Feudal Japan, as any anime and manga fan knows, is fascinating for several reasons.
It’s a lengthy period that encompasses several epochs of Japanese history, starting in 1185 with the Heian period and extending until a few years after the conclusion of the Edo period in 1871.
And whether it’s the captivating atmosphere of Japanese legends with the backdrop of autumn leaves by the riverside or the epic battles involving swords and samurai, ancient Japan possesses an undeniable beauty.
To immerse yourself in these atmospheres, let’s explore the best anime set in feudal Japan that are sure to captivate you.
Table of Contents
Hakuoki is an anime that blends a supernatural plot with real elements of Japanese history, particularly highlighting the presence of the Shinsengumi, a renowned police force that defended the Tokugawa Shogunate.
The story revolves around Chizuru Yukimura, the daughter of a doctor who mysteriously disappeared during a trip to Kyoto.
Determined to uncover the truth and find her father, Chizuru embarks on a quest that immerses her in the midst of a conflict involving the Shinsengumi, where one of its members has been transformed into an Orc.
Hakuoki is an intriguing anime that caters to those seeking a blend of action, supernatural elements and a lot of mystery.
Not recommended if you want historical accuracy, we warned you!
Amatsuki is an anime adaptation of the Josei manga of the same name by Shinobu Takayama, which was released in 2008 and consists of 13 episodes.
The story follows Tokidoki, a high school student who, after failing his history exam, is compelled to attend a lecture at a museum. During the lecture, he is transported into a simulation of Edo period Japan, intended to teach him about the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Within this virtual world, everything appears real and can be accessed through special glasses. However, Tokidoki soon finds himself under attack by two mysterious figures, leaving him trapped in the virtual realm after his glasses break.
Amatsuki serves as an intriguing fusion of classic elements found in anime set in feudal Japan and modern themes, thanks to the inclusion of actual virtual reality as a catalyst for the events.
If you’re seeking an anime with an engaging storyline and lighter elements, Amatsuki could be a satisfying choice.
19. Brave 10
Brave 10 is a 2012 anime consisting of 12 episodes, which takes a more thuggish approach compared to other entries on this list.
The Battle of Sekigahara, a significant event marking the end of the Sengoku period, has finally concluded.
Ninja Saizou Kirigakure unexpectedly encounters Isa Nami, a priestess targeted by assassins after her temple was destroyed under Yukimura Sanada’s orders.
The two form an alliance, unraveling a mystery surrounding the girl’s enigmatic powers and the reasons behind her pursuit.
Brave 10 is an anime that, in comparison to other titles on this list, exhibits some noticeable flaws, including meh animations and poorly portrayed characters.
However, these shortcomings do not diminish the fact that it remains a worthwhile addition to your collection if you enjoy feudal Japan settings and have yet to watch it.
18. Jinbe Revolution
Jinbe Revolution is a 2013 anime consisting of 26 episodes that deliberately adopts a lighter and more comedic approach compared to the traditional anime set in feudal Japan.
You’ll follow the protagonist Tsukishima Jinbe, a skilled swordsman, who is recruited for a mercenary assignment.
Little does he know that he will encounter a series of unexpected and unpredictable events.
If you are seeking a series that allows you to relax and enjoy a lighthearted and comedic storyline still set in feudal Japan albeit not entirely accurate, then this anime is a great choice.
Its comic atmosphere and inclusion of supernatural elements contribute to its highly enjoyable nature, making it great if you’re looking for an anime that you can watch without having to follow intricate plots.
17. Time of Shura
Time of Shura is a martial arts anime set in feudal Japan, released in 2004 and consisting of 26 episodes. Unlike other series on this list, it shifts the focus away from samurai and instead explores the world of martial arts.
The story revolves around the Mutsu Enmei-Ryu, a lethal technique passed down to a select few individuals, empowering them to disarm and defeat armed opponents using only their bare hands.
The narrative follows the journeys of three boys who possess and employ this formidable technique.
For those seeking an anime set in feudal Japan that breaks away from the traditional samurai protagonist while still delivering a lot of action, Time of Shura is an excellent choice.
Additionally, the series boasts a notable narrative structure, with three parallel stories that gradually intertwine.
