The 2015 anime The Empire of Corpses is director Ryoutarou Makihara’s adaptation of a 2012 steampunk novel by Toh EnJoe1 and Project Itoh.
Victor Frankenstein taught the world how to re-animate the dead. But one crucial component of Frankenstein’s research was lost: the art of imbuing the reanimated dead with an actual soul. Others may call the dead back to life, but none will be able to replicate the will and soul of the One, Frankenstein’s first creation. No matter: necroware suffices to restore a semblance of life to the dead, a semblance that sentences them to unpaid labour under the direction of the living.
Doctor John Watson is determined to rediscover the lost method of soul restoration. He is so determined that he persists in his researches even though they are illegal: reanimation is a closely held state secret. He succeeds in resurrecting a dead friend, but fails to restore his soul. The reanimated man is an empty shell, which Watson nicknames Friday.
The British Empire is adept at dealing with amateurs like Watson. Soon after Friday is reanimated, Watson is arrested. M, head of the Secret Service, offers Watson a choice: a lengthy prison term or service as a British agent overseas, there to use his recherché talent in the interests of the empire. Watson takes the second option.