Mamma mia! It's time to talk about Italy, a country famous for its cuisine, mafias... and beautiful people! Did you know Italian men and women are considered by many to be the most beautiful people in the world? Of course, in anime Italy is represented in more than one way, reflecting the best and worst aspects of a country full of history. Also, let's not forget that in Italy —more precisely, in Rome— there's also the Vatican, an important place for the Catholic religion.
Wait, is that tarantella we hear in the background? How convenient! Without further delay, Honey's Anime invites you to Italy, to see the many ways that Japanese animation has shown it through the years. Let's go!
10. Vatican Kiseki Chousakan
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2017 - September 2017
Rome is the capital of Italy, and we already mentioned the Vatican and its importance. In Vatican Kiseki Chousakan, the Holy See also takes care of supernatural stuff, frequently involving people with miraculous qualities. However, not all miracles are such a thing, and you can't risk a predominant religion and hundreds of years of history just because of a scammer...
Josef Kou Hiraga and Robert Nicholas are the ones in charge of investigating these mysterious works of God, be it to unmask those who lie in God's name or to certify true miracles. If you like mysteries and religious plots, then you have to watch Vatican Kiseki Chousakan, although it could be difficult to ignore the “sinful” shounen-ai vibes.
9. Moero! Top Striker
- Episodes: 49
- Aired: October 1991 - September 1992
If you like football, then you already know that, historically, Italy is one of the world powers. Moero! Top Striker is a football anime that focuses on Hikaru Kicker, a Japanese boy who moved to Genoa, an ideal opportunity for the child to learn more about "calcio", as they call football in Italy. Although it shares a lot of clichés with other similar anime like Captain Tsubasa, Moero! Top Striker does indeed have some original touches.
Even though Hikaru's strict aunt wants to take the boy back to Japan, Albert Robson (an ex-football star now turned doctor) manages to convince her to let Hikaru play football in Italy. Although he used to be a substitute for one of the best youth teams in the city, Hikaru ends up training with Albert in Columbus, a quite mediocre club that serves as the first step in Hikaru's path to glory. This is one of those anime that did way better outside of Japan, especially since Italy was the 1990's FIFA World Cup organizing country.
8. La Storia della Arcana Famiglia
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2012 - September 2012
Although Arcana Famiglia is not explicitly set in Italy but in the fictional island of Regalo, there's no point in ignoring its blatant Italian roots. Aside from the anime title, a lot of elements in here use Italian words, and we also have many Italian character names. We also have mafia families! You know, maybe it's an alternate Italy or something like that.
Mondo, the leader of Regalo, decides is time to retire and organizes a competition to see who wins an incredible triple prize: the right to take his place as the "Pope", a wish granted, and the hand of his beautiful daughter Felicità. With such good prizes, several candidates get ready... even Felicità herself, who doesn't like the idea of marrying a man just because. Prepare for great duels with arcane magic!
7. Trinity Blood
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2005 - October 2005
The second appearance of the Holy See is in Trinity Blood, a futuristic anime with vampire-like creatures known as Methuselah. These monsters have super strength, exceptional speed, and the love for human blood... almost like our protagonist, Abel Nightroad. Although he responds to the Vatican, Abel is not human but a Crusnik, an artificial "vampire" who feeds on Methuselah's blood.
In this alternate reality, humanity went through a nuclear war that almost destroys the planet, leaving no other option than to colonize Mars. Somewhere in the future, when Mars colonizers came back to Earth, they turned into the Methuselah because of a mutation, and a new war broke out. With Earth's destiny at stake, the Vatican tries to heal while the terrorist Rosenkreutz Order wants to destroy the world and rebuild it from the ashes. Will Abel and the Vatican's AX Agency be able to stop the forces of evil?
6. Ristorante Paradiso
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: April 2009 - June 2009
Another anime with an Italian title! As you can tell, Ristorante Paradiso involves food... and revenge, a dish best served cold. It all starts with Nicoletta, a girl abandoned by her mother who, years later and still hurt for that incident, flies to Italy to get revenge. What will her mother's new husband say when he finds out his wife is divorced and has a secret daughter? Oh, the drama!
Nico's destination is the restaurant Casetta dell'Orso, owned by his mother Olga and his new husband, Lorenzo. As much as she hates her mother, however, Nicoletta is greatly surprised by the restaurant's crew, a group of handsome Italian men, all wearing glasses. This is an excellent anime for those who like reverse harem but hate the silly plots, with Nico debating over her revengeful feelings and a cast of ikemen full of everyday problems.
