15 Best Medieval Anime of All Time, Ranked

15 Best Medieval Anime of All Time, Ranked

There’s something really admirable about how the manga and anime mediums manage to visit pretty much every single genre, find inspiration in every culture, and touch every time period. Stories set during the medieval era are often associated with war, knights, and tyrannical kings living in luxury while their subjects suffer. However, there are a number of anime that found clever ways to revamp this classic setting.

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From dark and twisted series to more bright and lighthearted ones, these anime series adapted what is usually expected of medieval stories to create something totally unique. Without further ado, here’s a ranked list of the 10 best medieval anime that you absolutely have to watch. In this case, the focus is on anime with a medieval aesthetic and not ones set during the Middle Ages, although the latter will naturally be considered.

Updated on May 12th, 2023 by Ajay Aravind: Fictional narratives based on the medieval era often take their cues from Europe, but this isn’t always the case. On the contrary, anime series like Inuyasha and Samurai Champloo are set in medieval Japan. Given the sheer amount of medieval anime out there, we’ve updated this list with some more relevant information.



15 Fairy Tail

9 Seasons and 328 Episodes

Anyone looking for a fun, complex, and intense shonen with lots of unique characters, awesome animation, and a great storyline, should seriously consider giving Fairy Tail a try. The story mainly follows Lucy, a young mage whose dream is to be part of the Fairy Tail Guild.

One day, she crosses paths with Natsu, a teenage boy with a rare type of magic, and his flying blue cat, both of who happen to be Fairy Tail members. As they become friends, the three of them regularly go on missions that always happen to be much more dangerous than expected.

14 The Heroic Legend Of Arslan

2 Seasons and 33 Episodes

The Heroic Legend of Arslan is what one would expect of a story set during medieval times. There are two kingdoms at war and, at their heads, two tyrannical and power-hungry kings. However, Arslan, who’s one of the king’s sons, is different and aspires to become a good and fair ruler.

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As Arslan leaves the palace for his very first battle, his father is betrayed by one of his most trusted advisors and Arslan now must travel throughout his kingdom to gather the skills and knowledge necessary for him to take back his kingdom. The Heroic Legend of Arslan is loosely adapted from Persian epics.

13 Castlevania

4 Seasons, 32 Episodes

With stellar voice acting, a visceral storyline, and a polished modern look, Castlevania has been heralded as the first really successful video game-to-television adaptation. Richard Armitage brings the main character to life with his noble but sometimes slurred baritone, a big part of the show’s appeal.

The series follows the basic plot that has been laid out in Konami’s legendary game series, including House Belmont and the Belnades family. The story is supposed to take place in Transylvania, but the obscure Romanian region of Wallachia is where most of the action occurs. Produced by Netflix, Castlevania finished airing its fourth season in 2021.

12 Goblin Slayer

1 Season and 12 Episodes

Set in a world where adventurers come from afar to join a guild and pick out jobs, an inexperienced priestess finds herself in an unfortunate situation after joining her very first adventuring party. When her entire party is slaughtered by goblins, she is ready to give up and meet her untimely demise when fate puts a mytserious and overpowered man on her path.

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This is a relatively new anime that shows great promise and has gotten pretty amazing reviews so far, although it was not without controversy when it first aired. Goblin Slayer has a pretty unique pace, alternating between light-novel adaptation and what resembles dark fantasy. Goblin Slayer definitely has the potential to become a new medieval anime favorite.

11 Vinland Saga

2 Seasons and 48 Episodes

As the name suggests, Vinland Saga is a story about Vikings — the clothing, settings, and customs are all lifted from the earlier medieval time period. The plot focuses on an old-fashioned revenge dynamic, following Thorfinn as he tries to catch up to his father’s murderer, a mercenary named Askeladd.

When he grows old enough, Thorfinn joins the same band of mercenaries as they set sail to pillage, hoping to eventually grow strong enough to kill their leader. There’s very little action that takes place in cities, with most of the main character’s trials taking place on a ship among other crewmembers. Beyond the violence and unforgiving social environment, Thorfinn dreams of freedom in a lush place over the seas known only as Vinland.

10 The Seven Deadly Sins

5 Seasons and 100 Episodes

The Seven Deadly Sins is another surprisingly good shonen set in the medieval era. Despite its colorful world and seemingly buoyant story, the anime turns out to be quite dark at times and has a very gripping narrative. As the kingdom falls into the demonic hands of the Holy Knights, Princess Elizabeth sets up a mission to find and bring together the Seven Deadly Sins.

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These titular characters are a group of exiled mages whom she believes will be powerful enough to free her kingdom and bring back peace. However, finding them seems to be the easy part, but getting them to agree on working together turns out to be more complicated than expected.

9 Tears To Tiara

1 Season, 26 Episodes

The story follows Riannon, the priestess of a small island governed by the Gael tribe. As news of the Holy Empire’s growing power on the mainland reaches the island, Riannon is kidnapped to be offered as a sacrifice to the demon Arawn.

