Otaku USA Magazine
Watch Anime Based on Beloved Literary Classics

Watch anime and enjoy classic literature at the same time with these series!

March 2 marks Read Across America Day: a day when people of all ages are encouraged to expand their horizons and celebrate the joy of reading. We’ll be picking out some favorites to read today, but you can also watch anime based on beloved literary classics!

For this special observance, we’ve picked a handful of shows that resurrect and reimagine classic books from across the centuries. Which are your favorite—and will you be reading the books that go with them?


Moriarty the Patriot

Moriarty the Patriot

If you watch anime for long enough, you’ll start to see Sherlock Holmes-inspired titles just about everywhere. From Sherlock Hound to Case File No.221: Kabukicho, the world’s greatest detective is everywhere. But no series has captured the imaginations of anime fans and Sherlockians alike quite like Moriarty the Patriot. The series references classics stories from across the Holmes canon, but with a twist: Moriarty is the hero, staging crimes to shine a spotlight on the crimes of Victorian England’s upper class.

The series weaves other influences throughout its twists and turns, too. Look out for Ian Fleming nods, along with looks in from other literary characters. Most of all, though, it’s a fantastic take on the bond between Holmes and Moriarty, and offers intriguing character development for the series’s many familiar faces.


Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

If you like to watch anime that’s straight-up eye candy, good news: this take on The Count of Monte Cristo is an absolute stunner. Gankutsuou is based on Alexandre Dumas’s classic tale of revenge, though now set in the year 5053. More than anything, it’s famous for its Impressionist art style, blended with the costume design influences of Anna Sui.

The series makes several changes from the original novel in addition to the far-future setting—including couching Albert de Morcerf, the son of the Count’s rival, as the protagonist. How themes of revenge weave their way into the story are altered somewhat, too. So even if you’ve read the book or seen other adaptations, you’ll still get something new out of this version.


World Masterpiece Theater

World Masterpiece Theater

Not one series so much as a whole collection, World Masterpiece Theater was a long-running franchise of single-season anime based on classic literature from around the world. Some series, like Anne of Green Gables and Rascal the Raccoon, have become well known in their own right. But there are many, many more out there.

Across its many iterations (including Calpis Children’s Theater), the series has adapted Peter Pan, A Dog of Flanders, Lassie, Little Women, and many more. Sadly, aside from a brief return between 2007-2009, the show is essentially no more. But if you can find some of these classic episodes to watch, it’s definitely worth your time!

Looking for more to read? Pick up these short manga you can read in one sitting!

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.