Some people argue that anime, like many forms of entertainment, provides an escape from reality. It allows us to immerse ourselves in limitless worlds with diverse characters, regulations, and themes crafted solely by their creators. However, what if some anime were inspired by real-life events? What if the stories and characters were based on actual people and occurrences? Would we still find it enjoyable?
To address this question, here is a list of excellent anime that incorporate elements of realism into their fictional narratives. If you are interested in experiencing a blend of factual events with imaginative storytelling, these anime are worth exploring.
15. Tetsuko no Tabi
We have a unique tale that features an unexpected pairing of a manga artist and a travel journalist. They embark on a journey across Japan by train, exploring the country and chronicling their adventures.
This anime is a true-to-life representation of their experiences and can almost be considered a documentary in animated form. It’s a slice-of-life series that doesn’t rely on action or dramatic plot-lines.
If you enjoy a more laid-back and realistic storytelling style, then this anime is worth checking out.
14. Uchuu Kyoudai
Astronaut stories have always been a source of wonder and inspiration for many. While sci-fi movies like Interstellar or Armageddon usually depict astronauts saving the world, the anime series Uchuu Kyoudai takes a more realistic approach.
It showcases the daily lives of its characters, particularly the protagonist’s unwavering dream to become an astronaut.
The series also highlights the endearing bond between two brothers and portrays the challenges faced by aspiring astronauts in a relatable manner. Uchuu Kyoudai’s grounded narrative provides a refreshing take on space exploration that is both authentic and captivating.
The Philadelphia Experiment is a real-life unexplainable event that involved the mysterious disappearance of a US Navy vessel.
The incident has sparked numerous urban legends, ranging from time travel and teleportation to the use of advanced cloaking technology.
Drawing inspiration from this urban legend, Zipang takes the concept to the next level and weaves a gripping tale that delves into the realm of science fiction.
The decision to embellish the legend pays off remarkably well, as the narrative is imbued with an irresistible sense of intrigue and suspense.
12. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Environmental tragedies depicted in various forms of media are quite common. However, while fictional portrayals are adept at instilling fear and uncertainty about the true power of nature, what about those that are grounded in reality?
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is an anime that provides a realistic portrayal of the struggle that people face in the aftermath of an earthquake in Japan.
Unlike other media, this show doesn’t merely draw inspiration from one specific incident; instead, it predicts one and presents a plausible depiction of events that is both heart-wrenching and captivating.
11. Welcome to N.H.K
N.H.K. is an anime series that delves into the unsettling topics of depression and loneliness, which are all too familiar in the contemporary world.
Despite its seemingly inviting title, the show doesn’t shy away from portraying the harsh realities of life. The author, Tatsuhiko Takimoto, brings his first-hand experience as a Hikikomori to the table, making the narrative more compelling and insightful.
Through the show, the audience can gain a better understanding of the daily struggles faced by individuals grappling with social isolation and mental health issues.
10. In This Corner of the World
Our tenth spot features an unconventional anime film, deviating from the typical war-themed genre.
Instead, it portrays the aftermath of the devastating Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings that occurred during World War II, with a primary focus on the struggles faced by the Japanese civilians.
Despite not covering the entire course of the war, the film effectively conveys the bleak reality of the post-war period. The story is led by an upbeat and creative protagonist who serves as a beacon of hope, reminding us that even in the darkest of times, tomorrow always holds the promise of a brighter future.
9. Vinland Saga
Vinland Saga is a historical anime that offers a fresh take on the classic revenge plot. Set against the backdrop of the long and bitter conflict between England and the Vikings, which raged from AD 793 to AD 1066, the series follows the story of a young, hot-blooded Shounen protagonist. The storytelling is expertly executed, providing a unique perspective on the war from the eyes of its central character.
As a gamer, I found myself drawn to the anime’s action-packed scenes and immersive portrayal of the world of swords and shields. Fans of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, in particular, will find much to appreciate in Vinland Saga, without the flaws in story and gameplay that sometimes plagued the former.
