“I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Torture can be defined as a deliberate act of inflicting pain, either physical or psychological, in order to compel or fulfill a response from the victim. Various methods of torture, spanning in severity and duration, have been utilized throughout our history, performed by a singular being, group, or governmental institutions. Explanations behind torture are regrettably endless, but the worst kind of reason it’s committed is sadistic indulgence. With this in mind, torture in anime is a guilty pleasure, adding extra spice to the story, thus becoming a driving element for viewer engagement. In the following anime, we hope to provide you with great shows and films that draw heavy influence from torture, as tormentors inflict such pain through a variety of methods. We hope you enjoy what we have to offer. Watch out now! These choices will have you crying for mercy!
10. Mardock Scramble: The First Compression
- Episodes: 1 (Movie)
- Aired: October 8, 2010
Mardock Scramble: The First Compression centers on the life of Rune Balot. Rune has had a stormy and dismal life, filled with a lot of pain and suffering. As a child, she was raped by her father, which infuriated her brother, resulting in him shooting their father. Torn and broken in their home, Rune grows into the life of prostitution, gets in trouble with the law and is incarcerated. Believing that she’s finally come close to the light at the end of the tunnel, a man named Shell Septinos gets her out, only to lead her on and then commences to destroy her mind and body. Left for dead, a man named Dr. Easter rebuilds her, with upgrades and abilities unimaginable. With the help of Oeufcoque, the two seek out to track down Shell, making him pay for her suffering.
This anime film is our torture “calm before the storm” pick, as we wanted to highlight Rune’s torturous life. Subjected to such tragedy and hardship at such a young age, Rune’s anguish only rose from there. Her self-worth and only elements of support have faded and disappeared, only doing what she must to survive, versus finding a true reason to keep living. Alas, she found revenge as her saving grace. Although the drive to kill Shell and inflicting retribution felt like enough for Rune, in reality, we all know that bearing ill will towards anyone leaves a hollow feeling instead of fulfillment.
9. Samurai Gun
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2004 – December 2004
The anime Samurai Gun takes place around the mid 1800s, where the Shogun’s government and feudal Japan are in a power struggle. The Shogunate is the dominant force, using their corruptive and abusive methods in order to fearfully gain power over citizens. This group inflicts much pain, bloodshed and torment. However, in this darkness, some have risen against them in order to bring stability and justice to the people. Infusing the modern advancements of the time with the hope of maintaining a peaceful Japan, Ichimatsu and his fighting samurai comrades meet their enemies, employing the same tactics through the barrel of a gun. Samurai Gun, as he is called, is here to save the day!
Even though Samurai Gun isn’t fully about torture, the concept and torturous acts are plentiful throughout the series, in addition to it being an essential element of the story. Samurai Gun captures a tale of revenge, as a Shogun proponent murders Ichimatsu’s family. Although Ichimatsu embarks on his journey seeking out the one who committed the heinous crime, he becomes swept into the overall movement because the Shogun demonstrates to be a menacing and overwhelming threat. The Shogun’s methods of engagement, to include beatings, rapes, murders, etc. give us a tiny glimpse of the horrors that occurred during this shift in governance.
8. Cossette no Shouzou (Le Portrait de Petit Cossette)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2004 – December 2004
“Is this an illusion or is this a nightmare?” Cossette no Shouzou centers on the life of art student Eiri Kurahashi. Eiri works at an antique shop when he isn’t devoted to his studies. While at work one day, he notices an image of a moving figure in an antique glass. Eiri becomes intrigued and infatuated with the girl in the glass, learning her name is Cossette. A daughter of an 18th century aristocrat, she further reveals that her soul is trapped because she was murdered by her fiancé, Marcelo Orlando. In order to be at peace, Cossette goes on to tell him that the next male suitor who crosses paths with her must be willing to bare punishment for Marcelo’s crime.
