Anime can be notorious for being disturbing and it pushes the envelope in that sense. Compared to the animation properties of other nation’s, anime likes to take the creative liberties in that medium to extremes nobody would dare cross. And no, we’re not talking about tentacle hentai or Bible Black, but something a little more accessible and universal to the mainstream. Take from example, in both version to Fullmetal Alchemist, there is the infamous Nina Tucker scene where her father fused her with her dog. We’re talking something along those levels. They get inside your head in more ways than one, and just make you feel uncomfortable. So beyond the wackiness of hentai, which could be a whole other list, what are some anime titles that are likely to make you feel uncomfortable? Read our list to find out!
10. JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
- Episodes: 122+
- Aired: October 6, 2012 - Ongoing
So, have you ever wondered what it’s like to trip on acid or any other hard drugs? If so, watching JoJo may be the closest thing you’ll ever get. As you watch this anime, it truly lives up to its title in more ways than one. Beyond being the most psychedelic anime in history, what makes it uncomfortable? That largely emphasizes on two villains from this epic saga, Dio Brando and Kira Yoshikage. As for Dio, take what Sho Tucker did in Fullmetal Alchemist, jack it with every drug you can think of (feel free to include alcohol), and that’s exactly what he does. The way he expresses his lack of value of life when he asks how many lives he has taken to merely replying “how many crumbs of bread have you eaten?” just terrifies you and makes you wonder if this acid trance will ever end.
In the case of Kira, the villain to Diamond is Unbreakable, though he is not as ambitious or as over the top as Dio, he’s the type of villain that could be living in your neighborhood. He works a regular job, pays his bills, his taxes and so on. However, he secretly lives his life as a serial killer with a hand fetish. Whenever he kills a lady, he severs their hand, pretends they are his girlfriend and converses with them as if they’re real people, and disposes them whenever they decompose to seek a new victim. The fact that he’s someone like Ed Gein (a serial killer just like Kira) truly shows how uncomfortable watching this anime can get.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 7, 2016 – December 23, 2016
In many Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic religions alike, there are concepts of Heaven and Hell, and in some cases, Purgatory. What if there’s another option? What if you’re stuck in a world of elves, goblins, dwarves, and other mythical creatures after you die? That’s what you get in the world of Drifters as many historical figures are forced into a war of control over this world. In the first quarter of the series, the knights of the cruel kingdom use the female elves as sex slaves, and treat the men like nothing. With the dwarves, they are subjected to slave labor and abuse. You see how cruel humans are and it can influence the world of Drifters.
What also makes this anime uncomfortable is how extreme Nobunaga gets with his strategies. He actually uses feces as a weapon! We’re not historians by any stretch, but we’re pretty sure in a world before firearms and bombs, you had to use whatever you could to get in the enemy’s head and when it came to fight. It worked but it would probably freak audiences out, too.
8. Happy Sugar Life
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 14, 2018 – September 29, 2018
It’s 6pm. Do you know where your kids are? If not, they’ve probably been taken by Satou Matsuzaka! Don’t let the title and cutesy character designs fool you because Happy Sugar Life is anything but that. Try to take the plot of Fatal Attraction, make it about two young ladies, and that’s what you get. The anime as a whole is likely to get under your skin. Yes, we would do anything for love, but in the case of Satou for Shio, there’s a lot that she would do and giving her up (and we mean this in the worst way possible) isn’t something she will never do (plus, never gonna let her down, never gonna fool around, and desert her).
The extremes Satou goes in relation to Shio just makes you want to scream at the screen to have her institutionalized. She does a lot of crazy things we don’t want to get into not for the sake of spoilers, just talking about them would be uncomfortable itself. On one hand, audiences can see where she’s coming from, but when it hurts other people, that’s when it crosses a line. And what’s uncomfortable about this anime isn’t simply Shio’s and Satou’s situation, but with a co-worker of Satou that we don’t want to get into. You’re free to watch this series to see what that is, but can’t say we didn’t warn you.
