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Top 20: The Best Dark Anime Shows to Watch in 2021

Dark anime shows might not be the most popular when compared to other anime genres, but they certainly are pretty awesome to watch, especially for the more mature audiences. If you aren’t someone who likes the “typical” anime show, and want to watch a show with darker and more mature themes, something that makes you think, then this article is for you!

Although anime has become all the rage in recent times, many people still believe that it is a childish medium that shouldn’t be taken seriously. They think that it’s all fun and games; the hero swings in, beats the bad guy, saves the day, repeat. To be fair to them, they’re kind of right because most of the popular shows today are shonen anime and they happen to be quite light-hearted and don’t exactly focus on topics that rein in mature audiences.

But this doesn’t mean that the community is lacking, it just means you are not looking hard enough. There are so many hidden gems scattered around that represent blood-curdling themes and narratives in the business that have graced us in every generation. From the ’90s, to the early 2000s, there are anime breaking the mold even as you read this. Daring to be different, daring to be darker. And don’t worry; I made sure to compile them all for you in one place.

“Dark” can mean a lot of things; but in this article, by dark we mean psychological, violent and horror. Moreover, it doesn’t just feature blood, guts and monsters as there are several shows that delve a lot deeper in the motivations of its twisted characters and what fuels their actions. So, a dark anime show can feature no blood or gore, but still be considered much darker than the others. We have done extensive research in coming up with this list, but there’s a chance that we missed out on several great shows. So, if you think some dark anime shows deserve to be on the list, let us know in the comments section below.

Before we begin, we’d like to give you a word of advice as some of these shows feature violence and sexual content as well, so don’t be alarmed when something really twisted appears on your screen!

Best Dark Anime Shows of 2021

21. Deadman Wonderland

deadman wonderland

What would you do if you were thrown in prison for a crime you didn’t commit? Our MC Ganta Igarashi was on his way to an amusement park-styled prison that entertains its guests by forcing the inmates to perform all sorts of crude and violent acts.

Thinking it would be a day like any other, Ganta couldn’t have been more wrong. Upon arrival, everybody in his class is slaughtered by a man in red. As the only survivor, Ganta is immediately taken in as the culprit, and to his surprise, is placed within the very same prison; Deadman Wonderland. Join Ganta in his battle of survival to escape the prison, where danger lurks at every corner.


20. Another

After a young girl’s death in 1972, Yomiyama North High School is never the same. Fast forward to the present day, Kouichi Sakakibara has recently transferred to Yomiyama North and notices everybody in his class seems to avoid a particular girl, namely Mei Misaki, in the room.

Despite their warnings and hers, Kouichi attempts to befriend Mei. This leads him and his classmates down a path of no return, as they’re dragged into the tragic mystery surrounding class 3-3 of Yomiyama High. Another is a shocking tale of inevitable suspense and gore that will leave you unsettled and intrigued at every turn.


19. Hellsing / Hellsing Ultimate

hellsing ultimate

This wouldn’t be a dark anime list if I didn’t add this awesome show. In a world where creatures of the night threaten humanity, baring their fangs and claws at anything that breathes, there is only one organization that is capable of stopping them; Hellsing.

Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing is the head of this legendary group; however, all of its members pale in comparison to Integra’s trump card; Alucard, a vampire and an overpowered protagonist, who has made it his mission to exterminate his kind. In both Hellsing & Hellsing Ultimate, you will discover that not only is everything not as it seems, but you’ll soon realize that sometimes, the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend!


18. Akame Ga Kill

akame ga kill

Akame Ga Kill happens to be one of the best dark anime shows and it follows the teenage boy Tatsumi’s exploits, as he embarks on a journey to save his poverty-stricken village. After a series of unfortunate events, Tatsumi finds himself deeply moved by the actions of a revolutionary assassin group known as Night Raid.

Their goal is simple; complete liberation of their empire from the clutches of the greedy and conniving Prime Minister Honest (ironic, I know). Tatsumi joins Night Raid to assist them on their mission, but he soon learns that retribution is dealt equally to both friend and foe when one walks the assassin’s path.


17. Devilman: Crybaby

devilman: crybaby

The frail Akira Fudou has always been a boy with a delicate heart. One day his friend Ryou asks for help finding creatures known as devils, beings who take over humans as hosts to wreak havoc and mayhem. Their search leads them to a party filled with all sorts of perverse acts, when suddenly devils begin taking over the party-goers.

In the midst of the unleashed carnage, Akira is possessed by the all-powerful devil Amon and discovers that if one’s will is strong enough, one may overpower their devil and use its powers, at the cost of having their primal desires running wild. This tale of a crybaby trapped in a nigh-indestructible vessel is as gripping as it is tearful!


