Monday, October 11, 2010

Top Ten Dark Anime

As some may know, I´m an Anime fan.
Being a westerner makes things hard though, since most people here see it as any other cartoon, as of yet. I´ll spare anyone from wondering any more; it ain't. For you ignorant heathens out there; Japanese Anime is more like the industry where all the stories we cant put to the normal screen, go, because we don't have the animation, time or the technology to make them as good as when we draw them.
In this respect I just have to mention that there are many bad Anime stories out there. Like Naruto. I´m sorry Naruto fans, but it sucks more than a drunken Santa on x-mas eve. I got to episode 130-something when I at last gagged at yet another filler, making me watch some idiotic eating-contest all the characters joined in on... or something. Anyway. The story is half-bad, with lots of holes and no character development what-so-EVER. That goes for Bleach, Code Geas, and whatever series you THINK are good, but really isn´t. They are what I call time fillers from complete boorness (Yes, i just invented a new word for just that occasion)!
Yet... as I said; I´m a fan. And that is because of all the better series out there. Like Samurai Champloo, Mushishi or Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood. But I won´t rate them here. What we need is a good, old-fashion "Evil" theme-rating.
So with no further ranting, Here is my top 10 Dark Anime list.

1. Monster
Monster gets my number one here, not because it is especially brutal or action-filled, but because it actually scared the crap out of me. Some episodes shook me to the very core, not because of a bloody scenery, but because of the inhumanity animated in this series. It is written so very, very well and leaves so much up to the imagination, and has this mood going that nothing can beat.
Here is my bad recap of the story: The story is about a Japanese surgeon who saves the life of a young boy, who had been shot in the head for some mysterious reason. Little does he know that this boy is hell-reincarnate. The boy grows up and begins to haunt the doctor through deeds only the doctor knows to be the boys doing. So what does he have to do? Find and kill the boy... ofc.
The story takes place in Germany twenty years after the war, and follows a handful of characters trying to track down the boy, who is ten times smarter and always ahead of everyone. It gets my number one because it plays on the paranoia of the viewer, who is always conscious of a huge darkness just out of eye shot through the whole series.

2. Death Note
Death Note should have been my number one, but it lacks some ties to the real world that could easily been written in. Though, that is what much Anime is about isn't it? If you like combination of tactics, strategy and paranormal activity, death note is for you.
The story is about two geniuses playing a deadly game with each other; the one who gets the others name first, wins. The story is about a student (Light) who one day finds a special book. It has 10 rules, but the only one I´m going to mention here is; any ones name written in the book will die within a short time span. Light, being a cool guy, decides that he is going to be the moral compass of the world. He begins killing every criminal or person he deems unfit for society. This brings him a lot of attention from the police, the only problem is that there is no connection between the murders and Light. After all. He is just writing names in a book. This brings in one of the best characters the Anime world has to offer; "L", the genius detective who is determined to find the murderer.
Death Note plays on a fine line between the imaginative world of Anime and the real one. By this I mean that everyone else in the series has no idea that there is such a thing as a magic book, able to kill people.
If you are new to Anime, and want to begin, this is a "must see" series. Its just two seasons, and is finished.

3. Black Lagoon
Black Lagoon is an awesome series if you like well written script and character development. The story takes place in a lawless city, where everyone is either corrupt, morally depleted, a murderer, a whore or a mafia member (pic explains for itself). Though the story is about the only people in the whole place, who has some sort of moral compass; the Lagoon company. Being lawless themselves and living in a den of thieves, we get a lot of action out of these guys, but they earn their money by being neutral to anyone. Its a shipping company, delivering and transporting any sort of package for any sort of employer.
The story takes place in the Indian ocean in the mid 80s, with palm trees and a soft environment. I personally enjoy this series, both because it has a variety of different characters and because there is a lot of explaining of how the underworld works. And not everyone has the boring, tear filled back story so common for everyone in anime-world to have. No... they just skip that part, and lets us know stuff a little by little, like it should be done, unlike NARUTO goddamnwasteoftimecrapbagofaproduction.
Good story, great characters and a lot of twists. Season 3 just started.
4. Elfen Lied
I was unsure where to put Elven-pokemon-like-girl with the ability to rip peoples limbs of without touching them. Exiting if you like that sort of thing. The series plays on the amorous/demonic, and switches between the two more often than I change pants. The story is probably not why you continue watching this series, but it has a tendency to get you glued to the screen anyway. A lot of whining and sad back stories though. Being fed up with the backtracking and the continuous moaning from every second anime series I see, this is not a good trait in my book. The sheer brutality and plot of the story is what keeps this series floating.
Good enough, but is probably not something you want to watch if you are sensitive person.

