Dark anime are among the many different genres that anime series cover. Dark, as a genre, can mean anything. Whether it’s violent, tragic, or even horror they all come within the radius of this word.
In this list, we will talk about the 15 best dark anime series out there!
Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
The list couldn’t be complete without Attack on Titan, which is one of the most popular and well-reviewed anime series ever since it came out.
On a surface level, it can be seen as a post-apocalyptic story about humans fighting giant zombie-like monsters, but when you learn more about the series you realize it’s much more than that.
The story is unique and features disturbing humanoid monsters, that our protagonists must kill or be killed in brutal battles for survival.
What I like about Attack on Titan is that there is no plot armor for characters. That means, at any point in time anyone can be killed, even main characters.
It’s a wild ride from start to finish, and one of the best recent anime series that we impatiently wait every year for.
Death Parade is unique in every way. Whether it’s the story, the characters or the stylish flair it offers, it quickly made its place in the world of dark anime series.
Death Parade falls into the psychological thriller and dark fantasy anime genres, with the main character being a mysterious bartender who attends to people who are stuck in a state of purgatory, being unable to go to either heaven or hell.
He puts them through a series of games, which are directly related to their past and deaths, and they must prove they are worthy of not being erased.
Based on a short called Death Billiards, the show is full of dark elements, mature themes, and well-written characters, that keep you on the edge of your seat.
If you don’t know about School Live, you might assume it’s something similar to Lucky Star due to its deceiving visuals and colorful cast of schoolgirls.
However, it’s a dark anime series about a group of girls trapped inside a school in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.
The main characters include a girl who has gone into a state of delusional psychosis, and her schoolmates try to play along in the complicated situation so that their friend’s PTSD does not break her – all the while trying to find a way out.
The series deals with mature themes such as mental issues, death and the consequences of our actions, and delivers us one of the darkest anime series out there.
Death Note is often one of the very first anime series people have watched in their life, and also happens to be among the best when it comes to the dark anime genre.
It can be best described as a kind of a psychological thriller with crime and fantasy elements and is one of the most original stories ever written.
The main character obtains a book in which the name of any person can be written, along with how they should die and within a few moments of the name being written – the person dies.
What follows next is his quest to cleanse the world from criminals, while the world’s greatest detective tries to capture him red-handed.
Death Note ended years ago, yet it remains one of the most beloved dark anime series to this day and features some of the most iconic characters people are still fans of.
Tokyo Ghoul does not have a particularly unique premise, but what makes it one of the most beloved dark anime series to date in the execution of its ideas.
The story takes place in an alternate modern day Japan, where a mysterious humanoid species called ghouls exist among the normal human beings, and live by feeding on them.
They are eventually hunted by special agents, who try their best to stop the crisis before it goes too far and keep as many civilians as safe as possible.
Things are not that simple though, as Tokyo Ghoul explores the themes of loss, morality, philosophy, bigotry and even prejudice. On top of the remarkable storytelling, the show has crisp animation, easily making its way among the best dark anime series to exist.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When They Cry)
When They Cry is considered one of the darkest anime series to ever exist, featuring extreme levels of graphic violence and dark themes that make it hard to watch for many. You’ve been warned!
It’s full of physical abuse, suicide, and torture, and the shock factor never takes a break. The story takes place in a small town, where a mysterious force causes the civilians to hallucinate, experience amplified negativity and even a preference towards self harm, but no one understands where it comes from.
Eventually, a group of friends decides to investigate the source of the mysterious force and eliminate it, before it ends up killing their loved ones and even themselves.
The series upholds its reputation in terms of being one of the most violent dark anime out there, and it is only slightly held back by its dated animation. But irrespective of that, it is very dark, twisted and will leave you shaken.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
Demon Slayer may not make its way onto many lists about dark anime series but, there’s a good reason why it deserves to be here.
Demon Slayer is about a world where innocent human beings are turned into demons against their will, and the main character becomes a demon slayer to protect other human beings from being killed by them.
However, what gives this story a dark spin is the fact the demons do not want to kill anyone, but the fact they have been transformed into a monster makes them act violently by instinct.
When they kill someone or are killed themselves, you can often see the regret, sadness, and tears on their face as they never wanted this fate. Such a tragic theme makes the show dark enough to be included here, and it is considered one of the best anime series in general.
Psycho-Pass takes themes of crime, police brutality and the dangerously profiling governmental AI technologies of the real world and puts it into a fictional setting where all of that is amplified, and shows us a dark world which is not too different from ours.
You easily realize Psycho-Pass is a dark anime series as soon as you start watching the first episode, as the plot point revolves around rape. And then the show proceeds to deal with mature themes throughout its entirety, and the fact it is well written makes the themes meaningful, rather than just edgy elements meant to provoke reactions.
