Love knows no bounds and history is no exception. There are plenty of romance anime and a good chunk of them is set in different historical periods, like the Middle Ages, the Victorian Era, and even Meiji or Edo periods.
This listicle features the best historical romance anime so far.
Ancient settings have a certain charm that modern times struggle to infuse and for this reason, the past can help us.
We also made sure to include romance fantasy anime or those with a distinctively Japanese setting.
Table of Contents
20. Girl Demon Zakuro
Girl Demon Zakuro is an anime set in Meiji Era, in Japan in which humans and demons coexist. Coexistence, however, isn’t peaceful.
To remedy the frequent incidents between the two races, the government established a Ministry of Relations. It’s composed of a group of fox-eared youkai girls, who are to cooperate with a delegation of young human soldiers.
We will follow the fortunes of Zakuro, the only member of the ministry who is half human and half demon, a character with a strong demonic personality but great human sensitivity.
The love component won’t be missing, and it will be just a nice touch in this anime with an excellent setting and world-building.
Girl Demon Zakuro is a great choice if you’re seeking a blend of historical settings, romance, politics, and supernatural.
The historical setting is also well-crafted, with the characters wearing the typical Meiji period military uniforms, although it’s not 100 percent accurate due to the fantasy elements, as you can expect.
19. Earl and Fairy
Earl and Fairy is an anime with lighter, fairy-tale tones if compared to the usual anime set in Victorian-age England.
Lydia Carlton, a 17-year-old Victorian-era English girl, is an out-of-the-ordinary beauty, working as a fairy doctor. She uses her gift of being able to see magical creatures and communicate with them to help them solve their problems.
One day, she will encounter Edgar Ashenbert, who will ask for her help under mysterious and enigmatic circumstances.
An anime that presents a fantasy and colored atmosphere, enlightened by the love between the two, which will warm your heart, is one of the best anime set in the Victorian Era.
The Earl and Fairy presents a delightful setting that blends Victorian England with perfectly incorporated fantasy elements.
All the while it weaves a tender and masterfully crafted romance subplot that will surely warm your heart.
18. Fushigi Yugi (Mysterious Play)
Miaka Yuuki and her friend Yui Hongo visit the national library and they find a mysterious book that transports them into a fantasy world set in China.
The situation escalates when the pair encounters the land’s emperor, Hotohori, who believes Miaka is the foretold priestess of the kingdom’s protector god Suzaku.
She will be tasked with finding the seven Celestial Warriors to summon Suzaku and have all her wishes granted.
A series that is now dated, as we are talking about 1995, but which can still offer much and appeal to fans of the vintage.
Fushigi Yugi has a heavy romance component, with some reverse harem mechanics, with Miaka surrounded by contenders.
This anime puts together an ancient Chinese backdrop steeped in tradition with one of the best reverse harem love stories available in general.
17. The Story of Saiunkoku
The Story of Saiunkoku is a 2006 anime released in 39 episodes based on a light novel.
Set in a fictional version of ancient China, it’s about the story of Shurei, a descendant of a respectable noble family, who is going through bad economic times.
To turn things around, Shurei agrees to become the concubine of the new emperor Ryuki to educate him about court life.
But a love triangle is set to arise with the recent hiring of the new head of the guards, Seiran.
The Story of Saiunkoku is an excellent option if you’re seeking to blend an exceptional love triangle with an accurate ancient Chinese backdrop and intricately adorned costumes.
Additionally, it features the characteristic anime animations of the 2000s, which as always possess their unique charm.
16. My Happy Marriage
My Happy Marriage is a romance anime released in the summer of 2023, comprising 12 episodes adapted from a light novel.
It unfolds as a cute and heartwarming romantic tale, with an additional charm coming from its beautiful setting in ancient Japan realized stunningly thanks to the excellent animation of the series.
Meet the protagonist Miyo, a girl with a troubled past. Born from an arranged marriage, she has spent her life in the shadow of her half-sister Kaya, treated like a servant.
Everything takes an unexpected turn when Miyo is summoned by her father for an announcement: she’s to be married to Kiyoka Kudou, a boy known for his cold demeanor.
At first, Miyo anticipates another dark and sad chapter in her life but to her surprise, she discovers that her new husband is a caring and kind-hearted person, ready to provide the love she has always yearned for.
15. From Up On Poppy Hill
From Up on Poppy Hill is what we consider one of the best anime movies overall.
Its story is set during the economic boom of Japan in 1963 after World War II, and it stars Umi Komatsuzaki, a student in the port city of Yokohama who falls in love with Shun’ya Kazama.
But through getting to know each other, the two will discover a shared secret from their past as their love story progresses.
From Up on Poppy Hill has a really interesting story that you’ll simply love because of its depth, plot twists, and love story.
It’s a timeless animated movie that we wholeheartedly recommend not to miss out on, and one of the best anime set in the 1960s you can find.
14. There Goes the Modern Girl
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 and one of the best anime set in 1920 you can find.
