Reading history through a manga is perhaps the most entertaining way to learn about times past. Why aren't there more history mangas? There is no definitive answer to that question. However, whereas historical anime tends to embellish the details, manga do as well. They create fantasy stories with historical characters, but there is some merit to them. Historical mangas generally get the setting about right, but the story needs a bit of researching. It awakens a need to know about the actual lives of these characters. Anything that evokes a willingness to learn can't be bad.
I have also provided recommendations for historical anime as well, most of which have very decent animes as well. However, for the sake of variety, I have left them off this particular list.
Historie takes place in ancient Greece and follows the life and childhood of Eumenes, who historically was the secretary and general to Alexander the Great. Historie includes characters such as Aristotle and King Philip II of Macedon and begins around 343 BC, which was a time of Macedonian expansion.
If you're a true fan of historical manga, then you'll most likely enjoy this for its content. Especially if your into ancient Greek/Persian history. The story at the beginning lacks a little something that I like to call complexity, and it continues on that way until some things happen that cause Eumenes to leave his hometown. This is a great look at the life of Alexander the Great, without going through the complexities that was his life. Emumenes has a simple enough childhood, however when the manga transitions into adulthood things get real. Delightfully real!
This manga was drawn by the same man who created Parasyte, if you are a fan of his art or storytelling, you can't pass this up. Iwaaki has a very unique art style and seeing that transfer into the realm of history just fits perfectly.
Thorfinn is a talented warrior and some of one of the greatest Viking warriors who ever lived. however, his father was cut down by a mercenary leader by the name of Askeladd. Thorfinn swore he would become strong and join Askeladd's crew where he would enact his revenge through a duel. however, after Thorfinn joins his crew, he finds himself smack dab in the middle of a war for the crown of England.
Vikings. What is not to love about vikings? Mix the tragedy of a Shakespearean play and badass Vikings and you have Vinland Saga. There are very few mangas that can transcend the medium of manga as a whole; Vinland Saga is one of the few elite mangas that do that with ease. Makoto Yukimura is able to tell a captivating emotional tale about revenge and power, grounded in extreme realism, something that most mangaka simply cannot do.
Lord follows the story of Liu Bei and his sworn brother Guan Yu and Zheng Fei as they fight to protect their homeland and ultimately fight for control of China. For anyone who is familiar with the Romance of the three Kingdoms, these names will sound familiar. Lord is loosely based on the story of the three kingdoms and depicts that battles in a way they have never seen before.
The romance of the three kingdoms has been overdone, however most of it has been in video games. In manga, it just makes more sense. Combine the classic story with the realistic and stunning artwork of Ryoichi Ikegami and the storytelling master Buronson. Well, you really have something there. However, Lord can be a difficult manga to find, but when you do don't pass it up. It is the most fascinating story of brotherhood and loyalty.
A seemingly ordinary modern day teenager, Yuri, is suddenly whisked away to the Hittite empire in ancient Anatolia, where an ambitious queen wants the girl for a blood sacrifice in order to murder all heirs but her son, thus seizing control of the throne. Luckily, the timely intervention of Prince Kail saves Yuri from the queen's grasp. Kail promises to send Yuri back to her home, but the queen's persistent schemes to kill them both, plus their growing feelings for each other, keep those plans delayed.
This manga represents a time in history that is not often learned about. The Hitittes, while giving much in terms of evolution of warfare, are oftimes forgotten. However, Anatolia Story (also known as red river) gives a unique look at this time period. it also combines history with a romance story. Of course, it has a plot similar to Inuyasha, but does a much better job of preventing the story from dragging on.
Shinmen Takezou has always been shunned by his village for being a wild child, even going so far as to be called a devil child. He ran away from his home with a friend to join the Toyotomi army which was preparing to battled the Tokugawa clan at the Battle of Sekigahara. The Toyotomi are nearly all destroyed, but Takezou and his friend survive. They both swear to do something great with their lives. After the friends are separated, Takezou becomes a wanted criminal, so thus he must change his name and nature in order to survive.
Vagabond is the fictional retelling of the life of legendary swordsman Musashi Miyamoto. Some of the events may be fictional, but the characters he encounters on his journey are not. Aside from the epic sword fights and addicting story, Vagabond has some of the most beautiful artwork you will ever see in manga. It is one of my personal favorites for that reason. All around, it is near perfect in every respect. Plus the things the mangaka does with watercolors, it is just awe-inspiring to anyone who cares even a little bit about the art of a manga.
These are just a few of the best selected from my personal manga library. If you have been fortunate to see all of these or have a specific sort of manga in mind, leave a comment. I can give more suggestions if you want them!