Sword Art Online (SAO) was perfect for so many reasons. First, it follows typical isekai anime with its plots and action. Then, it happens to adapt the theme of MMORPGs.
Imagine the thrills of having a fantasy anime that features nice animation and video game scenes! That would be the best of two worlds for anime and game lovers, right?
Well, that is SAO: the height of unparalleled fun. Would you love more series like that? Yes?
Then, you’re in the right place! In this piece, we have gathered a list of anime that promise the same action fantasy as Sword Art Online.
So, are you ready to get stuck in a video game again?
Before we delve into action, for the sake of those who haven’t seen SAO, let’s revisit the famous and exciting isekai anime.
Content Navigation (TL:DR)
- What Is Sword Art Online?
- Why Is Sword Art Online So Popular?
- 30 Animes Like Sword Art Online You Should Watch
- 30. Hunter X Hunter
- 29. Tower Of Druaga: The Aegis Of Uruk
- 28. Guilty Crown
- 27. Deadman Wonderland
- 26. The Devil Is A Part Timer
- 25. Ixion Saga DT
- 24. The King’s Avatar
- 23. Summer Wars
- 22. Recovery Of An MMO Junkie
- 21. Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?
- 20. Mirai Nikki
- 19. Problem Children Are Coming from Another World, Aren’t They?
- 18. Digimon Adventure
- 17. In Another World With My Smartphone
- 16. That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime
- 15. The Rising Of The Shield Hero
- 14. Grimgar Of Fantasy And Ash
- 13. KonoSuba: God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World
- 12. And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online
- 11. Re: ZERO – Starting Life In Another World
- 10. How Not To Summon A Demon Lord
- 9. Hack//SIGN
- 8. Log Horizon
- 7. No Game No Life
- 6. Death March Kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku
- 5. Btooom
- 4. Knight’s And Magic
- 3. Gun Gale Online
- 2. Accel World
- 1. Overlord
What Is Sword Art Online?
Set with a somewhat futuristic approach, Sword Art Online tries to explore the world of video gaming. And it did so perfectly as it garnered game lovers worldwide.
The series itself is an isekai anime, and like most in that category, SAO is an action fantasy. Here, the stories adapt the possibilities of controlling game characters with the mind.
According to the plot, Sword Art Online is a Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) that allows players to mind-control game characters using the “Nerve Gear” helmet.
Unfortunately, and unknowingly to the eager players, you can’t log out of the SAO until you meet several requirements. One of such is that you must defeat the ultimate antagonist of the game on the 100th floor.
Another thing is that if your character dies in the game, you’re already gone in real life too. Players only learned all that after logging into SAO, and their excitement soon turned to dread.
Now, players must team up to save each other, fight against vicious enemies, and reach the 100th floor. But will they survive? How did the MCs fare?
That suspense and the thrill that no one is safe is why we love Sword Art Online!
Why Is Sword Art Online So Popular?
Undoubtedly, the gaming background of Sword Art Online is its significant pull. Not many popular isekai anime series adapted the plots of gameplay like SAO, and successfully too.
That aside, Sword Art Online is brimming with adventure from start to end. Here, darkness lies in every corner, and you’re not even sure if you’d be alive to tell the tales.
Yes, no one is safe in Sword Art Online – not even the MCs!
Beyond the constant struggle for survival, Sword Art Online delighted anime fans with futuristic visuals. That also added to why it’s popular.
Also, there are a few elements of harems in SAO. That might not be your fancy, but it did attract fans to Sword Art Online too.
Overall, Sword Art Online was so popular because it’s a bridge for followers of two exciting activities: gaming and anime watching. And the series has done well to connect the two fandoms with its adaptation.
Enough history, let’s plug our eyes and delight in similar popular anime like Sword Art Online!
30 Animes Like Sword Art Online You Should Watch
Note: our rankings are a reflection of the excitement we derived watching the listed animes. Regardless, we understand that you might have a different view. Nevertheless, we can assure you that only the “best of the best” made our list.
30. Hunter X Hunter
The story centers on Gon, who thought his father was no more. Unknowingly to Gon, the father is a hunter and alive.
As the story unfolds, Gon would take the hunter exam with the hope of finding his father. But will he be successful?
Watch Hunter x Hunter Trailer:
29. Tower Of Druaga: The Aegis Of Uruk
Remember how Sword Art Online involves reaching the 100th floor on a tower to win the game? Tower Of Druaga follows a similar theme.