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.
13. Romeo x Juliet
Rome x Juliet is an animated and reimagined version of William Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet we all know.
Whether you are already familiar with the original play and wish to experience it in a different light or are discovering it for the first time, this anime offers a unique and exquisite perspective.
The narrative unfolds in the future on the aerial continent of Neo Verona, focusing on the forbidden love between Juliet and Romeo.
He is the son of the Grand Duke of Neo Verona, who seized power by committing regicide, and she is the lone survivor of the massacre, driven by a quest for revenge.
Will their love become stronger, or will fate prevent it?
Arte is a recent anime released in 2020, comprising 12 episodes set in the stunning Renaissance backdrop of Florence.
The story unfolds in 16th-century Italy, a period of flourishing art. In a small corner of Florence, we embark on the journey of Arte, an ambitious young girl.
Her dream is to become an artist, a seemingly impossible aspiration for a girl born into nobility. During this era, the world of art was primarily reserved for men, and women faced significant discrimination.
But Arte refuses to abandon her dream and tenaciously pursues it, even as she finds herself entangled in the complexities of love.
Arte is an absolutely breathtaking anime that blends its historically accurate and wondrous setting with an incredibly dramatic and psychologically rich storyline.
As you accompany Arte on her journey, you’ll undoubtedly become deeply connected to her, and her triumphs will resonate with you as well.
Gosick is a 2011 anime consisting of 24 episodes that fall into the mystery, historical, and romance genres.
Set in the year 1924 in the fictitious town of Sauville, the story follows Kazuya Kujo, a young man who has recently moved to the town to attend St. Marguerite Academy.
There, he encounters Victorique de Blois, a mysterious girl with exceptional investigative skills. Kazuya enlists her help in solving various cases, working alongside his brother, a policeman.
Gosick is an incredibly underrated anime that skillfully combines captivating detective stories with a well-developed love subplot.
While historical accuracy takes a backseat due to its fictional setting, Sauville incorporates elements from various European cities of the 1920s, including France, Switzerland, and Italy.
A great gothic and dark atmosphere will dominate this story, in one of the best anime set in Europe ever made.
10. Kids on the Slope
Kids on the Slope is a great anime from 2012 that immerses you in the adventures and daily lives of 3 boys in Japan’s 1960s.
The story revolves around Kaoru Nishimi, an honor student who is forced to move to his relatives’ home due to his father’s financial difficulties.
It is in this new town that he meets Sentaro Kawabuchi, a rebellious youth with a deep passion for jazz music, and Ritsuko, the owner of a family-run record shop who becomes Kaoru’s love interest.
Kids on the Slope offers a unique portrayal of a group of friends who share a common passion, grow together, and experience the ups and downs of life and love.
If you want to feel part of their events and lives, add it to your watchlist as soon as possible.
9. Rurouni Kenshin
Rurouni Kenshin is a great classic when it comes to samurai-themed anime, and is a 95-episode anime 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 sure to make you appreciate the work.
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 this, he will be aided and abetted by the beautiful Kaoru Kamiya, whose meeting will kick off the events of the series.
Kenshin and Kaoru are a great couple and tender moments won’t miss. This is also hands down one of the best samurai anime ever.
8. Snow White with the Red Hair
An award-winning anime that, as you may have already guessed from the title, openly takes inspiration from the Snow White fairy tale, along with its Middle Ages setting.
Shirayuki is a young herbalist who leads a quiet existence in the kingdom of Tambarun. One day Raji, the prince of her country, decides to take her with him as his concubine. Shirayuki does not want this and decides to run away to escape this arranged marriage.
During her escape, she meets Prince Zen, who welcomes her to court as an herbalist to help her resolve the matter, but the two will of course end up falling in love in a heartwarming love story.
A truly underrated romance anime gem with fleshed-out characters and many moments that will make your heart melt.
The story is adorable, well written, far from being clichéd, and it takes place in a stunning fantasy world filled with vibrant colors and various types of creatures.
Historical accuracy isn’t central to this story, given the strong fantasy elements. But the evident inspiration drawn from the Middle Ages still makes it a perfect addition to this list.
7. Taisho Maiden Fairytale
Set in the Taisho era, this delightful rom-com unfolds the story of Tamahiko Shima, a pessimistic teenager left alone in the mountains with a disabled right arm after a tragic accident.
But his life takes an unexpected turn when his father arranges a marriage for him.
Enter Yuzuki Tachibana, a determined young girl sold into marriage. Together, they navigate societal expectations and judgments while forging a deep emotional connection, transforming from strangers to lovers.
Taisho Otome Fairy Tale is a touching narrative of discovering love in unexpected places and the profound power of human connection.
It’s set against the backdrop of the Great Kanto Earthquake, which really occurred in 1923 in Japan.
You’ll be captivated by the endearing characters and the heartwarming storyline, all within an enthralling historical setting that we fell in love with.
We consider this one of the best anime set during the Taisho Era, not that there are many alternatives though!
