Top Ten European Influenced Anime
The Top Ten Best Anime That Are Inspired by European Culture
Anime takes a lot of inspiration from a lot of places. Everyday life, fantasy, folklore, and other cultures outside of Japan.
This is a list of the top ten anime that are inspired by European culture. Influences include cities, books, or history. Remember, you can disagree with me and let me know if you think I left one off the list. I tried to rate them based on how well it they were adapted or reimagined, how much attention they give to detail, and of course how enjoyable it is. Enjoy!
Top Anime Inspired by European Culture
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
Spice and Wolf
Les Misérables: Shōjo Cosette
Romeo X Juliet
Emma: A Victorian Romance
Rose of Versailles
Le Chevalier D'Eon
Tanoshii Moomin Ikka
Aria is, for all intended purposes, a sci-fi slice of life. So why is it even on this list?
Well, Aria is about three girls living on a planet called Aqua and their dream is to become gondoliers. You know, like in Venice. Actually, the setting is taken from Venice. Turns out the production team went there and put a lot of effort into making it look like the city. That's the real reason it made the list. However, the story is great too. It's simple and yet so complicated; there is a lot of depth to the characters and that is rare to see.
9. Tanoshii Moomin Ikka
Tanoshii Moomin Ikka is an adaptation of Tove Jansson's classic stories about the Moomin family. It's really just about innocent creatures that live in an isolated valley and have endearing adventures.
I do hesitate calling this an adaptation because it really does feel like the books in motion. However, it's so much like the books that it doesn't really feel like an anime. In fact I bet there are some people who grew up with the show that didn't know its country of origin but it's very enjoyable and cute.
8. Le Chevalier D'Eon
Le Chevalier D'Eon is, to put it bluntly, an odd anime. It takes place in pre-revolution France and it has a supernatural bent to it. But don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this anime. The characters are interesting and it's dramatic and intelligent.
The problem is that the major plot just kind of gets dropped midway through and it gets pretty convoluted. But if you like dark dramatic historical dramas than give it a watch.
7. Rose of Versailles
Like Le Chevalier D'Eon, Rose of Versailles also takes place in the pre-revolutionary period of France. Rose of Versailles covers a lot of historical events up to the revolution with great accuracy, which means it's filled with tons of drama and intrigue. However, it has a slow pace and lots of shoujo cliches so being a fan of of the genre helps. Also, like many older anime, its animation hasn't aged well. Despite this, Rose of Versailles is a classic that shouldn't be missed.
6. Emma: A Victorian Romance
Emma: A Victorian Romance is about a maid and a member of the landed gentry who falls in love with her. It's by no means a simple story. The characters are interesting and have a lot of complexity. Also, the attention to historical details is really great to see. You may feel like you're watching BBC or Masterpiece Theater.
5. Romeo X Juliet
Romeo x Juliet is a sci-fi fantasy retelling of one of Shakesphere's most famous plays. It's a good reimagining of the story and the characters are great. It has something for everyone; action, romance, comedy, and drama.
However, the story falls apart at the end and gets a little too weird but it's still enjoyable and epic.
4. Les Misérables: Shōjo Cosette
Les Misérables: Shōjo Cosette is not quite an adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel. It's more like a spinoff that is targeted to children, so there are more than a few things that were changed from the original book.
However, it does captures the characters at an authentic level. It's entertaining and endearing in its own right and can serve as an introduction to the book.
3. Spice and Wolf
Spice and Wolf is a fantasy that takes inspiration from medieval Europe when the church held more power than kings.
The show has a lot to do with trade and economics. However, what makes this anime stand out (beside the gorgeous animation) are the two main characters. They are both intelligent, interesting, and despite being in the fantasy genre, they feel like real people. They never get annoying or over he top. It's really just a gem of an anime.
2. Princess Tutu
Princess Tutu is a very odd anime, both in plot and mood. It has elements from both fairy tales and famous ballets and symphonies. It has a lot of shifts in tone as it starts off sweet and cute before becoming dark. However, it does a great job of integrating the ballet stories into the plot of the episodes and it never feels forced. The ballet motif makes this anime unique. The setting also has a German vibe to it and all the episode titles are in German. The characters are all engaging, likable, and developed. The animation is very stylized and gorgeous. The plot gets wrapped very well, which is sometimes rare to see in an anime.
They only real flaw (and this is why it's not number one) is that it suffers from monster-of-the-week syndrome. But for this style of anime plot framing, the narrative does build on itself very well.
1. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
The first thing people notice about Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is its look. It has to be one of the most beautiful anime ever. The shear scope of the anime is enough to get it noticed but how is the story? The narrative for the most part follows the Alexandre Dumas novel pretty faithfully. Sure, there are some changes to the story that help make it feel like a sci-fi retelling (like Haydee being an alien instead of Albanian) and changes to the overall plot to make it feel mored modern. With that said, the story is well paced and the characters are likable and interesting, even the ones you're not supposed to like.
My one issue is that the Count is more vengeful than he is in the book and I wish I could overlook that more. It's still a great anime in both execution of the story and in the visuals.