Top 10 Best Historical Anime of 2018 [Best Recommendations]

When it comes to historical anime, there’s a surprising amount of variety. More than just a comedic twist on historical events or gender-bending famous figures, reimaginings of history are becoming more popular. It’s a genre that can be just as easily serious as it can be comedic. And with so, so many years in so many parts of the world to look back on, the possibilities are endless! In anime, there seems to be no end to stories about the Sengoku Era, but there are many shows that explore what life was like or could have been like in other time periods. Whether you like more realistic retellings or historical events with a creative or magical spin, take a look at our Top 10 Best Historical Anime of 2018!

10. Souten no Ken: Regenesis (Fist of the Blue Sky: Regenesis)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2018 – June 2018

In Shanghai during the 1930s, gang fights and murder were rampant in the streets. The 62nd successor of the deadly Hokuto Shinken technique, Kasumi Kenshiro, can hope to keep some semblance of peace. Things become even worse when martial artist Fei-Yan brings a young orphan named Erika into the city in order to protect her. Many powerful, horrible people are after Erika’s secrets and even a full-out war looming on the horizon will stop them from killing anyone in their way. If Kenshiro hopes to keep these people at bay, he’ll have to use everything he has to protect Erika.

Souten no Ken is unsurprisingly incredibly similar to Hokuto no Ken being its prequel, but the attention and inclusion of historical facts do give it a different feel. With pressure from foreign powers shaping the events of the anime, it makes the surrounding world feel more real. It’s still very much a ‘good old Kenshiro goes around fighting and killing people in gruesome ways while not being able to save everyone’ so if you’re a fan of Hokuto no Ken and can get past the 3D models, you’ll like the familiarity.

9. Nobunaga no Shinobi: Anegawa Ishiyama-hen (Ninja Girl and Samurai Master: Anegawa and Ishiyama Arc)

  • Episodes: 26
  • Aired: April 2018 – September 2018

Chidori, an eager and loyal ninja girl, continues to serve her Lord Nobunaga. As Nobunaga moves his sites to Anegawa and later, Ishiyama, he must rely on his clever and powerful allies to help him realize his dream of uniting all of Japan. Whether it be suggesting muscle contests, sneaking into castles, or slaying entire squads while looking adorable, Chidori wishes for nothing more than to prove her usefulness to Nobunaga.

This minisode series is about the Sengoku Era focusing on its many battles as opposed to which warlord is the most date-able, so it shouldn’t seem surprising how much blood and death is in it. However, due to the incredibly cute and simplistic art combined with Chidori’s adorable attitude, it can be a bit shocking at times. The general feel is light and funny, yet we watch people get killed and even mutilated. For those with a serious fascination for the Sengoku Era as well as a darker sense of humor and appreciation for cute things, it’s great.

8. Tong Ling Fei (Psychic Princess)

  • Episodes: 8+
  • Aired: November 2018 – currently airing

When a royal edict commands that the Prime Minister’s daughter must marry into the cruel Ye family, he hatches a scheme to replace his beloved daughter with the twin sister he shunned and forced to live in the mountains. He doesn’t care what happens to his abnormal, psychic daughter Yunxi and Yunxi just can’t wait to start a new life. Of course, her new husband wants nothing to do with her, but Yunxi rejoices in her newfound freedom. Perhaps her new life will be more wonderful than anyone could have imagined.

While there are many romantic stories of marrying into royalty, Yunxi’s fate hardly improves when she marries the sadistic Youming. Marrying off your children at the whim of the royal family or for political gain is, unfortunately, historically accurate. So too is the notion that children with special abilities or different powers would bring calamity on their household. Despite these depressing themes, Tong Ling Fei is a very fun and upbeat show about an unstoppable woman refusing to let anyone control her happiness.

7. Basilisk: Ouka Ninpouchou (Basilisk: The Ouka Ninja Scrolls)

  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired: January 2018 – June 2018

10 years after the initial war of the Kouga and Iga ninja clans, their shaky alliance begins to unravel. With increasing hostility between Tadanaga Tokugawa and his brother, a new threat arises hoping to make use of the chaos to hide their sinister plans for power. Siblings Hachirou and Hibiki not only have to deal with the tremendous pressure of their clan wanting them to procreate for the sake of keeping their bloodline pure, but also of knowing a simple mistake in wielding their powers can be the difference between protecting or destroying their clan.

There’s a lot to take in with this one. Before you get up in arms about the incest, know we’re not thrilled about it either but hey, it’s history. While this is more of a fantasy setting, the Iga and Kouga were real ninja clans. When, how, and who you were born to absolutely dictated your fate, much as it does in the repeating events of the sequel to Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou.

6. Zoku Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: January 2018 – March 2018

The second season of Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru has even more sword boys and more everyday life in the Citadel. The threat of the Retrograde Army is never far off and the ancient weapons must be ready at any moment for battle. That doesn’t stop them from trying out human customs, making food, and coming up with new ways to welcome new members.

Zoku Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru is the natural progression from season 1. With even more humanized weapons, more historical figures and their relationships are explored through the viewpoint of their trusted weapons. There are many historical events that are covered, and a lot of them are relatively unknown to minor history buffs. If you like cute boys you’ll certainly get your fill, but if you love Japanese historical figures and the weapons that helped them claim notoriety, Zoku Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru will provide.