6. Yona of the Dawn
In a story about treason and revenge, the main character Princess Yona is betrayed and forced to escape from her kingdom.
She will do everything in her power to reclaim her place, as shown by her resolute nature. The story is set in a fictional kingdom that takes inspiration from the Three Kingdoms period of Korea, around 57 BC to 668 AD.
On her journey, she will be accompanied by her faithful general Son Hak, but along the way she will meet a great many male characters, creating a respectable reverse harem for herself.
If you are interested in knowing how her revenge will end, but also who she will end up with, start this respectable anime.
Yona also is a brave protagonist whose character will change significantly during her adventures and offers a fine example of a strong female heroine in romance anime.
All of this comes with a lot of political intrigues, sprinkled with romantic moments, set in a unique and fictional setting of ancient Korea with fantasy elements, making the entire experience nothing short of magical.
Katanagatari is a little gem of anime that combines the elements of an ancient Japanese setting with a compelling love story, an excellent character design, and a lot of action.
It’s set in a fictionalized version of Japan’s Edo period, which historically occurred from 1603 to 1868.
The series follows the adventures of a swordsman and strategist as they embark on a quest to locate the twelve most formidable swords in feudal Japan, set during the Edo period.
The main protagonist, Shichika Yasuri, hails from the renowned Kyotoryu family, revered for their extraordinary unarmed combat technique.
Togame, the strategist, accompanies Shichika on their mission, enlisting his aid in safeguarding her while encouraging him to fall in love with her along the way.
But as the story unfolds, their relationship evolves into something much deeper and profound beyond their initial arrangement.
We could go on hours about Katanagatari and why you should watch it, but to put it simply, with its action, romance, unique character design and historical setting, it’s a little animation gem that you don’t want to miss out on.
4. The Wind Rises
The Wind Rises, released in 2013, is a masterpiece from Studio Ghibli and probably one of the best romance anime movies ever made, if not the best.
It’s also one of the best romance anime available on HBO Max, so you can watch it without any issues if you’re subscribed to the service.
The movie tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi, a young boy with a deep passion for flying warplanes. Despite his severe nearsightedness preventing him from becoming a pilot, he discovers that his true purpose in life lies in designing and building airplanes.
Inspired by his idol, Giovanni Battista Caproni, Jiro embarks on a journey to pursue his dreams.
Throughout the movie, you’ll see Jiro’s ups and downs as he achieves his dreams and faces great joys, but also bitter disappointments, while he also discovers love with his beloved companion Naoko Satomi.
The Wind Rises is a timeless tale that explores themes of pursuing one’s dreams and finding love, that will leave you both inspired and heartbroken.
And speaking of historical accuracy, this movie is also incredible in that respect.
Jiro Horikoshi is indeed based on a real-life figure, and the film is set in 1920s Japan, capturing the typical customs and historical context of the prewar era.
3. In this Corner of the World
Another 2018 Best Picture award-winning movie, In this Corner of the World, tells the story of a family trying to start over in the context of a world ruined by the war.
The protagonist is sunny and honest Suzu Urano, who marries Hojo, a naval officer.
Driven by the best of intentions, Suzu becomes animated by the idea of starting a new life with Hojo and his family. After leaving her hometown, the young woman begins to adjust to her new life in Kure, a small country town.
A film with an excellent graphic compartment, very heavy and touching that tells us without veils the raw reality and fear faced by an ordinary family in times of war, in one of the best anime set in the 1940s.
This is truly a masterpiece, with an excellent graphic compartment. But the real highlight is its message, full of drama and meaning.
2. Emma: A Victorian Romance
Emma: A Victorian Romance is a fantastic historical romance anime that was released in 2002 in 12 episodes.
The story is set in London in the late 18th century, and the protagonist is Emma, a young maid who works at Mrs. Stowner’s household.
William Jones, on the other hand, is a former pupil of Mrs. Stowner, and during a visit to his old teacher, William meets Emma and falls madly in love with her. This is the beginning of their love story.
Emma: A Victorian Romance is a mature and complex romance with strong scenes and themes, which is why we recommend it in our list of the best romance anime from Seinen manga.
It accurately portrays the customs and traditions of Georgian England, creating a vivid historical context.
1. Spice and Wolf
Spice and Wolf is a truly peculiar work, almost difficult to pigeonhole into a single category. But if we were to, it would be one of the best romance anime with spirits and an ace in entertainment and worldbuilding.
This is because the anime, based on Isuna Hasekura’s novels, despite the atmosphere of the genre, shows us a world without magic, based on trade and economics.
The story revolves around the events of merchant Lawrence Kraft who agrees under request to help return to his native place a wolf-god called Holo, receiving in return his divine help and several privileges.
But feelings always blossom though, even sooner if you live and travel together.
Spice and Wolf is a series we highly recommend watching, not only because it’s a great anime, but also due to its uniqueness.
Its historical setting seamlessly blends medieval European elements with fantasy and supernatural, making it truly exceptional.