Anime and video games belong together. Within video games though, nothing says “anime” like Japanese Role-Playing Games (JRPGs). While it’s a broad genre, some games within it are just essentials for any fan of Japanese entertainment. Here are just a few.
1. Final Fantasy
Recommended: Final Fantasy VII
Let’s start off with something obvious. If you haven’t heard of Final Fantasy, you’re not from this planet. The game franchise has 15 main series titles and even more spin-off games. Final Fantasy is so popular it’s had two movies and three animated OVAs. It’s also had an anime series called Final Fantasy Unlimited.
2. Tales of
Recommended: Tales of Symphonia
No JRPG comes closer to being anime than the Tales of series. From the characters to the story, everything screams “perfect anime adaptation”. In fact, Tales of Symphonia was so well-received it turned into an anime and performed very well. It’s also a favorite series of anime cosplayers because the character designs are so unique.
3. Valkyrie Profile
Recommended: Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria
If you like anime with Western aesthetic, Valkyrie Profile is your game. Just like how anime like Fate/Stay Night could turn legendary heroes in cute girls, Valkyrie Profile takes a lot of creative liberty with Norse mythology, and the characters look great.
4. Dragon Quest
Recommended: Dragon Quest X
Akira Toriyama isn’t just known for Dragon Ball. He’s also a name in the video game industry as the character designer of Dragon Quest, one of Japan’s most beloved RPGs of all time. Whenever you see an RPG reference in an anime, nearly every time it’s going to be Dragon Quest. The series has TWO anime based on it as well as 10 main title games and a manga
Recommended: Pokemon SoulSilver and HeartGold
It’s Pokemon. You know Pokemon. The only thing I have to say about this is that the anime has gotten interesting again, so you should give it a watch.
Recommended: Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
Lunar’s Boat Song is probably the most iconic opening songs in the JRPG world. This series was not as popular as the others on this list but those who have played it consider it to be unforgettable.
7, Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger only has one game under its belt but it’s still up there with the big stars, which only shows just how famous this game is. Chrono Trigger’s game comes from its character development sidequests and multiple endings, almost making it have a visual novel feel to it long before Persona existed. And before you bring up Chrono Cross, it’s a totally different game even if they’re from the same series.
Recommended: Persona 3 FES
Although a ton of anime take place in a Japanese high school, not many games do so. Persona is the closest to modern anime in this regard. Persona is an amazing franchise that bring together classic RPG mechanics and social simulators. Persona 4 was even turned into an anime that follows the game very well, and it’s definitely worth a watch.
9. Harvest Moon
How do you make a video game into a slice of life anime? Harvest Moon did it by making a farming simulator. All you do in this game is live the life of a farmer, planting vegetables and interacting with the townsfolk. Sounds boring yes, but living a normal life and getting married is strangely satisfying.
10. Bravely Default
Just when people thought Square Enix had run out of JRPG games worth playing, they released Bravely Default for the Nintendo 3DS, reigniting people’s love for the company and the belief that old game mechanics are still relevant. The characters look like if Final Fantasy Tactics met anime story but feels like a well-done visual novel, which is not that surprising because the storywriter made Steins;Gate! On top of that, the music artist for the sequel Bravely Second is ryo of Supercell, who created many of the Vocaloid songs that make Miku famous, such as “Melt” and “World is Mine”.
11. Kingdom Hearts
People had doubts when they learned Kingdom Hearts was going to combine Disney with anime-style characters, but it turned out to be one of the most successful JRPGs ever. The sheer number of fan art on this game is staggering, and you know it’s pretty much an anime when Utada Hikaru sings your opening.
12. Valkyria Chronicles
If you’ve watched GATE, you could almost swear Valkyria Chronicles influenced it. Warfare is pretty attractive when the fighters are cute anime characters. The game uses anime-esque visual effects that are so campy you might expect Dio to drop in with a steamroller.
13. The World Ends With You
Here’s a game a lot of Kingdom Hearts fans should know but don’t. It was created by the same team so you could almost think of it as Kingdom Hearts without Disney. TWEWY brings a unique Japanese urban style that draws heavily on anime and Shibuya, Japan. Despite how well this game was received, not many copies of it was made and so finding it is rare. Instead, getting your hands on the manga might be easier.
Xenogears is from the era that used anime for its cutscenes. The special thing about Xenogears is that its cutscenes were made by Production I.G, famous for anime such as Psycho-Pass and Ghost in the Shell. How the times have passed!
15. Fire Emblem
Recommended: Fire Emblem Awakening
Fire Emblem has existed since 1990, but it didn’t really get popular until it implemented dedicated social interactions. Only after it allowed characters to marry in Fire Emblem Awakening did it become the hit series that it is now. Many waifus have hence been born, and the anime cosplay scene is filled with Tharja, Lucina, and Robin.
There are definitely more awesome JRPGs out there. What are some games that any anime fan should know?