Animated adaptations of video games generally receive more faith from players than their live-action counterparts. That’s understandable; most games are animated in one form or another, so it’s easier to replicate an aesthetic than to find actors and build sets that match the source material exactly. On top of the myriad of live-action shows based on games, there’s an equally sizable, if not larger, slate of animated series on the horizon. If you’re a fan of animated takes on the medium, here’s a snapshot of every upcoming TV series to keep an eye on with trailer links where applicable.
One of the most popular competitive games on the planet, League of Legends, gets its own animated series this week. However, you don’t have to be a League of Legends diehard to enjoy Arcane. The series chronicles the beginnings of sisters Jinx (Ella Purnell) and Vi (Hailee Steinfeld), who get caught in a class war between the opulent Piltover and the slums of Zuan. Arcane’s unique art direction paints a beautiful picture of a world embroiled in a terrible power struggle. The 9-episode series is divided into three-episode acts: Act 1 premieres November 6, Act 2 arrives November 13, and Act 3 on November 20. | Trailer
Shenmue The Animation
Adult Swim and Crunchyroll are teaming up to produce a 13-episode animated adaptation of Sega’s beloved Shenmue series. Shenmue the Animation tells an expanded take on the events of the first game, with high-school martial artist Ryo on a quest to avenge the murder of his father. Shenmue creator Yu Suzaki describes the show as being a “more accessible” avenue to absorb the game’s story without dealing with the polarizing mechanics of the games. Chikara Sakurai (One Punch Man) directs the series, and it will be available in both Japanese and English voiceovers. | Trailer
Sonic cartoons have existed almost as long as the Blue Blur himself. Sonic Prime serves as the sixth and latest adaptation and sees Sonic fighting to save an entire multiverse. We know Isaac Jimenez Jr. will play Sonic while Nahanni Mitchell (StarBeam, The Dragon Prince) voices Amy. Like its predecessor, Sonic Boom, it will be a computer-animated show helmed by WildBrain Vancouver Studio. Man of Action Entertainment of Ben 10 fame will produce the 24-episode first season.
The Cuphead Show!
Much like Cuphead’s long-lost DLC, The Cuphead Show! has been floating around for some time now. First announced in 2019, it follows Cuphead and Mugman’s quest to repay their debt to the Devil. We got our first look a the show back in May, and the following month, Netflix announced Wayne Brady as the voice of the villainous King Dice. Cuphead is as big of a layup for an animated show as any game out there, so we’re pretty excited for this one. The only real question is whether this arrives before or after The Delicious Last Course. | Trailer
CD Projekt Red and Netflix tapped anime powerhouse Studio Trigger (Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia) to create a stylized adaptation of Cyberpunk 2077. The 10-episode series follows a street kid who becomes a mercenary called an Edgerunner to survive the high-tech world of Night City. Trigger aims to create a story viewers can enjoy even if they didn’t pour dozens of hours into the source material. Edgerunners might be the only Cyberpunk 2077 property not tainted by disappointment and controversy, so here’s hoping it can succeed where its video game counterpart faltered. | Trailer
Angry Birds: Summer Madness
Despite already having an animated Netflix show (which got a new season this year), the Angry Birds will star in another series called Summer Madness. It stars teenage versions of Red, Chuck, Stella, and Bomb and appears stylistically similar to the CG movies. The four attend a summer camp called Camp Splinterwood, where you can bet shenanigans are afoot.
Netflix has fallen in love with anime series, and the studio behind Castlevania and He-Man have set their sights on Lara Croft. Tomb Raider takes place within the canon of the Survivor trilogy, occurring after the events of 2018’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Hayley Atwell, best known as Peggy Carter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will voice Lara. Early Baylon reprises his role as Jonah Maiava, Lara’s best friend in the new trilogy. There’s no word on plot details other than to expect a globetrotting adventure that aims to connect the timelines of Crystal Dynamic’s trilogy with the stories of original Eidos games.
Castlevania Season 4 concluded Trevor Belmont’s adventure, but a follow-up series is in development. This time, Richter Belmont takes center stage. Maria Renard tags along in a story set during the French Revolution, hundreds of years after the events of the first show. Odds are the narrative will take cues from Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, where Richter and Maria made their debuts. Some of the principal showrunners from the previous Castlevania series will return for this spin-off.
Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is the inspiration for this wacky anime from Castlevania series creator Adi Shankar. In an alternate 1950s, cybernetic super-soldier Dolph Laserhawk rebels from the army to pull off a final big heist and live a free life with his boyfriend. The story also features remixed versions of characters from other Ubisoft games, creating a multiverse of sorts. Sporting an 80s synthwave aesthetic and thematic inspiration from DC Comic’s Elseworlds series and Captain N: The Game Master, Captain Laserhawk will consist of six episodes. Ubisoft’s Hélène Juguet, Hugo Revon, and Gérard Guillemot are tapped to produce the series. To quote Shankar himself, Captain Laserhawk is up your alley if you enjoy “anime, Saturday morning cartoons, violent video games marketed to kids, pro wrestling, steel cage matches, cyberpunk dystopias, Paul Verhoeven, and John Carpenter.” | Trailer
If Captain Laserhawk is too wild for you, a series based on the traditional Far Cry series is in the works too. It, too, will be an anime but does not have a confirmed studio, cast, or release date.
