The marriage of anime and video games is similar to the excellent combination offered by the salty and sour flavour of a heaping bucket of fish and chips. Due to their similarities, more than just a niche subset of individuals subscribe to these two. This is hardly surprising considering the prevalence of video games that might be considered “playable versions of anime.”
Did you know that some of the most popular anime series began as adaptations of visual novels or JRPGs? Some of these may shock you, as they are among the most popular among the community! Here are Japan Nakama’s top 10 anime adapted from video games.
Pokemon is the poster child for video game adaptations, with over 100 titles, its own trading card game, and merchandising featuring its increasing number of pocket monsters. It has captured a broad audience’s hearts through nostalgia and charm. Who can forget the days of directly connecting their Gameboy Colors and Advances via cable to exchange Pokemon with their pals after a day at uni?
The anime’s staying power is a testament to its popularity among the masses, as its ongoing series, Pokemon Journeys: The Series, is still going strong. We’ve come a long way from Ash saying goodbye to his Butterfree in 1997. With Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Ruby being the next pair of mainline games released right around the corner, there is just no stopping the gargantuan franchise.
To this day, Steins;Gate remains one of the highest-rated anime series and is widely considered the most popular visual novel and anime. For the uninitiated, a visual novel is simply a game that consists of moving slideshow images of the scenes and characters where you, the player, click through dialogue and make choices that impact the story. A couple of games on this list are visual novels, and the sci-fi time-travel-based story of Rintarou and Kurisu is among the crème de la crème.
Without giving away too much of the plot, the story revolves around flamboyant scientist Rintarou Okabe’s use of a microwave that sends messages back in time. With the help of Kurisu Make’s conference on time travel, they dabble in the field and discover things they probably should not have, creating a massive conflict in the scientific realm. It’s a slow burn during the first half, but it turns into a doozy of a story that is so good that this is one of the best anime to recommend to those new to the genre. Also, Kurisu is one of the most popular waifus ever.
3.) Clannad: After Story
The ultimate tearjerker, Clannad: After Story, is another on our list adapted from a visual novel. Considered the saddest anime ever, this pulls on your heartstrings in a way comparable to your worst breakup. There are moments when this tale is depressing just to be gloomy, but overall, it’s an adventure well worth taking.
Clannad: After Story is a melodrama that tackles themes of family and adulthood. High school students Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa go through the works of growing up, which comes with plenty of uncertainty. It might be challenging to get past the story’s first half due to its slow pace, as it’s a roadblock for many to experience the anime. Patience is rewarded; we recommend watching with a box of Kleenex and a tub of Ben and Jerry’s to enhance the experience.
Danganronpa is an exhilarating experience because of its diverse collection of characters, inventive narrative, and jaw-dropping reveals. While it has many similarities with the other two visual novels on our list, playing the game may be the superior option. The player gets to play God and have a tangible impact on the tale, which makes the game a more enjoyable experience overall.
However, the anime has been criticised for failing to capture the visual novel’s depth in all its characters. A robot bear holds children hostage in their school, and the only way out is for them to murder each other in secret so that they may escape the prison that is their school. The visual novel’s choice mechanism is like a “death game,” and it’s worth trying out for yourself.
5.) Fate/stay Night
The Fate franchise is one of the hardest to fully grasp and comprehend. With a litany of media that includes video games, visual novels, light novels, anime, and movies, as well as an overly critical fanbase, it is the hard mode of franchises to get into. You would have to deal with all the titles, such as Grand Order, Stay/Night, and Zero, to name a few; it’s reached a point where there are multiple guides as to what the watch order of it all is.
At its core, the Fate franchise started as a visual novel but has branched into game genres such as adult, fighting, and the most popular, gacha. The mobile version has been a template for other video game brands, encouraging fans to shell out a fortune to get their favourite characters. One can never have too many Saber Alter PNGs.
6.) Valkyria Chronicles
The most unique game on this list, Valkyria Chronicles, is a turn-based strategy game based in a World War 2 setting. What sets this apart from the other games on this list so far is its gameplay mechanics, which can be described as “Anime Chess”. Players and the CPU take turns controlling troops around a battlefield to achieve goals like seizing the opposing base or wiping out all of the enemy units.
