Best Dark Fantasy Anime You Need To Watch

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Ayush Rajan

Best Dark Fantasy Anime

While the popular perception of anime is series’ that are meant for children that consist of motivational speeches and constant fights, there are several that challenge this notion through their bold storytelling and gripping, unorthodox characters. Dark anime usually contains elements of horror, thriller, and fantasy while also often dealing with psychological themes. With the new chilling and haunting feeling it gives while toying with the viewer’s mind, Dark anime is the perfect solution if a person is looking for something deeper than the usual Battle Shounen. In this list, we shall be covering 12 of the best dark anime that everyone needs to watch at least once in their lifetime.

12. Another

  • Anime Name: Another
  • Author: Yukito Ayatsuji (novel)
  • Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
  • Episodes: 12
  • Studio: P.A. Works
  • Source: Novel

As a favorite in the horror community, Another deals with a suspicious school in a town with a tragic past that is surrounded by several mysteries. As our protagonist, Kouichi discovers a curse that inflicts his class and goes in search of a solution, a series of gruesome deaths and devastations surround him while expanding the mystery. With a touch of romance that includes a reserved yet doubtful girl, the anime holds something for everyone while dealing with the supernatural and leaving us in a constant state of suspense and restlessness.

11. Elfen Lied

Elfen Lied
  • Anime Name: Elfen Lied
  • Author: Lynn Okamoto (manga)
  • Genre: Action, Drama, Horror, Romance, Science Fiction
  • Episodes: 13
  • Studio: Arms Corporation
  • Source: Manga

Considered by many as one of the most disturbing anime out there, Elfen Lied is an excellent example of how dark Seinen shows can get. The show follows Lucy, a special breed of human journey as she escapes the captors experimenting on her while leaving a bloodbath behind. Due to an injury suffered while escaping, she is left with a split personality that makes her seem like a harmless and innocent, girl, which is the exact opposite of what actually is.

As she and the college students who saved her are chased down by the government and in constant danger, several conspiracies and secrets are revealed. Elfen Lied is a gory and hard-to-watch journey with its fair share of badass moments. It is, however, definitely not a series meant for those with a weak heart.

10. Tokyo Ghoul

Tokyo Ghoul
  • Anime Name: Tokyo Ghoul
  • Author: Sui Ishida (manga)
  • Genre: Action, Dark Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
  • Episodes: 12 (Season 1), 12 (Season 2), 12 (Season 3), and 12 (Season 4)
  • Studio: Pierrot
  • Source: Manga

As one of the most popular anime for newcomers and veterans alike, it is almost impossible for anyone to not have heard of Tokyo Ghoul. From the exciting journey of our protagonist, Ken Kaneki, to its commentary on society as a whole, Tokyo Ghoul is a show that panders to every demographic.

In a world where ghouls who eat humans exist, Kaneki, who turned from a human into a ghoul, acts as a bridge between the two to try and harbor co-existence. He treads a narrow path as there are many who cannon let go of their fear of the other and some who are too hateful to even consider mutual prosperity. In addition to how deep it makes you think, Tokyo ghoul is also a feast for the eyes with its edge-of-the-seat fights and amazing character dynamics.

9. The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland
  • Anime Name: The Promised Neverland
  • Author: Kaiu Shirai (manga), Posuka Demizu (manga)
  • Genre: Dark Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
  • Episodes: 12 (Season 1), 11 (Season 2)
  • Studio: CloverWorks
  • Source: Manga

While having an infamously bad final season, the first season of The Promised Neverland is still some of the greatest writing seen in anime. The story starts by taking us to the Grace Field House which acts as an accommodation for orphaned kids. While they have a rule not to venture too far from the orphanage, it still seems normal. The kids have a jolly time daily, as they run around playing games and spend most of their time together. Things feel a bit dodgy when it is said that they are regularly required to take tests. Due to the suspiciously strict rules in a few areas, the three oldest siblings in the house begin investigating it. However, in their search for a solution to this mystery, they find a horrifying secret about the true purpose of the orphanage as well as the world they live in. The Promised Neverland is a shocking and suspenseful show with plenty of tragic moments to make the viewer feel invested yet depressed.

8. Madoka Magica

Madoka Magica
  • Anime Name: Madoka Magica
  • Author: Magica Quartet (original story), Hanokage (manga)
  • Genre: Dark Fantasy, Magical Girl, Psychological Thriller
  • Episodes: 12 (Season 1), 12 (Season 2)
  • Studio: Shaft
  • Source: Original story and Manga

At first glance, Madoka Magica seems like anything but a dark anime. It seems like a typical slice-of-life show following the friendship of girls. This impression is soon proved wrong as we are introduced to magical girls. These are people who are forced to fight monsters from another world in return for having any one of their wishes granted.

While this seems like a great deal, the negative effects are soon revealed as the series becomes filled with death and sadness. Our protagonist, who is an extremely innocent young girl gets caught in the crossfire as she loses friends one by one and her bright world is suddenly made dark. Madoka Magica is a shocking anime with lots of action which is trippy and innovative but equally hard to watch due to its dark nature.

7. Death Parade

Death Parade
  • Anime Name: Death Parade
  • Author: Yuzuru Tachikawa (original story)
  • Genre: Drama, Mystery, Psychological, Thriller
  • Episodes: 12
  • Studio: Madhouse
  • Source: Original story

Death Parade is an enigmatic series that deals with the concept of what happens after death. People who die in pairs are brought to a bar where they play a series of games and the choices they make will affect whether they get reincarnated or are sent into a void to never be seen again.

