10 Must-See Anime Like Sword Art Online

Updated on April 18, 2016

Sword Art Online—An Action-Fantasy Anime

Anime lovers who are also fond of MMORPGs were excited to find out that Sword Art Online, the Japanese light novel series, has been adapted into an anime. Although there are a lot of criticisms about the overall quality of Sword Art Online, there is no doubt that it is well-liked by many anime fans.

Plot summary

The Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG), Sword Art Online (SAO), is released in the year 2022. It allows players to control their in-game characters with their minds, using a virtual reality helmet called Nerve Gear. The players' excitement turns into horror as they soon discover that they cannot log out of the game. They are informed by Kayaba Akihiko, the creator of SAO, that the only way to return to the real world is to reach the 100th floor and defeat the final boss.

The catch? If their in-game characters die, they also die in real life.

If you loved Sword Art Online, you should also check out some of the anime below!

10 Anime like Sword Art Online

1. Accel World

Plot Teaser

Haruyuki Arita is a student who is often bullied at school, which causes him to have low self-esteem. He turns to playing squash to free his mind from his miserable life but everything changes when Haruyuki meets Kuroyukihime, the most popular girl in school. She introduces Haruyuki to a secret program called Brain Burst.

Haruyuki soon finds out that Brain Burst is not only a program that speeds up the cognitive process, but it is actually a Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online (VRMMO) Fighting Game, where people fight each other to gain Burst Points, which can be used for acceleration abilities in the real world.

Haruyuki and Kuroyukihime join forces to reach Level 10 within Brain Burst, meet the creator, and find out the real purpose of the secret program.

2. Log Horizon

This is an anime that often gets compared with SAO. In fact, you will see tons of discussions comparing Sword Art Online and Log Horizon all over the Internet. The main similarity is that both take place inside a MMORPG. It is important to note, however, that even though both series feature the same setting and characters fighting in-game to return to their normal lives, the stories are entirely different.

Plot Teaser

The MMORPG, Elder Tale, has been a phenomenal success following its eleventh expansion pack. The game has grown its user base to millions of players. The next expansion pack, however, surprises thirty thousand players as they suddenly find themselves wearing their in-game avatars. They soon realize that they are inside the game they love. Shiroe, a gamer who is socially challenged in real life, teams up with other players to take on the challenges in their way.

3. No Game No Life

No Game No Life is a relatively new anime series that was released on April 9, 2014. Online anime communities are littered with discussions comparing SAO and No Game No Life—again because both anime have the same setting. This anime, however, doesn’t have as much action since it is more of an adventure-themed, supernatural anime. It has many comedy scenes and fun games which make it very enjoyable to watch.

Plot Teaser

No Game No Life follows the story of siblings Sora and Shiro who are known for being great gamers but are reclusive and unsocial in real life. They are a member of “Blank,” a mysterious group of gamers who do not lose in any of their games. One day, they are summoned into a world where everything is decided through games and in which humanity is driven to one remaining city. It is now up to Sora and Shiro to defeat the leader and save the human race.

4. Btooom!


Plot Teaser

Ryota Sakamoto, 22 years old, is unemployed and lives with his mother. There is only one thing that he excels at, which is playing a combat game called Btooom!.

One day, he wakes up in a tropical island and has no idea how or why he got there. He sees someone and asks for help, but the stranger responds by throwing a bomb at him. He realizes that he is trapped in what seems to be a real world version of Btooom!. Ryota meets Himiko, another Btooom! player, who is his in-game wife.

Can Ryota make good use of his gaming skills now that his actual life depends on it?

5. .hack//SIGN

Many say that SAO is based on the .hack series. This alone should be enough to pique your interest, especially if you love the virtual reality MMO genre. .hack//SIGN also does not have a lot of action sequences. The story revolves around gradually revealing the secrets of a game until the main protagonist finally discovers the reason he can't log out.

