Dark fantasy anime is known for focusing on more serious subjects, frequently delving into the most basic aspects of human souls, such as death or mental illness.
The concept of morality is addressed as characters walk the line between good and evil. Even if the setting is unbelievable, an anime with dark fantasy themes can provide a realistic experience to its audience.
As evidenced by the fact that we’ve updated our list several times, this combination of mature themes and a fantastical atmosphere is fairly common in anime. Given the sheer number of dark fantasy anime available, we believe our list merits a second look. We’ll take you through more of the best dark fantasy anime, including some newer series as well as some older classics.
10. God Eater
Humanity was forced into a fight for survival when the man-devouring creatures known as Aragami appeared. Because ordinary weapons seemed to have no effect on the monsters, the Fenrir organization was formed.
Because of the weapons they wield, this combat group is significant. The weapons are known as “God Eaters,” and they can only be used by humans who have been infected with Oracle cells. Lenka Utsugi is a God Eater, though his “God Arc” takes the form of both a gun and a blade. Lenka desires the annihilation of all Aragami, and he fights valiantly to ensure that humanity’s future shines brighter.
Given its post-apocalyptic setting, God Eater is reminiscent of other dark fantasy anime. The animation is excellent, as is typical of the Ufotable series, though the CGI effects can be jarring at times.
The plot is also entertaining, with plenty of action and some deeper conversations packed into its brief runtime. Unfortunately, due to lengthy delays in airing, this anime’s popularity suffered. God Eater is a good dark fantasy example in general, but it isn’t the most unique option on our list.
Fate/Apocrypha, the latest installment in the Fate series, is another dark fantasy anime for our list. Only two parties are involved in the battle for the Holy Grail: the magi clan Yggdmillennia and the rest of the Mage’s Association. Each side sends seven servant-master pairs, with the first side to lose all of their combatants losing the Grail. What will the result of this strange Holy Grail War be?
Fate/Apocrypha has some interesting characters and plenty of crazy battles, even if it isn’t the most engrossing Holy Grail War we’ve seen. The Fate series has a rich backstory that delves into the concept of heroes and the distinctions between good and evil.
This war begins for selfish reasons, but by the end, it has transformed into something entirely different. And, as with other Fate anime, the characters grow and develop as the series progresses, becoming more interesting and emotional. Overall, Fate/Apocrypha is a good show, though not as good as the previous anime in the series.
8. Ao no Exorcist (Blue Exorcist)
Assiah and Gehenna are the two realms where humans and demons live. Satan has been attempting to find a host to infiltrate Assiah in order to conquer it, but his efforts have so far failed. He decides to send his own son to Assiah in the hopes that one day he will be a vessel worthy of possession. Rin Okumura appears to be a fairly normal adolescent, though he does get into a lot of mischief.
Rin’s worldview is shattered when he discovers that he is the son of Satan. Rin, with the help of his brother Yukio, decides to defy Satan’s wishes by enrolling in an exorcist academy.
Blue Exorcist is an anime that explores a few common questions, such as whether we can choose our own fate or if everything is predetermined. What does it mean to be human, after all? Rin’s character growth is fascinating, especially as his friends learn the truth about who he is and he is forced to confront his own feelings about his heritage.
All of the characters are dealing with their own emotional baggage, which includes the loss of loved ones. The overall tone of Blue Exorcist is dark, but it could use a little more depth, so it’s a little lower on our list.
7. Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru (Yuki Yuna Is A Hero)
Yuuna Yuuki strives to be a hero in her daily life, especially as a member of the Hero Club at her middle school. Yuuna enjoys making others happy and assisting them in any way she can.
However, when mysterious creatures known as Vertexes begin to threaten the world, the Hero Club realizes they may have to transform into true heroes! Yuuna’s best friend Mimori Tougou, as well as Fuu and Itsuki Inubouzaki, are members of the Hero Club.
The Hero Club girls use an app on their phones to fight the Vertexes, which transports them to another dimension and transforms them into magical girls. However, as time passes, the girls learn the harsh price they must pay for using their new gift.
Yuki Yuna is a Hero is a dark magical girl anime that follows adorable young girls as they grow up to become heroes. Given the popularity of such shows, the unexpected dark side to their lives isn’t surprising.
Yuki Yuna is a Hero, on the other hand, has a few surprises in store for its audience, as well as a strong emotional connection thanks to the characters. This anime deals with disability in a number of ways, allowing the girls to come to terms with themselves in an open and honest manner.
Even though it appears to be the polar opposite, the show is actually quite serious in nature. Despite its unusual nature, Yuki Yuna is a Hero is able to connect deeply with the audience.
6. Ajin (Ajin: Demi-Human)
Ajin, or immortal beings, first appeared in Africa 17 years ago. Ajin were isolated from society, arrested, and taken away by the government whenever they were found, fearful of what these superior humans could do.
These events, however, are not on Kei Nagai’s mind. The stoic high school student only cares about one thing in life: success, and he ignores everything that gets in the way of that goal.
However, when Kei is hit by a truck one day, he discovers that he is an Ajin himself! Kei must find a new future to work toward while on the run from everyone he knows and the government.
