Historical fantasy anime are magical – they give us the ability to travel to and immerse ourselves in imaginative worlds inspired by the past. For history fans and fantasy lovers alike, these shows blend actual historical settings and events with supernatural elements for an exciting twist.
I’m a huge fan of anime that incorporates real historical periods into enchanting fantasy tales. If you also want to feel whisked away to the feudal era, Victorian London or ancient China with some myth and magic mixed in, here are 12 historical fantasies that need to be on your watch list:
1. Demon Slayer
(2019, 4 seasons)
Demon Slayer is one of the most popular recent shonen anime out there, and for good reason. It’s set in early 20th century Taisho era Japan and centers on kindhearted Tanjiro Kamado’s quest to find a cure for his beloved sister Nezuko after she’s turned into a demon.
The animation and scenery in this show perfectly capture old Japan. That, combined with the awesome Demon Slayer fight scenes, engaging characters, and emotional plot, make Demon Slayer a truly engrossing historical supernatural adventure.
2. Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji)
(2008, 3 seasons)
If you want to be transported to Victorian England, Black Butler is the perfect historical fantasy pick. It focuses on 12-year-old Ciel Phantomhive, the Queen’s Watchdog, who investigates crimes in underworld London with the help of his devilishly handsome demon butler, Sebastian.
Black Butler effortlessly integrates occult and mystery elements into aristocratic 19th-century English society. It also tackles darker themes like murder and corruption. With intricate characters and an intriguing story, Black Butler is a fabulous gothic fantasy.
3. The Case Study of Vanitas
(2021, 1 season)
For an anime with a paranormal twist on 19th century Paris, The Case Study of Vanitas is a great choice. The exquisite art captures the feel of the City of Light while incorporating steampunk fantasy styling.
Protagonists Vanitas and Noé team up to stop the spree of vampire murders and growing madness plaguing the city’s vampire population. With its engrossing plot, folklore roots and stunning alternate Belle Époque backdrop, The Case Study of Vanitas makes for an engaging historical supernatural watch.
(2009, 8 seasons)
InuYasha is a classic action-filled historical fantasy centered on modern middle school girl Kagome’s time-traveling adventures in Japan’s Sengoku period after falling through an enchanted well. She joins half-dog-demon Inuyasha on his quest to recover shards of the powerful jewel she shattered, the Shikon Jewel, and prevent evil from using it.
InuYasha seamlessly and vividly brings Japanese mythological creatures like yokai to life in the context of the Sengoku period for an exciting cultural experience.
5. Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku
(2023, 1 season)
Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku is a thrilling, more mature fantasy set in Japan’s Edo period. Our ruthless antihero protagonist, ninja Gabimaru the Hollow, gets sent to a mysterious island by the shogunate to find the elixir of immortality.
Cue poisonous plants, deadly creatures and supernatural enemies galore! This violent survival fantasy packs tons of action alongside psychoanalytic elements and insightful commentary. The historically accurate Edo period backdrop makes Hell’s Paradise a unique and thought-provoking watch.
(2006, 2 seasons)
Saiunkoku Monogatari whisks us away to an ancient Chinese imperial court setting in the fictional Saiunkoku empire. It follows the young, kind-hearted Shuurei Kou’s aspiration to become the empire’s first official court noblewoman after the emperor offers her the role.
Saiunkoku Monogatari provides an engrossing exploration of gender, class and politics in ancient China while incorporating romance and fantasy in the form of magic and mysticism. It’s a real treat.
7. Undead Murder Farce
(2023, 1 season)
Looking for a humorous take on historical fantasy? Check out Undead Murder Farce and its wacky premise. It takes place in an alternate late Edo period Japan where immortal detective Aya Rindo partners with an oni cage fighter and a maid to get her stolen body back.
The hilarious hijinks combined with accurate cultural and political Bakumatsu era details make Undead Murder Farce a truly fun, eccentric blend of history and supernatural shenanigans.
(2016, 1 season)
Drifters throw historical figures from different eras together in an epic dark fantasy world ravaged by war. Protagonist samurai Shimazu Toyohisa gets transported to this land where he joins forces with the likes of Nobunaga Oda and Rasputin to battle evil creatures called Ends.
Drifters features stunningly stylized animation and doesn’t hold back on the action and gore. If you want a gritty, badass historical fantasy full of legends, Drifters is perfect.
9. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
(2016, 1 season)
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress infuses industrial revolution steampunk vibes into an alternate feudal Japan crawling with zombie-like Kabane monsters after a virus outbreak. Protagonist Ikoma and fellow steam train passengers Mumei and others band together to battle Kabane and uncover political conspiracies.
Kabaneri blends samurai action, suspense, and apocalyptic fiction for a thrilling fantastical take on Japan’s Meiji Restoration.
10. Arslan Senki (The Heroic Legend of Arslan)
(2015, 2 season)
Arslan Senki transports us to the fictional ancient Persian-inspired kingdom of Pars as the young crown prince Arslan fights to reclaim his rightful throne from invading forces.
This thoughtful fantasy anime explores justice, morality, and leadership through grounded world-building and emotionally complex characters. Backed by its carefully crafted historical setting, Arslan Senki tells an impactful coming-of-age tale.
11. Fushigi Yuugi
(1995, 3 seasons)
Fushigi Yuugi is an iconic shojo historical fantasy. The story follows best friends Miaka and Yui who get pulled into the “Universe of the Four Gods” novel set in ancient China. Miaka must gather seven warriors based on constellations to summon the god Suzaku and get three wishes.
Known for its endearing characters, drama, and humor, Fushigi Yuugi also paints intricate historical Chinese kingdom backdrops that make the story even more engaging.
12. My Happy Marriage
(2023, 1 season)
My Happy Marriage is sure to please historical romance fans with its sugary sweet yet thoughtful love story. Set in Edo period Japan, it focuses on Miyo, a young woman in an arranged marriage with the rumored cold-hearted lord Kiyoka.
As they adjust to married life, the pair gradually fall in love. My Happy Marriage accurately conveys Edo period culture and class differences through a heartwarming lens.
Whether you want action, drama, comedy or romance, historical fantasy anime has it all. These shows make history come alive by fusing real cultural and period details with creative twists. If you’re looking to feel immersed in the past, I highly recommend giving these 12 anime a try! What’s your favorite go-to historical fantasy series? Let me know in the comments!