Anime To Watch If You Are Disappointed In Game of Thrones
So the latest and final season of Game of Thrones is here and is wrapping up after 9 years. There are still no new books yet, but whether or not you feel satisfied at the conclusion of this epic storyline, “And are you happy with how, things ended?” *nervous laughter* “BEST SEASON EVER!” either way when it’s over it’s over. So now is the time to have a look at what else you could watch to fill the gap left behind. And, if I may be so bold, may I suggest some anime? Because for many years I have been the subject of countless questions of what anime should someone watch with little context.
Just recommend me some anime they say! And I’ll list off a few and then they’ll respond “Oh, but I’ve already seen those!” Which makes the conversation frustrating. So the ways I like to recommend anime is to ask back: Well, what shows or movies outside of anime do you enjoy? Because then I have a general idea of the kind of stories that you like and more likely have some that might ACTUALLY interest you rather than me just making guesses at random about your tastes. Now, since Game of Thones is so popular it’s as good a segue as any.
I’d like to think it is because of the few things that Game of Thrones offers that other shows do not. Things like a long form narrative, deep characters, and world building that goes far beyond what is possible to even show in a single series. Usually. and there just so happen to be some animated shows made by our good friends over in the land of the rising sun that have very similar qualities. So ladies, gentlemen, and others, welcome to Glass Reflection where today we are looking at anime to watch if Game of Thrones is leaving you feeling a bit disappointed. [This is where the GoT Theme played for about 5 seconds until a Copyright Claim happend.] [So now there is silence. Apologies.
The rest of the video will play as normal!] One of the greatest strengths, in this fan’s opinion, of Game of Thrones is that as a fantasy series it likes focus far more on the characters and how they are forced to interact and adapt to new situations, rather than JUST the spectacle of the fantasy itself. It also helps that our first suggestion, it’s a bit more adult than what some people might expect out of animation if they’ve never gone beyond Disney before. and, what better way to introduce them into anime then to jump in the deep end with Berserk. Berserk’s original anime – if you skip the initial episode that has more to do with the original material…is a fantasy war story showcasing what happens when you tell a character that they have a kind of divine right to rule, that it’s their one purpose in life. And then, not only do they happen to be really good at leading people, but they also surround themselves with competent advisors who help them to achieve their goals.
Remind you of anyone? While the anime adaptation of Berserk’s Dark Fantasy epic really only covers what could reasonably be considered the prologue of the story as a whole, the way it showcases Griffith’s rise to power, his aspirations to be king, and his dance with madness is not something that many other stories do with the same level of growth and slow buildup over time. Plus, his relationships with the other main characters, Guts and Caska, feel a lot more grounded. They become true friends over the course of the show’s run, which makes the end of this dark fantasy prologue all the more terrifying. There’s also plenty of nudity, if that’s something that improves a series for you. But because anime is from Japan, there are several takes on fantasy that are also grounded in their own history. One of these is a series called Moribito.
Moribito takes a type of feudal Japan and throws its own kind of fantasy twist onto it. It largely follows a skilled warrior named Balsa who is charged with keeping alive the kingdom’s young prince, now under attack from various sects within the country because they believe the prince to carry a demon inside of him. One that will bring ruin to the kingdom. But because this is a real fantasy, the demon inside the prince is not just a superstition. There’s actually a legit spirit living inside of him, but what effects this spirit will have on both the prince and the kingdom is less clear. Moribito’s strengths are twofold. First, the relationship between Balsa and prince Chagum is second-to-none in this category, because there are very few characters like them in the first place. Balsa is a very strong-willed warrior who has the knowledge and the skills to outwit and defend against the realm’s strongest assassins, while Chagum is a character that needs a fair amount of growth, starting off because he is a bit of a spoiled brat at the beginning. But he fleshes out into a wonderful young ruler.