Ajin has always been a series that embraces humanity’s darkest aspects, particularly through the eyes of its villains. Kei begins as an unlikable protagonist, but as the series progresses, he comes to understand where his own morals lie.
In a way that few other anime do, Ajin takes unexpected turns to address themes and tropes in a unique way. The unique Ajin beings, especially later in the series, give the series’ focus on the common “man or monster” idea new life. Even though some viewers are put off by the CG animation, it is a welcome sight by the end of the anime!
5. Houseki no Kuni (Land of the Lustrous)
The story of Houseki no Kuni takes place in a world where beings known as Gems are fighting for their lives against enemies known as the “Moon People.” Each Gem has been given a distinct function.
Phosphophyllite is given the task of documenting the Gems’ encyclopedia. Phosphophyllite initially believes the job will be simple, but she quickly learns that it will be much more difficult.
The Gems are largely unaware of life outside of themselves, including humanity. They have no concept of death and, aside from occasionally latching on to fleeting objects, show little emotion. However, as Phos learns more about the world’s reality, the Gems will change forever.
Houseki no Kuni has several surprisingly meaningful moments about looking outside one’s own perspective, in addition to the obviously deep story plot. The animation is hauntingly beautiful, and there are plenty of compelling characters to learn alongside. Houseki no Kuni does an excellent job of making us think as a serious look at the human condition.
4. Mahoutsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus’ Bride)
Chise Hatori, 15, decides to sell herself at an auction after a series of depressing events leave her alone and feeling worthless. She wonders if she will ever find a place where she can call home.
Elias Ainsworth, a mysterious man, buys her for a large sum of money and whisks her away to his cottage in the English countryside. Chise will find her own sense of belonging with the help of this powerful mage and the unusual friends she meets along the way. Mahoutsukai no Yome is a moving story about two strangers who find a home in each other.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride is serious about its subject matter, especially when it comes to death and finding meaning in life. Chise becomes a part of us as she explores this fascinating new world while dealing with her own traumatic past.
Meanwhile, Elias is dealing with the agony of discovering emotion while also fearing that he is a monster. Mahoutsukai no Yome strikes a good balance between lighthearted humor and dark seriousness, making it a great addition to our list! We became engrossed in Chise’s story, perhaps even more so given the serious tone of the series.
3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
The anime series Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is well-known among anime fans, particularly in the dark fantasy genre. In a world where alchemy dictates that something of equal value be exchanged for something of equal value, Edward and Alphonse Elric attempt to use these laws to bring their mother back to life.
When their transmutation goes wrong, Edward loses a limb and Alphonse loses his entire body, forcing Ed to give up his right arm in order to bind Al’s soul to a suit of armor. The brothers set out to find a way to reclaim their bodies, but the road ahead will be more treacherous than they could have imagined.
We can tell that the Elric brothers’ tragic story is dark right from the start, with death and sacrifice prominent themes. While the Elrics’ motivations are pure, the characters they meet along the way deal with the most heinous of human sins, such as pride, greed, and vengeance, frequently blurring the line between moralities.
Political balances are shifted solely on the basis of these basic human emotions, but Fullmetal Alchemist demonstrates how complex these emotions are. This anime is one of the best of all time because it shows how dark a person can become.
2. Made in Abyss
Made in Abyss tells the story of Riko, a young diver who, like her mother before her, wishes to explore the great depths of the Abyss. However, because she is still a novice, she has been limited to only exploring the top layer. Riko names a robot who looks like a human boy Reg and decides to help him figure out who he is when she comes across him.
Riko and Reg set out for the Abyss’s deepest reaches, hoping to learn more about Reg’s past – but neither of them is prepared for what the Abyss has in store.
Made in Abyss, one of the most understated anime of its season, quickly became a fan favorite thanks to its emotionally gripping story. This is yet another story about sacrifice and the darkness that humanity can descend into when emotions take precedence over respect for other living beings.
The disturbing nature of some revelations does not overshadow Made in Abyss’ brilliance; rather, the fact that this series does not shy away from difficult questions sets it apart from the rest.
1. Kenpuu Denki Berserk (Berserk)
On a dark fantasy list, Berserk is nearly impossible to beat, especially given its recent remake. Following in the footsteps of Guts, this anime features numerous epic battles while also telling the story of our stalwart protagonist’s desperate survival.
Guts joins the Band of Hawk, a mercenary organization, and quickly rises through the ranks as his skills improve. However, as he witnesses situations that are difficult to explain, Guts begins to doubt the group’s morality. Even as darkness closes in on his comrade’s heart, Guts must decide which path to take. What other tragedies will Guts face as he discovers the truth?
Berserk is well-liked because it asks tough questions about life’s meaning in a visceral, honest way. The contrast between Griffith’s and Guts’ journeys holds a lesson for us all, as one strives for his future at all costs, while the other is able to consider what he should live for.
Guts has lived through a series of misfortunes, showcasing the worst life a human could have, from the moment of his birth! Yet despite the unfortunate circumstances that thrust him into this fate, Guts is able to find meaningful relationships that help him grow. Berserk is a series that will stand the test of time, thanks to its meaningful story and ability to capture human emotion so honestly.
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