5. Claimore
This is full-out a fantasy anime. Having been a fantasy slave through my early days and beyond, I can´t help but love this series. The story is about a world infested with daemons taking human form. They eat people, are immune to normal weapons and threaten to destroy everything. That is why Caimors are made. Being something between a human and a daemon and the only ones capable of destroying daemons, we follow one of them fighting between two worlds and hated by both. Oh, and only girls become Claimores... because they have the gene that can transfuse with that of a daemon... where as the men simply die. The series has a good plot, but was somehow stopped in the middle of producing, so we only got the first season of it. Apart from being a little condescending towards women (being a hairs length from being corrupt daemons) it is a pretty good series. Its dark and action filled with pretty good character writing.

6. Berserker
Berserker is like the testosterone of the anime world. Apart from the halfhearted drawings (something you get used to), this series owned. Its a shame that they didn´t finish the series in anime. Not being a manga reader, this is a hard blow to the groin.
The series is simply enough about a band of renegade mercenaries who slowly but surely becomes the most powerful battle force in the country. We follow a stone hard character, who has the occasional fit on the battle field, therefore nicknamed berserker. But the series has a great big twist, 20 episodes into it! Before that it was a pretty straight forward story. I think the writers got bored and figured; "Lets spark things up with a bit tabasco and blood... this mucking about in battles all the time is boring our awesome minds."
So they did.
It gets my number 6 because it takes a while for it to become really bad-ass. Apart from that, its great.

7. Hellsing
I want to say; Anime loves Christianity and vampires, and preferably a mix of the two. So here is Hellsing. But I´m not saying that. Instead I´m saying; Vampires cant touch crosses you idiots. But here they do. Its WHAT they do apparently. Not being a twilight fan, but preferring the traditional stories about vampires, I can´t help but frown a bit while viewing Hellsing. The story is good enough though. Its dark, and chaotic, and filled with undead people, so don´t get me wrong when I´m criticizing the vampires shown in this series. They are actually pretty good... or evil rather. Like they should be. The story is about an evil vampire playing the part of the all- powerful secret weapon of the English "good" government. He protects the crown from being overrun by undead... so he ACTS good, but really isn´t. And that is really what I like about this series. That the main character is actually wearing the "mask" of control, but unleashes his true chaotic self whenever he feels hungry or horny.

8. Samurai 7.
The  first thing that came to mind when seeing this series was; Where have you been all this time? Like all anime series, it loves heights, puffy eyes, all powerful evil and a robotic machine swinging a jumbo sword at peasants, but the initial 20 min into the series got me going. Can a few samurai overthrow a robotic, uber-boosted clan of sky-lords out to take over the world and rob it of its rice? In the real world, no. In anime world; hell yeah. I´m a huge fan of ninjas, and therefore forever paranoid. They are everywhere, and no where, and they can kill you without you noticing.
The only large hole in this series was; how did a few people suddenly get such a wast electronic advantage over the rest, leaving most of the world in a borderland between doomed-modern world and the middle ages, while they fly around in giant, meat-eating fortresses? Good question, you say. Indeed, says I.
Apart from that; Good character building and plot, and a lot of action.

9. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
This is a true thriller series, based on a popular Japanese detective game. It is a series where the plot suddenly changes from being "puffed up" "big-eyed" to become something more sinister. It is great anime, and with a great plot, I just hate that they had to put in all the extra "tears-in-back-of-head" whenever they want to make the characters look stupid. And Yeah... the eyes are probably the most effective effects they have. Notice how all the "bad" or experienced characters has thin eyes with small pupils, and all the innocent has huge puffy eyes taking up 3/4 of the head.
The story takes place in a small town in Japan, where everyone knows each other and shares the same school-book... and where there is a serious shortage of dudes. The story begins with us being introduced to a murder that took place at a dam where all the victims were decapitated, and the search for the murderer(ers). It quickly changes from being a lolipop-tale to becoming one of the best back-chilling thrillers anime has to offer.
Apart from the constant distractions, this is a true thriller once you get into it. 9 is probably way too harsh.