Their chemistry is what drives the show forward and what keeps us engaged for its entire 26-episode run. It also helps that the animation in the fight scenes is damn good-looking, but that’s not what we are focusing on necessarily. So let’s move on. As far as looking at characters and how they can influence and make a great story on their own the last series that I want to touch on is the Saga of Tanya the Evil. While you wouldn’t describe this series as an ensemble of many strong characters, this is a series that’s short and sweet, about a character who is only one of those two things.
While the explanation of Tanya’s backstory is a bit “out there” as a concept, the actual presentation of her as a commander in this fantastical war is played brilliantly. Tanya is the epitome of a character that is almost too skilled for her own good, which makes her arrogant and vindictive, while also very vulnerable in the situations where she accidently lands herself in over her head. While many times she comes off as a master tactician, she is also shown to fail when it makes sense too. She never wins because the plot demands it, nor does she fail because of deus ex machina junk at the final moment. It makes her feel far more real as a character because she is not perfect, just very skilled. So while her morals and actions are far from justifiable or reputable, you still find yourself rooting for this tiny psychopathic maniac all the same. Now, let’s move away from characters specifically for a moment.
Not that they don’t have a role to play in the upcoming shows I’m about to mention, but I wanted to talk about the worlds themselves a bit more. One of my favourite things about the fantasy genre itself, is when I am given the feeling that these worlds are distinctly different from our own – even if they take place in the modern day, just a slightly more fantastical version of it. And since we are relating most of these in some way to Game of Thrones, what would be even better than having an epic story about 7 kingdoms? Why not 12 Kingdoms? The Twelve Kingdoms was originally a novel series by Fuyumi Ono and those novels share a lot of similarities with George RR Martin’s fantasy epic. Both contain massive worlds in scope that didn’t necessarily follow the story of one specific hero through their journey to save a kingdom or the world.
Instead, both have a several different character perspectives that all just happen to occur in the same universe. Though in the case of Twelve Kingdoms, they are not all happening concurrently and instead the perspectives are divided by the actual volumes. Twelve Kingdoms starts out similarly to other fantasy anime of the time, like Escaflowne. A young Japanese school girl is whisked away into a fantasy world by a powerful spirit-like entity who claims that she is his queen. She then has to evolve through her experiences from this timid girl into a queen worthy of the kingdom she represents.
But the reason I placed Twelve Kingdoms into the world building category and not the characters category is because the story of this girl Youko is not the only one. The narrative as a whole showcases multiple protagonists and multiple travelers from other worlds, all spanning generations of time. This is a world that is portrayed as very expansive to the point where much of the large Twelve Kingdoms hasn’t even been touched. Though while the light novel series is still ongoing, it’s a disappointing comparison to Game of Thrones as it also that it’s been a while since we’ve gotten the last entry, of it but at least the anime doesn’t decide to go off and finish the story on its own to the disappointment of all. Another way to make your world expansive is to just have so gosh darn many side stories and entries into the franchise that it’s hard to sometimes keep track of them all.
Welcome to the world of Fate. Starting as a visual novel in the early 2000’s and getting its first anime adaptation back in 2006, the Fate series is one that has expanded to a massive scale, with multiple different offshoots and alternative universes. While I wouldn’t say that all of these entries are worth your time or even good, I would be remiss if I did not bring up the franchise itself. And if you are coming into this franchise from Thrones, then the best place to start would be with Fate/Zero. Written by Gen Urobuchi and endorsed by the franchise author Natsu himself, Zero is a prequel story to the original visual novel. It is arguably one of the best written and, in the case of the anime, best produced adaptations in the whole franchise.
It’s a battle royale series where mages of various skill levels summon heroic spirits from legends past to do battle for a mystical wish-granting McGuffin: “The Holy Grail”. While Zero itself keeps much of the war and consequences of it within the series itself, it’s a perfect introduction for the Fate series as a whole that expands far beyond the confines of this one series…into other anime, a mobile game, light novels, a mobile game, action-oriented battle games, and a mobile game. NO, I DON’T HAVE A…. PROBLEM…. If you like Thrones, then Attack on Titan while maybe being an obvious choice, is definitely a series you should not sleep on.
