Not every anime is set in Japan. Some occur in other areas and times much different than the beautiful countryside of Japan or the busy streets of Tokyo. The change in scenery makes it easier to immerse the viewer in a story that the anime wants to tell. So, here are five anime that take place outside of Japan.
Born during the Warring States of ancient China (475-221 BCE), Shin and Hyou (Chinese: Xin and Piao, respectively) are left orphans and now live as servants in the kingdom of Qin. They dream of becoming “Great Generals of the Heavens” to escape their current lives. But one day, a minister separates the two by taking Hyou to the royal palace. A few months later, Hyou returns home at the brink of death, urging Shin to go to another village. There, Shin meets China’s young King, Ei Sei (Yin Zheng), who bears a striking resemblance to Hyou.
Kingdom follows Shin as he makes his mark on the blood-soaked history of China. Through various trials and tribulations, Shin carves his own path to become a great general of the historic Warring States — and in doing so, unify China.
While Kingdom is a fictional adaptation of the Warring States period, it’s interesting, especially for history buffs, to see a compact version of China’s rich and turbulent history come to life.
Le Chevalier D’Eon
In 18th-century France, Lia de Beaumont, servant to the King, Louis XV, is found floating inside a coffin in the river Seine. Someone had injected her body with mercury, thus becoming perfectly preserved for all eternity. According to the Church, if the soil can’t consume a body, then the soul can’t ascend to Heaven. Therefore, it will remain wandering the human realm.
Hearing this news, her brother, D’Eon pledges to find her killer. However, it isn’t D’Eon exacting revenge, but Lia, who can possess her brother’s body. Their quest for retribution leads them across Europe, which in turn lights the first sparks of the French Revolution.
From Versailles to Russia to England, each scene comes to life, thanks to its historically accurate details. The people, locations, and organizations are all well-researched, with many of the character and background designs based on historical portraits from the 18th century. The series takes you back almost 300 years ago, delivering an authentic portrayal of pre-Napoleonic Europe.
First Squad: The Moment of Truth
Taking place at the beginning of World War II on the Eastern Front, First Squad: The Moment of Truth centers around Nadya Ruslanov, a Soviet teenager with psychic abilities. The Soviet Union drafts her and other gifted teenagers from around the country to form a special team to fight the invading Nazi forces. Leading the German army is an SS Officer who wants to raise the 12th-century Crusaders from the dead, the Order of the Sacred Cross, to aid the Nazi cause.
While First Squad: The Moment of Truth doesn’t have a unique take on WW2, it does, however, have a realistic portrayal of society’s post-war mindset. The film discusses the history and a lot of Soviet-era archetypes during that time, as well as the spiritual side or the afterlife. On top of that, it sheds light on the Soviet Armed Forces and how its soldiers are proud of their Motherland — they’re ready to defend it and give up their lives to protect their culture and beliefs.
Taking place in both Chicago and New York during the Prohibition era, Baccano! follows a large cast of colorful characters who, in one way or another, get themselves involved with an immortality elixir. The series comes to life through the fragmented points of view of each character, which, as a result, tells their different life stories during the mid-1930s.
Baccano! is one of the most popular series that takes place outside of Japan. The series has gained popularity due to its unique storytelling and its realistic portrayal of such a tumultuous time in American history.
The setting gave the series that Americana touch not found in other anime with a foreign setting. The English voice actors also made the series more authentic with their representation of different regional accents, especially when it came to imitating the era’s Italian gangsters and urban citizens.
Monster follows renowned neurosurgeon Kenzou Tenma working in Germany. One day, he’s forced to choose between operating on the Mayor or a young boy with a gunshot wound to the head. Despite pressure from his peers to select the Mayor, Tenma decides to work on the child, as he arrived first. But when a string of murders points to that same kid, Tenma sets out to find the true identity of his former patient — a journey that would shake Tenma’s beliefs and morals.
Throughout the series, Tenma travels around Germany and several other European countries in search of the young boy. This leads him to discover a deep-rooted secret linked to illegal experiments, similar to when Nazis ruled over a significant part of Europe, in which Nazi scientists conducted horrible tests on people to further understand the human psyche and use it as a weapon.