10. Gantz
Gantz is simply dark to its very core. Being somewhere between borderline hentai and ghost hunting, it is packed with crazy, bloody and cynical scenes. The writing is probably done by hysterical pill-users, because its hard to get the storyline, but I think the general line is; When you die you come to this room (picture above). You have no idea that you are dead (because of different reasons, one of them being that you fell asleep in front of a bus and can´t believe that such a stupid way to die exist, so you refuse it), and there are other people in the same room with you. You are all part of a game no one tells you about or explains the rules of, but if you loose, you die horribly. The only hint you get that you have a mission is that the hovering ball in the middle of the room opens to give you guns, a nice trendy uniform and a great big countdown timer. The rest you have to figure out on your own, so naturally this takes about 20 episodes for the characters to do. Dumb as breakfast ham, they refuse to see the simple fact that they are supposed to use the guns, so naturally most of them gets killed... Horribly.
This is a horror series, bordering on the macabre. So enjoy if you like gore and no story.


Pure Hatred. said...

I would totally take your comments seriously if you didn't open your article bashing other peoples choices in shows, very immature.

And your spelling = terrible.

V01D said...

HAH! Sorry about that. I was writing extremely fast when I did this.
Spelling re-checked.

But my opinions about the nauruto series stand firm. It is supposed to be a little self criticism since I have been watching the series until I got bored myself... which took a long while, but if you feel it was a childish way to put it on paper, I apologize... wont remove it though. you will have to let it sink in.

Jason said...

Man anime has really gone to shit over the years same with manga. I come from stuff like Ghost in the shell, Ninja Scroll, Akira, Blood, Vampire Hunter D. Robotech and Macross. When I say shit the story lines suck there is way to much love crap going on and generally I find it hard to accept that animation drawing has been increasingly getting worse. I know it takes a huge amount of time to produce good quality stuff but I can't accept it not being there at all like it used to be.

Son-B said...

I whole-heartedly agree with you. The most important, if not the ONLY important feature with any anime, is the storyline.
As you said, the world of anime has gone "down" as it has grown in popularity.
That might be the main reason for me not following it anymore.
All we can do is wait for studio Gibli to deliver something fresh ones more.

Heroema said...

I keep a critical eye on the writing/storyline when I'm watching anime, and the ones I enjoy the most are the ones that manage to keep my eyes glued to the screen.

I really enjoyed Monster, but it didn't really shake me as much as it seemed to do to you. The only anime that has ever truly shaken me and literally given me goosebumps was Death Note, so that would probably be at the top of my list.

But I mean Gantz...really? I know it's number 10 but how can you possibly bash overrated anime for being crap then have that show on your list. I laughed so hard when I watched the first episode of that show because of how horribly bad it was. The same thing with Elfen Lied, wasn't that great.

I think all this list managed to prove was there's about as much good 'evil' anime out there as there is any other genre.

Anonymous said...

I think all your comment did was point out the obvious fact that the tastefulness of anime (or any story) is relative to the viewer. Good Job.

Anonymous said...

Haha Death Note #1! Although I agree with you on several of these anime's being top picks, I don't think bashing other peoples possibly favorite anime's in will serve any justice; different people put different values into different types of anime's, therefore, a proper ranking of these anime's will never appear. Naruto and Bleach are very mainstream anime's (not necessarily dark like Berserk or Gantz), and from my perspective shouldn't be strongly ridiculed because they aren't dark in the first place and appeals to younger audiences (I do agree that the fillers in those to really damped the series though). For example, horror anime's don't really phase me, so Hellsing and Monster already took a downfall in my list, but that's just my opinion. adventurous anime's such as one piece Fullmetal Brotherhood, and Dragonball Z naturally appeal more to me.

Anonymous said...

