In the universe of animation, samurai-themed series is quite the demand among fans of historical fiction as it takes one’s soul back to the most classical era of Japan. The dynamic blood-soaked swordsfighting and the beautiful environment of Japanese ancient times are some of the elements that truly engage the audience who are into deep historical perspective. Hakuouki, Sengoku Basara and Rorouni Kenshin, to name few of the popular titles under the sub-category, explore the wonderful chronicles of Japanese history.
Due to the wide variety of Japanese historical fantasies, there’s also a need to broaden your horizon aside from the dazzling and manly beauty of Kenshin Himura whom you used to hook up with when you were at a young age. For instance, your academic history books aren’t all about the Japanese period as you flip those pages to explore beyond the nation from Asian to European history to all parts of the globe. It’s quite a refreshing thing to go beyond the labels you used to familiarize with.
They say that travelling back to the past is theoretically not possible, but with great anime shows out there, taking a quick glance at fictional history is in fact a pleasant idea to feel the beautiful ambiance of ancient times. So, here are 10 non-Japanese historical anime shows that will make you travel back in time:
Note: Titles are listed in no particular order.
Spice and Wolf
The subtle romance of the series is definitely a notable factor to highly anticipate for despite the fantastical human-fox relationship. However, in depth, there’s a certain thing that a critical mind could stress out – the concept of economics in the medieval era perspective that is widely developed throughout the story. It involves the principles of trades, commerce, currency standards and other basic scopes surrounding the micro and macro economic scale. Not to be confused with the current academic standards, Spice and Wolf focuses on how these economic principles play in the traditional times in European setting. It squeezes your mind, whether you are economically inclined, or just a mere viewer who wants a glimpse of a medieval age of history that is created in a realistic manner.
Hetalia: Axis Powers
With various historical figures, Hetalia depicts a closed reference to the World War I and II period which spices up your history class. Characters are represented as a personification of various countries based upon stereotypes of the nations, idiosyncrasies and their unique personalities. It offers a wide scope of history, as well as its political diversity among axis and allied nations with significant events surrounding the European and American government, and that is another interesting key point. Though blended with strong historical vibes, it is portrayed with hilarity and a dynamic mood that is easily approachable and fun to watch even if you don’t feel like attending your history class.
Not to be confused with The Twelve Kingdoms, the anime series Kingdom is another thing. As a fictional adaptation of Chinese history, Kingdom is based on the ancient event known as Warring Sates Period. Characters become more interesting as they are named with historical figures, such that. the main protagonist, Li Xin (or Shin), is based on the real life general of Qin state of the same name. The accuracy of historical facts are quite exaggerated, but it ensures a simple narrative that is easily understood by the audience. Despite the horrible animation and overall visual, the great storytelling is more important to highlight in the anime. It’s a great Asian epic anime that will draw you back to the different spices of Chinese dynasty.
Shoukoku no Altair
The visually stunning setting of the show is surely an engaging factor to watch out for, but more than that, Shoukoku no Altair is a perfect representation of the real life Turkish ancient period, or in a broader historical perspective, the Ottoman empire. It shares a deep resemblance of the imperial place, its real life culture, citizenry and how they dress up with glamour. Under the rule of the military stratocracy, the series perfectly depicts the government of the Ottoman empire, the use of authority and military power and their large national economic and social interest. The adventurous journey of the main lead, Tughril Mahmut, will let you explore the nations surrounding the Ottoman history.
The Heroic Legend of Arslan
With a well-crafted storytelling of a young boy who aspires to reclaim his fallen nation known as Pars, The Heroic Legend of Arslan depicts a closer visualization of the Persian history and a representation of the pre-Islamic Iranian imperial dynasty, the figures in the sixth century B.C.E. in particular. Aside from the historical references, politics is a central theme in the story as it primarily shares the realistic events behind the absolute monarch government of Persia where hierarchy matters the most. Despite labeled as fantasy, the battlefields, the swords fighting and the bloody mist of battle are some of its compelling imagery that portray the art of war and its peculiar strategies among lands and kingdoms of the Western Asia epic fantasy.
Le Chevalier D’Eon
A series that is loosely based on eighteenth-century France is something that appeals the audience due to its strong European ambiance, and Le Chevalier D’Eon has well-portrayed pre-revolutionary events in France under the reign of Louis XV, the king of the nation at that particular moment. The series involves deep mystery and horror where the protagonist, D’Eon de Beaumont, investigates the mystery behind his sister’s death. By the character’s name, there’s no doubt that he is loosely based on the French historical figure, Chevalier d’Éon.
Romeo X Juliet
As one of the most influential icon in world literature, Shakespeare’s classical romance Romeo and Juliet is one of the most notable pieces that has played a great impact throughout the legacy of antiques. Despite some drastic changes in the anime adaptation titled Romeo X Juliet, it maintains a classical romantic theme as to the original play that allows the audience to appreciate the beauty of Shakespeare’s masterpiece. Though with a minor difference as to the original, the magical approach in particular, what’s even more fascinating is the European-inspired setting which is based on the Renaissance era. A legendary tale of starcrossed lovers, the epic romance will make you travel back to Shakespeare’s era.
Emma: A Victorian Romance
Set in Victorian era of London at the end of nineteenth century, the anime series highlights the epic romance between a maid and a middle class man of a wealthy family. The well-detailed setting offers a strong and beautiful portrayal of old England. The wide scope of social hierarchy is deeply emphasized which makes the two main leads overcome the obstacles in their subtle affair regardless of their own social status. A story about commoner who falls in love with a nobleman isn’t a new taste to offer over the table, but what makes it presentable is the classical setting that will make you savor the real spice of Victorian era.
Bacanno’s story is something that appeals the audience due to its unique and well-crafted setting that is solely based on the Prohibition era of the United States – a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages that remained in place from 1920 to 1933. Aside from the great storytelling, overloaded information and in-depth narratives, the brilliant interaction among the characters keeps the anime more dynamic and entertaining. It involves multi subgenres like suspense, fantasy, sci-fi, martial arts with a fair amount of concept on alchemy which tackles the ideology on immortality and the use of Philosopher’s stone that has a little similarity to the popular series Fullmetal Alchemist.
Based on the European setting in 1924, a pre- World War II era, Gosick is a detective series that explores the mysteries involving the country Sauville, a fictional country in Europe that resembles the environment of France, Switzerland and Italy. What makes the series a perfect attraction is the strong European-inspired setting that is well-created and visually fascinating though blended with a heavy fictional feel. It’s fun to watch the adventurous pursuits of the two main leads, Kujo and Victorique, which feels like exploring beautiful ancient spots in Europe.
What are your thoughts on these historical fantasies? Have you watched any of them? Do you have something on your mind you would want to include on the list? Let me know your thoughts.