If you’re an anime fan, then you’ve no doubt heard of Darwin’s Game. It’s that anime that follows players who fight in a real-life game where the stakes are high and the consequences are grave. You haven’t heard of it? Which rock were you hiding under?
Okay, sorry. Here’s a quick synopsis run.
Kaname Sudou, a high school student, is invited to play Darwin’s Game, a new mobile game. But as soon as he starts the program, a green snake appears from his phone screen and strikes his neck, knocking him out. Following his recovery in the hospital, he gets excused from school for the remainder of the day. He dismisses the odd incident as a delusion and boards the train home.
Curiosity takes control of him, and he checks the app again. Kaname exhales a sigh of relief and immediately starts his first match. But his joy is short-lived when his in-game enemy unexpectedly pops up in front of him, armed with a knife.
As he hurriedly flees for his life, Kaname understands that Darwin’s Game is not a game at all but a brutal battle for existence.
If you’re looking for something similar, then check out these 21 survival anime like Darwin’s Game. They’ll keep you on the edge of your seat!
Content Navigation (TL:DR)
- Deadman Wonderland
- Sword Art Online
- Battle Game in 5 Seconds
- Accel World
- Danganronpa: The Animation
- No Game, No Life
- Platinum End
- Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku (Magical Girl Raising Project)
- King’s Game
- Tokyo Ghoul
- The Future Diary (Mirai Nikki)
- High-Rise Invasion
- Juni Taisen: Zodiac War
- The Ones Within
- Tower of God
- Imawa no Kuni no Alice (Alice in Borderland)
When Ganta Igarashi is blamed for his classmates’ murders and sent to Deadman Wonderland, a prison where prisoners fight to the death in order to entertain people with their crimes, he finds solace amongst other sadistic men. Surrounded by these terrifying figures who want nothing more than to torture or kill him at any given time, it seems like there’s no hope left until an albino girl begins challenging everything that society deems “normal.”
Sword Art Online
The players in these games are committed to the utmost degree. They have no choice but to fight until their death or victory, and there are always high stakes associated with it!
Kirito is one of the lucky few who got their hands on Aincrad, an online role-playing game with virtual reality technology that allows you to control your avatars using nothing but thoughts. He logs into SAO and finds himself in this vast landscape filled with fantastic medieval weapons and magical beasts–the perfect place for adventure!
What starts out as an innocent game quickly turns into a nightmare for Kirito and his fellow players. Trapped by its creator, they are forced to play through all one hundred levels of Aincrad in order to escape the cruel world he’s created – but not before learning that if you die inside this virtual world, you’ll actually die outside, too!
Battle Game in 5 Seconds
The concept of “death games” is intriguing, and it’s good to see how these abilities get used in both shows. While Darwin’s Game has better execution overall, both are really intriguing! T
It was simply another ordinary morning.
Akira Shiroyanagi, a high school student who enjoys gaming and Konpeito, has been taken to a battlefield by a mysterious girl named Mion. The subjects are informed that they have been erased from the family registry, are taking part in an experiment, and have obtained specific powers.
Akira is determined to use his newfound abilities to win the game and crush the organization. The new phase: a battle of wits starts, equipped with a power no one anticipates and his “brain skills!”
Chubby Haruyuki Arita can’t even catch a break in a world in which everyone is connected to an internet network. The youngster plays online games to escape his difficulties since he is continuously tormented, frightened to face reality, and paranoid that his two childhood pals pity him. But all that changes one day when Haruyuki’s lovely upperclassman, Kuroyukihime, contacts him with a secret time-decelerating program called Brain Burst—with one catch. To preserve the ability, he must fight other Brain Burst bearers in Accel World, an exclusive virtual MMORPG, and the inexperienced player will require all the assistance he can get. Haruyuki joins forces with Kuroyukihime to fight formidable competition and discover exactly how wonderful Accel World and he truly are, eager to prove he’s not a miserable weakling.
The similarities between these two shows are striking, with both having edgy 12-year-old fight scenes that force characters into superpowers. They get put into games where their lives and others’ can be at stake if they lose; it’s ultimately up for debate as to whether this situation was forced upon the main character or not, but either way, there is no escaping death.
Shuuichi Kagaya is a typical high school student who occasionally transforms into a monster. He has no idea how or why he obtained his powers, and he would prefer no one knew. One night, he finds a burning building with a trapped girl inside. He morphs and carries her away to save her, but drops his phone.
The next day, Claire Aoki, the girl he saved, confronts him about his monstrous identity. After Shuuichi dismisses her claims, she pushes him off the school roof to illustrate her point. He transforms to save himself, and Claire takes a photo to blackmail him into revealing everything he knows about monsters, which isn’t much.
