What Is Dark Anime? The 11 Best Dark Anime Series, Ranked

The anime style may seem cute and childish, but there are plenty of dark anime series with mature content that'll make you think twice.
What Is Dark Anime? The 11 Best Dark Anime Series, Ranked

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If you think anime is only for kids, think again! There are lots of dark anime series that have mature themes, gratuitous blood and gore, frequent deaths, and even sexual content. Think R-rated movies.

Dark anime is technically not a genre but rather a classification that focuses more on the exploration of death, trauma, psychologically disturbing concepts, and explicit mature content.

It may look and feel the same as your typical shonen or shojo anime series, but you'll come across scenes that are plenty more gruesome, hair-raising, stomach-churning, and emotionally devastating.

Many dark animes are considered so dark that they've actually been banned in several countries.

From anime series that thrive in violence to anime series that feature psychologically disturbing stories, here are the best dark anime series for mature viewers.

11. Angels of Death (2018)

Based on an adventure horror video game of the same name, the Angels of Death anime series features a survival game-like setting to which Rachel is confined, with each floor level having different obstacles and challenges to pass—including Zack, a serial killer.

The plot may seem like a normal anime series on paper, but there's a darker edge beneath their motivations for going forward and escaping the building. Also, there's a pact made that only Zack will kill Rachel, leading to an unusual relationship dynamic within the chaotic plot.

10. Made in Abyss (2017)

No one knows what the "Abyss" has in store, yet people keep sending others to dive deep down—all without any care as to whether they come back alive or not.

This plot in the Made in Abyss series makes it dark, featuring ideas like the "Curse of the Abyss," "Birthday Death Disease," and human experimentation to find out what's beyond the unknown.

Made in Abyss is the anime adaptation of the manga series of the same name that was written and illustrated by Akihito Tsukushi.

9. Attack on Titan (2013–Present)

You've probably heard of Attack on Titan. It's popular, it's badass, and it's violent. The story about Titans threatening the last remnants of humanity is based on Hajime Isayama's manga of the same name.

There are a number of elements that make Attack on Titan darker than most anime series, including the gruesome deaths of many Corps members and the gory depictions of Titans eating humans. If you can't stomach body horror, you may not be able to watch this one.

Later on in the story, there's a lot of political intrigue and psychological exploitation that injects an even deeper level of darkness.

8. Tokyo Ghoul (2014–2015)

The blood and gore in Tokyo Ghoul may not be as bad as some other series—like Attack on Titan—but the battle of Ken Kaneki in his own mind contributes to the psychologically disturbing element of the series.

There are also other characters who have the same kind of trauma, including Hinami, Amon, and Kurona, who have witnessed the disturbing deaths of their loved ones.

The series Tokyo Ghoul was based on the manga of the same name, written and illustrated by Sui Ishida.

7. Happy Sugar Life (2018)

One of the ways a dark anime series hides its true nature is to incorporate cute characters into the story. For example, Happy Sugar Life. This anime is an adaptation of the manga series of the same name, written and illustrated by Tomiyaki Kagisora.

Happy Sugar Life features Sato Matsuzaka, a teenage girl who loves a young girl named Shio and is dedicated to doing anything for her. This simple story masks the mystery and darkness of the plot, which is filled with hidden murderous and suicidal intents.

6. Berserk (1997–1998)

While the animation in the 2016 anime adaptation of Berserk looks modern and cool, the 1997 anime adaptation comes across as much darker because of its classic art style.

That said, both adaptations feature tons of brutal and disturbing scenes, accompanied by a heavy and oppressive ambiance.

The story revolves around Guts, a mercenary who hunts evil beings and monsters, especially the high ranking ones (the so-called God Hand). It explores the trauma of being sacrificial humans as well as the stories of his fellow mercenaries and their dark backstories.

5. Higurashi: When They Cry (2006)

Want to dive into murder mystery stories that are far darker and more chaotic than what you'd find in traditional murder mystery anime series? Then Higurashi: When They Cry is the anime series for you.

Higurashi: When They Cry is adapted from a visual novel game of the same name, and it covers the story arcs of those games.

It has tons of violent and disturbing scenes, from murders and rage to people losing their sanity. It also creatively combines superstition, science fiction, and mystery to give us unexpected plot twists.

4. Redo of Healer (2021)

Redo of Healer is an anime adaptation of the light novel series written by Rui Tsukiyo and illustrated by Shiokonbu. It centers on Keyaru, a healing mage who was abused—physically, mentally, and sexually—by several heroes and guards in his life.

Unbeknownst to them, the low-level healing mage finds a way to turn the tables and exact revenge on everyone who did harm to him—by using the Philosopher's Stone to go back in time four years.

The Redo of Healer anime series features many scenes that you'd never see in typical shonen anime, including explicit content.

3. Another (2012)

If you're into paranormal horror, Another is a must-watch anime series. It's based on a horror novel of the same name by Yukito Ayatsuji. The story follows Koichi Sakakibara and his encounter with a mysterious girl.

The animation is both unsettling and disturbing, which makes the series thrilling in a dark way. The plot is one of the creepiest you'll encounter in anime, made creepier by its setting and sound design.

The horror in the series makes it not suitable for young audiences, as it involves topics mainly surrounding death.

2. Devilman Crybaby (2018)

Devilman Crybaby is an original net animation based on the manga series Devilman by Go Nagai. It features a world where demons freely roam, disguising themselves as human beings through possession.

But some people manage to overpower the demon possessing them and take control of their powers. These people are the Devilmen.

The series' unconventional animation features disturbing and explicit scenes and graphic content, along with the violence in the plot and story, making it a truly dark anime.

1. The Future Diary (2011–2012)

Love, survival, and death. These three elements are the major focal points of the Future Diary anime series, which centers on a survival game that's run by the God of Time and Space.

The deaths and the body horror—like when Yuno Gasai goes on her frequent killing sprees—are badass yet brutal. Next to that, you have a dark plot that involves emotional trauma and psychological horror, full of twists up until the very last episode.