It’s a great time to be a Lord of the Rings fan! The Rings of Power is on its way to Amazon Prime, not to mention a theatrical release for the first two episodes. If you’re hungry for more Tolkien goodness but can’t wait, we’ve got some anime to serve as a stopgap.
What do you love best about Tolkien’s Middle Earth adventures? Whatever it is, we’ve got an anime pick for you:
Action and Scary Monsters: Berserk
If your Lord of the Rings love is chiefly for the epic battles and terrifying baddies, may we interest you in Berserk? Based on the manga penned by the late, great Kentaro Miura, the series follows the mercenary Guts as he traverses a land plagued by strange magic and eldritch abominations. It’s a stunning series, but also not for the faint of heart… though if reading about Sauron’s dark machinations does it for you, this should be right up your street.
There are several ways to enjoy Berserk, including the original manga, the 1990s anime, and the more recent 3DCG anime adaptation. If you’re more into manga, there’s plenty to take in. Plus, Holyland and Jisatsuou author Kouji Mori has stepped up to helm the series after Miura’s passing.
Character Drama: The Vision of Escaflowne
The Lord of the Rings series is heavy with stories of love, betrayal, family ties, and friendship. If that’s what you’re in it for, then give The Vision of Escaflowne a try. Known for its stunning mecha-fantasy action and its equally stunning Yoko Kanno score, the series is beloved by anime fans of all ages. It’s also a fantastic example of isekai storytelling before the genre hit its 21st century boom.
Hitomi is a schoolgirl with a gift for tarot and a magic necklace. When she’s transported to the world of Gaea, she’s believed to be a legendary entity known as the Wing Goddess. From there, she finds herself entrenched in a world of swords, sorcery, and giant robots. But as it’s a shojo anime, it’s also full of romance and drama.
Just Fantasy Things: Record of Lodoss War
You want elves? Come get your elves. If Lord of the Rings hits right because you just really love that high fantasy aesthetic, Record of Lodoss War is for you. Originally a “replay” of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign (think actual plays in magazine column form), the series evolved through many forms before eventually becoming an anime. Like Escaflowne, it sports a gorgeous Yoko Kanno soundtrack. And there’s lots of it to watch, including both an OVA and a TV series.
Plus, if you’re a little more game-oriented, there’s the action platformer Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. The game puts you in the shoes of everyone’s favorite elf girl (conceived for Ryo Mizuno’s D&D campaign by Hiroshi Yamamoto). So if you run out of episodes to watch, you can go on your own adventure.