Cossette no Shouzou is a romantic horror, focusing on the great lengths and blind obsession one experiences when in love. Cossette is a beauty and a gem, and Marcelo became so consumed with her beauty that he killed her in order to preserve her appearance. Centuries have gone by and Cossette then captures the eye of Eiri. Convincing him to make a blood pact with her, Eiri dedicates himself to torture for her. As Cossette instills in his mind that he is Marcello reincarnated, Eiri literally encompasses the expression, “If looks could kill.”
7. Corpse Party: Tortured Souls – Bougyakusareta Tamashii no Jukyou (Corpse Party: Tortured Souls)
- Episodes: 4
- Aired: July 24, 3013
Corpse Party: Tortured Souls follows the story of a group of friends, spending time with each other as they bid farewell to a member of their inner circle. Before the final goodbye, the friends participate in an unusual ritual, signifying that their friendship will remain forever. Additionally, as the gang gathers around, they are zoned-in to the legend of Heavenly Host Academy, an elementary school that was built on the foundation of their current school, but was demolished because tons of murders occurred there. However, unbeknownst to them, the charms used in the ritual are a gateway to Heavenly Host Academy. Working together, the friends must figure out how to get out of this alternate dimension.
Can we all say “GORE GALORE?!” This horror anime is filled with dark, disturbing, and gruesome scenes of the kids getting picked off one by one. When the group of friends enters the alternate reality, we experience with them a sense of struggle and being trapped, as well as fear and despair. As they are unexpectedly pulled into a place that they know is filled with death, they quickly become engulfed in the feeling of hopelessness. Essentially, the torture in this four episode OVA lies in watching them try to barely escape with their lives.
6. Deadman Wonderland
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2011 – July 2011
Deadman Wonderland captures life in Japan after a natural disaster destroyed a huge percentage of Tokyo. In order to rebuild what was lost, the state raises funds by sending convicts from around the globe to work at Japan’s first privatized prison, Deadman Wonderland. In this prison/amusement park, onlookers watch convicted prisoners perform dangerous acts. As protagonist Ganta Igarashi is accused of a very serious crime, we get to observe whether he is able to survive this ruthless environment or not, as prisoners threaten each other’s lives endlessly.
In this hostile environment, where much anger and frustration is present, the government of Japan thought it a lucrative idea to exploit these convicts. Housing all of these dangerous individuals and sicking them onto each other is a recipe for calamity. Without a say, prisoners are being tortured for the sake of entertainment and economy. Moreover, being subjected to this cruel game in and of itself is torturous.
5. Mnemosyne: Mnemosyne no Musume-tachi (Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne)
- Episodes: 6
- Aired: February 2008 – July 2008
Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne follows the life of immortal detective Rin Asogi. An indestructible being, Rin has spent decades being a target for criminals, and all that have tried their fair share of killing her have done so without success. Everlasting Rin is fantastic at her job, solving cases upon cases, until one day, she eventually lands the mega case that has her unbreakable nature on the line. With her safety and life at extreme risk due to someone preying on immortal women, we journey with Rin to see if she’s able to dodge the bullet this time.
Rated R for its extremely violent and sexual content and difficult to watch torture scenes, Mnemosyne is a horror anime that’ll keep you up for days, and at the same time, arouse excitement with fanservice elements. If you can stomach the agony Rin must experience as an immortal, the story is fantastic to follow with immense support from all the characters. While many of the torture scenes will make you squirm and turn away, they truly demonstrate Rin’s endless suffering, not only by varied causes of death, but not being able to escape the undying cycle itself.
4. Elfen Lied
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2004 – October 2004
In Elfen Lied, a girl named Lucy escapes from a detention facility, but does so with a bang, as she kills almost everyone in the institution. While she was held here, Lucy was subjected to severe torture and inhumane treatment at the hands of the government, who discovered that she is a diclonius, a human born with physical abnormalities and special telekinetic abilities. Wanting to gain more knowledge about this special breed, poor Lucy was handled in a way that had her urging for a swift death. As such, escape and freedom was necessary, and although successful, Lucy injured herself in the process. With the help of Kouta and friends, we uncover the harsh truths that the government has kept from the public.