You have great taste in anime. I know it's a top 10 list, so let me add some more. Fullmetal Alchemist, Gungrave, Mushi-shi, Cowboy Bebob, and season 1 of Gunslinger Girl.(season 2 went to shit)

RenaKodoku said...

I didn;t read what you said about the animes but I read the titles... And I agree with you about the top list. Tough I haven't seen monster and I will start downloading it now. Tnx anyway.

fukachan said...

^you better watch MONSTER! it's indeed wonderful!

and about naruto -- no comment. Many would probably go gyagya if I'd leave any comment about it...

but if based on the weight of the story, i love monster, elfen lied, claymore and death note more... it might be 'dark' to some, but, for me it's beyond genius -- the authors/created these animes...

so for those who haven't watch Monster, don't miss it for the world! the only thing that i've regretted is when i never watched Monster asap... i always had this anime on shelf, but just recently decided to watch it...

i'd rate monster 10/10, death note 9/10, elfen lied 10/10 and claymore 10/10! :)

nice list btw! ;) try watching 'Himitsu' too... ^_~

HarliqueenNight said...

I agree with all your comments accept something you said in hellsing. having watched both ova and the original animated series...i think you missed something. Holy items are ineffective on vampires unless they have been blessed as in original vampire lore. Its basically a "if there's no faith in it then it doesn't work" so i felt they followed original lore just fine. If the cross is not blessed then the vampire will not get hurt. that was the rule they used in the animated series of Helsing. Alucard being a more powerful vampire has the ability to touch blessed things without being hurt as badly because...well he's effing Alucard. Not causing anything just explaining why that happened since you seemed to miss it.

Anonymous said...

Lol u reached 130 on naruto if it was that crappy you stop at epi 10 ;) what was so dark about samurai 7? :/

James said...

Requiem for the phantom should be at least top 3 (at least the first season.) Probably the darkest anime I have ever seen. Also one of the best I have ever seen (again, only referring to the first season. The second was a giant disappointment.)

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. Most of the anime listed is pretty dark; but I was thinking 'Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica' would be listed. Witn magazines like 'OtakuUSA' saying that the anime is aggressively dark, I decided to watch the anime to see how dark it really was. And I thought it was pretty dark. The first couple of episodes/chapters may seem harmless, but it gets darker and darker. I love Madoka Magica, not for it's darkness though. If you haven't seen it yourself, I think you could just have a watch/read of it, because personally, I think it's the best manga I have read. (pwease don't hate meez)

lollipoparisu said...

I do agree with this anon's comment on Madoka Magica, it is very dark, in my opinion. I recently watched Monster, though, and it's on the top of my 'well that scared the s**t out of me,' list. Madoka Magica is definitely a very dark anime; *MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT DON'T READ UNLESS YOU HAVE WATCHED MADOKA MAGICA OR YOU DON'T INTEND TO WATCH/READ IT* with Mami dying in the 3rd episode, Sayaka turning into the enemy in the 6th, Kyoko sacrificing herself for Sayaka in the 7th (i think), and Madoka no longer living as a human being in the last, and what made that event even more upsetting was the fact that nobody remembered Madoka except 'her best friend.' And yet another dark event was when Sayaka's friendship with Madoka and Hitomi was getting completely ruined, due to Sayaka letting emotions take the better of her, and ongoing pressure with good-friend Kamijou/Kyousuke (either way, mehh) So, I think it could be listed here. :3 -lollipoparisu

Anonymous said...

I have never watched Gantz or Beserker but the rest I have. I am scardey-cat kinda person. I came to watch Monster one day and I basically shat myself (is that even a word) but I just couldn't stop myself from watching it. I don't intend to watch or read Gantz, seeing as I looked it up once and got nothing but explicit sexual imagery. So yes, Gantz is a hentai and horror anime. I don't like really REALLY explicit hentai, to be honest, so yeah, Gantz isn't the anime for me.

I never got to finish watching Monster, so maybe I'll find it amoungst all the shit on my desk. And responding to lollipoparisu's spoilers on Madoka Magica. I have never heard of it before, and I read the spoilers and I was amazed. It seems really dark. But this blog was posted in 2010 and I don't think the anime/manga was released to the public before this blog was posted. ;D So maybe that's why it wasn't listed.

