I love reading manga because I’m a big fan of Japanese culture, tradition and history (not as huuuuge as my two sisters are). There was a time I spent two hours hearing the Tokugawa era narrated by my little sister—who is a huge historical junkie as I said. And no, it’s not limited to just Japan, but I digress.) But I do appreciate historical manga and the great thing about graphic novels, it has pictures! I’m not as big of historical fiction fan, book wise. I’m the type who understands a concept or idea when presented to me visually. It was through manga that I became (I can 100% claimed now) historical enthusiast. And that’s why I love reading manga that revolved around other cultures (and not only in Japan).
Let’s travel via these awesome manga titles! (A different post about manga set in West countries in another time! I’ll concentrate in some Asian countries first.)
Otoyomegatari by Kaori Mori is picturesque & totally captivating manga that is set in Central Asia! A place that is not that popular with some occasional travel aficionado, sans those hard core backpackers. I watched documentary about Central Asia and the terrain (I think it was in Kazakhstan) was amazing. It looks to me there’s a great mesh of cultures within these territories yet still has that distinct & fascinating thing about it. Otoyomegatari’s art is so detailed I was immediately blown away. I have yet to progress from the small amount of chapters I sampled quite a while ago, but man, I can’t wait to continue, especially I know it’s from same author of Emma—anime/manga which I also adored!
For fans of historical action manga, Shoukoku no Altair by Kotono Katou is for the feast for the eyes & mind! This is set in Turkey, during war time. Since I only managed to read 5 chapters of it, I have yet delved too much in the story-line other than the male MC is a survivor when his hometown was attacked. And now at 17, he entered the battlefield as pasha. ( higher rank officer in the Ottoman Empire political and military system)
Yume no Shizuku, Ougon no Torikago by Chie Shinohara is also set in Turkey (also during the Great Ottoman Empire period) when they were expanding their territories. The female MC was kidnapped, bought, and became part of the powerful Sultan’s harem & eventually he fell in love with her. I was told (also by my sister) that it is indeed based on true events. She was inspired from  Hürrem Sultan or Roxelana, Empress of the Ottoman Empire the legal wife of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. I absolutely loved this title better than Shinohara-sensei’s more famous work, Sora wa Akai Kawa no Hotori (or Red River/Anatolia Story in English).
These two are both were based on historical events during the Ottoman Empire but on different timetable (or so after I researched! Correct me if I’m wrong though.)
Chang Ge Xing (Chouka Kou in Japaneses) by Xia Da is a Chinese graphic novel (manhua), set during the Tang Dynasty in China; and let me tell you if you love kick-ass female protagonist Cheng Ge fits the label like a glove! Change Ge is off to get her revenge on her uncle (now the emperor) and claim what she thinks was rightfully hers (as the daughter of the late crown prince). But the road to that goal wasn’t easy! I have never read as amazing character development as what Chang Ge has gone to (or still ongoing to). And I might be shipping her to some guy there (although there’s like 0.1% romance in the story, but I’m not one to lose hope so sue my shipper heart!).
And should I exclude to exclude Japan? Nope, this is one of the reasons why I read manga because I love their culture. Kaze Hikaru by Taeko Watanabe is one of my sister’s favorite manga because it is set during the bakumatsu era (although I was more into Taishou & Sengoku eras so…) I love gender bender role but what set Kaze Hikaru apart is how thorough Watanabe-sensei’s research. Her notes sparked this little discussion post last time. And her hard work paid off every time. Love the details!
And do I need to mention Rurouni Kenshin by Watsuki Nobuhiro? Of course! I was watching this series as young as 12 even though my late father reprimanded me of how violent it was, haha (he was watching it with me). Though slightly altered, I still loved that events stuck true. And come on, fight scenes were awesome. I can watch this over and over and still feels like the first!
And there you have it! These are my favorites and/or recommendations. I didn’t include historical manga that are set in fictional/fantasy—magic! /inspired from series like Magi. These are almost based on factual places and events! So ahoy history buff nerds friends, go get some manga & read!!!