7. Mirai Nikki (Future Diary)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 9, 2011 – April 15, 2012
As we have shared on previous articles, Mirai Nikki is certainly one of the most notorious yandare anime titles of all time, and that alone qualifies it to be on this list! We largely have to thank Yuno, a girl who has a crush on Yukiteru, the main character, to be the dictionary definition of a yandere. For most American fathers who have daughters, they like to joke about taking out the shotgun in case a boy hurts them. In the case of Yuno, mothers and fathers should have their shotguns (better yet, any other high caliber firearm legalized in their municipality) ready to protect their boys from her! It’s not only just the nature of Yuno’s character that makes this anime uncomfortable to watch, but Mirai Nikki does an excellent job of presenting why she’s a yandere. Considering she’s a victim of child abuse from her parents, it’s easy to understand. But when you see it being portrayed, that’s where the line is crossed and for those that have traumatic experiences or personal issues with child abuse, we have to warn you that this may not be an anime you.
6. Shinsekai Yori (From the New World)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: September 29, 2012 – March 23, 2013
Once you relate it to Alex Haley’s Brave New World or Black Mirror, audiences can see how this anime is uncomfortable to watch. It may be great to live in a utopia, but at what cost? That’s what our main cast discovers when they stumble upon an ancient library robot, which has all the answers. Before we get into that, are utopias truly what people make them out to be? People committing crimes are one thing, but not living up to the expectations of the system for whatever reason is certainly another. Take for example, if a child fails academically, they’re “erased” as if they never existed, and that’s what happens to one of Saki’s friends, and she and her friends lose memories of her.
As audiences can predict, the utopia created in Shin Sekai Yori is a result of how people abused their powers and created destructive wars. As a result, the psychics are given “programs” not to harm or kill each other, and if do, they’ll die. Maybe it’s a good system, but the fact that society resorts to such measure to force people to comply is the first step in taking away the free will of the people. The fact that communist China is now implementing such policies with their recent so-called social currency system is a good real life reference to such a concept.
5. Itou Junji: Collection
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 5, 2018 – March 23, 2018
Ever wanted to see J-Horror in anime form? Then step right up to the Itou Junji: Collection as it excellent captures what makes J-Horror films such as Ringu and Juon appealing. As opposed to being shocking and in your face like slasher horrors popularized by Hollywood, J-Horror and the Ito Junji: Collection gets in your head. The anime is largely episodic in nature, so you can watch a random episode and enjoy it (or feel uncomfortable). One notable episode is how a boy who was largely exposed to cooking oil has given him zits and where it goes from there, we don’t want to say. You just have to watch it to find out (if you have the stomach that is). Another notable episode and Ito’s most famous creation, Tomie, is another episode we promise you’ll feel uncomfortable watching. Like Saeko and Tomoko, she’s another icon of J-Horror, but plays a different game. She makes men murderously obsessive with her to the point that they want to kill her!
4. Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku (Now and There, Here and There)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 14, 1999 – January 20, 2000
Shu is probably one of the most optimistic characters in anime. His presence in the world of Hellywood truly challenges the traditional Shounen hero. He’s mysteriously transported to a world where water is a rare natural resource, and children like him are forced to become soldiers. He just bears with the torture he’s subjected to and hopes that things will turn out for the best, and audiences can admire him for that. It’s important to be optimistic from the point of view from Shu, but when viewers are introduced to Sara, that’s when this anime gets uncomfortable.
Try (or best yest, try not) to imagine being a female teenage captive to soldiers. What happens from there we don’t want to get into because just talking about that gets uncomfortable. It’s not just visually uncomfortable, but morally uncomfortable when you see people sacrificing themselves just to stick up for what they believe in. It’s one of those series’ that really evaluates what it means to compromise what you believe in, and what you see people have to endure in order to do so, that’s what contributes most to making this anime uncomfortable to watch.
