Japanese anime comes in a plethora of genres, from romance to horror to slice of life. Many series are purely fictional and entirely original, but there are also many cartoons that borrow from actual historical events to make them more relevant. Some series are factual narratives of history, while others center around a specific historical event that prompts the main characters to take action.
Also, some series focus on world events or events related to other countries, such as Hetalia, while others relate only to Japanese historical and social events. Cartoons that highlight specific pieces of Japanese history are not only plentiful, but also give viewers the opportunity to better understand the country where their favorite animated series was born.
ten Mawaru Penguindrum focuses on the terrorist attack on Aum Shinrikyo in 1995
Penguin is an amazing series that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. The date of March 20, 1995 is a strong point of this series. This date coincides with the Sarin metro incident, a domestic terrorist attack carried out by the real cult Aum Shinrikyo. The existence of Aum is a testament to the lost decade, a period in Japan after the bursting of the economic bubble of the 1980s, which plunged the majority of the country into economic stagnation and created a generation of young people desperate about to their future prospects. Penguin does not explicitly state that Aum is responsible for his own attack on the subway, but the parallels are compelling.
9 Rurouni Kenshin sheds light on Meiji Restoration society and characters
This classic series is an excellent representation of life during Meiji’s early years. The late 1800s and early 1900s in Japan were marked by vast and sudden improvements in technology and social life, with the country finally opening its borders to the more advanced Western world after more than 200 years of isolation. Rurouni Kenshin goes so far as to refer to real historical figures, such as Aritomo Yamagata, who played a central role in the early policies of Meiji.
8 Hakuouki introduces Shinsengumi, a special force established during Bakumatsu
Bakumatsu is a period specific to Japan in the late Edo period which was marked by civil unrest and rebellion in response to Japan’s opening of its ports to foreign influence after a long period of isolation. . The conflict is complicated, but suffice it to say that the main forces at work wanted to either maintain the government of the shogunate or restore the Emperor of Japan to power. The Shinsengumi were officially established in 1863 and fought to protect the hierarchy of the shogunate until their surrender in 1869. Hakuouki is fantastic in its story because it’s based on an otome game, but the backdrop captures the spirit of Shinsengumi and Bakumatsu pretty well.
7 Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal understands the Ikedaya incident in 1864
Speaking of the Shinsengumi, they also played a role in Rurouni Kenshin. The Rurouni Kenshin Tsuioku-hen OVA was originally called Samurai X: Trust and betrayal in English and it’s pretty thorough in its attention to historical detail. On July 8, 1864, the rebel faction known as the ishin shishi met at the Ikedeya Inn in Kyoto to discuss the advisability of setting fire to the historic Japanese capital.
The Shinsengumi knew about their meeting and ambushed them before the shishi could take any action. This was a pivotal event for the Shinsengumi, as it essentially cemented their reputation as the elite police force of the shogunate.
6 Tomb of the Fireflies refers to the bombing of Kobe in 1945
Studio Ghibli masterfully animated this tragic and devastating event in Japanese history. By 1945, the Japanese military forces were exhausted and short of supplies, but refused to surrender, forcing the Allied forces to take more drastic measures. The firebombing of Kobe was one of several air raids that took place across Japan in the closing years of World War II, and the exact death toll is disputed to this day. the Grave of the Fireflies follows a brother and his little sister trying to survive after their home and family were destroyed by the Kobe Raid in 1945. It is considered one of Japan’s greatest animated films.
5 The Wind Rises focuses on creating WWII fighter jets
Japan is undoubtedly a nation that was greatly traumatized by the events of World War II and the atomic bomb, so it is no surprise that a good number of Japanese media are presenting one or the other. of these events. The wind picks up is one of Studio Ghibli’s finest works and follows the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man responsible for the design of the Mitsubishi A5M and Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter jets. The first aircraft was completed and used in 1936 and its successor was in service in 1939. The fictional Jiro laments that his designs were used for war, but is ultimately comforted by inspiring figures in his dreams.
4 Katanagatari revolves around the Sengoku sword hunt of 1588
Katanagatari is another series that just doesn’t get enough love. In 1588, Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered a sword hunt in order to prevent any violent uprising in response to his rise to the rank of imperial regent (incidentally, the “sword hunt” is known as ” katanagari “in Japanese, very close to the title of the series). In the fictional Edo period Katanagatari, Strategist Togame enlists Shichika Yasuri, a swordsman who does not use a sword, to help him hunt down the legendary Deviant Blades. These blades were forged by the legendary fictional blacksmith Sengoku, Kiki Shikizaki, who used alchemy to infuse the deviating blades with special properties. Togame claims the swords were lost during Sengoku’s Sword Hunt and she intends to find them no matter what.
3 Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba pays homage to the Taisho period
The Taisho period in Japan was relatively short and took place between the years 1912 and 1926. Nonetheless, it was a period of relative optimism and radical democratic change, mainly due to the unprecedented prosperity that Japan experienced. due to its location on the winning side of World War I.
Sadly, the period ended in less than ideal economic conditions, with marked divisions between the economic status of those living in the countryside and those living in the cities. However, Demon slayer beautifully captures the early 1900s landscape of major Japanese cities, such as its brilliant depiction of Tokyo’s Asakusa district.
2 The main character of Golden Kamuy is a veteran of the Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was a major conflict between Russia and Japan between 1904 and 1905, and some scholars have suggested that this war was a precursor to World War I. Although Russia was a well-established power during this period, they were determined to expand into East Asia and eventually made their way into part of China. At the same time, however, Japan was also asserting itself as a military power. Russia and Japan inevitably clashed over their mutual interests in China, with Japan coming out on top in the end. Unfortunately, the cost of war severely limited their bargaining power when negotiating a treaty with Russia.
1 Japanese history of Meow Meow covers a multitude of historical Japanese events
This adorable series covers everything from the mythical Queen Himiko to the founding of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The episodes are relatively short, around 10 minutes each, making them an easily digestible source of Japanese history. The series mainly focuses on important characters from Japanese history, such as Minamoto no Yoshitsune. Yoshitsune is one of the most famous samurai warriors of the Heian and Kamakura periods, and his actions were instrumental in his brother, Minamoto no Yoritomo, seizing power over the Taira clan. Yoshitsune fought several key battles during the Genpei War in the 1180s, but was forced to commit seppuku after challenging Yoritomo’s rule.
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