Like SAO, you need to reach the last floor in the Tower Of Druaga to reach your goals. Unfortunately, outside the tower elements, there are no similarities other than hunting for rare items.
Watch Tower Of Druaga: The Aegis Of Uruk Trailer:
28. Guilty Crown
Also, Sword Art Online and Guilty Crown share elements of Harem. And that’s why the latter made our list.
The story here centers on a middle school student, Shu, who has the rare ability to save humanity. As the plot unfolds, you will then see how Shu met help along his adventure and how the problem started.
Watch Guilty Crown Trailer:
27. Deadman Wonderland
Do you feel Sword Art Online is a bit too easy on the eye? Perhaps the violence is just not enough for you!
Well, try Deadman Wonderland!
You won’t find a fantasy world here. Instead, you will see an MC, like Kirito, who is in a life or death situation. It is either he fights or dies.
The story started with the MC, Ganga Igarashi, witnessing how the “Red Man” slaughtered his classmates. Unfortunately, the authorities accosted Ganga for the crime, and they sent him to jail.
In jail, Ganga must fight to survive while he also keeps exploring the secret of the “Redman.” But did he get to the root of the mystery?
Watch Deadman Wonderland Trailer:
26. The Devil Is A Part Timer
This anime is the direct opposite of Sword Art Online. How?
Instead of humans teleporting into a fantasy world to kill the antagonist, Hataraku Maou-Sama brought the antagonist to earth. In this series, Satan came to humans’ home to have an isekai experience himself.
Funnily enough, Satan must earn his stay on earth by working in a restaurant. Hopefully, he will save enough to go back to his world.
Watch Devil Is A Part Timer Trailer:
Check Out: 10 Must Watch Anime Like One Punch Man
25. Ixion Saga DT
The story of Ixion Saga DT centers on Hokaze’s teleportation to the World Of Mirror. There, he would go on to save the princess’ life and explore how to get back to his “real life.”
Watch Ixion Saga DT Trailer:
24. The King’s Avatar
The King’s Avatar doesn’t have any player lost in a fantasy world with no out. Nevertheless, it shares the MMORPG theme with Sword Art Online.
Instead of video games, players in the King’s Avatar were into eSports. As such, you can expect action from the characters of this anime adaptation.
Another interesting detail that hooked us about the King’s Avatar is that the MC lost everything at the onset and set out to recollect it all.
Watch Kings Avatar Trailer:
23. Summer Wars
Natsuki asked Kenji to go back in time to pose as the former’s grandmother fiance for her 90th name day. But while in the event, Kenji messed up with an AI construct. That’s when the fun begins!
Watch Summer Wars Trailer:
22. Recovery Of An MMO Junkie
Unlike Sword Art Online, where the MC is a male, “Recovery Of An MMO Junkie” used a female: Noriko Morioka. Like Kirito, Morioka has a “never back down” attitude.
Morioka would eventually become a NEET. In the process of that, she ditched her real life for a virtual profile where she disguised as a man: Hayashi.
The rest of the story would then follow Morioka and how she tries to balance both her real and virtual life.
21. Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?
Do you feel like Sword Art Online seems fast-paced? The MC, Kirito, was already at the peak of his special abilities and already fighting on the 100th floor. How about when Kirito was still a novice? What was the journey like for him?
Unlike SAO, this anime series ditched the fast approach to storytelling. “Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?” took us through the character development. Here, you will see as the MC, Bell Cranel, rose in skills and willpower until he could explore the depths of the dungeon.
We have to admit that the story is somewhat different from the gaming world. But it has that “new surroundings” and “survival backstory.”
Watch Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? Trailer:
20. Mirai Nikki
Also known as Future Diary, Mirai Nikki shares the anti-social negatives of Kirito. And like Kirito, the MC here, Yuki, got into a rut.
Other than the MC, Mirai Nikki doesn’t share much with Sword Art Online. It made our list still because the story is unique and almost identical to SAO.
Here, Yuki often talks with an imaginary friend called Deux Ex Machina until he finds that the latter is not an imagination. Later, Deux set Yuki up with a diary. Now, he must battle with other holders and prevent an apocalypse.
Watch Mirai Nikki Trailer:
19. Problem Children Are Coming from Another World, Aren’t They?
If what drew you to Sword Art Online was the animations, you will love this anime. The two series share almost identical graphics – that’s why Problem Children made our list.