5. Romeo x Juliet
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2007 - September 2007
Do we really need to explain what Romeo x Juliet is about? This is an anime loosely based on William Shakespeare's most renown tragic love story, which you should know is set in Verona, Italy. In this case, and since this is an alternate future, Romeo x Juliet is set in Neo Verona, a floating continent where the conflict between the Montague and the Capulet families takes place.
After a brutal war, Juliet is now the only Capulet alive, hoping to one day dethrone the evil Montague regime. And so Juliet becomes a vigilante called the Red Whirlwind! Well, not Juliet but Odin, the girl's new identity as a boy. After her first encounter with Romeo, however, Juliet's life is about to change, and fate will finally play its role. What will happen when Romeo and Juliet discover the true origins of each other? It's love versus inherited hatred!
4. Aria The Animation
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 2005 - December 2005
From Neo Verona, we travel to Neo Venezia, a city that takes all of what we know from present-day Venezia and transports it to planet Aqua, once known as Mars. Just like in real life, the one attraction that tourists can't avoid are the gondola rides through the Venetian canals! And so, the Aria Company was born, in which our protagonist, Akari Mizunashi works.
Akari is new to the city, coming from Manhome (what used to be the Earth) to work as a gondolier, what they call undine. But it's not easy to be the new one, neither at work nor in Neo Venice! Aria is an enjoyable slice of life about the ups and downs of working as an undine, and we can't ignore the Neo Venetian channels themselves, always in beautifully illustrated scenes.
3. Romeo no Aoi Sora (Romeo and the Black Brothers)
- Episodes: 33
- Aired: January 1995 - December 1995
Although it's been more than 2 decades since it first aired, Romeo no Aoi Sora is still one of the best sad-yet-heartwarming stories in anime, and that's why it's on our top 3. In Romeo no Aoi Sora, Romeo's father is ill but they have no money to pay for a doctor, so the poor kid starts working as a chimney sweep... but he's more like a slave, actually.
Traveling to Milan, Romeo meets a boy named Alfredo who helps him get through the situation, immediately becoming very good friends. But Alfredo himself has a tragic past, and so does every member of the newly created Black Brothers union, a group of kids working as chimney sweeps. If you are weak of heart, perhaps you should better overlook this anime, but it's for sure one of those stories that deserve everyone's respect for its emotional value.
2. Gunslinger Girl
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 2003 - February 2004
Gunslinger Girl is an anime about 5 modified girls with tragic lives, now transformed into killing machines to help the Italian government put an end to the mafia-like revolutionary groups. Although the main protagonist is Henrietta, we also follow the story of her new friends, Rico, Claes, Triela and Angelica.
Working for the Social Welfare Corporation, each girl is accompanied by her Fratello (a term that means "brother" in Italian), who are responsible for training and guiding them in their missions. Action-packed as it is, Gunslinger Girl is also full of beautiful landscapes inspired by Naples, Rome, and Florence, for example. Expect a lot of philosophical moments too!
1. Kurenai no Buta (Porco Rosso)
- Episodes: Movie
- Aired: July 1992
There's nothing like a Studio Ghibli movie to end our journey, right? Our first place regarding anime set in Italy goes to one of Hayao Miyazaki's best works, starring a flying pig. Marco Pagot was one of the best Italian Air Force pilots during World War I, until the day a curse transformed him into Porco Rosso, that is. Oh, but don’t worry, his skills are still intact in his new body! Are you in for a short trip to the Adriatic Sea?
Contacted by his childhood friend Gina, a woman with a thing for pilots but with no luck in terms of love, Porco Rosso is set to fight Donald Curtis and his Flying Pirates Alliance! Do you mind a love triangle in your action-comedy anime? Airship wars, romance, political content, and the stunning landscapes of Italy. There's a reason for Porco Rosso being one of Studio Ghibli's classics!
It was a great pleasure to visit Italy with you, but sadly it's time to put our feet on the ground and come back to reality. What was the anime set in Italy that you liked most on this list? Is there any other show you'd like to recommend? Whatever the case, we're sure you feel like eating pizza or a generous portion of pasta!
Lucky for us, anime set in Italy is not over and there’s a new one around the corner. JoJo’s 5th season is about to start and this time we go to Naples, another reason to pay attention to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind. Are you up for a new supernatural mafia anime? Before you go, feel free to leave us a comment. Grazie mille! Arrivederci!