Plot Teaser

Tsukasa wakes up inside a game called The World. He is unable to recall anything that happened prior to his awakening. Suspected as a hacker, he realizes that he cannot log out of the game. Tsukasa wanders around and finds an item in the form of a “guardian,” which protects him from all harm. Other players learn about his situation including the leader of the Crimson Knights, Subaru. They try to find an answer to Tsuakasa’s problem before it's too late.

.hack//SIGN Opening

6. Mirai Nikki (Future Diary)

This psychological thriller may not seem anything like SAO, but it actually does share some striking similarities, including a main character who isn’t very good with people and suddenly finds himself in a dire situation. He makes friends in the game, only to lose them later on because of the game itself.

Plot Teaser

The story follows Yuki Amano, a socially awkward boy who prefers to write in his diary or talk with his imaginary friend, Deus Ex Machina. One fateful day, he learns that Deus Ex Machina is more than just a figment of his imagination. Deus gives him a diary containing events that will happen in the next 90 days. Asked to participate in a battle against twelve other people, each equipped with a future diary, Yuki needs to find a way to kill all his opponents and prevent the Apocalypse on the ninetieth day.

7. Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk

This anime is similar to Sword Art Online in the sense that both take place in a tower-like setting, in which the characters need to get to a certain floor before being able to move on to the next. The ultimate goal, of course, is to reach the last floor and defeat the final boss. Tower of Druaga also features many RPG elements such as hunting for rare items, forming parties, and leveling up.

Plot Teaser

The anime begins during the Third Summer of Anu, a period when the powers of the monsters in the Tower wanes. People take advantage of this and set up camp inside—securing their stronghold within the Tower with the ultimate goal of reaching the top. The armies of Uruk Kingdom lead the pack, but adventurers known as “climbers” hop on their quest as well, attracted by the rumored Blue Crystal Rod found on the very last floor. Jill is one of the new climbers, seeking to reach the top of the Tower and defeat the Evil Lord Druaga.

The Tower of Druaga Opening

8. Guilty Crown

On December 24, 2029 a biological hazard known as the Apocalypse Virus descends over Japan. This is later referred to as the Lost Christmas of 2029. Because of the gravity of the outbreak, Japan seeks international help and the United Nations responds by sending the GHQ to help them. After containing the outbreak, Japan is put under the powers of the GHQ.

Plot Teaser

The story follows Shu Ouma, a high school student who inadvertently obtains a rare and great power, The Right Hand of the Kings. This ability allows him to extract voids from other people, weapons that are the manifestations of peoples' hearts. He meets a girl named Yuzuriha Inori, a member of the rebel group called Undertakers, which seeks to restore the independence of Japan.

With the ability he has mistakenly gained, he is now thrown in the middle of the conflict and must liberate his nation once again.

Guilty Crown Opening

9. Kaze no Stigma

Plot Teaser

Yagami Kazuma belongs to the Kannagi family, well known as masters of the Fire technique. However, Kazuma is cast out of his family after being defeated by a distant relative, Ayano, in a match in which the winner would wield Enraiha, Blaze Lightning Supremacy.

Kazuma returns four years later as a master of Fujutsu, or the Wind technique. He is reunited with Ayano and his younger brother Ren. Soon, however, Kannagi family members are murdered, and the weapon is eventually discovered to be Fujutsu.

Kazuma, with Ayano beside him, now has to prove that he is not responsible for the murders.

Kaze no Stigma: Episode 1 (English Dub)

10. Hunter x Hunter

Plot Teaser

Hunter x Hunter follows a young boy named Gon, who discovers that his father, Ging, whom he thought was dead, is actually alive. In fact, Ging is a legendary hunter, someone who has proven to be an elite member of society. Gon embarks on a long journey to find his father, soon realizing that he wants to become a hunter as well.

After turning 12, he takes on the Hunter exam, even after learning that many applicants end up dying. He meets several friends, including the silent but deadly Kurapika, the funny but very skilled Leorio, and the ex-assassin Killua. Their friendship is put to test as many trials and threats come their way.

