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Video games and anime have been intertwined since the early 80s, and as such, it’s not unusual for anime to feature video games as a central plot point. In this article, we have compiled a list of eight video game-themed anime that we feel were well-executed and seamlessly incorporated games into their main story.

We won’t be including anime like?Persona 5 The Animation or Yu-Gi-Oh!, as they were games first and only received anime adaptations further down the line. All entries on this list were anime first, and if they ever had game adaptations, they were made after the anime’s release.

Log Horizon

Shiroe posing and using his staff's effects.
Shiroe in battle. Image via Crunchyroll Store Australia on YouTube

Oh boy. My recent article talks about how much I love Log Horizon‘s mechanics and how it would translate well if it were made into a game. The story starts with the characters being transported into the game they’re playing, Elder Tale. In Log Horizon, there’s less fighting and more talking, as the main character, Shiroe, values diplomacy over brute force.

The anime portrays a realistic approach to being trapped in a new world, with the characters adjusting to the world’s culture and politics. You’ll like this anime if you’re into political talk with raiding on the side.

Sword Art Online

Sinon using her bow to aim at enemies
Sinon from Sword Art Online. Image via Aniplex USA on YouTube

I debated whether to include this one or Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online, but I ultimately ended up settling with the original Sword Art Online, as the anime itself is about the journey of Kirito and his friends in different games.

While this anime focuses more on Kirito’s interpersonal relationships, video games have always been the main theme in each of the “arcs” that the anime goes through. Unlike Log Horizon, there’s more action in SAO, so if you’re more into that, give this one a shot.

No Game No Life

Shiro and Sora looking at Dola.
Dola making a JoJo reference. Image via Sentai on YouTube

If you’ve been in the anime scene for a while, you’ve probably already been recommended to watch No Game No Life. This anime is about two siblings, Shiro and Sora. After being challenged by the God of Play through a computer screen, the siblings defeat him, which results in them being summoned to a new world called Disboard.

In Disboard, everything is decided by the outcome of a game that the participants agree on. The games can be as simple as rock-paper-scissors, or elaborate ones like a virtual reality FPS. In this anime, you’ll see how Sora and Shiro outwit their opponents as the representatives of Imanity, which is considered the weakest race in all of Disboard.

Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense

Maple and Sally sitting on a bed looking at a game menu.
Maple and Sally from Bofuri. Image via AniMoon Publishing on YouTube

Ah yes, the first and only anime in this list with a long name, which is quickly becoming the standard nowadays. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to call it Bofuri. Bofuri focuses on Kaede, a schoolgirl who recently picked up NewWorld Online, a fictional virtual reality MMORPG. As she starts her journey into the game, she opens up the character creation tool and decides to be a shielder class, putting all her stat points into vitality because she doesn’t like pain.

The anime is very light-hearted and doesn’t take itself seriously, unlike SAO and Log Horizon. This is apparent in the anime’s very first episode, as Kaede defeats a monster by taking bites out of it until it dies.

New Game!

Yagami Ko, the main character's senior in New Game!
Yagami Ko from New Game! Image via KADOKAWAanime on YouTube

We’re going to deviate from the norm here for a while. Unlike SAO and Bofuri that focus on the characters playing games, in New Game! the characters are the ones making the games. This anime centers around game development, as we follow a new artist’s journey up the game development corporate ladder from newbie to lead character artist.

This anime fits into the subgenre of “cute girls doing cute things”, which is fairly self-explanatory. It’s a light-hearted anime you can watch to wind down, and it has interesting depictions of industry practices like crunch time and sleeping at the office to get work done.

Recovery of an MMO Junkie

Moriko staring into space
Moriko Morioka from Net juu no Susume. Image via Crunchyroll Collection on YouTube

Recovery of an MMO Junkie leans more into romance than anything else. The anime tells the story of two characters, who by coincidence found each other in an MMORPG, and a romance developed between them.

Unlike SAO and Bofuri, this anime doesn’t have action scenes and is more focused on what the characters do outside of the game rather than in-game. However, the in-game sections of the anime still provide a lot of context. If you’re interested in a romance anime with a game as its central plot device, you might want to check this one out.

Uncle From Another World

The Uncle from Another World.
Yousuke, the Uncle, trying to cast a magic spell. Image via Netflix Anime on YouTube

There’s only one word for this anime: Hilarious. There’s not a single episode that didn’t make me burst out laughing. Uncle From Another World follows the story of two relatives, an uncle and his nephew. The uncle, considered the main character in the anime, was in a coma after an accident. After 17 years, he wakes up and reveals that while in his coma, he was actually in another world.

At first, his nephew didn’t believe it, until the uncle cast a magic spell. Now believing his uncle, the nephew started a YouTube channel for his uncle to show off his magic. Uncle From Another World is an homage to the retro gaming era with lots of references to existing games like Sonic and Guardian Heroes.


Karen from Gamers! holding a controller
Karen playing a game. Image via Crunchyroll Extras Deutschland on YouTube

A friend of mine called it “Misunderstandings: The Anime,” and he was right. It revolves around a mismatched group of people who somehow end up in the same group of friends. Friendships develop into crushes, and tensions escalate, with characters getting into hilarious situations because they can’t be bothered to ask the other person to clarify what they are saying.

Amid the drama, the characters spend lots of time talking about gaming, with references to games like Guilty Gear and Persona 4 Arena. The characters also refer to other games with different names. I’m just glad they gave Star Ocean some love.

I’ve watched this anime a couple of times now, and it surprisingly wasn’t as bad as I remembered it to be. This entry in the list was initially going to be a “so bad it’s good” kind of recommendation, but as I continued to watch it, I quickly realized it’s an anime that simply lets me turn my brain off and have fun.