Historical and speculative fiction anime that draw directly from past events add layers of realism and context to a storyline. So many anime characters directly inspired by historical figures tend to be male despite the plethora of intriguing women in history from which to choose.
It’s important to represent the real women of history in fictional retellings, too. Whether the interpretations are comical or serious, faithful or loosely inspired, their stories can add plenty to an anime series. Royal women are always easy reference points as they are recognizable and tend to be well-documented, but the women beyond the aristocracy are perhaps even more interesting. Joan of Arc seems to be one of, if not the most, popular female historical figures to serve as anime character inspiration.
10 Nohime Was As Beautiful As She Was Clever
Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings
In Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings, Oda Nobunaga is a Demon King, and Lady Nohime is his fierce and beautiful wife. The real Nohime was also called Lady No and Kicho, but was referred to mostly as Nohime — “hime” meaning “princess” or “lady of higher birth.”
Beyond her beauty, Nohime’s cleverness was what distinguished her. She was the legal wife of warlord Oda Nobunaga, who initiated Japan’s unification under Shogun rule. The marriage was a political one, but Oda Nobunaga spoke very highly of his wife, stating that she “had the mind of a genius.”
9 Mary Stuart Was A Controversial Monarch
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, is very briefly mentioned in “Phantom Blood,” the first part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. She is depicted as a kind and genteel woman who easily earns the hearts and respect of her knights and soldiers, especially Tarkus and Bruford, who devoted their lives and honor to her.
Mary Queen of Scots really did inspire both loyalty and disdain in equal parts, depending on whether a person was Catholic or Protestant; she was the only surviving recognized child of James V of Scotland. Even with the political division surrounding her image, she was largely viewed as a reasonable and tolerant ruler, and she inherited the throne from a young age.
8 The Real Oichi Had A Warrior’s Heart
Gakuen Basara: Samurai High School
Gakuen Basara: Samurai High School‘s Oichi is the younger sister of another prominent historical figure, Oda Nobunaga. In the anime, Oichi is a lovelorn woman with a tragic story of betrayal and bloodshed.
The Oichi of history, Oichi-no-Kata, lived in the late Sengoku period and was admired just as much for her stalwart heart as her great beauty. Her brother, who loved her very much, said that if she were a man, she would be a warrior. Oichi had several daughters who would also become renowned figures.
7 Ekaterina Gets Fed Up With Her Husband, Pyotr
Le Chevalier D’Eon
Le Chevalier D’Eon is inspired by the historical figure of the same name from Pre-Revolutionary France and follows many other historical figures, including Ekaterina of Russia, who is inspired, very loosely, by Catherine the Great. In Le Chevalier D’Eon, she is the friend of Empress Elizaveta.
The anime Ekaterina seizes power from her husband, Peter III, just as the real Catherine the Great did. She ruled Russia for over 30 years and implemented many new ideas in her country inspired by the Enlightenment. She funded music, art, education and developed new infrastructure, bringing new culture and modernity to Russia.
6 Jeanne D’Arc Is A Servant To The Holy Grail
The Fate series has many characters inspired by folklore and history, and one of its Ruler class characters, Jeanne d’Arc, is inspired by the French knight of the same name. She fights in the Holy Grail War in Fate/Apocrypha. As a Ruler, Jeanne has no personal wish to possess the Holy Grail, but acts in its interest only.
The real Jeanne d’Arc was also a country girl with high ideals who fought with a single mission in mind: to save the innocents of her country from the invading English. It was Jeanne who ensured that France stayed its own country and didn’t become part of England. She was the first woman in history to ever attain official knighthood.
5 O-Ei Was An Accomplished Artist
In Miss Hokusai, O-Ei is one of the painter Hokusai’s four daughters. O-Ei is depicted as having a personality similar to her father: determined and completely devoted to her work as an artist.
Katsushika Oi lived during the early 19th-century Edo period and was the daughter of Katsushika Hokusai. She was an incredibly talented printmaker and painter. She worked as her father’s apprentice as well as his production assistant. Katsushika Oi married and divorced briefly, but the main thread in her life was her devotion to her craft which was recognized on its own merit regardless of her father’s fame.
4 Queen Victoria Ruled For A Long Time
Black Butler takes place in Victorian-era England and follows Ciel Phantomhive, who serves Queen Victoria as her Watchdog. In the anime, she’s depicted as an antagonist.
Queen Victoria, the last Hanoverian, had the second-longest reign in English history, spanning nearly 64 years. She was only recently eclipsed by her great-great-granddaughter, Elizabeth II, who reigned for over 70 years. Though Victorian-era fashions are immaculate, Queen Victoria was responsible for much reprehensible colonial expansion; she’s also known for popularizing an extreme attitude of “strict morality” regarding social interaction and etiquette.
3 Marie Antoinette Glittered Briefly In The French Court
The Rose Of Versailles
The Rose of Versailles takes place in the sunset of Pre-Revolutionary France, at the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. In this story, she’s saved from an attempted kidnapping by the dreamy and heroic (yet sadly fictional) royal guard, Lady Oscar Francois de Jarjayes.
The real Marie Antoinette came from Austria and became dauphine, and eventually queen, of France when she married Louis XVI. She had four children, only one of whom survived to adulthood (and through the Revolution). Marie Antoinette had a soft heart and exquisite taste in fashion, but she could be catastrophically naive, and she had no legitimate political power.
2 Jeanne D’Arc Lives With War In Her Backyard
Ulysses: Jeanne D’Arc And The Alchemist Knight
Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight is set in 15th-century France in the wake of the Hundred Years’ War between France and the English. It follows an alchemist named Montmorency, loosely inspired by the historical knight Gilles de Rais, and a strange peasant girl he meets named Jeanne.
In Ulysses, Jeanne d’Arc’s life is augmented by magic when Montmorency saves her after she’s attacked in her village by English invaders. In reality, Joan felt called by her god to help save her country and maintain French autonomy.
1 Anastasia Romanova Was A Tragic Young Lady Of Russia
The antagonists in Drifters are historical figures who died under violent, tragic, and often unjust circumstances, like Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova. She has the ability to summon frigid blizzards, as is appropriate for a lady of Russia. In the series, she takes a particular liking to the fire wielder, Joan of Arc, and doesn’t care as much as the other villains about the war.
The young Grand Duchess Anastasia had a woefully short life, but her bond with her family and unjust end both inspire and haunt the public to this day. Writers and creatives often envision stories, with varying levels of fantasy elements, for her where she survived and made it to adulthood.
NEXT: Anime Characters You Didn’t Know Were Based On Historical Figures
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