Lucy is her name and torture is her game! Even though we aren’t provided the reason why the government wants diclonius individuals in the first place, viewers are nonetheless honed in to the real focus of this anime, Lucy. As a child, she was often teased and bullied for being a diclonius, and as she grew older, she developed an intolerance and hatred for normal humans. After breaking free, Lucy slowly tortured her victims, showing no remorse. But after being rescued and spending time with Kohta, Lucy displays penitence for viciously harming and killing. Overall, Elfen Lied shows that happiness and light can be found after momentary darkness and despair.
3. Akame ga Kill!!
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July 2014 – December 2014
Akame Ga Kill! documents the journey of Tatsumi, as he starts out a young boy seeking funds for his poor village, but comes to learn the true hardships of life. As Tatsumi slowly becomes an assassin for Night Raid, this once naïve boy develops into a knowledgeable young man. A covert section of the Revolutionary Army, Night Raid’s objective is to take down the corruption that exists in the Imperial Capital. Through Tatsumi’s experiences, we get to explore the events that take place while deposing corruption as he fights the enemy, learns new skills, and ultimately balances good and evil.
Torture is demonstrated to the audience from the get-go, as members of the Empire seize Tatsumi’s dear friends while they make their way to the capital city. With the same fate in mind for Tatsumi, he luckily escapes torture and murder. In addition, we are shown the terrible might of General Esdeath, leader of the Empire, a cold-hearted queen who enjoys torturing her victims, causing them a slow, painful death. Having a sadistic appetite, General Esdeath creates the definition for torture and torment.
2. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When They Cry)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2006 – September 2006
Higurashi no naku Koro ni (When They Cry) starts us off in rural Japan, as the small village of Hinamizawa is on the brink of destruction to pave way for industrialization. Opposing the new dam, the villagers gathered in protest and ultimately, construction in the village never occurred. From this moment, strange and mysterious incidents began to take place, particularly during the time of the village’s annual festival. Five years later, we are introduced to Keiichi Maebara, a new resident in Hinamizawa. As Keiichi integrates to life in the country, he quickly makes friends with Rena Ryuugu, Mion Sonozaki, Satoko Houjou, and Rika Furude. Learning the local legends of his new domicile, the gang is determined to solve the riddle once and for all.
A story that is told across multiple arcs, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni centers on unraveling the riddle behind Oyashiro’s curse. Looks are very deceiving, as these seemingly innocent teenage girls commit unimaginable violent acts, the very friends who have been hiding secrets from Keiichi. Higurashi is a fantastic psychological/horror anime where mind torture is played on the audience extremely well, providing unexpected twists and climaxes.
1. Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin (Rainbow)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2010 – September 2010
Rainbow takes place in the year 1955, following the story of Mario Minakami who has just arrived at Shounan Special Reform School along with Tadayoshi Tooyama, Jou Yokosuka, Ryuuji Nomoto, Mansaku Matsuura, and Noboru Maeda. Assigned to the same cell, they meet inmate Rokurouta Sakuragi, who becomes their mentor and guardian. As the band of seven provide each other with a sense of hope to meet again on the other side, for the moment, they must struggle against the brutality and evils of prison guards and institutional staff who have it out for them. Overall, they must muster the strength to make it out alive to taste glorious freedom together.
An incredibly thrilling anime series, Rainbow explores truly dark and horrific themes, casting light on the issue of institutional abuse. Beatings, torture, raping, and harming of these prisoners in the cruelest ways are shown here, making you think and feel all sorts of uncomfortable, but nevertheless, we are unable to turn away. Furthermore, we really feel for our seven cellmates, tortured in the most painful, humiliating, and deliberately savage ways.
We hope you enjoyed our recommendations for top 10 anime about torture! If you haven’t already, make sure to check out all of these great titles! As some philosophers have hypothesized that pain and pleasure are a part of the great circle of life, we only aim to show you the most torturing, discomforting picks, paving the way for excitement and the greatest satisfaction. So from this assessment, let us know if we’ve missed any other great anime about torture by commenting below! See ya!