If you’re a fan of the anime genre, you have probably seen a lot of Japanese animation series from One Piece to Cowboy Bebop to Dragon Ball Z or maybe more recent ones like Tokyo Ghoul and Attack on Titan. They have unique and interesting plots, and it’s fairly easy to get hooked. If you’re a fan of historical movies and shows, then you might want to check out these three anime films set during World War II.

This list was voted by Ranker‘s anime community. As they wrote, “Take a trip back to when the world was at war, and get a new perspective on what happened from a different point of view.”

In This Corner of The World

The plot of In This Corner of The World is set around ten years before the Hiroshima bombing in the 1930s–1940 and was based on a manga. The story focuses on a cheerful woman named Suzu who lives near Hiroshima in a town called Eba and how her life is thrown into chaos after World War II. It also shows how she, as a housewife, helps her family prepare before the bombing and how she regains her passion for life after Hiroshima was bombed.

The film was produced by MAPPA and premiered in Japan on November 12, 2016. In 2017, the anime was released in the United States. 

The Wind Rises

This 2013 animated historical drama film was animated by Studio Ghibli. It became the highest-grossing Japanese film in Japan in 2013 and received multiple awards and praises.

The story is a fictionalized film of Jori Horikoshi’s life, the designer of the Mitsubishi A5M and A6M Zero fighter aircraft. The plot is about Jori and how he becomes a fighter plane designer after his nearsightedness prevented him from achieving his childhood dream of being a pilot. It also shows his love story with Naoko, a lady he met on a train on his way to Tokyo Imperial University.


Grave of the Fireflies

Another anime that was given life by Studio Ghibli, Grave of the Fireflies, is based on the 1967 semi-autobiographical short story written by novelist Akiyuki Nosaka. The story is set in 1945 and focuses on the struggles of 14-year-old Seita and his four-year-old sister Setsuko during World War II bombings that start when their mother died from severe burns in a firebombing incident in the city of Kobe. 

All three of these films are interesting because they come from the perspective of the Japanese during this war, a perspective that casts them as the victims rather than the aggressors in their part of WWII. In the years since the end of the war, the Japanese have often been accused of romanticizing their own suffering in that conflict while outright ignoring the atrocities committed by their government against millions of Chinese, Filipino, and Korean civilians in the territory they conquered.  In the U.S. version of WWII history we tend to forget that Japan did not just attack the United States, but also the Philippines, Malaysia, Borneo, Australia, French Indo-China, the Dutch East Indies, Burma and Thailand, and this while they were fighting an ongoing war in which they had conquered a third of China.