Sword Art Online is an action-fantasy anime, which though faced a lot of criticisms regarding its quality, but was really well accepted and liked by many anime fans. The plot revolves around a Virtual Reality Massively Multi-player Online Role-playing Game (VRMMORPG) known as the ‘Sword Art Online’ (SAO). The game is shown to be released in the year 2022, and the game is played in such a way that the in-game characters can be controlled by the players with the help of a virtual reality helmet called the ‘Nerve Gear’. As you progress, you find out that the players cannot log out of the game until they have reached the final stage and has defeated the final boss. You also become aware of a terrifying rule, that if the in-game character dies in the virtual world, then the player controlling it from the real world dies too.
Anime lovers found something really interesting in the plot of the series, now whether it is the overpowering main character, the computer graphics, animation quality, or the harem aspect in the series is not clear yet. You will have to take out time to watch it in order to make a decision. Now for the people who have already watched it, mentioned below is a list of anime which is similar to SOA to some extent:
1. Log Horizon
The plot of Log Horizon also deals with a VRMMORPG, whose eleventh expansion pack has become a global success and is used by millions of players. However, after its twelfth expansion pack was released, thirty thousand Japanese gamers who were already logged in during the update suddenly find themselves as a part of a virtual game world, and posing as their in-game avatars. The main character of the anime, Shiroe along with some of his friends decide to team up, so that, they can face all the obstacles and challenges of this world together.
2. hack// Legend of the Twilight
In a fictional MMORPG called ‘The World’, you will see the series following the twins Shugo and Rena. They try to meet each other through the game as their parents are divorced. Rena wins a BlackRose avatar in a contest, and then enters her brother into the same contest who wins the Kite avatar. While playing the game Shugo gets the Twilight bracelet from Aura the AI of the game. The anime series shows how Shugo and his band of friends try to overcome all the obstacles that they face in the virtual world, and at the same time save Rena who was in a coma after she was attacked.
Ryouta Sakamoto is an unemployed guy who lives a peaceful life with his mother and is very popular for being the best player of the game ‘Btooom!’. But one day all the peace from his life vanishes when he finds himself stranded on a deserted island with just a small green crystal which was somehow embedded in his left hand. He had no recollection of the events that led him to this island, but soon he finds out that someone has put him into the world of his favorite game with a life or death situation.
4. Mirai Nikki (Future Diary)
Yukiteru Amano is a lonely high school student who spends his time writing a diary on his cellphone, and conversing with two of his friends, Deus ex Machina, the god of time and space, and Murmur, the god’s servant, who seems to be imaginary. But as you go deeper into the plot you will find out that Machina is a real god who gives Yukiteru a “Random Diary”, which pushes him into a bloody battle that he has to survive in order to become the next god of time and space.
5. Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)
Just like the title suggests the story tells the conflict between two creatures, first the human race who near extinct, second are the creatures responsible for the near extinction of the human race, the titans. These creatures were warded off because of a very strong wall which was concentrated impenetrable. But that illusion was shattered when a massive titan somehow managed to break the wall and the remaining human race who are trying to survive. Thus, starts the conflict of survival between the humans and the titans.
6. Ixion Saga DT
The anime follows Kon Hokaze, a game player who was suddenly transported to an alternate world known as ‘Mira’. One day when he received a request from a female character, he accepted it leading to the disaster that he was in now. He had no idea about how he landed there and how to get out of this world. This Mira world is full of ‘Alma’, a mysterious energy. After saving the princess, Princess Ecarlate, Kon finds himself amidst a struggle around Alma. You will find him tagging along the princess who is running away from a militant group of her own country, who wants to capture her before she can go through with her arranged marriage.
7. Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk
This anime has a similar plot to that of Sword Art Online, in the sense that like SAO this series also takes place in a tower-like setting. Here also the character will have to reach a certain level before being moved on to the next floor. The final goal in order to get out of the game, is like usual to reach the top floor and defeat the ultimate boss. Jill the main character of the anime will go through different challenges and obstacles in order to reach the final stage of the game, seeking to reach the top floor of the tower and then to defeat the Evil Lord Druaga.
When the popular virtual reality game Yggdrasil’s final hour came, Momonga, who was a very powerful wizard and master of the dark guild Ainz Ooal Gown, decides to spend his final moments in the game while the servers of the game starts to shut down. But miraculously, even after the game has shut down Momonga is still fully conscious as his character, at the same time the characters which did not involve any players seem to have developed their own personalities. After being startled by this abnormal situation, Momonga along with his servants, venture to a new journey to find out the reason behind this mishap.
9. Digimon Adventure
When seven kids go for a summer camp weird thing start happening to them on their journey. Suddenly, it starts snowing in the middle of July, and they receive weird gadgets which teleports them to a new world, that is full of monsters and does not have a single trace of any human living there. Fortunately, each of these kids are accompanied by a companion digital monster called Digimon. Now together these children and their new friends will have to overcome all the obstacles that they will face in this new world.
10.No Game No Life
The antisocial and awkward siblings Sora and Shiro who are very well known for being great gamers are a part of the group called ‘Blank’, a mysterious group of gamers who never loses any game. The plot gets interesting, when one day all of them are summoned into a virtual world where everything has to be decided through playing games, and in this world, humanity has been driven to a one remaining city. Now it is up to Sora and Shiro who will have to defeat the leader in order to save the human race.