16. Samurai Gun
Samurai Gun is an intriguing samurai anime that was released in 2004 and spans 12 episodes.
Set in an alternate and dystopian version of ancient Japan, the Shoguns seized power and rule with tyranny, exploiting their authority and oppressing the people.
Standing against them is Ichimatsu, a samurai who masquerades as a regular worker in a local tavern during the day, but at night, he takes up arms and fights against the abuse with gunfire.
These are the premises of Samurai Gun, an anime that offers a unique perspective on feudal Japan by incorporating a blend of realism and action, without the inclusion of fantasy elements.
While clearly historical accuracy may not be its primary focus, Samurai Gun presents an intriguing what-if scenario that captivates viewers and allows them to explore an alternative narrative of this era.
15. Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran
Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran is an anime set in feudal Japan, produced by Madhouse and released in 2000, offering a delightful blend of action and comedy.
The series revolves around the adventures of Ran and Miao, two wandering individuals who encounter various adversaries in a fantastic Tokugawa-era Japanese setting.
The story unfolds through 13 self-contained tales, each featuring a new enemy to overcome within an authentic Japanese backdrop.
If you are seeking an anime that can be enjoyed without the need to follow a continuous plotline, this series is an excellent choice due to its episodic narrative structure.
Furthermore, it maintains a predominantly light and action-oriented atmosphere, complemented by meticulously crafted and accurate settings, further enhancing its appeal.
14. Sengoku Basara
Sengoku Basara is a 2009 anime adaptation of the videogame of the same name, which diligently portrays the story of Oda Nobunaga during the Sengoku period in an accurate and historically inspired manner.
Taking inspiration from the actual Sengoku period, the anime vividly captures the military conflicts of ancient Japan, characterized by fragmented provinces and intense battles.
At its core, the series revolves around Oda Nobunaga, known as the Sixth Demon King, who possesses a relentless ambition to conquer and reunite the chaotic country under his rule.
However, he encounters formidable adversaries in the form of Yukimura Sanada and Masamune Date, two young generals who forge an unlikely alliance to resist Oda’s unstoppable armies.
If you have an interest in delving into the story of one of the greatest and most influential figures in Japanese history through an anime, Sengoku Basara is the best you can ask for.
13. Peace Maker Kurogane
Peace Maker Kurogane, a samurai anime from 2003, diverges from the typically serious and solemn moments found in other series on this list, instead focusing on comedy and lighthearted elements.
The protagonist is a determined 15-year-old boy seeking revenge for his parents’ murder, despite his small stature posing a challenge by wielding a sword.
Undeterred, he perseveres and undergoes rigorous training to overcome this obstacle and accomplish his goal.
Peace Maker Kurogane can be seen as a parody of the classic serious and violent samurai anime, offering a refreshing twist to the genre.
So, if you are indeed seeking this kind of comedic take on samurai stories, it’s an excellent choice to consider.
12. Hyouge Mono
Hyouge Mono is a 2011 historical anime released in 39 episodes, depicting the eccentric tale of a man alongside Japan’s greatest conqueror.
The narrative is set in ancient Japan, during the time when the renowned warrior Oda Nobunaga is gradually leading his troops towards the unification of the country.
However, the focus of the story does not lie solely on Nobunaga himself, but rather on his vassal named Sasuke Furata. He is a peculiar and eccentric individual with a deep obsession with the tea ceremony and other Zen-related customs.
As you may already be aware, and as you will discover in other anime on this list, the rise of Oda Nobunaga is a pivotal event in the Sengoku period, showcasing him as one of the greatest conquerors and warriors.
Due to this context, Hyouge Mono stands out as a unique and captivating anime, as it presents the story of this remarkable character through the perspective of his loyal right-hand man, offering an intriguing and fresh outlook.
11. Samurai 7
Samurai 7 is a 26-episode anime produced by Studio Gonzo, inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s legendary masterpiece of the same name.
The story is set in the Sengoku period and revolves around a village that suffers from constant attacks by bandits who plunder their rice, plunging the inhabitants into extreme poverty.
In order to defend the village, a group of seven skilled samurai is recruited, and their mission unfolds with escalating intensity, packed with action and unraveling mysteries.
