The 1900s are remembered as the Belle Epoque, a period marked by significant development, progress, and overall improvement in life. During this time, the world was either emerging from or still experiencing its own industrial revolution.
This is reflected in the presence of steam trains, firearms, and factories, which serve as the backdrop for the anime we are about to explore.
In contrast, the year 1910 is strongly influenced by World War I, one of global history’s most significant and defining events. And indeed some anime allude to this historical event, although they do not delve into specific details.
With this historical context in mind, let us now proceed to explore anime set in this era, offering us an animated perspective on history.
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6. Unbreakable Machine-Doll (1900)
In 2013, the anime adaptation of the light novel Unbreakable Machine-Doll was released, offering a thrilling combination of action, combat, and fantasy.
The story is set at the turn of the 20th century, when scientists developed a sophisticated form of magic known as Makinot. This magical art involves creating living objects through electrical circuits formed by spells.
Our protagonist, Akabane Raishin, is a young Japanese man skilled in this technique, travels to England to enroll at the prestigious Walpurgis Royal Academy. His goal is to become the greatest puppeteer in the world.
The anime presents a unique and fascinating setting that blends the typical elements of the 1900s, such as steam-powered trains and firearms, with fantasy and steampunk elements.
And rest assured that while the historical accuracy may not be 100%, this setting is undeniably captivating and you’ll love it.
5. Princess Principal (1900)
Princess Principal is an original story released in 2017 consisting of 12 episodes, offers a captivating blend of action, fantasy, thriller, and political themes.
The narrative revolves around the adventures of five girls in an alternate version of 19th century London, known as the Kingdom of Albion, in a city divided into east and west by a wall.
These girls, who are undercover spies, assume the identities of students at the prestigious Queen’s Mayfair Institute and employ their skills to infiltrate the underground world.
While the world-building in this anime is entirely fictional, it incorporates some elements of historical realism of the 1900s.
This includes the typical seigniorial clothing of the period, the presence of firearms, and grand royal palaces where tea ceremonies are held and fencing is practiced.
4. Demon Slayer (1910)
While we don’t know the exact year, Demon Slayer is confirmed to be set during the Taisho Era, a period in Japan that began in 1912. And this is evident from the fashion, steam locomotives, and the use of electricity, which were typical of that time.
This historical context is further emphasized by the attire of the villain Muzan, who is dressed in Western clothing. During this era, Japan had recently opened its borders, leading to the adoption of Western fashion trends by Japanese citizens.
The story follows Tanjiro, the eldest son of a poor family, who embarks on a journey after his entire family is killed by demons, leaving his sister Nezuko as the sole survivor, albeit transformed into a demon herself.
Determined to find a cure and restore his sister’s humanity, Tanjiro undergoes rigorous training to become a skilled demon hunter and uncover the mysteries surrounding these malevolent creatures.
While the setting of Demon Slayer is clearly fictional and incorporates supernatural and fantasy elements, it also incorporates accurate historical references, as mentioned earlier.
3. There Goes the Modern Girl (1910)
There Goes the Modern Girl originated as a manga back in 1975, and continues to be regarded as one of the most iconic shojo series even today.
Over the years, several animated adaptations have been produced, but we highly recommend the two-part movie series released between 2017 and 2018, as it is the most recent and faithful adaptation.
The story takes place in Japan and follows the journey of Benio Hanamura, a girl who finds herself betrothed to Lieutenant Shinobu Ijuin. However, Benio is a modern girl who refuses to conform to the outdated traditions of ancient Japan, and that’s why she rebels against her future husband and family, making their lives challenging.
The central theme of the story revolves around women’s emancipation and feminism, and the setting is unmistakably placed in 1910, as evident from various elements within the series.
One notable indicator is Shinobu Ijuin’s uniform, which resembles those worn by Japanese soldiers during World War I.
The presence of trains, the clothing worn by Japanese citizens, and the desire for modernity and departure from old traditions are glaring examples of the mindset of the Japanese people during this era.
2. Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood (1910)
Based on the manga written in 2001 by Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is an animated series that faithfully adapts the original storyline. Not to mention that’s widely regarded as a masterpiece and one of the best fighting anime of all time.
The anime follows the journey of two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, in a world where alchemy is widely practiced for various purposes, including warfare, medicine, and everyday life.
Their primary goal is to regain their lost bodies, which they sacrificed in an attempt to resurrect their deceased mother using alchemy.
Fullmetal Alchemist has a complex and intricate timeline, with significant events occurring even centuries before the main story begins. But according to the timeline, the events in the story are set around 1910, which places it within the timeframe we’re discussing.
But for a more detailed understanding of the timeline and its events since it’d be too complicated to explain, we recommend consulting this excellent Fullmetal Alchemist’s timeline made by the official fandom.
However, be cautious of potential spoilers while exploring it.
1. Golden Kamuy (1900)
Golden Kamuy is an ongoing anime released in 2018 that offers a captivating blend of war, drama, and a rich historical context that often goes underappreciated.
The story follows the journey of Saichi Sugimoto, a surviving ex-soldier driven by the desire to support the family of his deceased comrade.
His life takes a turn when he learns about a legendary criminal who stole a vast amount of gold and concealed it in Hokkaido.
The only clues to its whereabouts are encoded maps tattooed on the bodies of his former cellmates, with whom he made a pact to share the treasure.
In his quest for the hidden fortune, Sugimoto forms an unlikely alliance with Asirpa, a young girl whose family was tragically murdered by the criminal. Together, they embark on a thrilling search for the treasure.
The historical context of Golden Kamuy is firmly rooted in the early 1900s, specifically around the year 1908, as indicated by historical sources.
This is supported by the presence of the Hijikata bank, from which Sugimoto steals the gold, which was indeed established in 1908.