Claire, in the meantime, has been searching for her sister, who has also turned into a monster. Shuuichi helps her find her, but they aren’t the only ones looking for answers.
Danganronpa: The Animation
Hope’s Peak Private Academy is a super-exclusive institution that attracts the greatest and brightest students, equips them with a world-class education, and pushes them into any career they desire. At least that’s what Naegi, the ordinary student, used to believe. After being accepted into a class of 15 kids by a lottery procedure, the youngster immediately discovers that Hope’s Peak is not your typical school. In actuality, he and the others are confined inside and discover the only way to “graduate” is to kill a fellow student and deceive everyone in a life-or-death trial! Naegi and the others must do everything it takes to escape this odd, deadly game, led by the whimsically nasty, teddy bear-like Monobear.
When Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato are killed in a train accident, they’re resurrected by a strange black ball called “Gantz” to take part in what seems like just another game. But when players die or fail their mission, it’s curtains for them! This anime isn’t easy on your heart either because there are some disturbing themes involving blood-filled violence, gore, and sexual contexts. And more than anything else, survival against all odds.
No Game, No Life
Shiro and Sora, the brothers and sisters, are God-level players who annihilate all of their adversaries. One day, they receive a cryptic email about playing chess, and then they find themselves in an alien realm controlled by the God of Games, Tet.
Tet informs them that all forms of disagreement are addressed by games involving bets of equivalent worth placed by all parties involved. Excited, the two plan to win every conflict and secretly overthrow Tet. They have no idea what is in store for them!
Mirai feels disturbed while his classmates enjoy their middle school graduation. But his struggle has only just begun when he receives help from above in the shape of an angel. Mirai is now placed against 12 other selected humans in a contest to determine who will be the future deity of the world. Mirai has an angel on his side, but he may need to transform into a devil to survive.
Platinum End has a strong Darwin’s Game vibe to it. Platinum End has the potential to become a spectacular “Play or Die” anime.
Check Out: 30 Of The Best Anime Of 2021
Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku (Magical Girl Raising Project)
For many females in N-City, playing the popular online role-playing videogame, Magical Girl Raising Project, is as close to becoming a real magical girl as they can get. However, for a select few, that dream may become a reality. Koyuki Himekawa is one such girl, and one night she receives a message that she has been chosen to be a magical girl, as her in-game avatar, Snow White.
As Koyuki and the other select players in the city start to assist individuals in need, they immediately receive another notification: the administrators have decided to cut down on the number of magical girls. Whoever accumulates the fewest magical candies (given for magical girl activities) in their weekly challenge loses their powers. However, when the first person to drop out suffers a real-world catastrophe, they are shown the consequences of losing their powers. As more competitors lose the game and new twisted rules are introduced, the girls quickly realize that their “contest” is essentially a deadly fight for survival.
Nobuaki Kanazawa, who transferred to a different high school, is apprehensive about getting too close to his classmates because of an incident concerning the King’s Game at his previous school. The King’s Game starts when you get an email or SMS message from the king with directions that must be fulfilled within 24 hours.
Failure to accomplish the assignment or attempting to stop the game will result in a horrific death. One day, Nobuaki and his entire class get a bizarre message. Everyone thinks it’s a joke, and only the transfer student understands what it means. When he tries to warn others about this game, they initially fail to trust him until they realize the true danger.
Unlike in his former school, Nobuaki must now aid his fellow classmates to increase their chances of survival in this game. Darwin’s Game and King’s Game are both mobile survival games that feature terrible fatalities.
The MC is drawn into death, killing, and other actions they do not wish to do. Darwin’s game may not be as grim as Tokyo Ghoul, tho.
In modern-day Tokyo, humanity is terrified of Ghouls: enigmatic monsters who resemble humans yet hunger for their flesh. None of this mattered to Ken Kaneki, a diligent and ordinary teenage boy until a dark and sinister encounter transforms him into the world’s first Ghoul-human hybrid. Trapped between two different worlds, Ken must survive the brutal clashes of competing Ghoul clans while trying to discover more about Ghoul culture, his unexpected powers, and the delicate boundary between man and monster.
The Future Diary (Mirai Nikki)
Yukiteru Amano is a quiet, lonely high schooler who spends a lot of time on his phone, writing a diary. He only has one imagined companion, Deus Ex Machina, but he soon realizes that Deus is a real creature and a deity of time and space.
Deus is dying and wants to choose the next god to take his place through a deathmatch game in which Yukiteru is one of twelve competitors. Each of these players is given a particular future dairy with unique abilities. The goal of this game is to eliminate other future diary holders in order to become the next god. Yukiteru joins forces with another dairy user, Yuno Gasai, who is madly in love with him.
There are many parallels between Mirai Nikki and Darwin’s Game; both male heroes are trapped in a deadly survival game with the assistance of stronger and obsessive female leads.
