I still can’t believe Game of Thrones is over. Moreover, I still can’t believe things ended the way they did. It’s been an incredible journey, fraught with ups and down and thrills and doubt, and as with all things, it had to come to an end. But what if you’re reeling from the loss and scrambling to find something else to fill the hole left behind? Maybe not something perfectly the same, but close enough to make you feel the same?
I previously wrote about some TV shows that you might like, but honestly, if you really want to capture the lived-in, gritty, sprawling, epic feel of Game of Thrones, you might be better off with anime. Here are some excellent anime series that prove my point for me.
1. Attack on Titan
When the last human city is threatened by the reappearance of Titans, a team of elite specialists trained in giant-killing fight to protect and preserve mankind—and perhaps uncover the mystery of the Titans themselves.
How is it like Game of Thrones? If you thought the White Walkers were scary as a supernatural threat against humanity, wait ’til you’ve seen the Titans. More than that, Attack on Titan is grounded in the same kind of gritty, medieval European style of Game of Thrones, with plenty of politics, violence, and dark themes running through its veins. Oh, and there’s a HUGE WALL. Plagiarism, am I right?
A half-human, half-demon warrior fights against the onslaught of shapeshifting demons known as yoma.
How is it like Game of Thrones? Even more medieval European than Attack on Titan, Claymore brings out the best of the setting—not just with its swordplay and action, or its engaging art style, but in the way it depicts the harsh realities of the period and how superstition and supernatural beliefs were so engrained in society. There’s some politicking, too.
A spear-wielding warrior becomes bodyguard to the prince after the emperor, his father, orders his assassination.
How is it like Game of Thrones? Moribito isn’t super dark or gritty as far as anime goes, but it does one thing really well that few anime series have been able to pull off, at least for me: immerse me in the world and actually make me feel like I’m there in the story. While there are some fantasy elements, especially toward the end, it’s the characters and relational dynamics that take center stage in this series.
A mercenary seeks vengeance on his former best friend, a man who slaughtered the troop of mercenaries to which he once belonged.
How is it like Game of Thrones? The animation quality may leave you wanting, but the underpinning story is what makes it great. It has swords, it has blood and violence, and most of all, it has a brutal emotional core with a healthy dose of background mythology to keep you hooked.
5. Samurai Champloo
A wild swordsman, a reserved ronin, and a teahouse waitress embark on a quest to find the “samurai who smells of sunflowers.”
How is it like Game of Thrones? Don’t go into this one expecting a series-long story arc. Samurai Champloo is almost like an anthology, where each episode is its own self-contained story. But the setting comes to life right from the first minute—complete with the anachronistic injection of hip-hop into medieval Japan—and you’ll see a lot of similarities between these three main characters and some of your favorites from Game of Thrones.
6. Akame ga Kill!
A young man joins a group of assassins, called Night Raid, to aid in the fight against the corrupt Empire.
How is it like Game of Thrones? Assassins? Corruption? Swordplay and dark fantasy? How isn’t it like Game of Thrones? Plus, it has tons of graphic content, more so than most anime series—on par with some of the more brutal anime series. There’s an engaging story here, if you can swallow the maturity of it. But seeing as how Game of Thrones is itself pretty up there in terms of mature content, I’m sure you’ll be fine.
7. Seven Deadly Sins
After the Holy Knights overthrow the kingdom, the Seven Deadly Sins—a group of former Holy Knights now living as outlaws—are called to reclaim the lands.
How is it like Game of Thrones? You’ll have to get past the bright animation and playful writing, which kind of hides the more serious subject matters of a coup d’etat, inner demons, and corruption. It’s one of the better fantasy adventure series set in a medieval European setting, but I won’t blame you if you have trouble looking past the childish exterior.
If you have any other anime series like Game of Thrones, let me know in the comments! I could use another series on my watchlist to help me get over the fact that, yes, it’s really over.