Historicity is an aspect of fictional media that seems to add a realistic component to an otherwise unrealistic tale. That being said, it very nicely couples together with fiction when done well. In many ways, the current “reboot boon” we have been experiencing in anime over the past couple of years is a reimagining of anime history – much like many shows that come off as retellings of older tales and events in history, the past few years have been the epic retelling of anime stories that can only be considered history. One such show is our topic – Tezuka Osamu’s Dororo from 50 years ago. Rebooted in the late 2010s alongside shows like Cardcaptor Sakura, Baki, Banana Fish and many others, Dororo is an epic story based in a tumultuous time in Japan’s history. Today; however, we’ll be looking at 6 anime that are similar! Grab your time machines, because we will be revisiting history!
Similar Anime to Dororo
1. Stranger: Mukou Hadan (Sword of the Stranger)
- Episodes: 1 (movie)
- Aired: September 2007
In Japan’s Sengoku Era, an orphan named Kotarou and his dog Tobimaru steal from villagers in order to survive. However, Kotarou is forced to live life on the run when he is targeted by assassins sent by China’s Ming Dynasty for unknown reasons. The two run into Nanashi, a ronin who takes refuge in a small temple, after Kotarou is attacked and Tobimaru poisoned. Nanashi saves them from their pursuers and feels no need to keep helping them; however, when Kotarou offers him a gem in exchange for his continued protection until they reach their destination, he accepts. The three set out on a dangerous journey as the Ming Dynasty send after them a terrifying swordsman out to capture Kotarou and fulfil a mysterious prophecy.
The first thing that will stand out to anyone watching Sword of the Stranger is the historical component which makes up much the movie’s plot and characterization. Being based in the Sengoku Period of Japan’s history, Sword of the Stranger and Dororo already have setting in common. However, they’re also the same in how the main characters in both series are young, orphaned, streetwise, thieving boys who manage to find themselves formidable protection. The other thing is the prophetic element present in both – that aspect in both titles is expressed through the bodies of the main characters. In Dororo, it is introduced when Hyakkimaru’s father interacts with the 12 Demons and they take his body parts upon his birth; while in Sword of the Stranger, it is Kotaro’s blood said to be the key to an elixir of immortality.
2. Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki (Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2018 – September 2018
The 13th century saw the rapid growth of the Mongolian Empire and in this period, the terrifying Angolmois, the “Great King of Terror” is prophesied by Nostradamus to have been born in Mongolia. A group of prisoners are exiled to Tsushima Island in order to be thrown into the fray as the first line of defence against the first Mongol invasion of Japan in 1274. They join the Sou clan who join with the Toi Barai clan in order to fight off the invading forces.
The main similarity here is of course the historicity of both Angolmois and Dororo. While Angolmois is different due to the geographical placement and focus of its events, the two shows are still reconciled by their setting in certain points in history, as well as the supernatural component underlying both stories. The 12 Demons who grant Hyakkimaru’s father’s wish in Dororo can be contrasted with the prophecies of “the Great King Angolmois”, courtesy of Nostradamus. The word “Angolmois” is said to be an anagram of the French word “Mongolais” – the Mongolians and therefore, Genghis Khan. The two shows therefore also find similarity in the fact that they (technically) have titular characters.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2016 – December 2016
The year is 1600. The place is the arena which came to be known as the Battle of Sekigahara. Shimazu Toyohisa is the rearguard for his retreating side and sustains critical injuries when he suddenly finds himself in a modern, bright white hallway. The only other person is the stoic Murasaski, a man standing in this hallway with hundreds of doors on both sides. Toyohisa is pulled into the nearest door and falls into an alternate world populated by creatures from fantasy, as well as warriors from different eras of Toyohisa’s world long thought to be dead. One such warrior is the famous Oda Nobunaga, whom Toyohisa quickly befriends in a politically volatile landscape. He soon learns that he and the others have been summoned as “Drifters” to combat the “Ends”, the people responsible for the creation of the Orte Empire, people who subjugate elves and other demihumans. Toyohisa and the Drifters must now fight in a new war against new enemies in order to protect the subjects of the empire, as well as the interests of the Drifters themselves.
