6 Anime Based on Real Events

Zuleika Boekhoudt

When you hear about anime, one of the first things that come to mind – besides it being for kids – is that it’s all fantastical and fantasy-based. And although a lot of the most popular series may be based on fairies, monsters, and other magical things, there are many others that are based on real events. From the atrocities of war to time travel theories, here are six of the best anime that are based on real events.

In This Corner of the World

Released in Japan in the fall of 2016, In This Corner of the World, takes an overrepresented time in history – World War II – and gives it a fresh new take. The wartime drama movie takes place between the 1930s and 40s but mainly focuses on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima. The film follows Suzu, a young woman living in a small town of Kure in Hiroshima city, whose life takes a heartbreaking turn when intense bombings by the U.S. military hit her town.

Although the stories featured in the film are fictional, the setting is based on real events. The production staff researched these events and included old photos, documents, and the recollections of those who survived the bombings in the film.

Welcome to the N.H.K. 

Tatsuhiro Satou banging his head on the wall
Tatsuhiro Satou banging his head on the wall

Artists find inspiration for their projects in all sorts of places, from music to a simple walk in the park. However, in the case of Tatsuhiko Takimoto, he novelized his experiences as a hikikomori (or a recluse) and created the Japanese novel Welcome to the N.H.K.

The anime series of the same name follows college drop-out Tatsuhiro Satou. For almost four years, Tatshuiro lives in isolation from society and believes that the NHK (Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai) is the reason for his Hikikomori status.

In 2005, Takimoto revealed that he still deals with depression and he lives off of the royalties from Welcome to the NHK. Currently, Takimoto continues to write and updates his website with novels and articles.


Rintarou Okabe from Steins;Gate laughing
Rintarou Okabe laughing

What’s the internet without some conspiracy threads and blogs, right? Since the dawn of the web, people have flocked to their computers sharing their “theories” with the rest of the world. One such person, John Titor, claimed to be a military time traveler from the year 2036. And while it was soon discovered that this was a hoax, the manga and anime series, Steins;Gate used John Titor as a major part of the story. However, the anime diverges from reality when it turns out that John Titor’s predictions and time travel turn out to be real.

Mawaru Penguindrum

Penguin from Mawaru Penguindrum with bug spray
Penguin with bug spray

How can an anime about three spirit penguins be based on real events? That’s one of the questions that comes to mind when you watch Mawaru Penguindrum.

In Tokyo on March 20th, 1995, members of the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo released sarin gas on multiple subway lines killing 12 and injuring thousands of people. The anime series recounts the attack and how the events affected the Takakura family.

Miss Hokusai

Being a feminist in this day and age isn’t unheard of or frowned upon. However, this was different in the 19th century, especially in the east, where women were considered inferior compared to their male counterparts.

Miss Hokusai, adapts the real life story (although slightly edited) of Katsushika O-Ei, the daughter of Katsushika Hokusai (painter of The Great Wave off Kanagawa).

The movie tells the story of O-Ei, a shy and reserved young woman who lives in the shadows of her famous father. However, when she’s in her studio and out of the public eye, she’s as brash and spontaneous as her father. Regardless of her fiery personality, she’s dominated by the influence of her father and criticism of her work. The movie follows O-Ei’s life as she fights to forge her own path.


Bakuman drawing woman
Drawing of a woman

Bakuman is an adapted manga series based on two mangaka artists – Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata – who worked on Death Note. While the duo was working on Death Note, they’ve documented their experiences into a new manga – Bakuman – which was later adapted into an anime series.

Bakuman realistically explores the hardships of being a mangaka using characters that are loosely based on the staff of Weekly Shōnen Jump – the manga magazine where Bakuman and Death Note first appeared.

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Zuleika Boekhoudt
Zuleika is a fan contributor at Fandom and focuses on Anime. Her anime specialties are horror, gore, and mystery anime. Loves series, movies, and games that have to do with bloodthirsty but equally intelligent psychos.
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