16. AJIN: Demi-Human

ajin: demi-human

Since time immemorial, there have been beings that walked the earth indefinitely – Ajin, people that cannot die. However, despite their extraordinary vitality, they are seen as freaks. Enter Nagai Kei, a brilliant young man with no care for these beings other than occasionally hearing of them on the news, as he’s too busy trying to become a medical doctor.

One day on his way home from school, Kei is struck by a truck and presumed dead… till there appears a black mist around his body that restores him – the sign of being an Ajin! Survival is now the least of his worries, as his humanity is constantly tested in this epic of morality and self-discovery.


15. Psycho-Pass

psycho-pass

This story is set in the distant future of the 22nd century, where crime is now judged on an objective scale. By use of the Sybil System, the government can determine the threat level of an individual based on their mental state, and those that dare to harbor any malicious thoughts are brought to light, often with force, by Inspectors.

The newly inducted Inspector, Akane Tsunemori, is partnered with Shinya Kougami, the Enforcer – inspectors whose crime level puts them on a criminal’s status but are allowed freedom in exchange for doing the dirty work. These two soon discover this world’s dark truth, as the Sybil System is not what it seems.


14. Tokyo Ghoul

tokyo ghoul

Ken Kaneki is an innocent college student whose only joy in life is reading. While at a café with his best friend Hide, he notices a pretty lady who happens to be an avid reader like himself. The lady, Rize, takes a liking to him, and soon they’re walking home together.

Unknown to Kaneki, she is about to drag him into the world of these supernatural entities known as Ghouls, who survive on human flesh. This chilling horror story is a masterfully crafted experience nobody should miss out on.


13. Death Parade

death parade

In the mysterious anime Death Parade, heaven or hell’s concept is non-existent. Those that die will find themselves at a bar known as Quindecim, where they will play all sorts of games against other recently deceased, under the watchful eyes of the bartender, Decim.

Whether it’s darts, air hockey, even bowling, watch these dearly departed souls battle it out, for those that win will safely reincarnate to their next life, while those that don’t are thrust into the void. This establishment has been run like so for eternity until a particular man’s arrival causes even the ever-patient Decim to question himself.


12. Ergo Proxy

ergo proxy

Set in a post-apocalyptic dystopian world that was ravaged by mother nature, Ergo Proxy is an anime that explores humanity’s darkest secrets. The story takes place in the dome city of Romdo, one of the human races’ last stand for survival. Androids have been created to reduce the burdens people face in their day-to-day lives; however, these “AutoReivs” come in contact with a virus that grants them sentience, encouraging rebellion against their masters.

We are thrown straight into the deep end as we follow the protagonist Re-l and her AutoReiv partner Iggy on a dark journey to uncover the cause behind the virus and unwittingly get themselves tangled in one of humankind’s greatest sins.


11. Drifters

drifters

The legends of old come out to play in this bloody isekai fantasy. The tale follows the war hero Toyohisa Shimazu’s exploits while knocking on death’s door. Toyohisa then finds himself within a white hallway surrounded by hundreds of passages and a peculiar man named Murasaki in front of him. Before he knows it, Toyohisa is once again whisked away into a mysterious land to fight as a drifter, warriors of a time long gone that this world needs to repel the evil known as the End.

Other notable historical figures join him, such as Oda Nobunaga, to free this corrupted land from the End and announce to these unwelcome guests that the continent is off-limits.


10. Goblin Slayer

goblin slayer

There is no title more self-explanatory than Kumo Kagyu’s dark fantasy epic. Our hero, referred to simply as the Goblin Slayer, has a vendetta against the foul creatures that exist for no reason other than to bring others misfortune; goblins. After witnessing life as he knew it flipped upside down by these atrocities, he decides to pursue a career dedicated to nothing but their extinction.

And he has no qualms with whatever means he uses to accomplish this goal. This gripping tale of revenge will constantly keep you on the edge of your seat and appalled at every occurrence, as the audience is given an insider’s look into the dark side of your run-of-the-mill fantasy anime series.


9. Dororo

Lord Daigo Kagemitsu’s land is fated to perish in the samurai era. In a last-ditch attempt for survival, he deals with demons for a hefty price; the body of his firstborn. Soon after the land prospers, the child is brought into the world, missing his eyes, ears, limbs, nose, and skin. He is cast away into a river, but sa luck would have it a medicine man discovers this abandoned baby.

The man grants him prosthetics to fend for himself, and he grows into a living weapon. Now grown, the boy is accompanied by the lost orphan Dororo in a gruesome hunt to kill the demons that robbed him of everything and claim back what was rightfully his.


