Believe it or not, there are a few different anime that incorporate chess into the story line as a central theme or just use chess-like strategies and concepts as plot points. There aren’t necessarily anime chess anime, if that makes sense, but chess comprises a decent chunk of some anime. Here are a few anime that have some chess elements to them (I’ve seen all of these except 3-gatsu no Lion and Eiga no Osomatsu -san):
- No Game No Life: While NGNL isn’t strictly about the game that is chess, this anime revolves around strategic games and has a game that is similar to chess called “Shiritori” in one of its episodes. Shiratori is too complicated for my slug-brained self to understand, but here’s a wiki page about it if you want to learn yourself up on it. The main characters, Sora and Shiro, are brilliant gamers who use their strategic thinking to conquer various challenges in a fantasy world where everything is decided through games. It was much fun to watch these two siblings work together to solve many big-brained problems.
- March Comes in Like a Lion (3-gatsu no Lion): This anime focuses on the life of a young shogi (Japanese chess) player named Rei Kiriyama. Shogi is a Japanese variant of chess, and the anime delves into the competitive world of professional shogi, as well as the personal and emotional challenges that Rei faces.
- Hikaru no Go: While not about chess directly, Hikaru no Go centers around the strategic and competitive board game called Go. Watching this anime got me wildly interested in the game of Go. I ended up buying a book on it and studying it online for a few months. Go is actually so much fun. The story follows Hikaru Shindo, a young boy who discovers a Go board possessed by a Go-playing ghost named Sai. Now that I’m a huge chess nut, the name Hikaru can only remind me of the popular Twitch streamer who loves to take take takes takes the juicer takes takes. So again, this anime has nothing to do with chess itself, but it’s all about the vibes. If you’re a chess fanatic, you’ll definitely get into this anime and maybe even the sport of Go. You’re welcome, hehe.
- Code Geass: This anime features chess-like strategies and tactics in its plot. Putting aside all of the chess stuff, this anime is an absolute banger that every respectable anime fan must watch before the end of their days. The main character, Lelouch Lamperouge, gains a power that allows him to control people’s actions, and he uses his large intelligence to manipulate events and outmaneuver his foes, which is actually very similar to a game of chess.
- Log Horizon: While not directly about chess, Log Horizon is set in a virtual MMORPG world where players must use strategy and teamwork to navigate their way through various challenges. The show often involves intricate planning and tactical thinking, which much resembles the strategic nature of chess.
- Eiga no Osomatsu-san: In one of the episodes of this comedy anime, the characters engage in a chess match with their own humorous twists and absurd strategies.
While chess might not be the central theme of these anime, they incorporate strategic thinking, mind games, and complex tactics similar to those found in chess. If you’re interested in anime that highlight strategic planning and intellectual battles, these shows might be worth checking out.