Image courtesy of artist on: Deviant Art.
Dark means a lot of things. So by dark, what I mean is: violent, deep, psychological anime.
Some of which includes sexual content and violence.
Not surprisingly, most anime’s aren’t within the horror genre. Because most shows are for 12+.
Usually Shounen or Shoujo.
So if you’re sick of seeing that, check out these 20+ dark anime series with some of the best action, plots, stories and themes.
1. School Live
What makes School Live such a dark series? This anime explores mental health problems like: PTSD and psychosis.
The main character: Yuki Takeya is put through a large amount of emotional distress… And she becomes delussional in order to deal with her reality.
Going as far as “talking” to herself as if she’s having a real conversation with someone who’s already dead.
The story takes place during the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. I’ve never enjoyed or experienced a horror series like School Live before.
I’d recommend it if you want something short and captivating.
2. Kino’s Travels (The Beautiful World)
This anime is about a 15 year old girl who travels the world on her motorbike. Exploring towns, cities and countries for 3 days at a time.
The motivation behind this behavior is to avoid getting too comfortable with her surroundings.
I’ve never enjoyed such a strange anime series before. I’ve watched Mushishi but it wasn’t as good as Kino’s Travels.
If you like philosophy, mystery, violence and storytelling, Kino’s Travels does it better than any other.
Have you ever tried an anime series that starts out a little slow?
Shiki feels like this at first. But it was enough to spark my curiosity. I’m thankful I kept going.
Once you get deeper into the story, it starts to get horrific, disgusting, ugly and unpleasant.
Mystery, immorality and philosophy is at the core of Shiki’s plot.
4. Higurashi: When They Cry
Probably the first horror series I decided to watch.
Higurashi’s plot starts out in the cursed village of: Hinamizawa.
All I’ll say is if you want something unpredictable, psychological and well-played out, try Higurashi.
You won’t know what to think, because the plot is so brilliant, unexpected and unconventional. Yet intense enough to keep you hooked.
5. School Days
Does this sickening anime even need an introduction?
This is a romance anime with a dark, seriously messed up plot twist.
I’m not even sure there’s an anime as twisted and gritty as this. Especially not within the romance genre.
It’s an understatement to say it’s crude.
6. Future Diary
In Future Diary you’re forced to play a game which involves your own life.
But the downside is: once you die, you DIE. And each character has their own perks.
That aside, the main character: Yuno Gasai is dangerously insecure and clingy.
And that’s not even the least violent, mature part of this psychological series.
7. Black Bullet
Similar to AOT, a type of monster called: Gastrea is driving the human race to extinction.
Or I should say it has the potential to. Not the most original story, but the action, mystery, and mature themes make up for it.
Easily one of the most enjoyable action series I’ve watched.
8. Taboo Tattoo
A type of ancient relic, called: Tattoo’s are in danger of being captured by the Kingdom.
A martial artist called: Justice is dragged into this mess when a strange man merges a tattoo into his hand.
This anime is action-heavy like Akame Ga Kill. And the violence will either disappoint or keep you interested. As it’s quite extreme.
9. Akame Ga Kill
The government is corrupt, society basically lives their lives like slaves, and one group of assassins are sick of it.
So: they form a group called Nightraid, with the intention to overthrow the capital and create a revolution.
Few mature anime can compete with Akame Ga Kill’s intense action, entertaining fights, and depressing violence.
At Yomiyama North Middle School, students and teachers have been known to die at random. Because of a dangerous event that occurred in the past.
It’s not my most favorite horror/mystery series, but the main character is satisfying enough.
As far as gore, this anime takes it to the extreme. And death is both vile and obscene.
11. Death Parade
What happens when you die? Death Parade answers that question with a twist.
When you die, you’re sent somewhere between heaven and hell.
You’re then put through a series of tests to see whether you deserve to be sent to heaven or hell.
This is a game/psychological series with seriously dark, mature and attention grabbing themes.
12. Elfen Lied
When you create a human-like experiment that goes wrong, you can’t be surprised by the consequences.
And yet that’s exactly the basis of this story.
A girl named Lucy is being hunted after managing to escape a top-secret laboratory. The same place she’s born.
The ending is depressing, and what happens in between is full of horrific, maddening violence. Including themes like Child Abuse.
13. God Eater
The world is being overrun with a monster called: Aragami.
God Eaters (a type of militant soldier) are trained to use God Arcs. A weapon that fuses with its user to destroy the Aragami.
Not original, is it? But the story is well-done. The violence will tear your soul in half. And the bloody scenes will disturb you.
All this is shown with impressive CGI Animation.
14. Fate Zero
Fate Zero’s a classic fantasy series with alternative animes in alternate universes.
Every now and then, something called the Holy Grail will choose a master and a servant.
Whoever is chosen gets forced to fight in the Holy Grail war, with the promise of having 1 wish fulfilled if you win.
Compared to Fate Stay Night, Fate Zero is obscene and disgustingly more vile in almost every way.
