The 5 Best Anime Set During the Meiji Era

The Meiji era is a key point in Japan’s history, seeing its beginning in 1868 and its end in 1912.

Its great importance is due to the final transition between the ancient and the modern, where the first hints of evolution began to shape Japan as we know it.

It’s also marked by great scandals and uprisings, with the most glaring example being the edict of Haitorei, which banned swords among citizens, causing the disappearance of samurais.

Our list of the best anime set in the Meiji Era will let you live one of the most iconic periods in Japanese history.

5. Meiji Tokyo Renka

Meiji Tokyo Renka is an unpretentious anime on this list. In its premises and genres, we find fantasy elements and settings and a focus on the reverse harem component.

Mei Ayazuki is a girl living in the present day who, because of her ability to see supernatural entities, has always been ostracized by her peers.

One day on her way home she finds herself attending a magic show, where the magician asks her to assist him in one of his tricks.

But the girl doesn’t know that by accepting she will find herself headed into the Meiji era, where she will meet many historical figures who will fall in love with her.

Meiji Tokyo Renka’s plot is practically nonexistent, with the scenes consisting of a lot of gags and romantic moments.

But its special feature is the use in these light moments of real-life characters in fictionalized versions. Indeed, you may find writer Ogai Mori, painter Shunso Hishida, actor Otojiro Kawakami, or merchant Tosuke Iwasaki.

4. Laughing Under the Clouds

Laughing Under the Clouds is a 2014 anime released in 12 episodes that are definitely underrated.

In the 11th year of the Meiji era, the Haitorei edict totally abolished the use of the sword for every Japanese citizen, and because of this the samurai slowly began to disappear.

But predictably, many warriors didn’t like this law, and many riots increasingly began to break out.

Laughing Under the Clouds is a historically accurate anime, that tells a fascinating piece of real-life Japanese history with an appealing character design.

3. Ojiisan no Lamp

Ojiisan no Lamp is a small one-episode special-short movie of about 40 minutes that can be regarded as a true hidden gem directed by Teiichi Takiguchi.

When a young boy finds an old lamp in his grandfather’s hut, he mistakes it for a toy and starts playing with it. But when his grandfather Minosuke sees him, he stops the boy and begins to tell him the story behind that artifact.

Minosuke dedicated his life to lanterns, contributing to the well-being and progress of the town.

Ojiisan no Lamp is a real experience to be lived, which in its short 40 minutes encapsulates a world of meaning, traditionalism, and a story of other times.

All this with a visual and sound compartment to be envied, with attention to the smallest detail.

Unfortunately, we don’t know the exact year, but there are massive Meiji era vibes, thanks to the traditional costumes and the rural settings.

2. Golden Kamuy

Golden Kamuy

Golden Kamuy is one of the besr anime set in Hokkaido and it tells the story of Saichi Sugimoto, a survived soldier who seeks fortune in order to support the family of a deceased friend.

One day he is told the story of a famous criminal that stole a huge amount of gold and hid it in Hokkaido before getting caught by the police.

The only clue to its location is the coded map he tattooed on the bodies of his cellmates in exchange for a share of the treasure

Sugimoto will join forces with a young girl called Asirpa, whose family was murdered by the criminal, and the pair will start searching for the hidden treasure.

Golden Kamuy is set in the early 1900s and according to historical sources in 1908. If we follow the dates, this anime is placed precisely at the end of the Meiji era and before the beginning of the Taisho era.

The Hijikata bank from which Sugimoto steals the gold actually exists and it was built in 1908, so by logic, the setting should be around that year.

1. Rurouni Kenshin

Rurouni Kenshin

Rurouni Kenshin is undoubtely one of the best samurai anime, divided in 95-episode based on the manga of the same name by Nobuhiro Watsuki.

In this drama for proud Japanese warriors, stories of love and conflict evolve that are rare nowadays and make us say this is one of the best historical romance anime.

The protagonist of the series is Kenshin Himura, a legendary warrior who, after helping to depose the Tokugawa shogunate, lives his life protecting people from injustice, and searching for atonement.

In fact, Kenshin is extremely remorseful about his dark past, where he brought extreme violence and bloodshed.

One of the merits of this anime definable as one of the fathers of modern shonen is the realism in the fighting, so no plot armor or friendship powers.

Another merit of Rurouni Kenshin is its incredible historical accuracy with respect to the Meiji period, in which it is set.

The character of Kenshin is inspired by Kawakami Gensai, a real-life samurai who was an incredibly skilled swordsman working for the government.

Other examples include the presence of the Shinsengumi in the anime, a police force composed of samurai, and some characters in the anime based on some of their real members.

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Anime lover and a big fan of the 90s. He has previous experience working with foreign websites and now he is willing to move things even further. When he is not writing for, Zeruan spends most of his time reading, coding and developing marketing strategies.

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