Top 5 Darkest and Most Disturbing Animes of All Time

In short, if you’re squeamish or have a low tolerance for anything unsettling, you may want to skip these animes altogether. These aren’t for the faint of heart, and we mean that sincerely.

People who haven’t been introduced to the world of anime properly mistakenly think that it’s only for kids. Animated TV shows and films aren’t exactly enjoyable anymore if you’re already a grown-up, right? Wrong. 

From popular choices like Ghost in the Shell, Naruto, Attack on Titan, and Studio Ghibli films, there’s something for everyone. But while most otakus gravitate towards uplifting, moving, action-packed, and fantasy series and movies, there also happens to be the darker side of anime. These are somber, dark, and terrifying animations.

As we all know, Japan doesn’t shy away from horrifying stories and visuals. Whether it’s sadistic gore or delving deep into humans’ capacity for evil, there are more than a handful of animations that will unnerve you or make you sick to your stomach. We are listing them here, so please proceed with caution. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Higurashi: When They Cry (2007)

Based on a soft visual novel series, the anime follows Keiichi Maebara who moves to the countryside—a quiet, sleepy little village called Hinamizawa—and meets a group of local schoolgirls. At first glance, Hinamizawa seems peaceful, warm, and inviting enough.

But beyond this idyllic facade, there is something sinister and violent that rocks the place. Apparently, Keiichi’s newfound friends—and in fact, the rest of the village—are harboring a dark secret. Pretty soon, Keiichi finds out that there have been multiple cases of murder and disappearances—all of which seem connected to the town’s annual Watanagashi Festival, a celebration of their patron god Oyashiro.

A string of bizarre events happens, and Keiichi decides to investigate. He is eventually pulled into the thick of it, where madness and paranoia await him.

Happy Sugar Life (2018)

Credit: Happy Sugar Life

If you somehow end up watching this thinking it’s something cute, fun, and light, you’d be sorely mistaken. Don’t be deceived by its title because this is a story about the horrors of obsessive love.

Happy Sugar Life is about a high school girl, Sato Matsuzaka, who’s known in their school for being permissive to guys and letting them get away with their advances toward her. She then meets a little girl named Shio Koube and befriends her. Sato becomes deeply attached to Shio and realizes that it’s the first time she felt true love.

After Sato finds out that Shio’s been abandoned by her mother, the girls decide to share an apartment and live together. Things take a dark turn when Sato becomes so obsessed with Shio that she’s willing to do everything to protect their own little bubble, which includes committing murder and other crimes. 

Serial Experiments Lain (1998)

Credit: Serial Experiments Lain

Released years before social media exploded, Serial Experiments Lain is a story about a young girl, Lain Iwakura, who seems ordinary in every aspect. She’s awkward and socially isolated. Her entire life is upturned following a classmate’s (Chisa Yomoda) death when bizarre, unexplainable things started happening. 

When her schoolmates claimed that they received emails from Chisa, Lain dusts off her computer to check if she received the message too. Slowly, she’s pulled into the Wired, something similar to the internet. She loses her sense of self as she realizes that she becomes an entirely different person in the global network.  

There are no jump-scare moments or monsters, but the true horror lies in how accurate and somewhat prophetic this series is. It shows the power of the internet and social media and how both can affect users psychologically. 

Perfect Blue (1997)

Perfect Blue can only be described as a masterpiece. But for all its brilliance, it’s just as harrowing and haunting. 

Mima Kirigoe is a pop star who decides to leave her group to pursue acting. Mima is serious about her new career path, and as she tries to shed her idol image, she accepts a role in a crime drama series. 

Her work becomes more demanding, and the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur. On top of the mental exhaustion and stress, she gets stalked by a crazed fan. She becomes paranoid and psychotic, being unable to distinguish what’s real and what’s only her imagination.

Another (2012)

Credit: Another

Based on a novel by Yukito Ayatsuji, Another is a slow-burn series. 

Koichi Sakakibara is a transfer student and meets his classmate Mei Misaki. He’s immediately taken by her, but he eventually notices that no one else in the class, including the teacher, seems aware of her presence. Mei warns him about getting involved with her, and as he continues to seek answers, his classmates beg him to stop with his curiosity.

Then, one by one, Koichi’s classmates face gruesome deaths. The buildup toward the climax is impressive, and it’s hard to shake off the violent imagery. 

Where to Watch

Some of these titles are available on Netflix and Crunchyroll


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