The Middle Ages are a fascinating period in history with a prominent role in the entertainment industry.
Whether you talk about movies, TV shows, anime, or videogames, it’s one of the most popular settings of all time. This is because they are versatile and can be easily infused with fantasy elements.
It also can be used as a vessel to tell many kinds of stories by borrowing recognizable aesthetics and language.
Here we list what we think are the best anime set in the Middle Ages. You’ll maybe be aware of some of them but many entries on this list are true hidden gems that you shouldn’t miss if you’re a history fan.
Table of Contents
25. Tears to Tiara
Tears to Tiara originate as an adult tactical role-playing game released for Windows in 2005.
A couple of years later it was ported to the PlayStation 3 in a more family-friendly way and it was this version that received an anime adaptation in 2009.
The story begins with the kidnapping of Riannon, a priestess of the tribe of Gael. This vile action was perpetrated by a monk named Drwc, an emissary of a powerful empire that aspires to conquer neighboring lands.
They intend to use her to awaken Arown, the demon of destruction, and make him an ally of the empire.
The tribe led by Riannon’s brother Arthur rushes to rescue the princess, but their efforts are futile as they are unable to prevent the awakening of the demon.
This story falls in the classic fantasy genre, set in a mysterious land populated by different tribes fighting each other to prevail. The medieval vibe is everpresent by mixing realistic features and magical elements.
24. Altair: A Record of Battles
A war-fantasy series that was released in 2017, and one of the best anime set in Arabia you can find.
Mahmut is a young councilor under the orders of the general of Türkiye, where the air of war is thickening due to the menace of the Balt-Rhein Empire.
He will do what he can to prevent a conflict from breaking out in the country, which would surely bring death and destruction.
The impending threat of war will be a constant presence throughout the plot and the main character will find himself entangled in politics to try to avoid this outcome.
A title that is quite different from the other entries on this list because of its middle-eastern setting. It’s interesting to explore medieval Turkey through the eyes of Mahmut, while he is trying to avoid the break out of a conflict.
23. Scrapped Princess
Scrapped Princess is an anime from the early 2000s produced by the studio Bones, the same people that produced hits like Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood and My Hero Academia.
The plot revolves around Pacifica Casull, a princess nicknamed “Scrapped Princess” because of a prophecy foretelling she will destroy the world on her 16th birthday.
She has been rescued and has been living with her adoptive family when news of her survival reaches the ears of God Mauser’s worshippers. They want her dead so she is forced to flee along with her adoptive siblings, Raquel and Shannon.
Everyone will hunt down the trio and the destiny of the princess will become clear as she approaches her 16th birthday.
This is a story of a cast-out princess that has fallen victim to medieval superstitions. This will be the reason for the disastrous ending of the show.
22. The Twelve Kingdoms
Twelve Kingdoms is an anime released in 2002, based on the light novel by Fuyumi Ono.
Yoko Nakajima is a high school student, bored with her life. This will change when a man, who claims to be from another world, breaks into her classroom, kneeling in front of her.
This elegant character, named Keiki, claims to be her servant and guardian, as she would be his queen.
So it begins Yoko’s adventure into a fantasy world inhabited by all kinds of creatures, while the girl must figure out what her role is in that realm in a role-playing game.
The Twelve Kingdoms is a fantasy anime with a medieval setting. It features time travel and guns so it’s not a realistic tale but it has an enjoyable plot and characters.
21. Fairy Tail
The plot of this anime focuses on Lucy Heartphilia, a girl whose dream is to become a powerful mage and join the famous guild of magicians called Fairy Tail.
Her dreams will become reality when she meets Natsu, a boy who travels around the world and is a member of the guild. He will bring her in and so Lucy will end up teaming up with the other members in their travels and quests.
They will have to face many obstacles and adventures within a good enough fantasy setting.
Fairy Tail can be good if you’re starting with anime but the slow pacing and the bad character development are deterrents if you have some experience.
Its only merit that we can find is an excellent middle ages fantasy setting and character design along with a soundtrack that is quite good.
20. The Seven Deadly Sins
The Seven Deadly Sins is a popular anime aired between 2014 and 2015.
The plot is set in Britain where Elizabeth, daughter of the King, sets out on a journey to find the Seven Deadly Sins, intending to recruit them and take back her recently fallen kingdom due to a coup.