Which anime like Sword Art Online will you watch next?

See results

Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Caleb Melvern


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      • profile image

        Player 2 11 days ago

        Kaze no Stigma BEEEEEEEEEEST anime in the list boys..

      • profile image

        lleva 3 weeks ago

        Must watch:

        Kaze no stigma

        No game no life

        Log horizon

        Guilty crown

      • profile image

        Ku 3 weeks ago

        Guilty crown is the best anime in this list , I think .

      • profile image

        ZeroGeass 7 weeks ago

        Gotta say, Kaze no Stigma (Stigma of the Wind) is not anywhere near to the same Genre as SAO.

        That having been said, it's still a really good series that I own and have watched multiple times.

      • profile image

        アレックス 2 months ago

        Personally I think sao started as a good anime but started to suck at around half of the first season and then started get worst and worst. Im not saying its crap but I think there are way better ''person in an other world'' anime.

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        Anon 2 months ago

        Seriously, i'm surprised they didn't add Overlord to this. IMO a seriously good anime (as well as the 2nd Season)

      • profile image

        XxLizzieChearaXx 2 months ago

        tsk..i can't find any anime better than sword art online..

      • profile image

        Asheblade 2 months ago

        I need someone to make a list of ones that aren't super main stream so I can actually find something new please.

      • profile image

        Haut_AF 3 months ago

        Everything gets compared to SAO.

        1. SAO

        2. This is actually similar to SAO,

        3. Here's another one similar to SAO.

        4. Oh this one gets compared to SAO.

        5. Not similiar to SAO, but oh well, it gets compared with SAO.


      • profile image

        What an awful list. 4 months ago

        Only 1 or 2 of these are even actually like SAO...... You didnt even add Overlord which is actually the closest to SAO...

      • profile image

        10TopLastStand5vs510thPlace 4 months ago

        this post dont related to the title boo! similar is about in game life not superpower or paranormal real world boo!!! Its about MMORPG!!!

      • profile image

        Coffee 4 months ago

        You guys should watch "Hunter x Hunter" I watch it like 3 times in a year! I also recommend "Knights & Magic" There feel very similar in away.

      • profile image

        DaRkGuiLD 4 months ago

        nerdsweeper go create your own anime that is perfect that has no flaws at all.. if you can't even create then STFU.

      • profile image

        Jayyydaw 4 months ago

        Sureeee, let's listen to NerdSweeper, the one who thinks "animes" is a word.

      • profile image

        Marwan Amrhar 5 months ago

        Guilty Crown = best anime ever

      • profile image

        UpperHooper 5 months ago

        Add Death March as well!!

      • profile image

        saoisgud 5 months ago

        Nerdsweeper is wrong.

      • profile image

        Flamehair 5 months ago


      • profile image

        Sao4lyfe 5 months ago

        NerdSweeper you should keep

        opinions to yourself and only to yourself because other people on this site might not agree with you *like me T_T* and it will cause problems so if you could please stop and not post anything else like that.

        (So we are all happy)

        Besides if you we're starving and you were handed food but it wasn't a lot would you take it or be stubborn and just complain about it?

        Exactly my point its like anime if you watch an anime but don't like it or something about it don't complain about it just take it like a man/woman and deal with don't go crying to others because it wasn't what you wanted lots of people like an anime that someone else may


      • profile image

        jeff 6 months ago

        What about Hai to Gensou no Grimgar?

      • profile image

        Label Less 6 months ago

        Right on Zeron87, we welcome opinions here, But not projections of insecurity

      • Zeron87 profile image

        Zeron87 6 months ago

        NerdSweeper: It's your opinion that these anime are bad. What appeals to one person's taste might not appeal to yours. I'll admit SAO was kind of a letdown and The Future Diary had the ingredients of a brainy show yet sadly wasn't, but I enjoyed both anime. They had their flaws, but it didn't stop me from enjoying what they did bring to the table. Not every anime can be a Nichijou, Fullmetal Alchemist, or a Nana.

