The Best Historical Manga of All Time | TheReviewGeek Recommends

The Best Historical Manga of All Time

Although many people cherish watching anime, they often forget that most anime serve as adaptations of the original source material. While there are some instances where the anime is better than the manga, those instances are few and far between.

With the amount of manga released on a daily basis, it could be hard to cut through all those books to find the “Best of” for any chosen topic.

Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest, and unforgettable manga through the years. For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best manga, our attention this time turns to manga with a strong historical theme. From war-like conflicts to compelling slice-of-life situations, there’s a good choice to whet your appetite.

Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll add them!

Kingdom – Yasuhisa Hara

Kingdom delivers one of the best historical tales. It has gripping storytelling, amazing character development, and a detailed depiction of ancient China. The series is set during the Warring States period in Chinese history and follows Xin as he dreams of becoming a Great General.

Kingdom’s ability to blend historical accuracy, intense battles, and political intrigue, contributes to its recognition. The manga masterfully weaves together historical events, epic battles, and complex political machinations to create a rich narrative. The story’s pacing, intense action sequences, and intricate plot twists keep readers hooked and continuously invested in the characters’ fates.

Coupled with Yasuhisa Hara’s amazing attention to detail and accuracy with the manga’s clothing, weapons, and structures, you’re in for a war-centric treat with this one. 

Golden Kamui – Satoru Noda

Golden Kamui is a fascinating series with great historical accuracy, captivating storytelling, and a diverse cast. It takes place in 20th-century Japan, during the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War. It centers around a former soldier named Saichi, who seeks a hidden fortune.

Noda expertly explores the Ainu culture, traditions, and language in Golden Kamui. It not only will appeal to history buffs but it helps to shed light on a lesser-known aspect of Japanese history. Moreover, the manga itself contains some fascinating mystery, adventure, and political aspects that will appeal to certain crowds. The question for the treasure serves as a driving force behind this tale and Saichi is a well-written lead with favorable qualities.

Although its anime adaptation didn’t do it much favor, the manga may offer those viewers a better experience. 

Phoenix – Osamu Tezuka

A Bride’s Story – Kaoru Mori

Blade of the Immortal – Hiroaki Samura

If you love ancient Japan and samurai, Blade of the Immortal might be the historical tale for you. This follows Manji, a cursed swordsman who must kill 1,000 evil men to regain his mortality. It tackles themes like honor and revenge and provides readers with a stunning and captivating tale about a samurai’s rough life. 

Many fans adore Samura’s stance on depicting feudal Japan in a brutal light. They explore their characters’ ethical dilemmas from a close lens, allowing audiences to have a deeper association with them as they read. Moreover, the series is downright gorgeous to look at, thanks to Samura’s realistic art style and historically accurate character and world design.

Give this a read if you’re looking for a dark samurai tale to get lost in. 

Barefoot Gen – Keiji Nakazawa 

Barefoot Gen is an emotionally exhausting work. It delivers a powerful depiction of the Hiroshima bombing and its aftermath. Drawing from the author’s personal experiences with the incident, Barefoot Gen delivers a harrowing tale of Gen and his family, showing the human cause and devastation caused by the saddening bombing incident. 

Keiji Nakazawa gritty’s artwork brings the destruction to life, depicting the immediate aftermath of the bombing, and the suffering it caused its people to the forefront. Through Gen’s eyes, readers witness the loss, trauma, and struggle for survival that ensues between the characters in this tragic tale.

If you have the stomach to sit through a tale that contains very few lighthearted segments, then give this manga a go. 

The Rose of Versailles – Riyoko Ikeda

The Rose of Versailles is one of, if not, the most complex shoujo series you’ll ever read. Written and illustrated by Riyoko Ikeda, this manga follows Oscar, a woman who is raised as a man in order to serve as a guard to Marie Antoinette. Through Oscar’s perspective, readers will become invested in the luxury of the Versailles Court and the political tensions that arise from it. 

Moreover, Ikeda has a knack for historical accuracy and detail. The manga’s accurate depiction of fashion, architecture, and the societal norms of 18th-century France is apparent throughout the rework. With events like the storming of Bastille and figures like Marie Antoinette cropping their heads in the narrative, you’ll love how it all makes the story feel more real in retrospect.

As this gives its original cast like Oscar needed development time and noteworthy moments, you’re likely to enjoy The Rose of Versailles. 

Blade of the Phantom Master – In-Wan Yoon

This manga takes place in a fictional version of ancient Korea, during a time of political and social turmoil. It follows Munsu, a wandering warrior known as the Phantom Master, who traverses a corrupt, supernatural, and unjust world. With its gripping plot and immersive historical backdrop, this manga stands as one of the best in the history genre. 

The manga’s world-building is great, as it melds aspects of fantasy with real-world Korea marvelously. The way the author depicts ancient Korean society, culture, and political climate in the story makes it feel more intricate and absorbent. Its incorporation of spiritual entities adds more flavor to the experience, helping Munsu’s journey feel more exciting to follow.

On top of having phenomenal artwork, Blade of the Phantom Master is a must-read for history fanatics. 

Message to Adolf – Osamu Tezuka

Set during the rise of Adolf Hitler, and the events leading to World War II, Message to Adolf weaves together multiple tales that explore concepts regarding one’s identity and the impact war can have on people. Tezuka’s wonderful way of handling all the historical richness in this work is unprecedented and deserves every history fanatic’s undivided attention. 

This story features a diverse array of characters, including Adolf himself. By humanizing the individuals present in this manga, Tezuka compels readers to reflect on themes regarding power, prejudice, and the consequences of one’s actions. Moreover, by reading through the stories presented in this story, you’ll gain a decent understanding of several events that took place in history.

If you cherish history above all else, give this a read. 

In This Corner of the World – Fumiyo Kouno

In This Corner of the World follows the life of Suzu Urano, a woman who must navigate through the obstacles of war, love, and loss. Her tale is set in Hiroshima before and after the atomic bomb dropped. It contains wonderful depth, accuracy, and storytelling. However, many adore this tale for its characters since Kouno successfully captures the emotional turmoil the event has on their psyche. 

Through Suzu’s eyes, readers gain a better understanding of the hardships people face during war-time conflicts. Kouno’s masterful storytelling creates an emotional journey that explores the impact war can have on families and how it affects their drive to move forward in life, even if they make it out alive.

With its excellent stance on universal themes like family and the pursuit of happiness, In This Corner of the World will hit you where it hurts most. 

So, there we have it, our picks for the best historical manga through the years!

What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!

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