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A while back I mentioned the Karakuri, the 16th through 18th century Japanese robots, or programmable clockwork dolls. Nor did it end there; the Karakuri continued to develop in the following centuries, becoming the basis for the development of an advanced robotics industry in that country.

There is an anime series dedicated to the Meiji period and Karakuri called Clockwork Fighters Hiwou’s War that I would like to recommend. Besides being a great Giant Robot series (but the robots are made out of wood and brass, and driven by springs or steam) it is a fun quest-type adventure where a group of kids are out to find their father and save their village. But like Carmen Sandiego, it includes some quality education embedded in the entertainment. The story begins eight years after the port is opened up to ships from the west, a time of cultural and political turmoil that is nicely represented in the program. Many of the people they meet are historical figures, some already famous and some on their way to getting there, and we get to learn a bit about each of them, their attitudes and actions both. Additionally, in virtually every episode there are little 15 to 45 second pieces that give still more of the background and events happening that help put the story into focus, but are also historically accurate. The animation is good and the voice acting is great; this is very definitely worth your time to check out.