There are a lot of anime out there and in this golden age of TV streaming, the choices have never been greater. So how do you cut through the noise and find the “Best of” for any chosen topic? Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest and unforgettable shows through the years.
For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best anime, our attention this time turns to anime with a fairy tale theme. From the Ugly Duckling to well-known classics like Snow White, there’s a good choice to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll add them!
Princess Tutu is a great fantasy anime. It contains sprinkles of drama, romance, and magic. It’s a magical girl’s work that serves as a unique retelling of the Ugly Duckling fairy tale. Our protagonist, Ahiru, starts the series off as a naive individual due to her duck-like living environment. It isn’t until she starts interacting with humans as a human that she starts breaking free from her naivety.
Ahiru will take part in many human-like activities to help her understand her newfound environment. Some include participating in ballet practice and hanging out with fellow students after school. This anime can touch upon mature subjects, making it feel more complex than it appears to be. Ahiru isn’t a perfect character either.
She’ll fail to complete mundane tasks and get scolded for it. Nevertheless, fans will enjoy seeing her complete these missions. If you adore magical girl shows but want something more atmospheric and deep, check out Princess Tutu.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
This anime revolves around a bamboo cutter named Okina. He finds a female baby, takes it home, names it Kaguya, and raises it with his wife Ouna. Kaguya lives a fruitful life in the village. One day, Okina discovers gold and treasure in the forest. With this wealth, he plans to move his family to a more fashionable and wealthy location.
Forced into an unwanted livelihood by her adoptive father, Kaguya undergoes a philosophical journey to discover her true purpose and origins. This anime’s one of Studio Ghibli’s more visually appealing works. It has a neat watercolor art style that makes its characters and settings pop and feel more vivid.
Despite her mystical background, Kaguya displays enough realistic traits that’ll help viewers relate to her character. Those who’ve been in situations like hers will resonate with Kaguya’s anger toward her father’s wishes. No one likes abandoning friends in exchange for wealth and this anime captures that vision beautifully. If you’re looking for a visually engaging film with relatable themes and characters, check this one out.
This is one of those anime that’s clearly inspired by Snow White and Cinderella. It features great comedy, fun characters, and nice romantic moments to keep you engaged. This anime contains many personal issues our characters must resolve. However, the story contains an overarching plot and makes sure every issue addressed receives a somewhat satisfying conclusion.
In it, a 16-year-old girl named Himeno moves into a large mansion. Despite living in a luxurious environment, Himeno’s life with her new stepfamily is anything but joyful. One day, Himeno meets several magical boys called Leafe Knights who ask her to become their magical princess. She accepts the offer, becomes the Pretear, and must protect the world and the Leafe, a magical energy source.
This anime’s not the prettiest show out there. It’s the art style and animation haven’t aged as well as others on this list. The action scenes aren’t that great either. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a romantic fantasy anime with hysterical comedy, check this one out.
Snow White With The Red Hair
In Snow White With The Red Hair, we examine the life of Shirayuki. Due to her trademark red hair, she receives attention from everyone. One day, she catches the eye of a mysterious prince named Raji. They get into a skirmish, resulting in Shirayuki fleeing the country and meeting a fellow named Zen. Shirayuki helps Zen with his injuries.
They travel to his home country, so she can become a court herbalist. Although Shirayuki wishes for a peaceful life, prince Raiji will stop at nothing to get her to marry him. This anime takes clear inspiration from Snow White and Rapunzel. However, it takes the story conventions established in those works and flips them on its head.
What viewers receive is a refreshing spin on those classic tales. However, the romantic elements found in those works are echoed throughout Snow White and The Red Hair’s storytelling. You’ll adore following Shirayuki and Zen’s characters and seeing how their’ affairs blossom into something magical and heartwarming. If you’re searching for a romantic anime that delivers an irregular spin on classic folk tales, check out Snow White With The Red Hair.
Ponyo is a colorful Studio Ghibli film that’ll calm you. It’s a great anime the whole family can enjoy due to its cutesy aesthetic and adorable tone. It takes place amidst a goldfish sneaking away from home. This fish meets Sousuke, a five-year-0old boy who lives with his parents along the shore. It heals Sousuke’s finger and he gives her the name Ponyo.
Ponyo rejects her birth name after her father Fujimoto catches her. As a result of Sousuke’s blood, she gains arms and legs and escapes to the surface. Ponyo’s decision, however, has numerous consequences. Sosuke must endure an ancient test to save the world and secure Ponyo’s humanity.