Samurai 7 masterfully combines the elements of classic samurai tales with influences from the steampunk genre, resulting in a truly unique anime experience.
If you’re looking for an out-of-the-box samurai anime and you’re a fan of the just-mentioned steampunk elements, there’s no way you miss this little masterpiece.
10. Miss Hokusai
This 2015 movie is set in Tokyo in the year 1814, a time when the capital of Japan was vibrant and just beginning to embrace international connections.
Tetsuzo, an artist in his mid-fifties, resides in his chaotic house-atelier, dedicating his time to creating artwork for numerous clients.
However, the true protagonist is Tetsuzo’s daughter, O-Ei, a 23-year-old who inherited her father’s talents and stubbornness. She frequently works for him, often painting uncredited pieces instead of her father.
Her talent will later gain recognition in Europe, as Japan fully opens its doors to the world at the end of the Edo period. She becomes known by the name Katsushika Hokusai.
Miss Hokusai is an exceptional and underrated anime movie that combines stunning animations with a realistic and relatable story.
As you may notice, the themes primarily revolve around women’s emancipation and the role of women in feudal Japan, but they also delve into the concept of pursuing dreams and passions without being overshadowed.
Mononoke is a stunning avant-garde anime that captivates viewers with its unique style and atmosphere.
With only 12 episodes, it takes us on a journey following the adventures of a nameless character who confronts and destroys Mononoke, evil spirits that feed off negative human emotions.
The series is divided into five distinct stories, each spanning two to three episodes. This division adds an interesting dynamic to the pacing of the series, keeping it engaging and immersive throughout.
Mononoke presents a spectacular feudal Japanese setting infused with fantasy and paranormal elements. The animation style deliberately embraces a gritty aesthetic that is simply amazing.
Watching Mononoke is a truly one-of-a-kind experience that we highly recommend. Don’t miss out on this exceptional anime that pushes boundaries.
Shigurui is a 2007 anime comprising 12 episodes that presents a samurai tale that is as realistic as it is dark and violent.
Set in the year 1629 of feudal Japan, the story revolves around the renowned warrior Kogan Iwamoto, who has earned legendary status through his exceptional swordsmanship.
As time passes, Iwamoto grows old and realizes the need to appoint a successor to inherit his deadly techniques and marry his daughter.
Among the candidates, Gennosuke and Seigen emerge as the most promising, both sharing a deep passion for the sword but differing greatly in their backgrounds. But little do they know that a dark and treacherous path awaits them.
Shigurui stands out as a samurai anime that boasts incredible historical accuracy, immersing viewers in a world of honor and customs that will make them feel connected to the events unfolding.
It is definitely one of the best recommendations we have for you today.
Inuyasha, an iconic anime based on the manga by Rumiko Takahashi, referred to as the queen of manga, is a must-mention on this list.
The story revolves around Kagome, a typical eighth-grade student who unexpectedly finds herself transported 500 years into the past, to the Sengoku era, after falling down a well in her home’s garden.
In this era, she learns that she is the reincarnation of Kikyo, a powerful priestess tasked with safeguarding the four-spirit orb, a coveted object sought by villains.
Teaming up with Inuyasha, a half-demon with canine characteristics, Kagome embarks on a journey to protect the sacred relic from falling into the wrong hands.
Inuyasha stands as one of the best examples, if not the absolute best, of seamlessly blending an amazing feudal setting with elements of fantasy with an action plot filled and well-written romance subplots.
If you have yet to experience the captivating world of Inuyasha, you are truly missing out on a great series.
Gintama has emerged as one of the most beloved series in recent years, boasting 357 episodes and serving as an adaptation of Hideaki Sorachi’s manga.
The series follows the thrilling events of Gintoki, Shimpachi, and Kagura, a trio of individuals who join forces to establish the Yorozuya handyman agency.
Set in a world where an alternate version of feudal Japan has fallen under the control of extraterrestrial beings, resulting in a blend of traditional Japanese settings and the advanced technology brought by the alien invaders.
Gintama stands out as a truly unique and comprehensive anime experience that we highly recommended. Its comedic scenes will have you in fits of laughter, while its serious and action-packed moments will captivate you with their intricate fights and profound psychological depth.