The titular Seven Deadly Sins are 7 extremely powerful warriors, masters of magic, and capable of great things if brought together.
The protagonist Elizabeth will find out to be the reincarnation of a high-ranked member of the Goddess Clan, who was cursed to reincarnate as a human and lose her memories, dying over and over again.
Even in this case, the medieval fantasy vibe is pretty obvious. The setting, the characters, and even elements like magic are a strong presence throughout the show.
19. The Rising of the Shield Hero
Originating as a light novel and later adapted into an anime, The Rising of the Shield Hero is one of the most popular isekai anime of recent times.
After being transported to a fantasy world through a book, young college student Naofumi Iwatani will be chosen as one of four heroes entrusted with a legendary weapon.
However, he will end up being the shield hero, the most discriminated and mistreated. Here starts his journey to clear his name and his reputation.
The setting is combined with dark themes such as slavery to create a more serious tone, setting it apart from some series of the same genre.
The Rising of the Shield Hero is a good show if you want to watch something for pure fun but lacks introspective and moral depth, all set in a fictional middle age with fantasy elements.
Many themes are barely touched and just mentioned but again, if you want to entertain yourself, this is a good choice.
18. Moribito – Guardian of the Spirit
This is an anime from 2007 inspired by Nahoko Uehashi’s series of novels and produced by Geneon Universal Entertainment, the same people behind Black Lagoon and Fate/stay Night.
The setup for the story is interesting. It involves the Shin Yogo Empire on the verge of a catastrophic drought that could bring famine throughout the land.
The Star Readers decide to follow the plan written in ancient myths that 8 warriors would defeat a water demon to avoid the great drought and save their land.
The problem occurs when the water demon manifests itself in the body of Prince Chagum. The emperor gives the order to execute his son but a mercenary named Balsa swops in to save him
Balsa is tasked by Chagum’s mother to protect him so the both of them will embark on an adventure to escape the emperor’s hunter and will explore the value of life and family.
17. The Heroic Legend of Arslan
The Heroic Legend of Arslan is a 2015 anime based on a shonen manga. It’s an underrated war-themed and political anime set in a fantasy medieval setting.
The Kingdom of Pars is a fictional middle-eastern realm with its capital city called Ecbatana, ruled by King Andragoras.
Arslan is the young prince of Pars, but he does not seem to have the qualities to be a respected king like his father because of the bad impression he gave during his first battle.
He will seek redemption by embarking on a journey during which he will gather faithful followers who will help him protect his kingdom from the menace of the Lusitania.
Another middle-eastern tale set in the Middle Ages where a prince will have to prove his worth and redeem himself in front of his people.
16. Goblin Slayer
This anime from 2018 is set in a fantasy world populated by many evil creatures such as goblins. These goblins are known mostly for raiding rural civilizations to kidnap females of other species for breeding.
Despite that, goblins are considered a low threat, and they get often overlooked.
The plot revolves around a 15-year-old Priestess who decides to join a group of rookies and investigate a tribe of goblins responsible for the disappearance of several village women.
They get ambushed and the Priestess is about to die like the other members of her party but she gets rescued by the Goblin Slayer, who can destroy the entire nest.
The Goblin Slayer allows her to accompany him on his journey to wipe out all the goblins of the land.
This fantasy show gives off strong medieval vibes.
From the setting to the characters, Goblin Slayer is a fantasy anime about a group of different people who are trying to save their realm. The protagonist isn’t a hero but she does her best to help the cause.
15. Snow White with the Red Hair
An award-winning anime and one of the best historical romance anime that, as you may have already guessed from the title, openly takes inspiration from the Snow White fairy tale, along with its medieval-like historical 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 and save her, but the two will end up falling in love in a heart-warming love story.
Zen will decide to make Shirayuki’s life as beautiful as he has always wanted it to be, choosing to protect her and be protective of her so that she lacks nothing.
If your goal is to find a solid, twist-filled romance set in a medieval setting, then this is an incredibly solid choice.
A 26-episode anime set in a medieval fantasy-themed world where the inhabitants are forced to fight the threat of monstrous creatures that feed on humans.
The Claymores, warriors with enormous power, are fighting these creatures called the Yomi, who can counter the terrible monsters with their swords.