That aside, Problem Children also share the game-like theme. The MC is an overpowered lead like Kirito.
Watch Problem Children Are Coming from Another World, Aren’t They? Trailer
18. Digimon Adventure
This series is one of the earliest isekai anime. Like Sword Art Online, it also has a fantasy world where players suddenly found themselves.
The online game world has several odd-looking creatures that threaten human existence. The said kids would later team up to save us all.
Watch Digimon Adventure Trailer:
17. In Another World With My Smartphone
If you love the harem elements of Sword Art Online and the overpowered nature of Kiriti, this series will delight you. “In Another World With My Smartphone” has all the hallmarks of an isekai anime, only that there is no game here.
The story follows the life of Mochizuki Touya. Mochizuki was living a regular life until gods struck him with lightning – albeit as a mistake.
Good news: the gods compensated Mochizuki for their wrongdoings by offering him a chance to live in a magical world. He asked to take his smartphone along.
Watch In Another World With My Smartphone Trailer:
16. That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime
The main similarity between this fantasy anime and Sword Art Online is the nature of the MC. Like Kirito, the MC of “That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime,” Satoru has an army and women flock around him.
Another similarity here is how dark, and exciting the series got as the story unfolds. About the story, know that it’s not about games.
Here, the MC got involved in a mess and suffered a serious injury. While in a trance, Satoru woke into a new world where he can consume anything and assume the properties.
Watch That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime Trailer:
15. The Rising Of The Shield Hero
This action anime is another game-like fantasy that you will love if you are an avid follower of Sword Art Online. We like about “The Rising Of The Shield Hero” is how it begins with the trauma of the MC – as it happened in SAO.
However, the MC here, Naofumi, is not an overpowered character like Kirito.
Watch The Rising Of The Shield Hero Trailer:
14. Grimgar Of Fantasy And Ash
The chances are that you didn’t enjoy the harem elements in Sword Art Online. Or perhaps the MC, Kirito, seem too much of a wreck to you!
If that’s you, you will love “Grimgar Of Fantasy And Ash” because it features none of the Harem or an overpowered MC of SAO. Instead, this series focuses on team spirit.
The team in this series includes a priest, thief, mage, warrior, and knight. Together, they navigated the game-like world of Grimgar and made lifelong friends.
Twist: the teammates all got into Grimgar with blurred memories.
Watch Grimgar Of Fantasy And Ash Trailer:
13. KonoSuba: God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World
At times, don’t you think Sword Art Online can seem a bit too serious? The overpowered Kirito and the exploits to get back home at all cost!
What if you want an isekai anime, similar to SAO but with light-hearted scenes? Then, try KonoSuba.
While KonoSuba has the “stuck in the game” theme like the other series on our list, it contains a lot of comedy. Indeed, you will find fantasy, but you will laugh more.
Watch KonoSuba: God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World Trailer:
12. And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online
This anime follows the typical “stuck in the game” background like Sword Art Online. Like Kirito, the MC here also has a large group of females around him. So, you can expect a bit of Harem here too.
However, “And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online” has some differences that made it stand out. First, the dark plots here are few. More importantly, the players in this series behaved as they did in real life, even while stuck in a game.
Watch And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online Trailer:
11. Re: ZERO – Starting Life In Another World
Like the other SAO lookalikes on our list, Re: Zero also has its MC suddenly waking in a fantasy world. Here, you will find a similar harem situation with Kirito too.
But Re: Zero offers more than the harem content. This series contains a great deal of dark, mind-blowing, and psychological backdrops.
Furthermore, the MC in Re: Zero started at a somewhat zero ability and grew into his roles. From there, he began exploring the new world.
Watch Re:ZERO Trailer:
Check Out: Must Watch Anime Like My Hero Academia
10. How Not To Summon A Demon Lord
Like Sword Art Online, this series oozes all the elements of a popular isekai anime. Like Kirito, the MC here, Takuma Sakamoto, is also an overpowered character.
Also, Takuma had a bunch of girls circling him. In that regard, “How Not To Summon A Demon Lord” has enough harem content like SAO.
This anime centers on how a shut-in gamer rose to the title of a Demon King Diablo. Takuma never dreamt of his virtual life coming to reality until two girls summoned him with a spell. Unfortunately, the magic backfired, and Takuma became their master.
