Top 20 Anime Set in Feudal Japan
If you want to learn more about the age of samurais, warlords and times when battle raged across Japan, there is some epic and interesting anime actually set in feudal Japan. They are different to the modern day anime, and have roots deep within past Japanese culture.
Step into the world of the samurai, the shogante and shinsengumi, between the eras of Heain and Meiji. It is a great escape into a historical timepiece of fighting and power.
The fights are grand and the storylines are brutal and power-hungry. Here are the top 20 anime to watch, all based in feudal Japan.
1. Rurouni Kenshin
This anime is set in the early Meiji period. Kenshin Himura is an assassin who is a lonely wanderer. He travels with his reverse blade sword, a dark past and happy disposition, but he is the only one to protect Japan from darker forces. Follow him on his lone quest to save those who live in his beautiful country. It is a story of finding power on your own and working thanklessly to protect those who might not even be aware of your existence.
2. Samurai Kings
Japanese warlords unite in this epic anime to overthrow an evil ruler. Backed by ninja assassins and powerful warriors, they ignite bloodshed and war throughout Japan in a quest to overturn the person in power and hopefully obtain it for themselves. If you love fighting, war and gore, this is a power play anime that will have you enthralled.
3. House of Five Leaves
Illustrated by the talented Illa Natsume Ono, this is an anime not to be missed. Having being dismissed from previous leaders and trainers, Akitsu Masanosuke becomes the bodyguard for the leader of the notorious gang the Five Leaves. Watch as he is pulled into the world of outlaws and crime, and how his character and morals develop around this new world.
4. Samurai Gun
With 13 episodes in total, this anime is jam packed with action and storyline. Miyamoto is a fighter who has an electro-sword and revolvers that kill demons. He seeks to destroy evils while looking to win over the heart of his love, Kaguyahime. He needs to overcome his teenage tendencies and moods to become the true warrior he can be.
Disguising herself as a man, Chizuru Yukimura sets out to find her missing father, doctor Koudou. She unintentionally witness the ronin being assassinated and inhumanely killed by men with white hair, and is pulled into their realm when she is kidnapped. Her fate lies in their hands, they can kill and silence her or keep her hostage. However, they soon learn who her father is, and as it turns out, they have been looking for him too. She is now caught between two groups, and political tension is growing within Kyoto.
6. Afro Samurai
Afro Samurai is the story of one warrior looking to avenge his father’s death, who was killed by someone looking to claim his place with the number 1 headband. He climbs the ranks until he finally can challenge his father’s killer. The anime is set in feudal Japan, but is also futuristic at the same time, giving it a bit of a different twist. It involves patience and training, all working towards a goal to avenge the death of a loved one. Only through training and determination will he be able to obtain his ultimate goal, and in turn possess great power.
7. Time of Shura
Also known as Shura no Toki, this is a story of power and family. Three generations choose to bear the name Mutsu, which gives them the power of the invincible style of martial arts known as Mutsu Enmei-Ryu. It is an unarmed type of combat that utilizes incredible speed and strength to defeat almost anyone. This series sees these powerful warriors going head to head with formidable opponents.
Feudal Japan has been invaded by aliens called The Amanto. Swords have been banned through prohibition and the age of the samurai is looked down upon. There is one man, Gintoki Skata, who still has the heart of the samurai and with his companion Shinpachi Shimura, they take upon a journey of self-discovery which leads to rebellions, run-ins with the police and scuffles with rebels. Gintoki Sakata works as a yorozuya and has a sweet tooth of note. He needs to put his loves aside to seek out justice and look to rectify the balance of power in now invaded and conquered Japan.
9. Shigurui: Death Frenzy
Lord Tokugawa Tadanaga holds fighting tournaments during the Edo Era, where wooden swords were used. Times change and new rules are introduced, now real swords are used in these matches, and only the strongest will survive. Irako Seigen who is blind and Fujiki Gennosuke who only has one arm, are next to fight. They both studied under Iwamoto Kogan, who is the greatest swordsman in Japan. Whoever wins the fight becomes the successor to Iwamoto’s school. In the anime there will be twists in destiny and unlikely fates falling upon those who seek success and championship.
10. Peacemaker Kurogane
Ichimura witnessed the murder of his parents at the hands of one of the Choushuu. At the age of 15, he approached the Shinsengumi, desperate to become one of their members and study under them. They however felt he lacked the skill, discipline and emotional calm to kill opponents on a whim. He is backed by his brother Tatsunosuke and a group of friends formed through the Shinsengumi, but the bloodshed and pain he is to experience will be something he could never have expected.
11. Samurai Champloo
With animal-like fighting skills, Mugen is a warrior like no other. Jin is traditional and old fashioned with his fighting ways, true to the samurai values. These two warriors do not consider each other friends, but the universe has other plans for them. They continuously cross paths and are destined to be intertwined. In a teahouse, Mugen runs into Jin and Fuu. Fuu convinces them both to join forces and accompany her in the search for a mysterious samurai, who apparently smells like sunflowers. It is a journey of two opposites, who must learn to walk side-by-side, even through their differences.