11. DanMachi (Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?)
Bell Cranel is a naive young man who has a very busy life in a bustling city, and dreams of becoming the greatest adventurer in the world. When he meets the lonely goddess, Hestia, his dreams get closer to becoming a reality. With the help of Hestia, Bell starts his new quest as he goes deeper into the city’s monster-filled areas known as the ‘Dungeon’. Death is everywhere in this dark place and very mysterious power seems to move among the shadows in this terrifying labyrinth. Throughout the anime, you will see the ups and downs of a world where humans and gods work together.
The involves Haruyuki Arita, a high school student who get bullied often resulting in his low self-esteem. He plays squash during his free time to distract himself from his miserable life, until he meets Kuroyukihime, the most popular girl in his school. She introduces a VRMMO game to Haruyuki called the ‘Brain Burst’, where players have to fight each other to get Burst Points, which is used for acceleration abilities in the real world. Haruyuki and Kuroyukihime soon gangs up together to reach level 10 and to know the reason behind the creation of the game.
13. Kaze no Stigma
Here the main character will have to prove in front of everyone their innocence. The story starts when Yagami Kazuma, a member of the Kannagi family, who are famous for being masters of the fire technique loses in a match with one of his distant relatives, Ayano and fails to wield Enraiha, Blaze Lightning Supremacy, and gets cast out of the family. After several years when Yagami returns he has become the master of Fuinjutsu, the Wind technique. But everything becomes a mess when all members of the Kannagi family are killed that too because of the Fire technique. Now Yagami along with Ayano and his younger brother Ren has to prove that he was not the murderer of his own family.
14. Hack// Sign
It is a well-known knowledge among the anime world, where it is said that Sword Art Online has been inspired by the ‘.hack’ series. Now this small information is enough to heighten the level of interest in this anime series for people who liked SAO and is interested in the VRMMO genre. There are not a lot of action sequences in this anime series. The plot mainly tells the story about the protagonist who plays a game till the end to find out the reason behind why he cannot log out of the game.
15. Death March Kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousou Kyoku (Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody
In this series you will a programmer who is nearing his thirties, and is drowning in his work, getting sucked into a fantasy RPG world while he was sleeping. He finds out that this world is joined to the game that he was debugging in his real world. A sudden realization comes upon him that not only has his appearance changed in this world to that of a younger self, but also his name has changed to Satou, that he used as nickname while running beta tests on games. Now Satou has to face all the problems thrown towards him in this world and survive till the end.
16. Hunter x Hunter
The main character of the story is a young boy named Gon, who one day finds out that his father Ging, whom he thought was dead is actually still alive, and is a hunter. Ging happens to be such a legendary hunter that he is has proven to be an elite member of society. You will see how Gon will go into a journey in order to find his father, as he finds out that he himself wants to become a hunter just like his father.
17. Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
When a group of strangers is thrown in a world they are not aware of, the only set of emotions running through them are fear, survival, and instinct. They do not even have the luxury of depending on their memory as that has also been snatched away from them. In order to get paid, they have to join as a soldier in the Reserve Army and will have to eliminate any kind of threat that might disturb the prevailing peace in their new world. When all the stronger candidates band together, the weaker candidates come together to play as well. Though, it is like a game but it has no redo option. It is either kill or be killed.
18. Guilty Crown
The story revolves around a high school student named Shu Ouma, who very mysteriously has gained a rare and great power. With the help of this ability he is capable of extracting voids from other people, weapons that are the manifestations of these peoples’ hearts. Yuzuriha Inori, is a girl who is a member of the rebel group called Undertakers, and this group wants to restore the independence of Japan. Now Shu after meeting Yuzuriha finds himself to be in the middle of a conflict because of his abilities.
19. Steins; Gate
The self-proclaimed mad scientist Rintarou Okabe and his fellow companions work on a machine called the ‘Phone Microwave’. At first, they do not seem to get any results from their experiment but soon finds out that the phone has started sending emails to the past, which resulted in an alteration to the flow of history. Throughout the anime you will see how Okabe will bear the consequences of holding the key to the realm of time.
20. Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu
The Demon King Diablo is unmatched when it comes to MMORPG Cross Reverie. Because of his unmatched artifacts and high player level, no other player can defeat him. Though he is a legendary name in the gamer world, but in reality, he is Takuma Sakamoto, a gamer without any social skills. He continues defeating his rivals in his day-to-day life and cares about nothing else, until he gets transported to his gaming world and he gets the appearance of Diablo. As the game progresses you will find yourself being a part of the journey of Tamuka, trying to accept his new life as the Demon King Diablo.
21. Problem Children Are Coming From Another World, Aren’t They?
Izayoi Sakamaki, Asuka Kudou, and You Kasukabe are teenagers with superpowers. They are tired of their boring life where they cannot utilize their superpowers like they want to. Everything continues to be normal and boring for them until they receive a mysterious invitation for a place known as ‘Little Garden’.After getting dragged into a very new world they are given the opportunity to take part in special games that will give them the chance to use their superpowers. Through this anime you will be able to be a part of these three teenagers’ journey to reclaim the dignity of their new home, and to venture into the exciting parts of ‘Little Garden’.
The anime tells the story of Ichigo Kurosaki, whose family gets attacked by a Hollow, a corrupt spirit. After he takes the power of being a Soul Reaper to get to the spirit, we see his journey to take down all the Hollows that are disturbing his town. The young Soul Reaper while in his journey gets to know that Hollows are not a real threat to the human race.