The protagonist of the story is Claire, a low-level claymore who will increase her fighting power over time as she discovers the deceptions behind the Yomi and the society in which she lives.
This anime is a highly regarded product for many reasons, from the characters to the animations and art style.
It manages to successfully blend fantasy and historical elements, but this adaptation isn’t really faithful to the manga.
An interesting recent anime inspired by the wonderful videogame saga of Castlevania.
The anime follows the adventures of Trevor Belmont, a famous monster hunter, in his battle against the fearsome vampire Dracula, a terrible vampire who wants to kill all humans.
Accompanying Trevor in his adventure will be Sylpha, a powerful sorceress, and Alucard, the son of Dracula with opposed ideas to his father.
This is a story that explores the darker theme in the medieval landscape such as vampires and demons which are the protagonists and the focus of the show.
Undoubtedly an anime not to be missed thanks to the graphic quality and an awesome story full of twists.
Kingdom is set in 245 B.C. so it’s not set during the Middle Ages proper but it shares the same vibe. But what we’re sure is that this is one of the best anime set in China.
It tells the story of Xin and Piao, two war orphans. The boys, 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, everything changed.
The plot of the show is a fictional adaptation of the Chinese historical period known as the Warring States Period during which Ying Zheng, King of Qin, completed the conquest of the other Chinese states and unified them.
If you’re interested in a realistic historical portrait of China and you like the medieval vibe made of great characters and huge battles, this is the one for you.
11. The Beast Player Erin
This anime from 2009 is set in Ryoza, a fantasy land composed of the provinces of Shin-Ou and Tai-Kou. The 2 provinces have been at peace for a long time but the latest tensions are threatening the coming of a civil war.
Erin lives with her mother Soyon, who is a doctor tasked to take care of the kingdom’s army of powerful lizards known as Touda. One day, one of the Toudas under Soyon’s care suffers a lethal accident and she ends up getting blamed for it.
Erin tries to save her mother but she ends up falling into a river and wakes up in a different place. She will meet many new people and try to find out the truth about his kingdom while it is on the brink of a civil war.
This anime has all the classical elements of historical fantasy. We have different races about to go to war and growing political tension with the main character seeking revenge for the loss of a loved one.
10. Attack on Titan
One of the most popular works in recent times, if not the most in the period when his manga was at the finish line. Isayama’s Attack on Titan does not need much of a premise.
In an alternate dystopic middle-age period, humanity is hunted by giants, huge humanoid life forms that feed on people, becoming their natural predators.
Eren, Mikasa, and Armin will have to live with this threat, training to kill these life forms in order in order to get revenge.
A series capable of convincing anyone, even those who are less fond of Japanese animation.
And among the reasons without a doubt, we find a solid story, full of twists and dynamic action scenes accompanied by excellent music and animation.
A masterpiece of the dark fantasy genre that came out in 1997.
There aren’t many other works that can match this one due to the complexity of its characters and for starring two incredible personalities: Gatsu and Griffith.
This work has irreversibly influenced every media outlet that has approached fantasy and magical elements from a horror perspective.
Gatsu uses a massive weapon called the ‘Dragon Slayer’ to obliterate his foes, which also becomes a metaphor for his sheer power and raw strength.
This show is considered the epitome of the dark fantasy genre.
All of its elements like the morally grey characters, the gore and the powerful weapons tie in perfectly with the fantasy medieval setting.
8. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
A Magi is a magician whose inclination toward magic is so immense that they can be said to shape the world.
Each Magi chooses a worthy candidate to become a king, then helps them conquer strange labyrinths called “Dungeons”.
Above all else, the Magi supervises their elected representative as they build a country that might one day bring the world to its knees.
The main character, Aladdin, is one of these Magi, and he will choose to protect Alibaba, a young and talented boy.
This is the perfect mix of a proper fantasy setting, magic, and kingdom wars. Magi draws inspiration from the classical collection of folk tales One Thousand and One Nights, as you can guess from the breathtaking setting.
7. Spice and Wolf
Spice and Wolf is a 13-episode anime that premiered in the winter of 2008, inspired by Isuna Hasekura’s novels. It’s a unique product because despite falling into the fantasy genre, it doesn’t quite adhere to its canons.
The story revolves around the events of merchant Lawrence Kraft who agrees to help return to his native place a wolf-god called Holo, receiving in return his divine help and several privileges.