Watch How Not To Summon A Demon Lord Trailer:
Hack//SIGN is every bit as exciting and addictive as Sword Art Online. Like SAO, this series also adapts the stuck-in virtual reality games.
The story of hack//SIGN follows Tsukasa and how he journeyed through a virtual world. He slept and woke into such reality.
Luckily, Tsukasa found a guardian in the game to protect him while trying to unlock the secrets of the virtual world. But was he successful?
Watch hack//SIGN trailer:
8. Log Horizon
Log Horizon adapts the same video game theme as Sword Art Online. Like SAO, the characters in Log Horizon also got stuck in a virtual world and have to fight to return home.
Even at that, the stories are somewhat different. How?
The game in Log Horizon is called Elder Tale. And unlike SAO, it is not new. Elder Tale already has players. But when the followership reached a million, the creators added a twist that will see players get into the game and live as their favorite characters.
Watch Log Horizon Trailer:
7. No Game No Life
You love Sword Art Online but wished it could include more terrestrial characters? How about a bit of magic and the supernatural?
If you answered yes to those questions, “No Game No Life” is for you. The series is new and comes with a host of similarities with SAO.
Beyond similarities, “No Game No Life” has magic and supernatural elements. Yet, there is comedy within the plots to enjoy.
Watch No Game No Life Trailer:
6. Death March Kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku
Death March is a perfect SAO lookalike. Like Sword Art Online, this series also has the stuck in a game plot; you can’t log out, and at the slightest error, you could lose your life in the game and real life.
Another similarity is the MCs of the two names. Death March and SAO share overpowered MCs that would tear at hurdles and have girls drooling around them.
The story of Death March follows a programmer: Ichirou Suzuki. He slept and woke into a new world, similar to the games he debugs.
Soon as Ichirou entered the new and bizarre environment, “Lizardmen” attacked him. Fortunately, he got out unscathed and soon set out to explore the world. But would he ever return to real life?
Watch Death March Kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku Trailer:
Btooom is another “stuck in a game” classic like Sword Art Online. Like Kirito, the MC loves playing games, and they got merged into their favorite for the passion. Now, they must battle across the new world and find their way back home.
The story of Btooom centers on a 22year-old, unemployed boy: Ryota Sakamoto. Ryota did no other thing than sitting on his mama’s couch and playing Btooom all day long.
Soon, Ryota would suddenly wake into a tropical island where he would meet Himiko. Together, the two will explore how to get out of the strange world.
Watch Btoom Trailer:
4. Knight’s And Magic
Like Sword Art Online, this anime is a game fantasy series, but with a spice of the isekai genre. Like most SAO lookalikes in this list, the MC here, Tsubasa, also woke into a new world.
This time, however, the MC came into a new role called Ernesti Echevalier. In this new role, Tsubaba would become an incredible pilot and employ a few friends. Together, they are all set to explore the odd terrains.
Watch Knight’s And Magic Trailer:
3. Gun Gale Online
Our list is not complete without talking about Gun Gale Online. This series is the direct alternative to Sword Art Online, and that’s because it is a spin-off of the latter.
That said, you can expect a host of similarities between Gun Gale Online and SAO. Though the former seems more interesting than the latter. Regardless, both offer a complete angle of Sword Art Online.
Watch Gun Gale Online Trailer:
2. Accel World
Accel World has to be the most similar to Sword Art Online in terms of storyline and theme. Both animes are not just “stuck in a game” plot, but they also happen in the same universe but across different timelines.
Funnily enough, players used the Nerve Gear of SAO in Accel World, but some old generation tech was here.
The story of Accel World follows a high schooler: Haruyuki. Depressed because of low self-esteem, Haruyuki found solace in a squashing game. He would soon meet the most popular girl in school, and the two would explore a secret program: Brain Burst.
Twist: Brain Burst is another video game like Sword Art Online.
Watch Accel World Trailer:
In our opinion, Overlord is the most similar anime to Sword Art Online as regards popularity. They both feature that “stuck in a game” premise. The action scenes and nice animation of the two series are mind-nerving and brimming with fantasy even better.
The only difference between Sword Art Online and Overlord is that the latter explored the stuck from a villain‘s angle. How would an antagonist handle not being able to create wrath in the real world? Would he see the “online world” as an even better chance to wreak havoc?
That theme is why Overlord made the top of our list!
Watch Overlord Trailer:
And that’s the end of our 30 SAO lookalikes. Do you think we should have included another series?
Please add them in the comment section!