This anime’s imaginative and gorgeous to look at. You’ll be amazed by its vibrant colors and astonishing animation. The characters in this anime have great personalities and form a tight bond over time. Check out Ponyo if you’re looking for an anime reminiscent of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
Fruits Basket (2019)
Fruits Basket is a fabulous retro anime that received a stellar remake. The remake contains better visuals and a wonderful sound design for a modern audience. Fans of the original show loved it for its characters, humor, and romance. It follows Tooru, who takes residence at the Souma household to avoid contact with her grandparents.
In time, Tooru will learn about the family’s hidden secrets. Tooru is a wonderful female lead who evokes a healing aura. This anime features some incredible supernatural elements that’ll test Tooru’s bond with the Souma family. While Tooru will encounter problems that’ll drag her to the brink of tears, the show features some lighthearted comedy to make you laugh.
Although both adaptations are great, I’d suggest watching the 2019 remake. It has better animation, music, and visuals. Give it a shot if you’re looking for a romance anime with a fairy tale theme.
Unico and Island of Magic
Unico is a courageous and charming unicorn who deserves more films. It’s safe to say Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy character overshadows Unico by a large margin. It’s unfortunate because Unico’s films carry incredible messages and visuals that’ll pique many old-school Disney fans’ interest.
Although the first film, The Fantastic Adventures of Unico contains stronger characters, Unico and the Island of Magic features a better-written narrative. This is Unico’s second film which has him combatting an evil sorcerer named Lord Kuruku and his henchman Toby. Their goal is to transform people into toys to amuse Kuruku.
With the help of his female friend Cherry, Unico plans to thwart Toby and Kuruku’s evil plans. This anime features some spooky visuals that’ll instill fear in a younger demographic. However, it features some fairy tale influences from Pinocchio to a situation similar to Rudolph’s adventure to the Island of Misfit Toys. It’s a well-animated work with a story that’ll grip you.
Ookami-San & Her Seven Companions
Ookami-San & Her Seven Companions is a fun anime series based on the European fairytale Little Red Riding Hood. In it, we follow a competitive boxer named Ookami who is a part of a club. In the club, students can ask for favors as long as they return the favor in the future. At the same time, a shy 16-year-old named Morino confronts Ookami and unsuccessfully confesses to her.
We examine the club’s everyday lives as they struggle to fulfill the multiple favors given to them. This anime contains a lot of homages to classic fairy tales like Snow White. It doesn’t contain the sharpest narrative as there are some issues that never get addressed or resolved. Many viewers will find it more appealing with its references than its actual plot.
However, the show’s animation holds up well. Some fight scenes may look jarring, but most of the choreography looks decent enough. If you’re looking for a decent anime to watch with a ton of fairy tale references, give this a shot.
Pandora Hearts is heavily inspired by Alice In Wonderland. It has many creatures who look like they belong in that universe. Otherwise, this is fun anime series with a well-developed cast, a detailed world, and an emotional soundtrack. It has a little bit of everything from great humor to intense romance scenes.
In it, we follow a young boy named Oz. He’s the heir to the Vessalius Duke House and lives in a world filled with folktale-themed creatures. His ceremony’s ruined by a mischievous clan who intend to banish him to his world’s depths. Realizing he’s in a tight spot, Oz must confront the Baskerville clan and his world’s monsters.
This anime doesn’t have the most riveting plot. Viewers will enjoy learning more about the cast’s backgrounds. This is where its plot twists and turns feel the most effective in grasping your attention. The show contains some decent fights, but the animation can feel slightly unpolished sometimes. If you’re looking for an enjoyable show to watch that’s like Alice in Wonderland, give Pandora Hearts a shot.
Sailor Moon is an iconic magical girl anime inspired by Japanese folklore and mythology. It took the anime world by storm with its portrayal of female heroines defending their world from supernatural threats. From its quirky protagonist Usagi to its attractive male hero, Tuxedo Mask, Sailor Moon is a bundle of joy every anime fan needs to experience.
This anime contains great action and romance. The story retains a lighthearted tone but can sometimes delve into darker subjects. Usagi starts off as a slightly annoying person to follow but grows into a competent woman by the series’ conclusion. The abilities she and her friends utilize in battle will impress anyone.
If you’re looking for an incredible action series with a riveting storyline, beautiful world, and charming cast, watch Sailor Moon.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best anime with a fairy tale theme!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!