Drifters is wild, but get this – so is Dororo! The first and most obvious similarity is the fact that both stories are based on feudal Japan. Drifters establishes its story in what is supposedly one of the most important wars in Japanese history, while Dororo places itself somewhere in that timeframe. Dororo’s inclusion of mythical creatures, often called “demons” or “ayakashi” by the characters correlates somewhat with Toyohisa’s appearance in a fantasy-type world – the supernatural is very much just the natural in these two shows.
Any Anime Like Dororo ?
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2010 – December 2010
Set in Edo Japan, Yasuri Shichika is a swordsman who practises a unique “swordless” style which uses the user’s very body as the blade. He is the Seventh Head of the Kyotouryuu school, living quietly with his sister Nanami. Then Togame, the strategist, sent by the Shogunate to retrieve twelve unique swords called the “Deviant Blades”, asks Shichika to help her in her mission. He accepts, interested by Togame herself, setting out on a dangerous adventure where they will encounter formidable swordsmen and elites who seek the power of the blades themselves.
Set in a period in which samurai and the Shogunate are still very much prominent and prevalent, Katanagatari’s most important similarity to Dororo after historicity is of course the “dynamic duo” aspect. Yasuri Shichika and Togame travel across Edo Japan together, battling various foes (who are admittedly human beings), much like Dororo and Hyakkimaru do on their adventures. Shichika and Togame’s dynamic is of course very different from that of Dororo and Hyakkimaru; however, in both cases, the continued association proves to be a major growth factor for the characters involved.
5. Gegege no Kitarou
- Episodes: 43+
- Aired: April 2018 – Ongoing
Kitarou is a friendly ghost who spends his afterlife trying to help people in any way that he can. In a world where youkai, monsters and other supernatural phenomena are commonplace, Kitarou helps humanity by combating the ones who cause harm in order to achieve his dream of having peace between human beings and spirits. 20 years into the 21st century, people have forgotten all about the youkai, but after strange events leave all the adults in her life dumbfounded, 13-year-old Mana writes to the Youkai Post, hoping to receive some kind of assistance. Kitarou arrives, ready to help!
First off, much like Dororo, Gegege no Kitarou is a show finding itself rebooted in the same era! The aforementioned reboot boon of the 2010s did not leave out Gegege no Kitarou, which also saw a revival in its 50th year. Gegege no Kitarou and Dororo’s main similarity lies in their inherent supernatural component – “youkai”; or “ayakashi”, commonly known as demons are an integral part of both characters’ “lives”, as it were and are also harbingers of much harm to regular humans in both universes.
Gegege no Kitarou PV
6. Samurai Champloo
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: May 2004 – March 2005
Kasumi Fuu is a young waitress who spends her time working at a small teahouse, until her clumsiness causes her to spill a drink all over a customer. The resulting commotion results in the outbreak of a sword fight in the small tea shop – the contestants being the wild Mugen and the ronin, Jin. Their fight results in the destruction of the shop and the death of the magistrate’s son. They are soon arrested and sentenced to death, but they’re rescued by Fuu who decides to hire them as her bodyguards as she embarks on a quest to find a samurai who smells of sunflowers. Initially disapproving of the idea, Mugen and Jin eventually agree to assist Fuu on her quest – all while reminding her that their fight never really ended.
The delight of the journey over anything else. Well, at least that’s what some people will tell you. People who watched Samurai Champloo will most definitely agree and attest to this – and this is where we find a major similarity between Samurai Champloo and Dororo. Both feature characters on a journey, some with major goals in mind, others sort of just got wrapped in it all. In Dororo, there is an occasional third traveller, which makes it even more like Samurai Champloo. Naturally, it is the historical setting of both shows that make them closer to each other than anything else.
Samurai Champloo PV
Seeing many old titles revived and reimagined brings about an area of the lifespan of anime fan that hasn’t quite been this big before – the return. There have been several shows coming back, be they blasts from the immediate past or stories from several decades ago. Dororo is one of those shows that does well to represent where it came from, as well as the complexion of anime today. It’s a great watch, for reasons that encompass both story and execution and for this reason, it isn’t surprising that anyone would want to find something just like this. Are there other anime like Dororo that you think would be great additions to a list like this? Drop a comment below and tell us all about them!