And finally, a great, agreeable list here. Amenn brotha.

Anonymous said...

If you think the berserk anime was good, the manga is amazing. One of the most well written stories I've ever read. I also like how the hero is a dark haired man with dark skin and so is the girl he eventually gets. The obsession the Japanese have with blonde hair and pretty boys that look like girls gets pretty old.

Anonymous said...

Not sure how you can diss Code Geass which had great storytelling and then put nonsensical trash like Gantz on any top 10 list. Good list apart from that though, if a little predictable. Was hoping to find something I hadn't seen.

bebopfu said...

Words in any language fail to properly convey one's true meaning. Language is a poor conductor of expression. Therefore, spelling and grammar are essential if one wishes their views and opinions to be respected and taken seriously despite the audience. Yes, on purpose I'm being hypocritical when I state this, but starting out talking down to and criticizing others and their taste will always put readers or listeners on the defensive and make anything relevant you have to say more vulnerable for unpleasant critique. As for the list itself; there are some very good series which fit the, "dark," genre. It's ironic though, with your rant about western views on anime and the, "fillers," which you show so much disdain for, you seem to be a victim of your own condemnation. These titles listed are very mainstream and popular. As a genre, "dark," anime means something a bit different to everyone. It could be psychological, tragic, mind-bending, disturbing, etc.., and while all of these ten fall into these sub-genres you're merely looking at the rabbit hole. If you really want to chase the rabbit then you have have to get off the well-traveled path. Being uncertain of the ages of some of the readers here it would be irresponsible to name some of the truly, "dark." series out there. It amazes still, how some even made it to production. In fact, The first eight which come to mind were not aired but released only on VHS/LD/DVD/BD. I enjoy many mainstream releases too, but Gonzo, Deen, Production I.G., Clamp, to name a few, are not the only anime houses producing great and original series.

Michael said...

I respectfully must disagree with your view about Bleach being interesting only as a time filler as an anime. And much to the dismay of other Bleach addicts out there, I'm even a fan of the filler arcs of the anime ... though they could have been tweaked a little so that viewers could believably place them in gaps in the mainstream arcs (speaking mostly of the zanpakuto rebellion and shosuke amagai arcs, the others fit in fairly adequately).

But, I have to agree with your Naruto assessment. I was bored after the first episode and just stopped it there and went decided to regain my confidence in the anime genre by watching Black Butler's first season.

I do like the sound of some of your choices here though, and have bookmarked them for future viewing :D

Otion Gjini said...

I have yet to read your blog but I HAD to comment on it. I noticed that Monster and Deathnote were the first two on the list. I can only assume, from not reading it yet, that they are your favorites. I have been looking for a thing like this where people list anime shows that arent lame but actually engaging. I do not know much and have basically only seen those two in their entirety.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS that you understand what few have ever understood. Anime is meant to explore certain themes that simply cannot be explored by live action. I heard there was a live action deathnote but i cant get myself to watch it because I know that Ryuk cannot be captured as well with cgi or an actor as he was on the anime.


José said...

You might try 'Basilisk'

I call it 'Romeo & Juliette' meets 'Kung Fu'

The setting is medieval Japan where two rival clans have been feuding for centuries. There are love affairs, betrayal, mortal combat involving superhuman powers, senseless tragedy, and, finally, a surprise ending.

And, futor once, someone portrayed women the way I like them, strong, yet vulnerable. They participate in some of the fighting, and they are drawn with 'hourglass' feminine proportions.

I'm not too found of the 'Pokemon' look, nor do I like overinflated silicone breast-jobs. I prefer athletic women, which is how they should be portrayed, if they are martial arts specialists. I should add that there are a few BDSM scenes as well.

Anonymous said...

death note number 2??? monster number 1??? whatt? dude, monster sucks ass i hated it. the story line is boring and it lags on forever, the ending , was there an ending?.. death note is number 1 in my book. original interesting, real psychological suspense. truly i never thought opinion could vary this much!

TGAP Trixie said...

