Ever get tired of watching light-hearted animes over and over? Sometimes the heart seems to crave for something darker and something sinister. Prince Charming and Captain America simply do not cut it at times and we turn to Hannibal Lecter and the Joker. Sometimes we tend to suppress our inner ‘Dr. Jekyll’ as we unleash our ‘Mr. Hyde.’
Dark Animes differ from the rest mostly in the sense of their darker tone. They are usually identified by their usage of intense tropes such as gore, torture, blood, and other things you would expect to find in a happy show. This doesn’t necessarily imply that all dark animes are deprived of light elements. The portrayal of dark entities may not be so straight forward in some cases, and it may lurk beneath what seems to a cheerful story or setting.
Dark animes covers stories of all kind and can range from psychological horrors to monsters shows, or dystopian fantasies, or emotional thrillers. The possibilities are essentially endless. So here is the Animelovers list for the top 28 Best Dark Animes that will seriously make you question your morality. Buckle up, let’s go!!
Top 27 Dark Animes
27. School Days
To start off our list, we have the seemingly innocent ‘School Days’ that looks like a typical romance anime with the clichéd high school setting on the exterior. The interior could not be more different. The main character Makoto Ito seems like a normal anime MC, with little perverted thoughts here and there as expected. When he starts to develop a crush on Kotonoha Katsura, he secretly takes a photo of her on his phone. The act is noticed by another student Sekai Saionji but instead of ratting him out, she decides to help him woo Katsura. What ensues is a brutal psychological twist that explores relationships and the adverse effect of cheating. ‘School Days’ is the perfect anime to start off our best dark anime list.
26. Future Diary (Mirai Nikki)
Future Diary simply has to find a place in any list of best dark anime because of Yuno Gasai, everyone’s favorite Dandere!! The plot involves a group of 12 people who are forced to play a death game using a device known as Future Diaries which can predict the future to some extent. In a desperate attempt to survive and beat the game, the main character Yukiteru Amano reluctantly teams up with his obsessive stalker Yuno Gasai, who is simply put, borderline psychopathic and dangerously clingy. Yuno is fully committed to protecting Yukiteru and will often go all out against any possible perpetrators. Future Diary remains one of the dark animes in the industry.
25. Aoi Bungaku: Blue Literature: No Longer Human
The Aoi Bungaku series are extremely popular in Japan, adapted from the six modern classics of Japanese Literature. Among them, ‘No Longer Human’ stands out for its dark and gritty elements. Adapted from the novel written by Dazai Osamu, the story arc spans up to the first four episodes of the Aoi Bungaku series released in 2009. ‘No Longer Human’ explores the rich thematic experience of living an isolated life. Encapsulated by suffering, a sense of alienation, and dejection, the main character falls into a repetitive cycle of self-harm, drugs, and endless depression. One of the darker animes that may be hard to stomach but it tells an impactful story of depression and how it eats you from the inside.
Ajin Demi Human weaves a complex narrative of human society and their interaction with the newly formed species which are called Ajins. Ajins are mysterious humans who have the power to regenerate cells almost instantaneously after it is destroyed. They can also summon spiritual entities visible to only other Ajins. The story follows the mechanics of how humans dealt with the emergence of a superior species and how they efficiently muzzle the threat to remain as top predators. Ajin is a dark story, in a dark setting, told in a dark manner.
23. Casshern Sins
Casshern Sins is set in the merciless setting of a destroyed world. Years into the future, the entire world is on the brink of collapse, after endless battles between man and machine, robots that have become sentient. A cyborg warrior Casshern is sent to destroy Luna, a mysterious entity summoned by the humans. Upon doing so, Casshern triggers an event called ‘The Ruin’ which pushes both humans and robots to the brink of extinction. Casshern tells a simple story of death and life – where beauty is sought even in a decaying world.
22. Blood C
Blood C is as gory as gore can get. The first few episodes seem to heavily prioritize this very gothic element as well. Blood C has many similarities with that of Blood +, a show which also capitalizes on a sword-wielding high school girl named ‘Saya’ who cuts down monsters with ease. There are also many fan theories to suggest that both shows are set in a single similar world. Blood C tells the story of Saya Kisaragi, a normal high school girl by day and a vicious monster hunter by night. If you like intense gore like blood splatting and dismembered limbs, there are few animes that visualize these elements as vividly as Blood C.