It’s important to note that historical accuracy isn’t Gintama’s strongest suit, which may be considered a drawback for those seeking a more historically grounded narrative within the samurai genre.
5. Blade of the Immortal
Blade of the Immortal is an iconic anime in the samurai genre of the 2000s that recently received a remake that we highly recommend, as it features more modern animation and a more comprehensive story.
The tragic murder of Rin‘s parents, who were the sole heirs of the Muten Ichiryu school, at the hands of Anotsu Kagehisa, a prominent member of the rival Itto-Ryu school, fuels her burning desire for revenge.
In her quest for vengeance, Rin seeks the assistance of Manji, a renowned ronin known for slaying his lord and countless other samurai.
What distinguishes Manji is his immortality as an immortal samurai, as he possesses the Kessen-chu worm within his body, granting him the ability to heal any wound.
Blade of the Immortal is set in the second year of the Tenmei era in feudal Japan and tells a gripping and honorable story filled with bloody combat and a supernatural twist.
If you are a fan of such works, this is definitely a series you should not miss.
4. Rurouni Kenshin
Rurouni Kenshin is undoubtedly one of the milestones of samurai-themed anime. It consists of a 95-episode anime adaptation based on the manga of the same name by Nobuhiro Watsuki.
This captivating series delves into the dramatic lives of proud Japanese warriors, weaving tales of love and conflict that add depth to the overall narrative.
At the heart of the story is Kenshin Himura, a legendary warrior who, having played a pivotal role in the overthrow of the Tokugawa shogunate, seeks redemption by dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and upholding justice.
Rurouni Kenshin stands as one of the best choices for those seeking an exceptional anime set in feudal Japan.
It skillfully incorporates realistic and accurate elements of life during that period, portraying intense samurai clashes, breathtaking settings, and capturing the customs and costumes unique to feudal Japan.
3. Samurai Champloo
Samurai Champloo is a 26-episode masterpiece created by filmmaker Shinichiro Watanabe, renowned for his cult hit Cowboy Bebop.
Throughout its captivating 26 episodes, viewers are taken on a thrilling journey, joining the adventures of Mugen, Jin, and Fuu. These three characters are eccentric and well-developed, and their exploits unfold against the backdrop of a perfectly portrayed Edo period.
The story revolves around their enthralling adventures, often presented in self-contained episodes that contribute to the overall plot.
In all sincerity, Samurai Champloo is a masterpiece that transcends specific genres or settings, regardless of whether you have a particular affinity for a specific genre or setting.
This is particularly true for fans of anime set in feudal Japan and the samurai genre. If you have yet to experience it, you are undeniably missing out on one of the defining works within this category.
Katanagatari is a hidden gem in the sword fighting and samurai genre, and we consider it one of the best anime in the genre that we wholeheartedly recommend watching if you haven’t already.
The story follows the journey of a swordsman and strategist as they embark on a quest to find the twelve most powerful swords in Japan during the Edo period.
The protagonist, Shichika Yasuri, is the seventh head of the Kyotoryu family, known for their unique bare-handed fighting style.
Togame, the strategist, accompanies Shichika on the mission to retrieve the swords and instructs him to fall in love with her and protect her throughout their journey.
Katanagatari is an underrated masterpiece, boasting a distinctive animation style and great action sequences that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
We cannot recommend enough that you delve into this exceptional series and help it gain the recognition it truly deserves.
1. Princess Mononoke
Princess Mononoke is one of Studio Ghibli’s masterpieces, released in the summer of 1997.
In a remote land in the eastern part of Japan, the remnants of the once glorious Emishi people reside.
Here, Prince Ashitaka is compelled to confront the boar god Nago, who has transformed into a demon, in order to protect his village. Unfortunately, this act results in a terrible curse being placed upon Ashitaka.
As the curse spreads and threatens his life and the lives of his people, Ashitaka embarks on a journey to find a cure for this affliction.
Princess Mononoke is set during the Muromachi period of feudal Japan, which spanned from 1336 to 1573. However, the movie delves into a fantastical and supernatural realm, where historical accuracy takes a back seat to the imaginative setting and plot.
But while historical accuracy may not be the primary focus, it shouldn’t deter you from experiencing this extraordinary masterpiece in Japanese animation history.