Caligula is an anime adaptation of The Caligula Effect video game. The anime tells the story of an AI named Mu, who is on a mission to provide happiness to humanity. To accomplish this, she asks a group of people to live in Mobius, a virtual simulation world.
In Mobius, Mu fulfills all of their wishes while they forget about reality, believing that Mobius is their reality. When Ritsu Shikishima discovers the actual reality, he forms the ‘Going Home Club’ with eight other people who have discovered the truth and are attempting to leave the simulation.
Therefore, they must use their sentiments as a source of power to flee Mu and the enigmatic Ostinato Musicians that surround her. In both Darwin’s Game and Caligula, the players are stuck in a virtual environment and are desperately attempting to escape.
Ryouta Sakamoto, a 22-year-old shut-in NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) who lives with his mother and spends all of his time playing video games, is the anime’s protagonist. He is the best player in Btooom!, Japan’s popular online action game.
He awakens on an unknown tropical island, clutching a case full of bombs and a green crystal in his palm. He understands, after being attacked, that he is in a real-life version of his beloved game and must now survive the dangerous game.
Both Btooom! and Darwin’s Game share many parallels, such as the protagonists being pulled into a death game they do not want to be a part of and the players in both anime having special abilities / BIM to the participants.
One is more focused on magic, while the other is more focused on technology, but both are battle royales with amazing characters. Both are on the gory side of things.
Japan is the setting for the fourth Holy Grail War, ten years before Shirou Emiya and Saber’s tragic meeting. Seven Masters, each with his own goals, stand in line to receive the mysterious relic’s boon. Kiritsugu Emiya, the enigmatic “Mage Killer” who wants to utilize the Grail to make the world a better place, enters the conflict. Can he, along with the unstoppable Saber, win the war? Will he succumb to the goals of the other wizards or not?
Both Shounen anime contain a survival game; both protagonists desire to find out who is responsible for all of this carnage, and both are tacticians.
A young girl named Yuri observes a masked figure chopping a man’s head apart with an ax on the roof of a high-rise building! It’s not exactly a common experience for a high schooler, but things only get stranger from there. Yuri quickly finds herself in a bizarre world of skyscrapers, with only two possibilities for escape: fight her way through the mystery masked individuals or jump to her death!
Juni Taisen: Zodiac War
Every twelve years, mercenaries of the highest caliber of sheer strength, crafty intelligence, and lethal accuracy meet for the Zodiac Tournament. Each warrior has the name and characteristics of one of the Chinese zodiac’s 12 animals. They engage in savage combat, putting their pride and lives on the line until only the victor survives.
The 12th Zodiac Tournament starts in a desolate city that bears no resemblance to the half-million people that once resided there. Each fighter consumes a toxic gem to enhance the stakes, putting a limited time on the tournament—and their own life. The Zodiac Warriors begin their merciless battle for survival, with one wish for the winner up for grabs.
The Ones Within
Akatsuki Iride is a prominent live broadcaster for “The Ones Within-Genome,” a free-to-play game. When he and seven other people are forced to enter the gaming world against their choice, what was once only an imagination suddenly becomes reality for him and the others. View count is more important than ever before as millions of people watch them attempt to achieve various high-risk challenges. Only the strongest will survive in this world that never sleeps!
Both are about characters attempting to complete a game in order to survive. Darwin’s Game is more focused on PVP, while The Ones Within are more focused on clearing stages.
Tower of God
Fame and glory. Power. When you reach the pinnacle of the Tower of God, you can do anything in your wildest dreams. Those that are selected by the tower climb each floor in the hopes of realizing their ambitions, but in order to do so, they must pass difficult and deadly tests along the journey. Others, however, are free to enter the structure; these “irregulars” are despised by many and are thought to leave turmoil and destruction in their wake. Twenty-fifth Baam is one such outcast who begins climbing the Tower of God in the hopes of reuniting with his best friend Rachel. However, as he soon realizes, this dangerous path will put him in the crosshairs of ferocious contenders, untrustworthy rivals, and terrifying monsters, and he may not survive.
Imawa no Kuni no Alice (Alice in Borderland)
The plot revolves around a group of three buddies who wake up in an entirely different universe. They initially believe it is all a dream or a prank, but they quickly understand that the only way to survive in this reality is to engage in and win deadly survival games.
Both series are about surviving life-or-death games in which the characters are dragged into without their consent or any way out.
Well, anime fans, you’ve seen 21 anime recommendations like Darwin’s Game. We’re sure there are plenty of battle royale and “fight to survive” action anime out there. Let us know if we missed any survival game anime like Darwin’s Game. If you enjoyed this list and want more content like it, please leave a comment letting us know what kind of content you’d like to see in the future! And don’t forget to share this with your friends so they can watch some awesome anime too.