3. Kodomo no Jikan
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 12, 2007 – December 28, 2007
Being fresh out of college and becoming a teacher, some of the students may be hot for teacher, but what happens when that student is a third grader? The anime may seem cute and moe on the outside, but on the inside, it is an anime that will disturb you and make you feel uncomfortable as it portrays pre-teen girls as nymphos. We’re talking about a series so controversial that its licensing companies questioned if releasing it was the right thing. The original manga creator, Kaworu Watashiya has expressed that culture differences has caused some misunderstandings with some particular scenes. That may be true, but keep in mind certain nations have laws with how children are portrayed.
It is also important to know that child porn wasn’t legally banned in Japan until 2014, which was long after the airing of this anime, so crossing certain boundaries with this anime was ok by Japanese standards here and there at the time. We can promise there is nothing directly pornographic in this anime, but the fact that 9-year-old girls cross some lines would make Watashiya the ultimate guest for the Steve Wilkos Show, and fans of that show all know he has no love for pedophiles.
2. Boku dake ga Inai Machi (Erased)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 8, 2016 – March 25, 2016
As for adulting, the struggle is real through the eyes of Satoru Fujinuma. He’s trying to make his dream of becoming a manga artist come true, but it’s not enough when he has to work as a pizza delivery boy. Putting that aside, his father took off when he was a child and some time after, his town lost some children to a sick murderer and that same person takes the life of his mother, which enables an ability for him to go back to the incident and prevent in from happening. The bad news is, that same murderer tried to drown him and put him in a coma for 15 years and messed up his memories!
What makes this anime uncomfortable is that the true culprit is someone Satoru trusted and looked up to as a father figure. Yes, the anime does reveal what makes the murderer that way and the circumstances of what made him a killer is what’s going to make you feel uncomfortable to the point that we can’t even say it. Not for the sake of spoilers, but for the sake that when you see why, it’s going to make you feel not just uncomfortable, but traumatized. We’re not saying it excuses the actions of Satoru’s nemesis in this anime, but it does provide a reasonable understanding to what made him that way, and what we can do when things are happening to children in our communities.
1. Elfen Lied
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 25, 2004 – October 17, 2004
Yes, number one was probably an easy one for you readers, and that’s Elfen Lied, which happens to be banned by the snowflake commies in China. It’s not just the extreme violence and nudity that makes viewers uncomfortable, but the emotional context to it. It’s the ultimate tale of nature vs. nurture. Yes, Diclonii like Lucy/Nyu are portrayed to be violent by nature, but when we see what Lucy was subjected to during her upbringing, it makes viewers instantly question if that’s true. As the series further goes in depth, viewers are progressively given more disturbing scenes that not only questions the nature of the Diclonii, but humans themselves.
One notable scene which largely contributes to why this anime is number one is when a group of kids brutally slaughter a dog when Lucy was still a child. As a result, Lucy murders those boys out of rage. Yes, the anime is infamous for its opening of Lucy making easy use of highly trained soldiers, but what makes viewers uncomfortable is how it shows that the true dark side of the world are not Diclonii, but humans themselves, and how they can’t own up to their sins. If we treat people right and teach them how to use their abilities responsibly and to help others, maybe the world of Elfen Lied wouldn’t have the problems it would have, and that could apply with the real world as well.
Last, we’d like to make one last honorable mention to Evangelion. And we don’t like to pick titles that are uncomfortable in terms of for the viewer’s eyes, but for how they make our other senses feel and how they get in our heads. With all the betrayal and murder that goes on, it makes you re-evaluate your sense of trust. Gendo manipulates just about everyone for his own convenience (and he’s kind of honest about it), and you see how it messes up Shinji, his own son. With Asuka, when you learn about her true background and with her mother, it will also contribute to how this anime is likely to make you feel not just uncomfortable, but sad.
Anime takes that creative freedom in just about nearly every avenue possible. As we shared before, that form of being uncomfortable can go to many extremes not just visually, but psychologically as well. So, what are some titles that make you feel uncomfortable both visually and mentally? If you got any other titles to share, please leave your favorites in the comments!