      • Zeron87 profile image

        Zeron87 6 months ago

        Very solid list, man! Another addition to this list, and one of my personal favorites: Overlord, about a guy stuck in an RPG while he leads a guild of monsters. Can't wait for season 2 ^_^!

      • profile image

        ANBU 7 months ago

        OVERLORD is much similar to sword art online

      • profile image

        NerdSweeper 7 months ago

        Sword Art Online sucks ass, the characters are dull, Kirito is just a Gary Stu "character" who happens to be god, gets to fuck all the girls, and is incredibly stupid. The fact that many of you call this a well-written plot anime is the sole reason why we don't have good animes these days.

        Also, Mirai Nikki sucks ass too. No amount of edgy fangirls will prove me wrong because both of these animes are bad.

      • profile image

        Erza Scarlet 7 months ago

        Where is pokemon? XD jkjk

      • profile image

        Gray fullbuster 8 months ago

        That natsu dragneel person is correct fairy tail is a very good anime it is a must see for anime fans

      • profile image

        Qt 10 months ago

        You should've included Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle

      • profile image

        An otaku 12 months ago


      • profile image

        Natsu Dragneel 12 months ago

        "Fairy Tail" is really good too, you're probably thinking its a boring anime because of the title but you're wrong, 100% wrong! Fairy Tail has a lot of episode but believe me, when you're done with all the episode you'll wish there are more! The first few episodes might be boring but when you get on it will get more and more amazing. I really, really, really recommend this anime and it's not just me, a lot of people love this, FYI. Plus, Fairy Tail will teach you something you might have been lacking...As you can see, my name I put up is Natsu Dragneel. Natsu Dragneel is the main character in the anime and he is AWESOME!!! Natsu is a rowdy and tough teenage boy that likes to fight but he has a very kind heart. He went on adventures with his friends. Ok! I'm not talking anymore, I don't want to spoil it for you.

      • profile image

        Cyote 15 months ago

        Btoooom has a terrible ending. No need to watch it.

      • profile image

        JrTheKing 15 months ago

        ....and konosuba.

      • profile image

        JrTheKing 15 months ago

        You forgot overlord.

      • profile image

        Sao4Eva 15 months ago

        Sao is the best dude i love it so please Reki Kawahara hury for season 3 i need it in meh life. I LOVE SAO

        PLEz Reki Kawahara HURY

      • profile image

        Sao4Eva 15 months ago

        Honestly I suggest Log Horizon but I do love Sao way more. Season 3 pleZ





      • profile image

        wdqere 15 months ago

        :/ i really want season 3 of sao to come, I NEED UNDERWORLD


      • profile image

        Unicorn_Kitty 16 months ago

        I have watched almost all those or at least tried them and I find I like the more mundane adventure anime. Thats why although Hunter x hunter is highly recommended by most, its plot can get complicated.

      • profile image

        Anonymous 16 months ago

        SAO is the greatest anime ever

      • profile image

        Rakgorn 17 months ago

        Dont skip Overlord. It is just 13 episodes for now, but very enjoyable.

      • profile image

        Lili_otaku 17 months ago

        You should watch Log Horizon and tower of Druaga:The Aegis of Uruk!!!!But I prefer SAO so...

      • profile image

        rudyf 18 months ago


      • profile image

        litin 18 months ago

        Log Horizon is a must watch if you like SAO!!

      • profile image

        Spartan 19 months ago

        Overlord is missing?

      • profile image

        Adnane. 19 months ago

        Where is (OVERLORD).