5. Bakumatsu

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: October 2018 – December 2018

Shinsaku and Kogorou are good at what they do but following orders is not one of those things. Defying the Choshu’s orders, the two warriors attempt to steal a rumored magical timepiece that can grant phenomenal power to whoever wields it. However, after stealing it themselves, a mysterious ninja woman steals it from them. Not long after, they find themselves in a strange version of Kyoto that seems to meld the past and the future. All they know for sure is that the all-powerful man lording over the frightened city must be defeated, but how can they stop someone who can stop time itself?

This is an example where people get a little creative with history. During the Bakumatsu, otherwise known as the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the Shinsengumi fought to protect both the Tokugawa as the ruling clan and to protect peace in Kyoto from those opposing Western influence into Japan. In this new Bakumatsu universe where male fighters wear revealing clothing and incredible future technology keeps the new lord in power, we also see numerous historical figures meeting and fighting with people who weren’t alive at the same time.

4. Mo Dao Zu Shi

  • Episodes: 15
  • Aired: July 2018 – October 2018

Once a renowned cultivator and demon exterminator, Wei Wuxian became feared and was killed by the very people that used to admire him. In an interesting twist of fate, Wuxian’s soul is summoned into the body of a tortured man who gives up his life in exchange for revenge. Wuxian is more than happy to get another shot at life and just hopes his past won’t come back to haunt him, but it does in the form of cultivator Wangji who has never forgotten him.

China seems to have a lot of characters in horrible, dark circumstances that really make the most out of their life. Set in a fictional ancient China where demons and zombies plague humans, Mo Dao Zu Shi employs many historical themes such as class systems, folklore as reality, and life being governed by the official religion of the time/place. It’s beautifully animated with gorgeous characters and exciting fight scenes.

3. Tsukumogami Kashimasu (We Rent Tsukumogami)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2018 – October 2018

Siblings Okou and Seiji run the small shop Izumoya known as the place to rent anything from everyday items to beautiful decorations or clothes one could not normally afford. It is whispered though, that they also have tsukumogami, or objects that over time became sentient and gained spirits. While Okou and Seiji cannot talk directly to the tsukumogami, they are able to listen to the conversations of their rentable items and learn the secrets they keep.

If you wanted a spiritual historical setting without the drama of massacres and or slavery for a corrupt royal family, Tsukumogami Kashimasu will definitely work for you. It remains relatively stress-free while still making you feel like you’re in another time. The different stories told by the Tsukumogami help you see what life during the Edo period from samurai to common folk was like from samurai to common folk as well as some of the superstitions of the times.

2. Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki (Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2018 – September 2018

When the Mongols threaten the small island of Tsushima, they find an unlikely hero in the exile Jinzaburou. Impressed with princess Teruhi’s resolve to face the destruction facing her home, Jinzaburou resolves to help her along with other exiles brought over from the mainland. The Mongols are a fearsome and merciless enemy, but some things are worth fighting for.

It’s no surprise a story about war will be bloody and depressing and that’s definitely in store with Angolmois. While the fighting is the main point of the anime, there are so many characters with different philosophies, loyalties, and experiences that make you invested in them before they’re usually brutally murdered. There’s a little bit of humor to break up the tragedy, and an indomitable fighting spirit that will make you want to watch this show to the end.

1. Golden Kamuy

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2018 – June 2018

Sugimoto has earned himself the name ‘The Immortal” after his daring accomplishments during the Russo-Japanese war. He hopes to simply raise enough money to take care of the widow of his best friend who died by his side. He happens upon the legend of a great treasure map tattooed onto the backs of prisoners that when combined leads to innumerable wealth. After meeting an Ainu girl who also seeks these prisoners for her own reasons, the two join forces in the desolate cold of the Hokkaido wilderness.

Set in the Meiji Era, a time not often the setting of anime, we get to know the Ainu people, a people not often in anime. It has a lot of history in the setting, plot, and people but with the very personal and interesting story of a war veteran that can be gentle and vicious and his alliance with Asirpa, a girl whose actions are ruled by balance and respect for nature but harbors a lust for vengeance. It’s not for the faint of heart as the gathering of ‘maps’ is a little gruesome, but there’s a lot of philosophy, exploration of the Ainu people, and intriguing characters.

Final Thoughts

2018 gave us a lot of historical settings to choose from both Japanese and Chinese history. With so much legend woven into their historical texts, there’s so much variety and artistic license that can be taken to turn old stories into new ones. If there are other historical anime from last year you think deserve a mention, let us know in the comments!

BAKUMATSU-Wallpaper Top 10 Best Historical Anime of 2018 [Best Recommendations]


Author: May

Hey friends! I reside in Georgia and use my degree in Japanese primarily to (barely) read doujinshi that hasn’t been translated. Beyond deciding who is best girl in whatever I happen to be watching, I really enjoy ballroom dancing, reading, crying over dating sims, karaoke, and being surrounded by beautiful things~ (You know, scenery, décor, boys, stuff like that). I also love talking about passions with others!

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