Devil May Cry: The Animated Series
Dante has already gotten the small screen treatment courtesy of the 2007 Devil May Cry anime. In 2018, we found out everyone’s favorite demon hunter is getting an encore. We still don’t know much about the new series. Producer Adi Shankar described the show as being made “by DMC fans for DMC fans,” so expect a faithful adaptation of the video game series at the very least. Shankar recently addressed the long wait, stating that the scripts for Season 1, which consists of eight episodes, are complete, and production would commence early next year. Shankar also confirmed Vergil and Lady will appear and that the story arc will cover multiple seasons.
Sure, Splinter Cell fans have grown weary of seeing Sam Fischer do everything except star in a new mainline video game. However, maybe they’ll make an exception for Netflix’s upcoming animated Splinter Cell show. For one, Derek Kolstad, the creator of John Wick, serves as the creative lead. That’s probably enough of a selling point for some, and Kolstad is joined by the writing duo of David Daitch and Katie J. Stone (Shooter). Outside of Netflix ordering two 8-episode seasons of the show, we don’t know if the series will feature an original story or retell the games’ events. Casting is also unconfirmed; fingers crossed, Michael Ironside puts on the goggles as Sam one more time.
You’re probably tired of reading Adi Shankar’s name by now, but it turns out the filmmaker has a lot of irons in the animation fire. On top of Captain Laserhawk and Devil May Cry, he’s also got a PUBG show on the assembly line. The series represents Krafton’s desire to diversify PUBG as a brand while also expanding its lore. Unfortunately, there’s next to no information about what the show entails. We may not learn more until one or two of Shankar’s other projects are out the door.
Hyper Light Drifter
Say it with me: Adi Shankar is producing another video game TV show. This one is based on indie darling Hyper Light Drifter, and it was announced in 2019. Shankar and game creator Alx Preston are tag-teaming this effort, describing the visual style as closer to anime while retaining the look of the games without being pixel art. Given that the series was extremely early in development when it was revealed, it has no release window, cast, or available footage. Hyper Light Drifter’s world and lore seem ripe for such an adaptation, so we’re excited to see it resurface.
Legend of Mana: The Teardrop Crystal
The Teardrop Crystal retells the story of Legend of Mana, the PlayStation 1 JRPG that was remastered for modern consoles back in June. The anime is a joint effort by Warner Bros. Japan LLC, Graphinica, Inc., and Yokohama Animation Lab. Fans of the game will have already seen Yokohama’s animation chops in the new Legend of Mana’s opening cinematic. Based on that, we know the show will look good. We’ll have to wait a while to learn more about when The Teardrop Crystal is coming and how to watch it.
Final Fantasy IX
The Paris-based Cyber Group Studios is working on a kid-friendly adaptation of one of Final Fantasy’s most beloved (and underrated) entries. Final Fantasy IX will target children ages 8-13. Before older fans worry about what that means for the story, consider that Disney’s animated classics kill off beloved characters left and right. Final Fantasy IX’s darkest moments could be preserved, but that all depends on the direction Cyber Group wants to go. Reportedly, development begins either around this time or early 2022, so we likely won’t be seeing Zidane and Co.’s small screen debuts for some time.
In 2019, Ubisoft announced plans to adapt several of its IP to the small screen with a kid-friendly slant. Thus, its cartoony take on Watch Dogs won’t be what fans remember. The untitled show will be tamer than its Mature-rated source material, dubbed a “cybermystery” mainly aimed at tweens. It stars a teenage hacker solving crimes in her high school, and its lore is divorced from the continuity of the games.
Rayman is no stranger to the animated series treatment, having a brief series of cartoon shorts in 1999/2000. His next outing will be a comedy adventure, though no other information exists beyond that. The concept art above seemingly confirms the show will appear visually similar to Rayman Origins/Legends, so it’s already off to a good start.
Hungry Shark Squad
Some of you be asking, “What the heck is Hungry Shark?” It’s a series of mobile games published by Ubisoft where you control a variety of sharks and swim around eating things. That’s the basic gist, though this kids’ cartoon follows a team of retired mercenaries, also sharks, that fight bad guys. That sounds like a shark-tastic time for the tykes in your home.
Sucker Punch’s thieving raccoon may have the most tumultuous history of any show on this list. Sly Cooper first came to light in 2017 with Technicolor Animation Productions (Sonic Boom) at the helm and PGS Entertainment as the distributor. It would have 52 11-minute episodes divided into two seasons, premiering in 2019 and 2020. However, the show never materialized and was later delisted from the websites of both companies. Some speculated the companies quietly canceled the show, but another rumor was that Sony Interactive Entertainment bought back the rights to produce the series in-house. Neither outcome is confirmed, and the show’s status is currently one big question mark, much like Sly’s long-lost (and probably canceled) animated movie.
Which animated series are you most looking forward to watching? Let us know in the comments!