Its story follows Welkin Gunther, a tank commander who was forced to enlist in the army due to the attempted annexation of his homeland by Imperial forces. When he first joins his unit, the veterans look down on him because of his lack of experience. He rises to prominence in the militia thanks to heroic actions that have earned him the admiration of his fellow soldiers. Its emotionally cheesy plot works well as an anime, and the unique and engaging gameplay is another reason to check it out.
7.) Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Arguably the most fantastic JRPG franchise to grace video game consoles, the Final Fantasy series is the gateway into the world of Japanese role-playing games. It’s a behemoth in video games, with 15 major narrative titles and several spin-offs in genres as diverse as racing, tactics, and rhythm games. Its players get wholly absorbed in the game’s infinite cast of memorable characters and tales, many of which have made their way into other megahit games such as Kingdom Hearts, Super Smash Brothers, and even Little Big Planet!
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is based on the franchise’s most recognisable character, the stoic, blonde, buster-sword-wielding Cloud Strife. Final Fantasy VII may be the most memorable mainline game in the franchise; due to its popularity, Square Enix had no choice but to bring back the 1997 classic as a remake in the year 2022. The anime expands upon established characters like the sinister Sefiroth and the beloved Aerith Gainsborough, shedding insight into their backstories and driving forces to enrich the game’s narrative and complexity.
A diamond in the rough in the JRPG zeitgeist, the Persona series is a certified must-play for any fans of the genre. It brings a unique gameplay loop only found in this series of games. As a high school student, you go through a calendar year, going out on dates with your friends, defeating monsters during dungeon crawls, and working part-time jobs to earn money. Naturally, each aspect of the mechanic has a purpose to the story, as performing actions outside the classic turn-based battles aids your heroes in combat through better weapons and abilities.
The murder mystery, whodunit plot of Persona 4: Golden is the finest of its kind in both the narrative and the animation. A group of high school students led by city transferee Yuu Narukami is caught up in a police investigation that involves a killer on the loose. Although it stays faithful to the video game, this is its actual letdown, as the story’s slow pace can sometimes get draggy. The ability to control your time and do what you want to do in the mainline games aided this, as completing the mainline video game can take up to 50 hours!
9.) Grisaia no Kajitsu
Combining the famous visual-novel-to-anime formula and the tasteful harem genre is Grisaia. Men of culture, in particular, love the sensual and classy pairing of these two. Not for everyone, this game has a mature tag on the cover; it makes for an experience stimulating in every sense of the word, to say the least.
Grisaia’s story, although cookie-cutter for the genre, is what draws people to it. A transfer student named Yuuji Kazami is admitted into a school with only five students. Here’s the kicker: they are all female. You can pretty much tell where this is headed, and even if it may be a vanilla experience, harem stories like this will always have a dedicated fanbase. Unfortunately, the anime is extremely rushed, with some scenes sometimes not making sense.
10.) Amagami SS
Last but not least is Amagami SS, a Japanese dating sim that skyrocketed in popularity because of its adorable anime waifus. This is an offshoot of the visual novel genre, as it plays exactly like one, except it puts players in a position to experience the girls that Amagami SS offers. It must be fun to be able to hone your smooth skills in preparation for the real world without worrying about potential humiliation.
This game is excellent since it lets you interact with a wide variety of females from the plot. Although stereotypical, you have the childhood friend, confident senpai, shy kouhai or younger student, and the school’s “it” girl, to name a few. Experiencing all the characters and their complex tales rather than just bits of them makes this a rich experience, showing the nuances of Japanese high school relationships.
Which of these anime-turned-video games do you want to experience next? All of them have solid narrative features since they wouldn’t be worth sharing if they weren’t at least somewhat interesting without any participation from the player. Take it easy, pop a brewski open, and enjoy one of these engrossing tales at the end of the week with that indulgent bucket of fish and chips.