Re:Zero - Starting Life in Another World is one of the most popular isekai anime of recent years.
Its mature, dark fantasy, adventure story maybe a little mind-bending at first, but it rewards the audience more and more the further you get in the series.
Most importantly, the heart of the story lies in the reversal of the overpowered isekai protagonist trope.
Instead of the all-powerful high-leveled game character we see in a lot of isekai anime, Re:Zero’s protagonist, Subaru, is by far one of the weakest people in the new world he finds himself in.
In this article, we will go over five anime like Re:Zero, that are either similar in genre, mature themes, or overall story.
1. Sword Art Online
To get the most obvious title out of the way, we can’t talk about isekai anime without mentioning Sword Art Online (SAO).
Arguably one of the most popular anime of the decade, SAO is an isekai anime about a virtual reality game (called Sword Art Online) where players enter the world of Aincrad via a futuristic neural link VR headset.
The anime follows a high-school boy named Kirito and a girl named Asuna who get trapped in the game along with thousands of other players.
The mysterious creator of SAO tells them that to exit Aincrad and return to the real world, all they have to do is beat the game. However, there is only one problem: if you die in Aincrad, you die in real life.
While SAO isn’t as dark an anime as Re:Zero, all isekai fans should definitely give it a try.
2. Angel Beats!
If you’re looking for darker anime like Re:Zero with a mature story, then look no further than Angel Beats!
There are many isekai anime out there about virtual reality games or fantasy worlds.
However, Angel Beats! is unique, as it takes place in purgatory.
The anime begins when a young man named Yuzuru wakes up outside a mysterious high school. Next to him is a beautiful girl holding a sniper rifle, aiming it at another girl in the middle of the school field.
The girl tells him that he has died and that the only way to leave this purgatory world is to kill the girl in the field known as “Angel”.
Similar to Re:Zero, those who "die" in purgatory are automatically brought back to life again (usually in the school’s nurse’s office).
Angel Beats! has strong rounded characters, and each character has a backstory that will make your heartache.
This title is highly recommended for those who want an anime that has a more mature, emotional story, with a little bit of romance thrown in.
3. Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody
This title is the dark horse on this list. I was expecting another run-of-the-mill isekai but was pleasantly surprised by Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody.
The anime begins by showing us a glimpse into the world of an Akihabara game developer.
The main character, Ichiro, is a game developer in a stereotypical Japanese company that overworks their employees to the point where many of them sleep in sleeping bags under their desks.
Part of the title, “Death March,” is a real term used in project management that refers to projects destined to fail or those that require an unsustainable level of overtime from the staff.
After finishing work for the day, Ichiro takes a break under his desk and wakes up in a video game he had been developing.
Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody has a unique art direction that constantly keeps you grounded in the “game world” and will probably bring on bouts of nostalgia for RPGs you’ve played in the past.
While it is still a harem isekai anime, the story is intriguing and the well-paced plot keeps you engaged throughout.
4. How Not to Summon a Demon Lord
How Not to Summon a Demon Lord is definitely one of the more shallow titles on this list.
It has abundant fanservice and quite a basic isekai plot. However, we felt the need to include it in this list, because it is currently a very popular isekai anime.
On the other hand, the animation quality is great and the voice acting is up to par as well. How Not to Summon a Demon Lord seems like it was made for a young teen male audience, as it has lots of tropes from the shounen romance genre.
If you’re into this sort of anime, all the power to you.
But if you are looking for an anime like Re:Zero that has a deep story, you might want to skip this one.
5. The Rising of the Shield Hero
The Rising of the Shield Hero is a great example of an anime that begins rather slowly and almost appears cliche, but just gets better and better as the story unfolds.
The anime begins stereotypically, when the main character is unexplainably transported into the world of a book he’d been reading.
The king of the world explains that he summoned four heroes to help save his world from an impending demon invasion.
At this point, The Rising of the Shield Hero just seems like another SAO clone or anime like Re:Zero trying to piggyback off of the isekai hype.
However, things take a dramatic turn for the worst after the Shield Hero is accused of rape and shunned by the people he was summoned to protect.
Just like Re:Zero, the anime illustrates a masterful reversal of the stereotypical overpowered isekai protagonist.
Since the Shield Hero can only wield a shield, he has little to no attack power and must be inventive in his quest to level up and become strong enough to survive in a world completely foreign to him.
For those looking for mature and psychological anime like Re:Zero, The Rising of the Shield Hero is by far the best anime on this list.
Those were some of the best and most popular anime similar to Re:Zero that isekai fans should check out. If we missed one of your favorite anime on this list, be sure to let us know on Twitter.