Let's run through a pile of post-Witcher recommendations!
Hello everyone, and welcome to Why It Works. Today I find myself eagerly anticipating one of this winter’s most exciting non-anime productions as we approach the beginning of The Witcher’s second season. The Witcher roared out of the gate with an alternately thrilling and hilarious first season back in 2019, with its charming cast and intriguing world prompting me to also pick up the latest Witcher videogame. One season, 100 hours of gameplay, and one sturdy animated tie-in film later, I have been thoroughly Witcher-fied and cannot wait to see what Geralt and his companions get up to next.
I’m sure many of you are also eagerly awaiting The Witcher’s second season, which is precisely where I come in. I have tasked myself with arranging a set of appropriately Witcher-reminiscent recommendations for you all, and I have to say, it hasn’t been very difficult. The Witcher’s style of “high fantasy travelogue with a mismatched group of heroes” is one of the things anime does best — a genre it’s been executing with distinction for decades now. So rather than my usual tactic of breaking a show down into its component ingredients, I am happy to offer a pile of recommendations that offer the whole Witcher package, from its endearing central cast to its fantastical adventures!
So, what is it that makes a successful Witcher-like narrative tick? As far as I see it, the key fundamentals of these sorts of narratives are a cast you enjoy hanging out with, a fantasy world you enjoy uncovering, and some action highlights to spice the broth. Given those essentials, an actual, concrete quest is frequently optional — and indeed, many of anime’s most famous representatives of this space are far more about the journey than the destination. Gintama is one of the most beloved “rambling fantasy crew” anime of all time, and it’s clearly not a story defined by the clarity of its destination. So too for something like Inuyasha, which is ostensibly driven by the quest for the jewel shards, but which is more truthfully defined by the rambling side adventures of its likable leads.
For me, the camaraderie and humor of the main cast is probably what most draws me to stories of this type. I believe a fantastical journey lives and dies by the company you’re keeping, and if you’re similarly character-focused, I’d recommend the charming Chaika: Coffin Princess, about a young woman who mysteriously bears a great big coffin with a magical sniper rifle in it. There’s also the thoughtful, woman-led Yona of the Dawn, and if you’re interested in checking out a classic take on “fantasy idiots journey together,” I’d recommend looking into the original Slayers. The journey of Lina Inverse is one of the quintessential tentpoles of the Fantasy Idiots genre, a Rosetta Stone of stupidity from which anime has been drawing for decades.
Then again, perhaps high-octane fantasy-action is your preferred focus. In that case, anime is happy to provide, with its action-packed fantasy adventures ranging from recent highlights like Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba and Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai, to the beloved Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba and Fullmetal Alchemist likely need no introduction; the two are both titanic hits for good reason and respectively demonstrate the animated glory of Ufotable and Bones at their peak. That said, absolutely do not sleep on Dragon Quest — the show’s been demonstrating some glorious action highlights and is enjoyable even if you’ve no experience with the original game series.
Alright, I’ve run out of neat little subcategory classifiers, so it’s time for a grab-bag bonus round. If you prefer your fantasy trending toward the darker direction and don’t really need the comedy counterpoint I’ve been prioritizing here, I’d check out the beautiful and gleefully grim Berserk, as well as Claymore. If you’re looking for a fantasy pitch straight through the strike zone — in fact, a fantasy story literally inspired by its creator’s D&D adventures — you should absolutely check out the gorgeous Record of Lodoss War. Lastly, if you’re willing to step outside the box a bit in your quest for fantasy-action, I emphatically recommend the hilarious and unexpectedly thrilling Thunderbolt Fantasy.
Anime is frankly so well-stocked with fantasy adventures that I could easily keep going, but hopefully, these selections have at least offered a starting point for your future journeys. The things that make The Witcher great are well-known to us anime fans. I hope you’ve found a show or two that look promising, and please let me know all your own favorite Witcher-reminiscent stories in the comments!
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