Turns out that Holo is a 600-year-old girl who can look young because of her powers. This will spark a romance between the two while they search for economic opportunities.
This is a unique anime that tackles the fantasy medieval theme from a different point of view. It’s not focused on some kind of war between countries but rather on a relationship that builds its foundations on economic interests.
Inuyasha is a super popular anime from the year 2000 inspired by the manga written by Rumiko Takahashi.
The story stars Kagome, a young girl who, as a result of an accident, will fall down a well and is catapulted into Sengoku-era Japan.
Here she will be reborn as the reincarnation of the priestess Kikyo, to protect the sphere of the 4 winds with the help of Inuyasha himself.
This anime is also a fantasy interpretation of a bygone era in Japan’s history.
Despite that the Sengoku era is portrayed well during the show, giving the viewer many chances to explore the customs and the aesthetics of that time.
5. Samurai Champloo
A masterpiece by master moviemaker Shinichiro Watanabe, former author of cult hit Cowboy Bepop, Samurai Champloo is a 26-episode work produced by Manglobe.
The work stars Mugen and Jin, two samurai warriors with opposing characters, and Kasumi, a girl who has hired the two warriors to search for the samurai who smells like sunflowers.
The story revolves around their adventures, and they are often self-contained, generally with a few elements present that drive forward the overall plot of the whole.
The setting, character design, soundtrack, and more will be just perfect for the Edo era. In plain English, it was the tail-end of the Middle Ages in Japan when modernity was about to begin.
Despite having a simple plot there will be no shortage of great technical output in the confrontations, even though this show doesn’t really focus on fights.
4. Records of Lodoss War
This anime from the early 90s is set in Lodoss, a kingdom haunted by war for thousands of years. When finally a fragile peace becomes possible, an evil witch makes her appearance.
This evil presence wants to create a political imbalance and foster conflict over the land to prevent any kingdom from getting central control over Lodoss.
At this point, a group of 6 young champions from all over Lodoss is tasked with defeating the witch and finally bringing peace to the land.
This is a story set in an alternate fantasy universe during medieval times so magic is the norm and every character is equipped with some kind of power that makes him stand out.
Records of Lodoss War is a criminally underrated anime, similar to a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. You should watch it if you enjoy the middle ages aesthetic and don’t mind the dated style of animation.
Dororo is an anime from 1969 inspired by the manga written by Osamu Tezuka. In 2019 came out a remake to appeal to modern audiences. But we all agree that we’re talking about one of the best samurai anime ever made, set in the Sengoku Era.
The plot revolves around Hyakkimaru, a boy with a body made of prosthetics, who fights demons. This all started when his impoverished father sacrificed the child to demons to seek prosperity.
These demons now possess Hyakkimaru’s body parts and senses, so he embarks on a quest to seek them out and defeat them to regain his lost body.
He will meet an orphan boy called Dororo that will keep him company during the journey they both will take.
Dororo takes place during the Sengoku Era, meaning around the XVI century. The 24 episodes will give you an idea of what it means to struggle and survive in medieval Japan.
2. Yona of the Dawn
In a story about treason and revenge, the main character princess Yona is betrayed and gets banished 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.
She lives a pampered life before being forced to flee from her home, the Hyriuu Castle. This will change her life and she will begin to learn all sorts of combat techniques from Hak, including archery and swordsmanship.
This is a story of a princess who is forced to get to grips with reality after losing her privileged status. She will become a powerful warrior in an attempt to regain what she had lost.
It’s a compelling plot that takes inspiration from a real period in history and if you like a dramatic story with a classical medieval setting you should give this a chance.
1. Vinland Saga
One of the most interesting works to come out in recent years, animated by Wit Studio and based on the manga by Makoto Yukimura.
The plot follows the life of the warrior Thorfinn, in a Viking world inspired by real historical events. Thorfinn is a warrior who became one to avenge the death of his father Thors.
Thors was killed by the pirate Askeladd on behalf of King Sweyd because he had deserted years earlier to retire to a quiet life.
An anime with intense psychological traits that dwells on the choices that must be made on the battlefield.
Our protagonist will find himself tangled in a quest for revenge and he will learn that one can easily slide and take wrong turns while blinded by such an evil sentiment.
It’s not often that an anime has a Viking setting and this makes this show even more special.