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.
Ancient settings have a certain charm that modern times struggle to infuse and for this reason, the past can help us.
This listicle is based on our opinions and features what we consider the best historical romance anime so far.
Table of Contents
18. Girl Demon Zakuro
Girl Demon Zakuro is an anime set in Meiji Era, into a Japan in which humans and demons coexist. Coexistence, however, isn’t peaceful.
To remedy the frequent incidents between the two races, the government establishes 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 the nice touch in this anime with an excellent setting and world-building.
17. Earl and Fairy
An anime with lighter, fairy-tale tones than 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, enlighted by the love between the two, which will warm your heart, in one of the best anime set in the Victorian Era.
16. Fushigi Yuugi
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 Yuugi has a heavy romance component, with also some reverse harem mechanics, with Miaka surrounded by contenders.
15. The Story of Saiunkoku
Set in a fictitious ancient China, The Story of Saiunkoku tells 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 for the purpose of educating him about court life, in which he shows little interest.
But a love triangle is set to arise with the recent hiring of the new head of the guards, Seiran. An anime with a vintage atmosphere that is worth watching.
14. From Up On Poppy Hill
A 2011 production, again from the home of Japanese masterpiece feature movies, Studio Ghibli.
From Up On Poppy Hill is set during Japan’s 1963 economic boom, so after WWII. The story stars Umi Komatsuzaki, a student residing in the port city of Yokohama, who ends up falling in love with a boy named Shun’ya Kazama.
The two will get to know each other more and more, but within a short period of time, they will also learn of a secret shared in their past, casting a dramatic veil over the story.
A complete story that is unlikely not to grab you by making you feel like a fellow adventurer of the two boys, in one of the best anime set in 1960 you can find.
13. There Goes the Modern Girl
A series of two recently released movies that go into a true revival of a very old manga that came out in 1975.
Set in 1920s Japan, it tells the story of Benio Hanamura, a girl who has been betrothed to Lieutenant Shinobu Ijuin.
But Benio is a modern girl, who does not bow to the old ways of a now past Japan, and because of this, she will show her betrothed, her father, and anyone who wants to make her a good girl.
A modern adaptation of a vintage series that made history in the romance genre with past settings, all in one of the best anime set in 1920 you can find.
12. Romeo x Juliet
No great premise is necessary regarding this anime, based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, a play by William Shakespeare known to everyone.
The anime takes the events of the original play and makes them more fantasy and fictionalized, with a fantasy setting but still based on the original opera.
In fact, the events take place in Neo Verona, and we see a clash of lineages as the love between the two young men blossoms.
If you are a fan of the original story then you cannot miss this particular viewpoint for any reason.
A very recent anime just adapted in 2020 from the seinen manga from which it is based.
We are in Florence, in 16th-century Italy, the cradle of the Renaissance where art flourished. In a little corner of the city begins a girl’s journey.
She dreams of becoming an artist, an impossible dream for a girl from a noble family. These days, art is indeed the preserve of men, and women face much discrimination.
The girl won’t give up and will continue to pursue her dream, while love will also blossom for her. If you are a lover of painting and the renaissance from an artistic point of view then this is a must.
It’s 1924, in a fictitious country called Sauville inspired by Europe, where protagonist Kazuya Kujo moves.
Having just moved in, he is about to study at St. Marguerite Academy where he meets Victorique de Blois, a mysterious girl who spends her entire days among the books in the library.
Kazuya becomes fascinated by her, partly because of her detective skills, but also in a romantic way.
A great gothic and dark atmospheres will dominate this story with very atmospheric settings, in one of the best anime set in Europe ever made.
9. Rurouni Kenshin
Another great classic when it comes to samurai-themed anime is definitely Rurouni Kenshin, 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.
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 will meet Prince Zen, who welcomes her to court as a herbalist to help her resolve the matter, but the two will of course end up falling in love in a hearth warming love story.
A truly underrated romance anime gem with fleshed-out characters and many moments that will make your heart melt.
7. Taisho Maiden Fairytale
1920s Japan, Tamahiko, born into a wealthy family, sees his fate change after he loses his mother and the use of his right arm in a tragic accident. His father no longer considers him his heir and sends him away to live far away on one of the family properties.
Tamahiko locks himself up in his new abode, resigned to the idea of dying there. One day he discovers that his father has entrusted him with a wife to care for him. Young Yuzuki thus enters Tamahiko’s life, gradually changing his world.
A series that is unlikely not to make your heart melt, about change and how powerful love is. This is also one of the best anime set in Taisho era that you shouldn’t ignore.
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 strong protagonist whose character will change greatly during her adventures, and she offers a fine example of a strong female heroine in romance anime.
Katanagatari is a masterful work by Nisio Isin about samurai and swords, telling the story of a swordsman and a strategian to retrieve the most powerful 12 swords in Japan during the Edo period.
The protagonist Shichika Yasuri is the 7th head of the Kyotoryu family, renowned for its combat style. They are swords themselves, so they fight bare-handed and they are pretty effective against sword users.
The strategian Togame orders Shichika around and one of the first orders is to fall in love with her and protect her during their journey. The two will soon develop a bond that goes beyond business.
4. The Wind Rises
Billed as Hayao Miyazaki’s supposed last feature movie, The Wind Rises is a 2013 work produced by Studio Ghibli.
It’s inspired by the fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikoshi, a designer of fighter planes for the Japanese Navy in World War II.
A child named Jiro aspires to become an airplane pilot, but being nearsighted it will be completely impossible for him to do so.
One day, he will dream of meeting the famous Caproni, a genius of Italian aircraft design, who will make him realize that his purpose is to build them rather than fly them.
From here we will follow Jiro through most of his life as he realizes his dreams and discovers love.
The Wind Rises is the story of the realization of a dream and the purpose of life, combined with the dramatic relationship between Jiro and his beloved wife.
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 1940.
2. Emma: A Victorian Romance
An anime released in 2005, adapted from a seinen manga.
The story is set in late 19th-century London and tells the story of Emma, a young maid employed at the home of Mrs. Stowner, a now-retired governess. In addition to narrating her daily life, her love life will also be examined, in constant character development.
But we cannot tell you who Emma will end up with, as that would be a very heavy spoiler. If you are interested, and we know we have intrigued you, please start it as soon as possible.
But don’t be fooled by the plot, which may sound like a classic romantic story. Emma: A Victorian Romance tells a very enjoyable story, filled with twists and turns, and rendered technically very well, both visually and aurally.
1. Spice and Wolf
Spice and Wolf is a truly unique 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.