8. Mirai Nikki

mirai nikki

Future Diary, better known as Mirai Nikki, is what happens when you cross unrequited love and a frightening amount of power together. The protagonist of this dark tale is Yukiteru Amano, and his daily life consists of writing in his diary to keep himself company. His diary, however, has other plans. He is thrust into a game of death headfirst by the God of Space and Time, Deus Ex Machina.

He has nothing to rely on but a diary with uncannily accurate but random information of the future, as well as his psycho stalker, Yuno Gasai. The further you drift into this warped romance, the more you realize all isn’t as it seems.


7. The Promised Neverland

the promised neverland

The orphans of Gracefield spend their lives being cared for in a loving environment surrounded by those they’ve come to call family. These kids spend their days fantasizing about being adopted into the perfect family, until our beloved protagonist Emma stumbles upon the grotesque secret this orphanage has kept from them their entire lives.

The Promised Neverland is a dark coming of age story that embodies the youthful lust for freedom in the most sinister way possible, as we witness a group of gifted and bold children find their place in a world that is constantly against them.


6. Hell Girl

hell girl

Hell Correspondence is a mysterious website that opens its doors at midnight to those that bear a strong grudge against someone. Once given access, users can write down the person’s name, and they will be killed and sent to hell by the mysterious Ai Enma and her strange straw doll ability.

Whether the person who has been marked is deserving of it or not, their lives are taken by this vicious entity. But this all comes with a price; those that ask for this agent of death must also spend their afterlife in hell.


5. Death Note

death note

Death Note is one of the best anime shows ever and it revolves around our prodigious protagonist Light Yagami’s dark descent into the world of crime and retribution. The plot is centered around Light’s life, as he stumbles upon a mysterious notebook titled after the series. He soon discovers that whoever wields this book rules over the laws of life and death and begins a deadly crusade that will change his life forever.

We witness Light’s transformation from a model high school student into a being whose actions are so systematic and malicious that it takes the world’s greatest detective, L, to crack his case.


4. Elfen Lied

elfen lied

Lucy is a girl that’s a special breed of human with immense psychic power in the form of invisible hands. This ability places her in the government’s clutches, where she is subjected to all kinds of inhumane experiments. When she gains the chance to escape, she wastes no time destroying the lab she was confined to, as well as everybody in her path.

However, she suffers severe damage to her head, resulting in her developing a split personality that hides her homicidal tendencies. When college students Kouta and Yuka find her unconscious, they unknowingly shelter this fugitive. Now with a ticking time bomb at their side, these youngster’s lives will never be the same.


3. Shiki

shiki

Shiki’s narrative is built around the rural town of Sotoba, as a local girl’s death sparks this town’s downward spiral into a dark and twisted epidemic. The villagers of Sotoba soon find themselves at the limits of their mental constitution and begin questioning everything. Good and evil, trust, and even familial bonds are tested in this chilling subversion of the concept of vampires with which we are familiar.

It’s up to medical doctor Toshio Ozaki and antisocial youth Natsuno Yuuki to unravel the true nature of this supposed disease before their town succumbs to the creatures of the night.


2. Berserk

berserk

The tale of the legendary Black Swordsman is not for the faint-hearted. Born from the dangling corpse of a woman hanging from a tree, he is quickly introduced into a life of constant hardship. Now a man, he is fated to battle demons after being betrayed until the day he dies. Through continuous fighting, he gains people he can finally call allies.

Armed with Dragonslayer, a sword too big and too heavy even to be called one, join Guts on his journey for vengeance against the man he once thought was his closest friend.


1. Monster

Renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Kenzou Tenma has mechanical precision in the E.R, which earned him a hefty social status. One day, he has to make a decision that challenges his morals. Despite his colleague’s warnings, he makes a choice that costs him his reputation and the woman he loves. However, all those who would’ve blocked Tenma’s career path are mysteriously murdered, and upon having his innocence proven, his future is restored and taken to new heights.

Until years later, when his choice returns to haunt him in ways, he would never imagine. Monster is a dark take on the cat and mouse trope that perfectly captures the essence of what it means to live with the monsters we have created.


What Are Your Favorite Dark Anime Shows in 2021?

If you or one of your friends still feel unconvinced that anime can appeal to audiences of all ages, then you ought to watch some of the darkest shows featured in this list because they will change your perception and make you look at the anime industry in a different light!

But I am also sure that some of you might be big fans of anime as a whole and love to watch shows from all genres, which is why you are here to look for the best dark anime shows. If that’s the case, do let me know which title you have decided to watch. And if you’ve got any recommendations for me, leave them in the comments section below!

Arbaz Khan

My name's Arbaz Khan, and I am the guy behind SlushTimes.com! Since I spent most of my time watching anime and reading manga, I thought of creating a website where I can talk about things I like. So here we are!

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