It’s an incredibly gripping series about a fantasy society that has walled itself off from the rest of the world, in fear of the massive titans that live outside. The titans who threaten to brutally murder and eat everyone alive. It’s a story that places many seeds in the beginning, which slowly grow over time as our group of young warriors are forced to train and grow while their society slowly retracts inward as the Titans breach the walls.
The very walls that keep humanity safe. But it’s not as simple of a story as the good humans vs the bad titans, and the actual conflicts stretch far beyond that with much more serious consequences, not only for the world but for the relationships between all of our characters. We get to watch them venture out beyond the walls to find answers, while rich nobles sit pretty at the core of their society without the worry or care that the rest of the citizens have to face.
But unlike Thrones, Titan is not a series that hypes everything up for over 7 seasons, only to give you an anticlimactic showdown at the end. at least I hope so because the series is still technically ongoing, but it’s been doing a very good job up until now. But really, the main similarity between these two fantasy shows is that they both present to us a semi-realistic world where the actions of humanity define the whole narrative; where not all of the characters are virtuous, heroic, or stereotypically “good”; and what happens when those kind of people are thrown together into situations that brings out the worst in them. And like Moribito the action can keep you engaged even if the rest fails to keep you interested.
Lastly, if you want to watch an anime that exceeds the definition of epic storytelling, one that consists of a massive ensemble of characters all with different compelling motivations and deep stories, wrapped up in a narrative so expansive that it’s also one of the most expensive anime out on shelves today for the sheer amount of rich content that it contains, then look no further than Legend of the Galactic Heroes. One of the major things missing from the majority of the shows that I’ve talked about today is political drama, one of Thrones’s bread and butter themes. And no anime – hell, very few pieces of entertainment – handle that better than Legend of the Galactic Heroes. It is a series that extends out through 110 25-minute episodes and several films.
But please, I beg of you, do not let the show’s length scare you off – especially considering that, when you actually do the math, LotGH clocks in at only 46 hours, compared to Game of Thrones at 70-plus by the end of it. So really it’s not all that long. And it uses that time extremely well to showcase this space opera that takes a young noble from poor beginnings to politically maneuvering his way into overthrowing an entire dynasty.
Of course, the setting of this series is not limited to one nation, the political intrigue and infighting spans the entire length of this space universe into one of the most fantastical series that has ever been animated, and it took them almost 10 years to do it. I cannot stress enough how it’s basically impossible to properly do this series justice in a video like this. LotGH is a tale that likes to look at everything from every angle, every context, showing the consequences and ramifications to every decision as it pertains to lineage, military, politics and religion. Not only that, but it’s extremely hard to believe that a series of this length and magnitude was somehow able to retain its quality over time.
However, though some miracle, it succeeds in every way. If you watch any anime that I have mentioned today, this should be the one. While it might not be the easiest to sink your teeth into, it is by far the most robust and the most epic of any I have listed. It is not, however, the Game of Thrones of anime. Such a thing does not and will not exist. Unless HBO decides to animate a true ending, if Martin ever finishes one. But what I have hopefully laid before you today is a bunch of different options for other stories, other grand tales full of rich worlds and deep characters that will scratch that itch left by Thrones’ epic narrative.
With luck at least one the anime I have showcased will piqued your interest. I’ll be putting links in the description for the shows that have legal streaming options available for those who require them. So thank you for watching this video, I hope you enjoyed and a very special thank you to my patrons, who not only support my work in general, but who also allow me to do what I do. I love and appreciate you all. Specifically though, as I like to do, I want to give particular shout-outs to patrons Matthew Robertson, Hector Montemayor, Siri Yamiko, Ryefan Boneapart, Rune Jachobson, Joshua Garcia, and Calhoonboy for being especially awesome. You guys are great! And until next time – ladies, gentlemen, and others – watch more anime…and stay frosty.