Something a little different, Inuyasha is a fairy tale set in feudal Japan. Kagome Higurashi leaves her life behind as she is dragged into a cursed well on the grounds of her family’s Shinto Shrine by a demon. The fifteen year old girl never reaches the bottom, instead she is transported back five hundred years to the violent Sengoku period where demons are in search for the wish-granting jewel, the Shikon Jewel, which happens to have been reborn inside of her. A demon shatters the shards inside of her, and she then teams up with Inuyasha, a hybrid dog/human, to collect these shattered pieces before they are found by the wrong people. They are joined by an orphaned fox demon, Shippo, a wise monk Miroku, and a demon slayer of note, Sango. Together they search for the shards through a feudal Japan.
13. Samurai 7
This anime is a feudal Japan on another planet, in the future. Samurais mechanized their bodies and were at war. Once the war was done, the planet settled down into a peaceful era. However, mechanized bandits called the Nobuseri torment villagers. The villagers from Kanna Village decide to hire samurai for protection. The water priestess of the village, Kirara and her little sister, along with Rikichi, set off to find and hire a samurai. They have nothing to offer other than rice from harvest. Somehow through luck and determination, they gather up seven samurai to fight against the Nobuseri, looking to save the village and the people inside of it.
14. Hyouge Mono
Set during the Era of Warring States (Sengoku Jidai), this anime focusses on Futura Sasuke, from the Warloard Oda Nobunaga, who is obsessed with material belongings and tea ceremonies. He walks the path of the Hyouge Mono, all from his training from Oda and the ever legendary tea master Sen no Soueki. He is in search of a fortuitous life.
15. Exile Generation (Examurai Sengoku)
This futuristic anime is actually a bunch of members from the Exile group who are futuristic samurais, they are transported back to the Sengoku Era in Japan, which was the Era of Warring States. Follow them through their battles and journeys in this foreign land. Though their style of fighting is from the future and advanced in ways the era couldn’t understand, they are able to overcome obstacles that are generic to all, no matter what time you live in.
16. Blade of the Immortal
A bloody battle ensues after a samurai warrior cursed with immortality vows to help a young woman seek revenge for the death of her parents. Manji is tired of his life of eternal bloodshed, and wants to regain his mortality. He looks to do this by killing one hundred evil men for each of the lives he has taken. This totals up to one thousand men, and the witch who cursed him to immortality agrees to the deal. Together with Rin, the young girl seeking to avenge her parent’s death, the two take upon a journey of danger and constant barrage, each seeking revenge and salvation.
17. Brave 10
Isanami is a young priestess from Izumo. She watches as a group of evil ninja tear her temple down and burn it while slaughtering the people inside. She has to flee into the forest to avoid being slaughtered herself. In the forest, she runs into a masterless ninja named Saizou Kirigakure from the Iga School. They travel to ask Yukimura Sanada at the Ueda Castle for help. Isanami is in possession of a devastating and mysterious power. Sanada readily agrees to help her, and they enlist the help of 10 brave samurai warriors to help her on her quest.
18. Gifuu Doudou: Kanetsugu to Keiji
During the Sengoku Era, many samurai warriors and heroes were made. One such legend was Naoe Kanetsugu, he is the leader of the Uesugi family, and is a brilliant military general. Along with Maeda Keiji who himself is a legendary warrior, they become best friends and lifelong companions who really make a name for themselves during the most volatile period in Japan, the epitome of the feudal era.
During the feudal era in Japan, the inhabitants of Edo are constantly under siege by giant insects who destroy the land. The government puts in place the Insect Magistrate Office, who gather the strongest of warriors to try and defend against these pests, and hopefully destroy them. The main character is Jinbee Tsukishima, who strives to be a master sword fighter. He blames himself for a tragic accident that happened, and in atonement he seeks to take his father’s place as a member on the Insect Magistrate Office. He earns respect by saving the life of a woman on his way to the magistrate, and thus the rookie fighter embarks on his journey to rid the land of the giant bugs.
20. Kazemakase Tsukikage Ran
Featured in the Edo period, otherwise known as the Tokugawa period, exists Ran. She is a wandering samurai who loves sake, but not as much as she loves her katana. She is joined on her journeys by Lady Meow of the Iron Cat Fist, who is a Chinese martial arts expert. The show Tsukikage Ran (Created by the Wind), consists of short episodes that depict different stories from the travels of these two skilled female fighters.
The Best Anime in Feudal Japan
Travel through feudal Japan, both ancient and futuristic, with these enthralling and wild anime series that follow the most incredible samurai warriors, and the friends and characters they pick up along the way. Finding history through anime is one of the best ways to explore culture and heritage, celebrating what makes Japan the country it is today, even if a lot of it (or most of it) is painted with a little bit of fiction and fantasy. Who doesn’t love a good story mixed among the history of the world.