stop her mission or defy the heavens? And how will Joseph play a role here when he’s only a peasant?
Funny, immersive, and one-of-a-kind, Maria the Virgin Witch is an underrated triumph by Production IG.
5. Genius Party
Think of the weirdest and most fascinating dreams you’ve ever had.
Next, take the stories to the next level and imagine them as unique animation projects. That’s how you get something like Genius Party and GP Beyond.
Pushing the limits of imagination and technical excellence, this Studio 4°C collection has not only fantasy but also sci-fi, avant-garde, and psychological elements.
From babies and criminals to zombies and aliens, you’ll never be sure what you’re getting.
If the only criterion for this list was sheer raw talent and creative vision, Genius Party would’ve shot to the top with ease.
Where else can you find an anthology of 12 short films featuring legends like Kazuto Nakazawa, Masaaki Yuasa, Shoji Kawamori, and Shinichiro Watanabe?
4. Heaven’s Design Team
Back in the historic 2021 Winter season, most anime fans were busy watching an unnatural number of originals and big sequels in isekai, shoujo, shounen, slice-of-life, and everything in between.
Only a lucky few caught Tenchi Souzou Design-bu.
If Cells at Work focused on human biology, this was about animal biology.
Shimoda serves as God’s messenger to the titular group of quirky and wholesome designers. Their job is to fill Earth with creatures. Unabara is always thinking of cute animals while Tsuchiya and Kanamori are fascinated by horses and beautiful birds, respectively.
Heaven’s Design Team really deserves multiple installments like Cells at Work.
Apart from the learning material, it also has superb voice acting, colorful character designs, and energetic OP and ED tracks.
3. Fantastic Children
Sixteen years before the adaptation of To Your Eternity, there was already Fantastic Children.
Like the former, it had fantasy, adventure, and mystery elements.
Moreover, it had an entire group of unaging white-haired MCs instead of only one.
Initially, you may feel bored. The children travel to many locations for hundreds of years in search of a girl while an ordinary teen boy finds a timid girl who loves drawing.
But once the puzzle pieces come together, you’ll find yourself quickly playing the next episode until you reach the finale. There are no filler characters or sequences here. Everything is meant to bring value to the main story.
As the creator, director, character designer, and scriptwriter, Takashi Nakamura clearly took great care of Fantastic Children, making it one of the best originals of the 2000s.
2. Digimon Tamers
I know you’re wondering why a sequel from a long-running anime about evolving and fighting monsters (that isn’t Pokémon) is in such a high spot.
You see, Digimon Tamers is unlike any other installment in the franchise.
Digimon Tamers still has cute monsters and high-action spectacles. You know that the main Digimons will evolve into their bigger, stronger versions. But the sense of danger here felt real — that the kids and city residents were in great peril.
So, why is this original series special?
Arguably, it’s largely because of the renowned Chiaki Konaka.
He handled both series composition and scriptwriting for multiple key episodes. Thus, his writing DNA is all over Digimon Tamers.
When you learn that Konaka also had writing roles in Mononoke, Princess Tutu, Texhnolyze, The Big O, and Serial Experiments Lain, it doesn’t feel odd anymore that Digimon Tamers has these dialogues and sequences that evoke mature or even psychological and eerie vibes.
1. ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka
It’s been five years since ACCA: 13 premiered.
Shingo Natsume and Madhouse already released another standout series (Sonny Boy). Yet here I am, still in awe of what this solemn and atmospheric adaptation had to offer.
First, Jean Otus is one of my all-time favorite anime characters. He has this unbothered default look and simply has a subdued yet cool aura around him, especially when he smokes a cigarette.
Other characters are exceptionally designed and voiced, particularly Jean’s childhood friend Niino, his sister Lotta, and director-general Mauve.
Furthermore, the worldbuilding, cinematography, and pacing are perfect.
The Dowa Kingdom has 13 states with their own specialties, culture, and visual identity.
Both Studio Pablo and Studio Forest gave standout background art from start to finish, earning the series its many calm and atmospheric scenes.
And beyond the characters and visuals, ACCA takes a restrained approach to its political mystery, carefully dropping crumbs before the final reveal.
ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, understandably.
But I sincerely wish it gained more attention and acclaim among fans of iyashikei, fantasy, and the aforementioned director.