The life of an arms dealer is gruesome, immoral and dangerous.
Jormungand paints a realistic image of an arms dealers lifestyle.
For example: An arms dealer is the reason countries go to war, or why child soldiers exist.
And it’s also the reason the US spends more money on the military than they do on education.
After watching this anime, you’ll have a new perspective on life. And on just how cruel it can be.
16. Samurai Champloo
Fan of Hip Hop? Good, Samurai Champloo has plenty of hip hop music playing throughout.
In fact it’s one the animes major influences, and it’s why this Samurai/historical series is so fresh and unique.
If you love Cowboy Bebop, the same creators were behind Samurai Champloo. And they both share similar vibes.
17. Full Metal Panic
I’ve never been more surprised by an anime like Full Metal Panic.
I don’t even like Mecha anime that much. But after watching this my mind changed.
If it’s Mecha, military, action and some romance you’re looking for, this is the perfect recipe.
The more you watch FMP, the darker and more powerful the story becomes.
18. Hell Girl
What would you do if getting revenge was as easy as logging into a website at 12AM. And typing in the culprits name?
This is how each victim seeks out revenge in Hell Girl.
There’s so few series that paints a more realistic and brutally honest image of how negative certain people can be.
19. Psycho Pass
You can see the obvious “mature” themes the moment you step into episode 1 of Psycho Pass.
After all, a woman is almost raped in a gritty run-down part of the city.
Other than violence, Psycho Pass does a good job of storytelling, portraying a futuristic society, and staying on track.
A lot of animes seem to forget about that.
20. Terror In Resonance
On the surface you’d think this anime is about terrorism. The first episode proves that.
But a darker theme is revealed along the way.
To avoid spoilers I won’t say too much, but this is a decent anime with a good level of depth and atmosphere.
21. Death Note
Death Note is an obvious choice and I originally didn’t bother mentioning it because it’s SO famous.
But even still – this anime is some of the most chilling work of art in the world of entertainment.
It makes some films look like P.G for its depth, disturbing plot and a protagonist who borders on the lines of insane.
Courtesy of having too much power for his age and a warped view of the world and what “justice” represents.
22. The Promised Neverland
The Promised Neverland’s anime didn’t live up to the quality of the original Manga. But that aside – you can’t deny the dark, chilling atmosphere from start to finish.
Especially in the first episode.
And the messed up circumstances each kid is born into without even knowing why or how. Only to be killed off like farm animals and “groomed” unknowingly.
It was one of the most shocking dark anime shows to air in 2019.
23. Magical Girl: Spec Ops Asuka
Just like The Promised Neverland, Spec Ops Asuka is uncomfortably deep and will make you think about what’s going on.
It takes the typical magical girl series, which is known to be cute, cuddly and jolly… And then frames as it as: “what happens after the magical girls save the world”.
The way this grim reality is painted onto a canvas, and the mental health issues some characters have no choice to deal with – makes this anime one of the darkest we’ve seen yet.
24. Gunslinger Girl
Gunslinger Girl is so sad.
Imagine taking advantage of a set of teenage girls who are on their deathbeds, and “saving” their lives with the intention of turning these girls into “hit men” for the government.
That’s the story behind Gunslinger Girl. And each character is brainwashed and “conditioned” to make sure they obey and follow orders at ALL times.
As you follow main characters like Henrietta, a soft-spoken girl, and Triella – the “big sister” of the group, you start to empathize for their circumstances and what they’re put through.
Not to mention the underlying “dark” theme that ties it all together.
25. Goblin Slayer
Goblin Slayer doesn’t need much of an introduction when it comes to the sickening violence and disturbed plot.
You’ll know that without even watching a single episode (courtesy of Studio White Fox).
But it’s still worth saying: Goblin Slayer is the most chilling series released in the last 2 decades.
- The 1st episode is too hard to stomach for “some” fans.
- The remaining episodes while not as “dark”, still have strong themes with cold violence.
- And the trauma that follows certain characters is a story in itself.
Parasyte isn’t my favorite horror show, but the depth and story is easy for me to understand.
It’s about Shinichi Izumi, the main protagonist who’s forced to live with a parasyte that fails to take over his brain, but absorbs his right arm instead.
Similar to Kino’s travels, the main character (and the Parasyte) go back and forth. Talking about morality, ethics, what it means to be human, the boundaries of “right” and “wrong”, and some deep topics I won’t mention.
You’ll feel challenged on an intellectual level. Because it makes you think about uncomfortable topics that your everyday person loves to ignore.
Because it’s a hard pill to swallow.
- Made In Abyss.
- Classroom Of The Elite.
- Madoka Magica.
- Selector Infected Wixoss
- Tokyo Ghoul.
I’m the Founder of Anime Motivation.
The 1st anime I watched was Dragon Ball Z. Followed by Claymore, Inuyasha, Attack On Titan, and the rest as they say is “history”.