      • profile image

        Asuna is the bae 19 months ago

        Sao gave me chills

      • profile image

        GAMERZ 20 months ago



        Hai to Gensou no Grimgar


      • profile image

        Brother0dd 20 months ago

        You forgot Overlord

      • profile image

        Aidan 21 months ago

        I'm 14 and I have a lot in common with kirito so I find both season 1 and 2 amazing

      • profile image

        99Problems 21 months ago

        half the list aint nothing like SAO but there no despute that they are all great anime...........

      • profile image

        Rin 21 months ago

        Where is Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

      • profile image

        David White 22 months ago

        I'm sorry. Nobody can beat Yuki Kajiura! Her work on .hack// is enough to keep me poised. It was the archetype for what SAO was. First half of the first season on a very personal scale with one person trapped in The World. It was boring for a lot of my friends who couldn't keep up with the actual episodic story when it was originally airing on CN. I'm bias because the block this aired included my now favorite animes of all time. Sign, Kenshin and Bebop. Trigun aired in that block as well.

      • profile image

        :( 23 months ago

        Where is Overlord

      • profile image

        Timber 24 months ago

        I love sao and future diary/mirai nikki

      • profile image

        Aww hell naw 2 years ago

        Where is OVERLORD

        one of the best anime out there and the main character is also stuck in the game

      • profile image

        _____ 2 years ago

        "sighs" I've seen all the anime listed and even the ones in this comment section

      • profile image

        Emotionless 2 years ago

        Accel worlds ending was a let down and future diary

      • profile image

        Mario Castellanos 2 years ago

        You guys should try the new anime, And you thought there is never a girl online?

        It's really reminds me of Sao. It's nothing like Kirito and Asuna but it's still airing. Maybe it'll get better ^.^

      • profile image

        Glen Senecal 2 years ago

        The last three are nothing like SAO

      • profile image

        Ella 2 years ago

        I came here looking for new animes to watch. I found 2. I'm going to cry one day when I have watched every single anime show.

      • profile image

        Saika 2 years ago

        Durarara is a really GOOD anime! it has 4 seasons too! it's not everyday you come across a good anime with 4 seasons! the first one has 25 episodes too. the other ones have 12 or 11 episodes :)

      • profile image

        McDonald Trump 2 years ago

        Another anime just like Sword Art Online name is Overlord

      • profile image

        Dk 2 years ago

        Another game just like Sword Art Online name is Overlord

      • profile image

        asuna sun 2 years ago

        Which one do you guys reccomond me watching??

      • profile image

        edward_kiritosan 2 years ago

        does sword art online released it season 3?

      • profile image

        MasterJ 2 years ago

        *looks at the list*


        Ive already seen all these...

      • profile image

        Ren 2 years ago

        Blue Exorcist For Life :3

      • profile image

        I love asuna 2 years ago

        SAO for life only forever...nothing more.

      • profile image

        Dinosaur 2 years ago

        sorry but your hunter x hunter vid is kinda bad pick a season 1 vid at least without those stuped cards -_-'

      • profile image

        Johnny 3 years ago

        Try "Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in dungeon". only like 10 episodes out so far but i love it as much as sao atm :S

      • profile image

        xXThe_RageXx 3 years ago

        I keep looking for new Anime but can't find any interesting ones

      • profile image

        Pencilus 3 years ago

        well both Accel World and SAO are written by Reki Kawahara soo ....

        they even have a shared universe

      • profile image

        neff 3 years ago

        "Is it wrong to pick up chicks in dungeons" reminds me a lot of sao too

      • profile image

        qwertyuiop 3 years ago

        I've seen some of these, Accel World is by far the best and I prefer it - slightly - over SAO.

      • profile image

        Jeff 3 years ago

        Well at least I could enjoy something new

      • profile image

        imac 3 years ago

        I looked at these, and im just gonna re watch sao.

      • profile image

        Pabbles 3 years ago

        Thanks for those lists. I'm pretty much in the dark when it comes to anime series more recent than the early 2000s, and SAO was the first series in years to really "spark my fire" for anime anew. I've enjoyed plenty during those years, but nothing on that level.


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