I could have taken you seriously, but then you wen't and put death note number 2. It doesn't even belong on the list. Try something a little stronger next time. Devilman, When They Cry, or Le Portrait de Petite Cossette. Conceptually, Samurai 7 doesn't belong up here either. I grew up with much more classic anime though, so my standards differ too. Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend, should be at the top. But what can you expect from a generation that doesn't have Cowboy Bebop, or Record of the Lodoss War OVA to reference

Anonymous said...

I agree that mainstream Anime can get a little too much fill, not enough story (I made it to episode 170 something of bleach and gave up. Was great for the first two jumps though). I must kindly disagree that Code Geass was bad, I loved it! I think the character development was awesome and plot great and it was only two seasons so it did not drag.

Also, Samurai Seven is not really dark, although one could say that its plot was not happy, I know plenty of Anime darker. I think fitting somewhere in here would be Shiguri: Death Frenzy...and lots more, but lots of good picks here too!

Jordan Jones said...

I like most of your choices, but you bashed one of my favorite anime of all time (code geass) how you manage to dislike code geass and like death note at the same time is beyond me.. the ending to death note was so bad it almost ruined the story for me. Now, when i watch death note i end it as soon as L dies.. to me there is no reason to continue past that point. The ending to code geass however fit perfectly with the story and the goals the protagonist set out for in the very beginning. My issue with anime today is they don't take a serious enough note to keep me interested. i'm a huge action fan please don't bore me to death with the life and times of a teenage drama queen. I'm not gonna bash cowboy beebop because i spent many saturday nights watching it myself and i loved it but i have to be honest. I couldn't bring myself to put it in any top 10 anime lists i might come up with.

Anonymous said...

This is actually a pretty good list of (more modern) seinen/adult/darkish anime. Yet I have to suppose you never finished Code Geass... To be fair, from the outside it looks like some common mecha kid stuff, BUT... it is FAR, FAR, FAR from that. It is one of the most complex yet comprehendable, character realistic (no true good or bad guys), deeper nature, and EMOTIONALLY powerful animes EVER!!! Watch it and commit! It has the best ending of any anime I have ever seen; truly epic, global, and and THE MOST GENIUS!

Anonymous said...

I think that this was very helpful. I was looking for something new to watch and you really helped me out. :)

Anonymous said...

What about Mirai Nikki?

Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed 10 seconds into reading this blog. "The story is half-bad, with lots of holes and no character development what-so-EVER. That goes for Bleach, Code Geas, and whatever series you THINK are good, but really isn´t." To me, even with 'think' in all caps, 'you' is what was emphasized here. YOU are quite literally telling everyone that their opinions are wrong and your opinions are correct. To make expressing this your first point of business in a blog area called "haven for words" disgusts me.

Anonymous said...

Mirai Nikki wasn't an anime yet when he posted this article

Anonymous said...

I stopped and scratched my head when you said in Claymore the females have the gene to transfuse with that of a demon, where the men simply "die".

Not sure if you paid attention to the dialogue, but the females were later chosen as Claymore(s) because they didn't tap too much into their power, while the men became greedy, and transformed at a much faster pace than females.

They also simply just didn't die either. But, its your list.

Anonymous said...

All everyone does is leave a rude comment, it's their list leave them be. What happened to opinions aren't right or wrong? Just let them be, this isn't freaking high school.

Anonymous said...

So I came here thinking I would get something good to watch, instead it is I who will give something I've watched for you dark anime fans. Fist of the North Star (you older ones know what it is all about) I bet a lot of you kids never even heard about it but if like dark themed stuff and you can put up with gritty 80's visuals then you gotta watch it. And if Ken isn't enough to keep you glued to the screen then "You are already dead".

Anonymous said...

Wait... no corpse party...?

Anonymous said...

Try Shiki. It was the first horror anime i ever watched and i was so freaked out by episode 4 that i was literally shaking, and i had to stop watching it.

Anonymous said...

I just recently started getting into anime and these series look to be like a nice place for me to start.Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

The series is called berserk not berserker its a shame you don't read manga because berserk is the best story fights myth and lore involved is incredible and manga is 348 chapters and still going strong lol really enjoyed your list and there are a few i haven't seen and will be checking out so thanks