21. Deadman Wonderland
Deadman Wonderland starts off with a bang when a mysterious figure called the Red Man slaughtered every single one of Ganta’s classmate except for him, leaving him as the sole survivor and the main suspect. Ganta is thrown into the chaos prison of Deadman Wonderland, an arena which officially endorses theatrical violence in front of spectators. He has no choice but to participate in these deadly games to prolong his survival and perhaps win his freedom somehow. Utilizing a story that can blur moral lines and ethics, Deadman Wonderland is definitely one of the more underrated dark animes you can find.
20. Black Bullet
Black Bullet takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a virus known as Gastrea effectively wipes off majority of the human race. The remnants of humanity scurry behind the safe harbors of the Monolith walls, which can repel the virus. Underneath the narrow world of the Monolith Walls, humanity has to devise a solution to reclaim their home planet and they turn to ‘Cursed Children’, humans infected with a minute dose of the Gastrea virus to enhance their physical abilities. Black Bullet is an action-fueled thriller with a mystifying story, yet with an underlying sense of dread.
Twenty-Six years ago, the death of Misaki at Yomiyama North Middle School is shrouded in a dark mystery which seems to envelop the whole town. When Kouichi Sakakibara transfers to the school in the present day, he is seated at Class 3-3, the same class of the deceased Misaki. There is an ominous tone overhanging in the air and as he begins to befriend the socially isolated Mei Misaki, the two discovers a terrifying secret that has haunted not only the school but the whole town for years. ‘Another’ is a thrilling ride through and throughout, with an ending that will leave you emotional and nostalgic. One of the best dark mystery anime you can find.
19. High School of the Dead
Pandemonium strikes the world violently when the dead suddenly begins to rise and attack the living. Chaos ensues as the social order collapse; the calamity spreads as the disease is highly contagious, susceptible and has already claimed a majority of the human population. The story centers around a group of high school students and their teachers who manage to survive the zombie attack on their school. The dark and gritting world awaits them as they will need to keep their heads intact and avoid an implosion, which is getting likelier by the second. High School of the Dead is dark, gory, intense, action-fueled, and as a bonus, relatively ecchi for the more matured audience.
18. Scum’s Wish (Kozu No Honkai)
Sum’s Wish explores one of the most troubling aspects of romance – unrequited love and its emotional consequences. Although the show lacks typical dark elements like gore and blood, there is a sense of dark tension throughout the series. The emotional weight and burden of the two main characters erupt to a point where they seek physical intimacy to make up for their hollow emotions. Sex is merely a tool, a device used to hurt themselves and the people they love. There are so many layers in this show, and it definitely is one of the best dark animes you can find which explores human relationships and the trauma of unrequited love.
Danganronpa starts out bright and cheerful, as evident in the characters joyous revelations of being accepted in a prestigious academy Hope’s Peak. Their happiness is cut short abruptly as the Principal of Hope’s Peak reveals that the students will be forced to participate in a death game – a game which requires them to kill one of their classmates without being caught. The penalty of being caught would drastically change the game rules, where the killer is executed and the rest of the students will be forced to compete in a vicious game until one survivor remains. Thus begins the interesting story of Danganronpa, a plot so out of world and dark, it deserves a place in our list for best dark anime.
16. Perfect Blue
The Japanese thriller murder mystery movie premieres back in 1997 with good reception. It follows the story of former pop idol Mima Kirigoe who decides to pursue her acting dreams. Her life begins to crumble as an obsessive stalker who refuses to accept her withdrawal from pop culture starts to terrorize her. As her new life crumbles into pieces, it becomes harder and harder for Mima to distinguish between reality and her constructed fantasy. The movie contains graphic scenes such as violence and sexual assault so be warned. Perfect Blue perfectly epitomizes a good psychological story which is sure not to disappoint for fans who like dark animes.
15. Terror In Resonance
Tokyo is left in disarray after plutonium is stolen from a nuclear facility during a snowstorm. The culprits leave only a cryptic message ‘VON’ painted in red. After lying low for six months, the perpetrators leave an online video explaining their motive to cloud Tokyo in darkness and revealing their identity as ‘Nine’ and ‘Twelve’ behind Sphinx masks. Terror in Resonance is more a psychological thriller than it is about terrorism. The dark twisty ‘cat and mouse’ chasing of ‘Terror in Resonance’ will not disappoint, if you are looking for good dark animes.
