Historical anime that aren't set in Japan with a focus on Japanese history are actually pretty rare. So we wanted to make a list of some of the best. There's a lot here that may be focusing on a historical time period, or cribbing from a piece of historical literature as well.
We hope you enjoy!
10. Ikoku Meiro no Croisée ( Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth ~ The Animation)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul 4, 2011 to Sep 19, 2011
Set in the second half of the 1800's This series stars Yune, a young Japanese women who follows a frenchman named Oscar back to his native country. Yune wants to help Oscar at his family's shop in Paris. It's there that Yune meets claude, who owns the family shop and with reservations, agrees to take her in.
The story is about how two people of different cultures can come to understand one another. This is quite an underrated and underknown series that take SoL elements into an uncommon setting, and it's nice to see a historical series that doesn't focus so much on political or military drama. It's a great series if you want to see vignettes of Paris in the late 19th century, as well as enjoy some fun SoL character dynamics.
9. Young Black Jack
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct 2, 2015 to Dec 18, 2015
Young Black Jack serves as a prequel to Osamu Tezukas famous 'Black Jack' Manga. The series follows the eponymous character during his exploits in 1968. As such, it goes through all the turmoils of the time period where Japan was rocked by Student Protests sparked by the American war in Vietnam.
Young Black Jack is interesting enough for its depictions of the time-period, and the bits and pieces we get to see of an era standout. Now some of the series is set in Japan but a lot takes place abroad and concerns the geopolitics going on in the world during that era. Young Black Jack is definitely an interesting look at the broader world at the time and a worthwhile, under noticed series.
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Jan 8, 2011 to Jul 2, 2011
In the fictional, Alpine, European nation of Sauville in 1924, Kazuya Kujo is a Japanese student who's studying at Saint Marguerite Academy. Among the institution, urban legends and spooky stories are all the rage and Kazuya can ignore almost all of them. However, the story of Queen Berry, a mysterious phantom Ship, compels Kazuya. His Friend, the brilliant Victorique De Blois, is interested in all manner of these tales and get's wrapped up in them, bringing Kazuya along the way to solve some mysterious occurrences.
Gosick is an very interesting series with romance elements that has a pretty intriguing overall plot, which starts off as episodic mysteries but then get's into an engaging and dark overarching plot. At times Gosick sort of feels like a European Hyouka.
7. Arslan Senki (The Heroic Legend of Arslan)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 5, 2015 to Sep 27, 2015
Arslan Senki is the story of the crown prince Arslan, a gentle young boy who is looked down upon by his father the King, who worries that Arslan will be too weak to rule their kingdom of Pars. Disaster strikes Arslan and his father when the malevolent kingdom of Lusitania, eager to spread its religion, invades Pars and defeats the King in battle. Arslan, along with his trusted general, Daryun, must rally his countrymen and save his kingdom, bringing together a team of advisors and fighters to help liberate Pars.
Arslan Senki is based on ancient Persian legends and is a great series to watch If you like political and war dramas. I really appreciated Arslan's character arc as well as the moral complexities he has to go through in his quest. Arslan Senki is a great show that many missed and is also getting a second season sometime in 2016.
6. Romeo x Juliet
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr 5 2007 to Sep 26, 2007
Don't run away from the story preview as Romeo x Juliet is actually a different take on the foundational Shakespearean play! In this version, the Capulet family has almost been wiped out by the Montagues, with Juliet and a few retainers. Juliet has forgotten her family lineage, and has developed the persona of 'Red Whirlwind', where Juliet dresses as a man and acts as a hero of justice. Eventually, her and Romeo cross paths.
Romeo x Juliet has some fantastic art and character designs that seemed sort of unique to old Studio Gonzo shows coming out in the 2000's. It's definitely a great series and goes to show you what a little remixing can do to a classic story. Even though it's a bit of a remix on a historical piece of literature, what goes on in the plot's and the shady dealings between the family definitely echo real history and the turbulent time period that the original play was based on.
5. Le Chevalier D'Eon
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Jul 2, 2006 to Feb 23, 2007
D'eon de Beaumont is a Noble in service of Louis XV of France who acts as a spy and a member of an 18th century intelligence service. His sister, Lia de Beaumont, a fellow spy and French Agent is mysteriously murdered. Found floating in a coffin in the Seine river, her body preserved by Mercury poisoning with the word 'Psalms' mysteriously written on her. D'eon is heartbroken and endeavors to find out who killed his sister and why. What follows is a plotline that will hop across multiple European cities, giving vignettes of the whole continent going through the age of enlightenment.
Le Chevalier D'Eon has a fantastic, engaging and sometimes cerebral plot that offers a great look at it's time period and deals with real historical figures. Definitely a must watch for fans of Western history.
4. Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 11, 2015 to Mar 29, 2015
Junketsu is set in the thick of the Hundred Years War and Maria is a witch living in France, very close to lots of the fighting. Maria hates conflict and the death and suffering that the war brings. Maria tries to intervene and stop the combat which earns her some admirers, but also many enemies, as well as the ire of Heaven itself.
Junketsu no Maria is a fantastic series that really nails down history in a broader approach rather than history in the sense of merely a true account of events. Maria, through intervening in war, is upsetting a complex system of power. This include the nobility, the church, mercenary groups and the desires of the peasantry. Much of the series is about Maria handles her desire and her good intentions in intervention, with the fact that doing so, doesn't always end up benefiting those groups equally. There's also a strong romance, and some great theological and philosophical interplay at work here and it was one of my favorite series of 2015.
3. Hetalia World Series
- Episodes: 48
- Aired: Mar 26, 2010 to Mar 11, 2011
Hetalia is a series where bishounen's act as personification and caricatures of the European and other world-powers during the interwar period between the two world wars.
As such, Hetalia serves as sort of a comic take on the serious political issues of the day, but still gives us a good look onto what was going on in the time period. Hetalia is also a series of shorts, so it's not 24 minutes per episode but only 5 minutes, as it was designed to be short, spiffy, funny and light. Hetalia is a fun, unique piece of parody that's a good insight into the real historical happenings of the era.
2. Gankutsuou (Gankutsuou: Count of Monte Cristo)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 6, 2015 to Mar 31, 2015
Gankutsuou is another series loosely based on classic literature, this time the Alexandre Dumas novel count of Monte Cristo. It tells the story of Albert Morcerf, a young aristocrat who earns the interest of the Count of Monte Cristo. As their relationship grows, Albert invites many of his friends and family to meet the count, however, the count may have some ulterior motives behind his actions.
Much like Romeo x Juliet, which we previously discussed, Gankutsuou is sort of a different take on the original. However, it retains an historical aesthetic of early 19th century France as well as many of the social problems of the country during that time period. It's set in a futuristic sci-fi setting and has a very unique and vivid art-style. It's definitely a great way to engage with the source material in an original way though.
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jul 27, 2007 to Nov 2, 2007
Baccano! is a pretty wild ride, quite literally, that focuses on a number of different story paths converging into one, or rather, a number of stories that are all linked together some how. It almost sounds silly to describe it but Baccano! goes from Alchemists seeking to sustain immortality, to 1930's mafiosa, to the voyage of an intercontinental train called 'Flying Pussyfoot.'
It's something you really have to see to get but you won't be let down. Baccano! has a very solid mix of action, drama and humor, plus a lot of very engaging characters. Overall, it has a style and tone that feel very unique to itself and is why everyone should try it.
We hope you enjoyed this list and found some great series to choose from. There's definitely a lot to like in the series above, and a lot to keep you engaged and entertained if you watch them all.
Let us know what other historical anime that don't take place in Japan that you enjoyed in the comments below!