China is the third largest country by total area and the current first economy in Asia. We are used to anime set in Japan because that’s typical and normal.
But what about China, a country with a millennial history? There aren’t many shows about this country but it’s still worth watching some to understand the visible differences with Japan.
Many of the anime here are historical and with war as a prominent theme, although romance won’t miss. Ancient fantasy China can be considered the equivalent of the Western medieval setting, and that’s why it’s so common.
This listicle about anime taking place in China is based on our experience and we will update it as soon as we get new information.
Table of Contents
9. Hakyu Hoshin Engi
A 2018 fantasy adventure released in 23 episodes from the shonen manga of the same name.
This time the Chinese setting comes from the original story that inspired this anime. It’s one of the greatest classics of Chinese literature, called The Investiture of Gods.
Here we see a very distinctive and impressive Chinese mythological world, full of demons and gods.
The plot is simple and effective and sees Taikobo travel to the human world to seal up the evil souls of monsters and spirits. The quest for good will be hard and full of challenges but necessary to save everyone.
Canaan came out in 2009, serving as a sequel to the visual novel 428: Shibuya Scramble. We recommend you play it if you want to have a full understanding of the plot.
The anime is set in Shanghai, where two journalists, Minoru Minorikawa and Maria Osawa, are at an anti-terrorism meeting looking for a scoop that can turn their careers around.
Here they will meet Canaan, an old friend of Maria’s, endowed with mysterious power.
Together they will investigate a dangerous biological weapon, the UA Virus, and the casualties caused by experiments conducted around it.
7. Beyond the Heavens
Historical anime, based once again on the novel Sangokushi, which fictionally adapts the history of the Han Dynasty, really existed in ancient China from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D.
We won’t see the boring generic war perspective as events will be narrated from the point of view of Cao Cao, the last prime minister of the dynasty.
An enjoyable viewing if you like war-themed anime with a lot of strategy inside them. This is a quite common trait for many shows with a Chinese setting.
6. Yokoyama Mitsuteru’s Romance of Three Kingdoms
A historical anime, showing us the struggle of Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei to end the rebellions that broke out in ancient China after the fall of the Han Dynasty.
The story is based on real events that occurred from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D. in a fictional key, drawing inspiration from the novel Sangokushi, a famous classic of Chinese literature.
On the technical side, it’s divided into 47 episodes and released in 1991. This anime is set in the same period as Beyond the Heavens and we recommend you do the nice experiment of comparing them.
In fact, what’s the better way for leaning history if not watching two different perspectives on the same events?
5. No Doubt in Us
A Chinese-made sentimental comedy released in 2021, in 24 episodes with an excellent graphic style.
The main characters in the story are the emperor of China and his queen, who feel deep hatred for each other. One day, as a result of a conspiracy, they exchange bodies after falling into a lotus pond.
Light comic situations mixed with beautiful settings of ancient China create a light and enjoyable viewing from which not to expect too much.
The plot isn’t the best but we enjoyed the charming scenery and vivid colors. Don’t expect any serious romance because the focus of the show is on drama and the plot.
4. Cooking Master Boy
The story takes place in 19th-century China during the Qing Dynasty. We are in the fictional era of culinary warfare and cooking wars , where the most renowned chefs hold the power.
Therefore, aspiring chefs are trying to expand and improve their skills to become the best chefs in the whole country, including Mao, the protagonist.
Imagine a classic battle shonen of the 2000s but transpose all the stereotypes into cooking. The training arcs and the continuous struggle on the look for perception but applied to cooking and cuisine.
Cooking Master Boy is one of those hidden gems you have to cherish and it’s a good experience you have to make if you love battle shonen.
You will get to see Szechuan at the beginning, the province in Southwest China and the most productive during the 19th century.
3. Mysterious Play (Fushigi Yuugi)
Miaka Yuki is 15 years old and a senior in a Japanese middle school.
One day she accompanies her friend Yui to the library, where the two girls notice an ancient Chinese book on the floor and begin to read it.
It’s an enchanted book that can grant the reader’s wishes, but simultaneously, the reader is sucked into its world, Konan.
They thus end up in a fantastical feudal Chinese world, where Miaka will discover that she is a decidedly important figure.
Mysterious Play is something you don’t want to miss if you are into betrayals and companionship, plus some good old Chinese mythology. This is a classic for the time and a must for historical romance lovers.
Famous shonen work from the early 2000s divided into 50 episodes.
Suddenly all over the world demons went mad and began attacking humans, with whom they had lived in peace and harmony until then. The cause of the madness would seem to be the attempted resurrection of the mighty demon Gyumao.
To stop the disaster, four adventurers are tasked to travel west to defeat him: the Buddhist monk Genjo Sanzo and the three demons Son Goku, Sha Gojyo, and Cho Hakkai.
Saiyuki takes place in Shangri-La, a fantasy world created by combining elements of ancient China fused with others from Japanese folklore, creating a very appealing union.
This is the peak of character development and the action is great, at the expense of the story that we consider quite average.
Saiyuki is one of the most Chinese things out there in terms of setting and one of our best recommendations.
Set in the year 245 B.C., Kingdom tells the story of Xin and Piao, two war orphans. The two, now reduced to servants, spend their time dreaming of fighting.
One day Piao is noticed by Shobunkun, adviser to Crown Prince Ying Zhen, who takes him with him to become a servant in the capital city of Kanyou. Upon his return, nothing is as before.
The story of Kingdom is a fictional adaptation of the Chinese historical period known as the Warring States Period, which ended in 221 B.C, making this show one of the best anime set in the middle ages.
This happened after Ying Zheng, King of Qin, completed the conquest of the other Chinese states by unifying them.
Some characters are inspired by real-life figures, although some names were changed to Japanese for adaptation.
Kingdom is the apotheosis of large-scale war operations and tension on the battlefield. This is further enhanced by Xin’s character growth, which will give him several benefits during battles, as showcased by his war finesse.