14. Tokyo Ghoul
Tokyo Ghoul is set in an alternate timeline where the city of Tokyo is infested by human ghouls, a species with extraordinary powers as well as an insatiable desire to consume human flesh. The setting already presents a situation that is ready to explode and it does so marvelously. In a world where ghouls and human exists, Kaneki, a half human half ghoul through circumstances stands in the middle of it, and he must try to devise a way where ghouls and humans can coexist without killing each other. Tokyo Ghoul is as dark as it gets as its story unfolds with gore, blood, action, and betrayal all mixed together to create one of the best dark animes we have ever seen.
13. Elfen Lied
Elfen Lied is about a girl named Lucy, a subject of inhuman experiments conducted by the government. These experiments give rise to the birth of a newly mutated species called Diclonius whose physical traits include having a small horn as well as invisible telekinetic arms called vectors. Lucy escapes when she sees an opening although she is injured while being pursued. Injured and exhausted, she is found by two college boys Kouta and Yuka. As her pursuer gets more relentless, the two boys are dragged into the abyss spiraling around dark government secrets which will change their lives forever. A definite must watch, for fans who like dark animes.
12. Ghost In The Shell
In the year 2029, technology has undergone a massive leap in cybernetics which is capable of replacing biological organs with robotics organ effectively. This opens up the potential to greatly lengthen lifespans as well as provide much-needed strength for the physically weak. Major Motoko Kusanagi has a near to complete robotic organs due to a childhood accident. At the fictional city of Niihama, Motoko and her team are tasked with investigating a hacker called ‘The Puppet Master.’ As the investigation proceeds, things start to get a lot more complicated and darker which question the very nature of what it means to be human. Ghost in the Shell is undeniably one of the best dark movies anime has to offer.
11. Full Metal Alchemist Franchise
Currently the top rated anime of My Anime List, Full Metal Alchemist is one of the more popular dark animes in the industry. Bounded by the Law of Equivalent Exchange which demands that for something to be obtained, another of an equal value must be given in return, the Elric brothers learn the harsh truth when they attempt to transmute and resurrect their dead mother. For their mistake, Alphonse loses his entire body while Edward his left leg. By sacrificing his right arm, Edward manages to attach Alphonse’s soul to an armor suit. In a desperate attempt to gain their lost body parts, the Elric brothers desperately seek the powers of a philosopher stone, which has the ability to ignore the law of Equivalent Exchange. However, as their quest takes them to various places, a terrible dark secret regarding the government and the philosopher’s stones begin to unfold.
10. Berserk Franchise
The Berserk Series is one of the pioneers of Japanese manga in the modern era. Berserk follows the story of Guts, who is born from the corpse of his mother. As he joins a mercenary band called ‘Band of the Hawks’, he quickly rises to rank to earn the title of ‘The Black Swordsman’. At the hands of a terrible fate, he is betrayed by the mercenary captain Griffith, his former friend. Gore and Sexual Explicitness are common elements of Berserk With Season 3 potentially in plans for production, we cannot wait to get more of this dark anime.
9. Attack On Titan (Shingeki No Kyojin)
Attack on Titan has tremendous success ever since the first season and is currently one of the most hype anime shows in the business. The world of Attack on Titan is dark, cruel, and unforgiving. Man-eating Titans roamed the land and mankind is forced to retreat within walls where they scatter like cattle in fear of the Titans. Eren, Mikasa, and Armin are victims of a Titan attack where they lost their homeland. In an attempt to rid the world of Titans, Eren and his friends join the Scouting Legion, a group of soldiers who take the fight to the Titan. Vicious dismembering of limbs and decapitations are simply the visual gore but the real dark secret hides in the shadows, waiting to be exposed.
8. Steins’ Gate
Steins’ Gate currently occupies the third highest ranking in My Anime List. The self-proclaimed mad scientist Rintarou Okabe and his crew invented a device called the ‘Phone Microwave’ which can turn bananas into green jellies. The Phone Microwave, however, has a different function – the ability to send emails into the past, which can cause massive alteration to time and history. As Okabe gets tangled in a spiral of different timelines, he unravels a terrifying truth of the alternate timeline – one which could potentially demand heavy sacrifice. Steins’ Gate is a masterpiece, through and throughout that delivers new heights in the time traveling genre.