While this seems like a fun idea with a lot of exciting games, the reality is an ugly contest where the inner feelings of humans are revealed as we watch on with disgust as they make terrible decisions during the game. Throughout the game, we also see our inexpressive main character evaluate his own ideals as he sees the different circumstances and results surrounding the games.

6. Devilman: Crybaby

Devilman Crybaby
  • Anime Name: Devilman: Crybaby
  • Author: Go Nagai (manga)
  • Genre: Action, Horror, Supernatural
  • Episodes: 10
  • Studio: Science SARU
  • Source: Manga

Most Netflix anime are known to be extremely mediocre while being made with a low level of care. Devilman: Crybaby is a rare exception to this as the show is exciting and maintains a high-quality story for its entire duration. The show follows a normal schoolboy who is also weak as he gains the powers of a devil and undergoes a drastic transformation. With the help of his best friend, he uses his powers to eliminate evil while protecting humanity. The story isn’t that simple, however, as it’s revealed that his friend has his own motives while working on a nefarious plot to destroy the whole world. The show is extremely unorthodox, crazy and bold while having several twists and turns as it progresses.

5. Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • Anime Name: Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • Author: Hideaki Anno
  • Genre: Action, Drama, Mecha, Psychological, Science Fiction
  • Episodes: 26 (Season 1), 26 (Season 2)
  • Studio: Gainax, Tatsunoko Production
  • Source: Original story

Neon Genesis Evangelion tells us the tragic tale of Shinji Ikari, a frail and naïve young boy who gets involved in a battle with the entire world at stake. While it is a mecha anime that shows us plenty of action while humanity faces monstrous beings trying to destroy the world, the show focuses more on the mental state of our protagonist who is forced to drive a humanoid robot while being under the impression that he finally gets to meet his absentee father.

It is extremely hard to watch as we see people taking advantage of Shinji repeatedly while taking his kindness for granted. It is also extremely dark with gruesome and brutal deaths taking place several times. Neon Genesis Evangelion shows us how a person can get mentally abused despite looking well physically and is a great accomplishment in the sector of dark anime.

4. Death Note

Death Note
  • Anime Name: Death Note
  • Author: Tsugumi Ohba (manga), Takeshi Obata (manga)
  • Genre: Crime, Psychological, Supernatural, Thriller
  • Episodes: 37
  • Studio: Madhouse
  • Source: Manga

As one of the most well-known anime ever, Death Note is an accurate description of the beauty behind dark anime. Light Yagami’s journey from a normal high school student to the most wanted villain in the entire world is an epic tale to experience. The intense rivalry between Light with his Death Note and L with his resources and brain is one that we cannot stop watching or thinking about. Death Note, staying true to its name, has a lot of death in a variety of different ways. It puts the mind to work as we see 2 extremely intelligent characters battle each other.

3. Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan
  • Anime Name: Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)
  • Author: Hajime Isayama (manga)
  • Genre: Action, Dark Fantasy, Horror
  • Episodes: 25 (Season 1), 12 (Season 2), 22 (Season 3 Part 1), 10 (Season 3 Part 2), 16 (Season 4 Part 1), and 16 (Season 4 Part 2)
  • Studio: Wit Studio (Seasons 1-3), MAPPA (Season 4)
  • Source: Manga

Possibly the most popular show to come out in the last decade, Attack on Titan is a brutal but extremely entertaining anime that shows us the conflict between humans and giants by the name of Titans. As humanity is nearly wiped out and restricted to a small area, Titans repeatedly keep attacking while killing the few survivors in gruesome ways.

However, humanity shows its adaptable nature by coming up with its own ways to fight the titans. The show doesn’t stick to just the action, however, as several mysteries are revealed through the episodes and jaw-dropping twists and action sequences only further complement it. The series avoids the fatal flaw of sticking to one lane and addresses several issues which also have real-world implications.

2. Made in Abyss

Made in Abyss
  • Anime Name: Made in Abyss
  • Author: Akihito Tsukushi (manga)
  • Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
  • Episodes: 13 (Season 1), 13 (Season 2)
  • Studio: Kinema Citrus
  • Source: Manga

Similar to Madoka Magica, Made in Abyss is a shockingly dark show with extremely brutal scenes. While the cute design of the characters might fool you initially, once the series gets going we are left under no impression that this is going to be a fun and adventurous ride. The abyss is a huge pit going down to the depths of the earth filled with mysterious creatures and relics. Our curious protagonist is bored of the life on top of it and decides to explore the abyss with her robot friend. While both the viewers and the characters expect a world of wonder and joy to be under, we are in for an unpleasant surprise as we see the horrors that await. The show is surprisingly gruesome with several scenes making us feel uncomfortable and queasy.

1. Berserk

  • Anime Name: Berserk
  • Author: Kentaro Miura (manga)
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Horror
  • Episodes: 25 (1997 anime), 12 (2016 anime), 12 (2017 anime)
  • Studio: OLM, Inc. (1997 anime), GEMBA (2016-2017 anime)
  • Source: Manga

The greatest masterpiece that the dark anime genre has to offer us to this date is undoubtedly Berserk. As the series that set the bar for dark fantasy shows, it’s safe to say that Berserk isn’t meant to be watched by everyone. The unending suffering and agony faced by the protagonist, Guts, will make you feel extremely dejected.

In addition to this, the series is extremely brutal with explicit fights and assaults happening regularly. The Eclipse which takes place in the show is also one of the biggest twists to take place in animanga. Berserk is brilliant in every sense of the word as we see excellent characters, development, and an unforgiving world. If you are a fan of Dark Anime, then this is a must-watch.

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Ayush is a dedicated animanga enthusiast with a vast collection of experiences. With over 200 anime series and 300+ manga, manhua, and manhwa titles under their belt, Ayush's knowledge and passion are unparalleled.
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