5. God Eater
The 2010 PS Vita game God Eater may seem like very familiar territory to a lot of anime fans. The title is a post-apocalyptic tale of humanity fighting a losing war against monstrous creatures known as Aragami. To fight them, they utilize absurdly huge gun-swords and high-flying, over-the-top fighting techniques as they traverse through the ruins of humanity’s once great cities. As the protagonists trudge onward into battle, however, they get sucked into a mysterious conspiracy that could upend everything they thought they knew about the Aragami and themselves. Sound familiar? In the years since the game was released, plenty of anime were made following this template. God Eater wouldn’t be out of place alongside similar series such as Attack on Titan or Seraph of the End (though it actually predates many of these series). In 2015, the game received an anime adaptation which followed a boatload of sequels, novels, and manga. There’s no denying God Eater was inspired by anime from the get-go, but the game also heralded the popularity of an entire subgenre of anime long before it was adapted itself.
4. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Superficially Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc may seem like it only belongs on this list due to its anime inspired character design and overall aesthetics. However, its placement within this list is due to merits far beyond that, namely in how it subverts player’s expectations of the various anime tropes and archetypes given to them at the early parts of the game. An example of this (and a more effective subversion for players who grew up in Japan) is that Monokuma is voiced by Nobuyo Ōyama, the long-time voice actress of the popular Japanese anime mascot Doraemon. The reason why this subversion works so well is because it would be like seeing Mickey Mouse become the ultimate villain in the Saw films and flips the associations with that voice in anime fans’ heads. The subversions and send ups don’t end there as every one of the characters within the game embodies some kind of anime archetype, yet they do not fully fit their roles as the game plays with them a bit. This game is a shining example of an anime inspired game since not only does it have a great aesthetic inspired by the medium, but it plays with a lot of the tropes and archetypes found within the art form.
3. The World Ends With You
The World Ends with You feels like it should have already been an anime by this point. Think about it. A spiky-haired protagonist fights off supernatural creatures in modern-day Japan? Devil Survivor 2 says hi. A cast of ridiculously stylish characters with lanky proportions and lots of skeletons in their closets? Durarara would like a word. A soundtrack with a mix of rock, jazz, and hip-hop beats? Too many to count. It may not have been the first to use these tropes, but it certainly popularized them and paved a path for a lot of recent anime and games with similar elements. That’s only scratching the surface, however. The usual character archetypes found in these shows (the loner, the peppy girl, the punk, etc.) get deconstructed pretty hard as the game progresses. “This is how someone stuck in this kind of situation would really act,” the game says as it shows characters freaking out, breaking down, and making emotionally-charged (and more often than not self-destructive) decisions. With its episodic nature and concise storytelling, The World Ends with You is an excellent anime trapped inside of an equally excellent game.
2. Persona 3 & 4
Both Persona 3 and 4 are included in this entry due to the common tropes they share. For instance, both games have a goofy best friend character (Junpei in 3 and Yosuke in 4) and a gruff yet caring punk character (Shinji in 3 and Kanji in 4).This is in addition to the anime trope of characters running around and fighting monsters in nothing but their school uniforms. Stylewise, their character designs are especially animesque. The main difference between the two is that Persona 4’s plot is very character focused compared to 3’s. Each dungeon in 4 focuses on a character in the game, while Persona 3 had very few character focused moments in the main plot outside of the Social Link portions of the game. Both of these games have also received anime adaptations. Persona 3 has a series of animated movies, while Persona 4 was given two series (a twenty-four episode run based on the original game and a thirteen-episode sequel that adapted the PS Vita re-release, Persona 4 Golden).