7. Death Note
Light Yagami, a bright cynical high school student stumbles upon Death Note, a notebook capable of killing anyone whose name is written in it. Although it is bounded by a certain set of rules, Death Note could not fall into a more capable user. Light Yagami decides to rewrite the definition of justice as he attempts to purge the society of criminals. His megalomaniac rampant is challenged by L, a mysterious detective who aims to expose the identity of Light. In the dark and grim world, Light and L play the ultimate game of cat and mouse, where everything is kept at stake. Death Note delivers and performs in justification of all its hypes, making it one of the best dark animes you will ever see.
Fate Zero easily has the darkest story among the Fate Franchise. Set years before the original Fate Stay Night, Fate Zero features Emiya Kiritsugu, a famed mage killer who participates in the Holy Grail War. The entire plot encapsulates in an aura of darkness, especially compared to the other Fate Series. In a vicious game of survival, Kiritsugu and his familiar Saber fight against six other powerful combatants for the prize of the Holy Grail, an artifact which is rumored to have great powers.
5. Hell Girl (Jigoku Shoujo)
Hell Girl features a website called Hell Correspondence where you can deal with the devil to send people you despise straight to hell, at the meager cost of an afterlife in the same hell. The series is more episodic instead of a single structure, although by the eighth episode, a singular story begins to take form. When Hell Correspondence is used, a mysterious girl called Ai Enma appears who literally dragged the victims to hell, using a series of methods. The plot is chilling as it is dark.
4. Midori: Shoujo Tsubaki
One of the darkest, horrifying, and disturbing anime movie ever made is Midori: Shoujo Tsubaki. In fact, many copies are burned for its disturbing content and the film is rarely seen for many years. It follows the misadventures of a young girl Midori who loses her mother and subsequently forced to sell flowers to make a living. As she struggles to make a living, she joins a freak circus where she is continued to be bullied and harassed constantly. The movie has highly disturbing content for sensitive viewers, so be warned before watching it.
3. Hellsing Ultimate
One of the greatest dark anime of all time, we have Hellsing Ultimate which rarely disappoints. In the ultimate battle of darkness and light, Alucard, a rogue vampire switches side and fights for the Hellsing organization, a group dedicated on eradicating all monsters. Alucard is thus often sent to kill his vampire brethren and other dark entities, basically, anyone who would threaten their organization. As new enemies emerge in the form of the Nazi regime and secret Vatican Cults, Alucard will face his greatest adversary which is not what he expected at all.
2. Psycho Pass
In the 22nd century, Japan has developed a highly advanced psychological test system called Sibyl System which can measure the mental stats of people, which could determine the threat level that person possesses. Using the Crime Coefficient, if a person is likely to commit a crime, he is immediately subdued, arrested, and even killed by the police force. Akane Tsunemori is a young policewoman who recently joins the force with a strong conviction for justice. She begins to doubt the authenticity of the Sibyl System and as her assumptions begin to show signs of truth, new dangerous foes start to emerge from her own side. Highly thrilling and entertaining, Psycho Pass remains one of the best dark animes in history.
To close off our list we have Monster, the masterpiece written by Naoki Urasawa and produced by Madhouse. Monster is the pinnacle of a psychological thriller who stands at the very top. Dr. Tenma is a renowned surgeon who is sickened by the political bias of his hospital. When he is prompted to perform surgery on the town’s mayor, he refuses to leave his current patient and the mayor dies as a result. Dr. Tenma is unsurprisingly blamed and as he is about to lose his position, the director of the hospital mysteriously dies along with other prominent doctors. As a result, he is evicted and he gets to keep his position. Nine years later, his past comes back to haunt him as he comes face to face with the monster he once saved. At 74 episodes long, Monster will keep you entertained and compels you to watch the next episode until you can see the sun rising. So prepare to be sleep deprived if you are preparing to watch Monster.
Agree with our list? Is there any anime that you feel deserves a spot that we missed? Please let us know in the comment section below. Thank you for reading, and have a great day!!