10 games spawned by anime, but quite often things go the other way around as well. While Movies inspired by games normally are perfect examples of Epic Fail, it's not rare to see high quality anime series inspired by our favourite hobby. It's much easier, after all, to do justice to a game's story during several episodes, instead of condensing it in the two hours of a movie.
Of course the following list is very personal, and your mileage may vary. But as a long standing Anime-devourer, the following ten are the ones that better captured the essence of the games that spawned them:
1: Valkyria Chronicles
Inspired by a game that sports one of the best stories I ever played, this anime series does the game justice, and not only sports the same awesome story, but digs deeper into it, adding new content and plot twists. It also gives more depth to some secodnary characters, like Faldio and the Squad 1 he leads.
Some criticized the series for displaying a style that detaches itself quite a bit from the game's CANVAS, but in the end the result is very, very enjoyable.
If you didn't play the game yet, or watch the series, you better do both, because seriously, you're missing out.
2: Tales of the Abyss
Tales of the Abyss is probably the best game of the Tales series, with a deep and complex story and lovely characters. The anime series inspired by the game doesn't disappoint as well, as it follows the adventures of Luke and his companions. Tackling with problems like identity and one's purpose in life, this series is a must see for all the fans of the "Tales of" saga.
3: Sakura Taisen
Sakura Taisen (Sakura Wars) is an extremely popular series of games in Japan and one of Sega's most long-standing Intellectual Properties. Unfortunately, since Sega of America seems not to be able to smell a good game even if it was slapped in front of their nose, none of the Sakura Taisen games have ever been published in the west. Several OAV and TV series have spawned from the twenty-something games of this franchise (mostly a mix between dating games and strategic RPG), but the best one is probably the TV anime aired around nine years ago.
This year, at last, we'll be able to experience the first game of the series to be localized in the US (Sakura Taisen V), on the PS2 and the Wii. Of course it won't be published by Sega, but by Nippon Ichi. As usual, thank you for nothing, Sega of America.
4: Fate/Stay night
Inspired by a very mild Eroge (Japanese PC graphic novel with erotic contents and branching storylines) and by it's non-erotic PS2 remake, this anime features the story of the Holy Grail War, fought by Epic Spirits from history commanded by young Magi. The anime, just as much as the game, is extremely deep and romantic, probably one of the best anime series inspired by an eroge of all times.
The fact that an Eroge can inspire such a good series could surprise some that aren't familiar with the genre, but it isn't all that uncommon. Most Eroge are Visual Novels, featuring a very linerar and simple gameplay, and since there is an enormous number of them published in Japan, and of there are only so many way to depict sexual content, developers concentrate a lot on the only factor that can truly set them apart, the story.
Let me give you an hint. If you loved the anime but didn't like the ending (no spoilers, sorry), try playing the game. A handy translation patch is available here.
Also, an anime movie that will follow another branch of the game will be published in 2010.
5: Kishin Houkou Demonbane
Another anime inspired by a PC Eroge (and as usual, but it's cleaned-up PS2 port), Demonbane has been a big surprise for me. It mixes Anime, Mecha and elements from H.P. Lovercraft's Cthulhu Mythos. While the purists between the Cthulhu fans will be outraged by the sole idea of such a heresy, the game and the anime manage to stay quite faithful to it's origins, featuring a deep and engrossing plot, and interesting characters. If you're a die-hard Lovercraft purist, you may want to approach this anime with an open mind. It might surprise you like it did to me.
Edit: It just came to my attention that the first Demonbane PC game (Zenma Taisei Demonbane) will be released in the US by Nitroplus USA. A publishing partnership between Nitroplus and Jast USA. No date has been announced yet.
6: Ragnarok The Animation
One of the few Anime series based on a MMORPG, Ragnarok might turn off some people with it's early episodes, that feature a very bright and almost childish story. Later in the series, though, it steers radically towardsa a deeper story, with a radical character evolution (that happens more or less when the main character, Roan evolves his class) and much darker themes. It's almost like the production studio suddenly decided to switch targets from kids to young adults all of a sudden. I Have to say that the series gains a lot of value from that, becoming extremely interesting towards the ending.
If you can bear watching the earlier episodes, you won't be disappointed, expecially if you were a fan of the game.
7: World Destruction
Looks like I have quite a few anime spawned by Sega games here, isn't it? World of Destruction was originally a Nintendo DS RPG published last year in Japan, and followed by this lovely Anime Series.
The story follows the young human Kyrie, in a world ruled by antropomorphic animals named Ferals. For an unknown reason Kyrie has a power that would make him able to destroy the world. That's why he's approached by Morte, a young lady whose goal is exactly the destruction of the whole world.
Of course, when Sega of America actually manages to spot a good game in their own Japanese catalogue, we have to wait two years to see an English localization. We'll finally be able to play World Destruction at the beginning of next year, under the title Sands of Destruction.
8: Persona: Trinity soul
This anime series, offspring of one of the best and most complex JRPG series of all times, is a sequel to Persona 3. Featuring a lovely animation (made by the same production studio that later created Valkyria Chronicles, A-1 Pictures), a character design very faithful to the games and a deep, complex story, Trinity Soul really manages to portray the Persona atmosphere in an anime series. Most definitely a must see for any self-respecting Atlus fan.
9: Tokyo Majin Gakuen Kenpucho
Inspired by the Playstation Game of the same title, well known between the fans of Japanese games due to the branching ending and the absolutely lovely emotion system, this anime series (two series actually) features a band of high school students that fights against what seems to be a widespread invasion of undead creatures in Tokyo, getting more and more involved in a dark and violent story.
The character developmente is definitely top-notch, mirroring what was possible in the original game. If you like Asian horror as a genre, this serie is definitely for you.
10: White Album
And last but not least, another Anime series spawned by an Eroge. This one is quite peculiar, because instead of featuring the usual high school students, it shifts it's target (and characters) higher, towards university students.
While the story is very romantic, it reflects it's mature nature with a rather low-key atmosphere, full of darker undertones.
The original game is published by Leaf, quite popular for having developed To Heart, another Eroge that spawned an anime series a few years ago.
And this is it for this week. Looks like I finally succumbed to the week-end top 10 mania. But you never know, maybe I'm still in time to salvage some of my dignity and write something a little deeper next week...