All in all, with an interesting story, good animation, mature and dark themes, Psycho-Pass is one of the most popular anime series to this day, despite coming out years ago.
Yakusoku no Neverland (The Promised Neverland)
The Promised Neverland takes one of the most beautiful concepts of human life – children and the way they look up to their parents for security, comfort, and growth, and twists it around into what is one of the darkest stories we have come to witness.
The story of this dark anime series is, three kids find out that the orphanage they live in, is secretly raising the children there with false love.
The family aims to raise them for long enough so that they can be human meat for demons once they are of an appropriate age.
The kids try to escape the adults as soon as they realize this, and save as many lives as they can along with their own.
However, it’s not as simple as it sounds and the adults are experienced and always calculated.
It will take a lot of intellect and effort to outsmart them and survive this horrific nightmare. The Promised Neverland quickly shot to fame with its unique premise and decent execution and can be seen on every person’s list of dark anime series today.
Devilman: Crybaby is a re-imagining of an old manga, it’s filled with themes of violence, xenophobia, sadism, demons, and bundles it all with real-life things such as modern culture and social media.
The story takes us into the life of Akira, who goes to an underground party at the urging of his friend. However, he is possessed by a demon at the party, but thanks to his purity, he manages to survive the transformation and becomes a creature who can both remain human and transform into a demon when they wish.
However, his friend begins to wreak fear and havoc through society and turns the population of the world against each other, and Akira has to use his powers to protect the people that he cares about.
Devilman: Crybaby is one of the most interesting dark anime series, that executes all of its themes very well.
Hellsing Ultimate is a better version of the Hellsing anime series which features better animation, no filler and a more focused story-line full of darkness and action.
The series features one of the most iconic anime characters of all time, the absolute badass anime character Alucard.
The story focuses on his quest to kill as many vampires, ghouls and Nazi Zombies as possible.
The show is full of violence, action, great animation and even features a kick-ass soundtrack. It’s easily one of the best dark anime series that can also be enjoyed by fans of action too.
Corpse Party: Tortured Souls
Corpse Party: Tortured Souls is a dark anime series about a group of students who get transported into an alternate world.
In that world a school called Heavenly Host Elementary School was shut down due to cases of mysterious murders of its students and staff.
They are isolated and stuck in an alternate reality, which is filled with the souls and corpses of the dead staff and students, and they have to figure out how to escape this nightmare.
Corpse Party can be best described as a mysterious horror story that is full of ghosts, scary creatures, and murdered children.
It’s a creepy story that would shake the more light-hearted audience to their core. It’s easily one of the creepiest dark anime series, and its short length makes it very binge-friendly.
Monster is the most distinctive dark anime in this list, as it does not rely on the usual cute-looking characters which are thrown into a world of darkness.
Instead, Monster is an extremely mature, no-nonsense series about a respected brain surgeon who makes a moral decision despite the insistence of his co-workers.
The decision, while some would argue was the right one to make, ultimately turns his life upside down.
He’s stuck in a state of people constantly trying to destroy his life, and the show offers us a realistic setting where the surgeon must save his life and fix the world that has turned against him.
Despite being longer than other series on this list, it manages to maintain its quality and features some of the best writing in the genre.
It delivers a crisp, dark anime that will keep you engaged right to the end.
Goblin Slayer raised a lot of eyebrows when it just came out, but unfortunately is not given much attention as of now.
The reason for why it was so quick to become famous, is the fact it is extremely edgy. Unlike some of the better written examples on this list, Goblin Slayer focuses more on being a dark anime series than to ensure it does not become ridiculous.
It features a lot of graphic violence, depressing themes and even rape. The story takes us in a kingdom where goblins constantly murder and rape women of other species to spread their race, and a naive princess accidentally gets her entire team of soldiers brutally murdered by the goblins by going in without experience.
The main character, the Goblin Slayer, eventually saves her and they embark on a journey to save as many people as they can, and along the way, slay goblins.
While the series relies more on the shock factor than proper depth, it is still one of the most entertaining dark anime series you can watch if this is your thing.
Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl)
Hell Girl has a very intriguing premise, and manages to execute it in a very good way. It can be best described as a psychological thriller anime series, with supernatural elements. Every episode explores a different immoral action and the consequences that follow it.
The story is about a website on the internet, which is rumored to have supernatural powers. If a user types about their grudge against a person, a spirit will appear and take them and the person they hold a grudge against to hell.
The series explores an extreme version of the concept of an eye for an eye, and shows us how far the human nature can go for revenge, even if it means giving up their soul as long as their enemy is punished as well.
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