If you’re looking for an engaging anime that offers thrilling battles and a fresh perspective on a historical conflict, Vinland Saga is definitely worth a watch.
8. Miss Hokusai
Miss Hokusai is a captivating film that portrays the life and aspirations of Katsushika Ōi, a real historical figure. The movie explores the fascinating topic of societal expectations and the universal desire of individuals to carve out their own unique path in life.
Despite facing challenging circumstances, Miss Hokusai’s story centers around her unwavering determination to become a different person from her parents and to escape their shadows.
Overall, the film provides a thought-provoking and inspiring narrative about the power of individual agency and the pursuit of personal fulfillment.
7. Mawaru Penguindrum
Don’t be fooled by the adorable penguins in this anime – it’s anything but lighthearted.
In fact, it’s one of the darkest entries on this list, drawing inspiration from the real-life tragedy of the Tokyo Subway Sarin Attack in 1995. However, the series manages to convey this sobering subject matter with subtlety and skill, without compromising its solid plotline or endearing art style.
It’s a testament to the power of anime to tell compelling real-life stories in a way that captivates and educates its audience.
6. Toilet-bound Hanako-Kun
Let’s switch gears and delve into a lighthearted series inspired by a well-known Japanese urban legend.
This anime flips the script on the traditional tale by presenting Hanako as a male guardian responsible for maintaining harmony between the living and spirit realms.
While the narrative may differ from the original story, the changes enhance the overall experience, resulting in a standout supernatural comedy. Without a doubt, this series ranks among the best in its genre.
Steins;Gate, hailed as one of the top time travel-themed anime series, draws its inspiration from an intriguing source – an online forum post by a person who went by the name John Titor in the early 2000s.
In the post, Titor claimed to be a time traveler from the year 2036, and made several predictions, some of which were too vague to comprehend while others didn’t materialize at all.
Despite being dismissed as a hoax, Steins;Gate explores a fascinating hypothetical scenario of Titor’s claims being true, weaving an enthralling tale around this premise.
You may be surprised to learn that the popular show known for its wacky characters, outrageous humor, and frequent breaking of the fourth wall is actually based on real historical events from Japan’s Heian and Feudal periods.
Even the show’s main character, Gintoki Sakata, is inspired by a historical figure named Kintoki Sakata.
With a history of cleverly parodying not just actual events, but also other anime series, it’s no wonder that fans of the show are constantly entertained and surprised.
Undoubtedly, Bakuman stands out as an exceptional anime that every aspiring artist can learn from. It narrates the struggles and journey of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, who are renowned artists and the brilliant minds behind this captivating series.
While the characters in the show go by different names, Bakuman ultimately depicts the creators’ dream of producing the best manga ever, which happens to be Death Note.
The irony lies in the fact that, while striving to create a masterpiece, they stumbled upon yet another one. It’s a perfect one-two punch that showcases their incredible talents.
2. Grave of the Fireflies
Grave of the Fireflies is an emotional masterpiece that portrays the devastating impact of war on individuals. The film follows the heart-wrenching story of a brother and sister during World War II, amidst the chaos of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and the unconditional surrender of Japan.
Through its powerful storytelling and visually stunning scenes, the movie manages to capture the sheer desperation and horror of war. The heartrending ending will undoubtedly leave you pondering and shedding tears. Regardless of your preferences in anime, Grave of the Fireflies is a must-watch.
While it may evoke an emotional response, the experience is more than worth it.
Looking for a captivating anime that combines history and shounen action in a masterful way! Look no further than Kingdom, an adaptation of China’s first unification that is sure to delight both history enthusiasts and casual viewers alike.
With its well-crafted characters, compelling plot, and gripping storyline, Kingdom stands out as one of the best historical anime of the past decade.
By weaving together real-life history with the thrilling elements of shounen anime, Kingdom offers a unique and unforgettable viewing experience that surpasses even the highest expectations.