However, upon his rise, Arawn chooses to pledge his allegiance to Riannon and the Gael tribe. Together, they will fight against the Empire to free the kingdom from its oppression. Tears to Tiara was originally created and released as a tactical role-playing game, but the story was fascinating enough to merit an anime adaptation.

8 The Twelve Kingdoms

1 Season and 45 Episodes

The Twelve Kingdoms is an ideal mix of the fantasy, adventure, and steampunk genres. The plot begins when whiny teenager Youko Nakajima gets sucked through a dimensional portal into the fantasy world of The Twelve Kingdoms. The show also abandons anime tropes like fan service and exaggerated costuming in favor of more authentic clothing that’s accurate to the time period.

There are a number of fantasy characters in the story and this detail keeps the visuals grounded in reality. The show tackles some deep themes as well, following the main character’s development as she navigates both life-threatening adventures and awkward political nuances.

7 Spice And Wolf

2 Seasons and 24 Episodes

It is not uncommon to expect knights, some sort of kingdom in peril, and an array of mages when considering a story set in medieval times. It is therefore refreshing to find an anime that goes in a completely different direction, choosing instead to highlight a romance storyline.

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Although Spice and Wolf is not without its share of magic, the story mainly focuses on the relationship between Holo, an ancient goddess with waning influence, and Kraft Lawrence, a struggling merchant. Along with a strong cast and a moving storyline, Spice and Wolf offers information and details about medieval economics that turn out to be surprisingly interesting.

6 Attack On Titan

4 Seasons and 88 Episodes

Attack on Titan is one of the most popular anime of the last few years. This series is a phenomenon of its own and combines amazing characters, beautiful design and animation, and a highly nuanced story. To say that Attack on Titan contains political themes is an understatement — the entire narrative framework is an expression of political and personal differences between the Eldian race and everyone else.

Each episode keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, and the anime genuinely evokes that “one more episode” feel in the audience. The very last episode is set to release in mid-2023, so it’s as good a time as any to get started and to binge this series in time to be there for its inevitably grand finale.

5 Inuyasha

8 Seasons, 193 Episodes

A classic favorite, Inuyasha was originally based on a manga by Rumiko Takahashi. Despite its medieval narrative, the story starts with an accident involving time travel. Kagome Higurashi is just a normal middle-school girl in Tokyo, but then she falls into well at her family’s shrine and finds herself in the Sengoku period, which coincides with the late Middle Ages.

One of the first characters she meets is the titular character, the half-dog demon, half-human Inuyasha. There are eight seasons to watch as well as a few films, so there’s plenty to binge for people looking for this type of medieval anime. The first version of the anime had the complete name, Inuyasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale, which gives viewers a more specific idea as to the tone and setting.

4 Yona Of The Dawn

1 Season, 24 Episodes

Mizuho Kusanagi’s Yona of the Dawn is a highly popular shojo manga that has been running since 2009. The eponymous Princess Yona’s perfect, luxury-filled life is turned upside down when a coup d’état occurs. With the king dead and the whole kingdom at risk, Yona has no other choice but to run away and hide among her people.

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Now that she is confronted with the reality of life outside the palace, Yona is forced to admit that her kingdom is far from the idyllic place she had always imagined. As in the case of any dedicated anime protagonist, Yona resolves to win back her kingdom and create a better life for her people.

3 Claymore

1 Season and 26 Episodes

Fans on the hunt for a dark fantasy anime with awesome fight scenes and innovative ways to make fan-favorite characters experience suffering need look no further than the iconic Claymore. The warrior characters in this story are known as Claymores, a reference to their claymore blades.

Despite being hated and rejected by a society that despises the supernatural, a group of women infused with demon blood dedicate their lives to kill all demons and protect humans. Written by Norihiro Yagi, the mangaka behind Angel Densetsu, Claymore eventuallymanages to fulfill most of the audience’s expectations.

2 Samurai Champloo

1 Season and 26 Episodes

Fans looking for a more historically accurate creation should check out Samurai Champloo. Although the story of the three main characters on a road trip is fictional, the environment they travel through is an authentic recreation of Japan’s Meiji Era. This was the tail-end of the Middle Ages when the modern era was just beginning, and feudal Japan was slowly evolving into an industrialized world power.

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At first, it seems that the characters have little connection with the history happening around them. However, as the story deepens, each one becomes an icon of both past and present timelines. Anyone curious about some of the nuances of Japanese history shouldn’t miss this one.

1 Berserk

3 Seasons and 49 Episodes

If there is one medieval anime set that needs to be on any anime fan’s to-be-watched list, it’s Berserk. Both the original 1997 series and the 2016 reboot are worth watching as they each focus on different aspects of life in that eerie and ominous world filled with Apostles and other nightmarish entities.

The original series is highly focused on political intrigue, battlefield strategies, and power dynamics between different people. On the other hand, the reboot directs the spotlight onto subjects like witchcraft, torture, and the importance of religion in medieval times. Although the series can get pretty dark, Berserk is hands down one of the best anime ever made.

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