There are anime which make us cry, laugh, and motivated. There are other anime that make us surprised, scared, or confused. Then there are anime that have such shocking moments or the anime itself is so shocking, the darker side of your curiosity takes hold and encourages you to watch. This is a top 10 of shocking anime with some restrictions in mind when curating the list.
No doubt there are many that deserve a spot on the list for a variety of reasons, but you will notice that there is no anime on this list with themes of incest or other taboo topics of that nature, though there are many that may have deserved a spot. The anime on this list were selected not solely for a shocking premise but for one or two moments which were completely unexpected for what the story was thought to be. There are others which are inline with the themes of the story but provided shock through well executed moments. Let it be known that if you are looking for a nice anime to watch with children, this is not the list.
10. Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu (Parasyte -the maxim-)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2014– March 2015
High school student Shinichi Izumi falls victim to a strange alien creature amidst a secret alien invasion. The creature misses his brain and ends up in his hand by accident. The creature and Shinichi now must work together in an uneasy relationship to survive this invasion and defeat other aliens which seek his destruction.
Studio Madhouse brings a seinen, sci-fi, horror anime that takes your typical nerdy male protagonist, Shinichi, and thrusts him into a possibly world ending set of circumstances. Parasyte makes the list for its ingenuity in combining sci-fi and horror together to make what many consider to be a high-quality anime with a variety of jaw dropping moments. This combination does not always work as many anime of similar crossover in genre fail to balance the spectacle of sci-fi with the shock of horror all the while utilizing a unique and interesting plot.
9. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2011 – April 2011
We all dreamed at one moment in our lives we would gain powers whether from a spider bite, a magic weapon, or through divine intervention. Such was the case for Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki, ordinary middle school students, who upon meeting with a strange being that appeared to be a cat named Kyuubey, they are gifted the opportunity to gain incredibly powers. Discovering this, new transfer student, Homura Akemi warns them against this. Why the warning?
Studio Shaft manages to effectively integrate magic, middle school girls, drama, and psychological themes together to make quite a unique thriller anime. Puella Magi Madoka Magic brought high stakes and deadly consequences to the category of magic girl anime which was often previously seen as accessible for younger audiences. CardCaptor Sakura and Sailor Moon being two big staples of the genre. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a refreshing and much darker take on girls with magic powers and provides an atmosphere that may leave the viewer uneasy.
8. Tokyo Ghoul
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2014 – September 2014
Ken Kaneki is just your mild manner college student growing up in an increasingly dangerous Tokyo, where humanoid monsters call ghouls hide in plain sight, feasting on unsuspecting victims under the cover of night. One day Ken bonds over a book with a bright young woman at coffee shop he frequents with his friend Hideyoshi Nagachika, however when he takes her on a date, things don’t go quite as planned as she tries to eat him. Ken wakes up from the attack finding himself no longer fully human. How will Ken survive between two worlds while the hunger begins to grow?
Tokyo Ghoul has grown over the past few years to solidify itself on many-a-anime fan’s lists of must watch series for new anime viewers. Tokyo Ghoul has become, to many, a staple in the supernatural and horror genre. While violence is to be expected from anyone who intends to watch this, there are a couple scenes in this anime that will make you feel initial shock and then a great sense of pain and/or sadness. This anime will teach you to count backwards in the worst way possible.
7. Mirai Nikki (Future Diary)
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: October 2011 – April 2012
Yukiteru Amano is an introverted high school student who, to relieve his boredom, speaks to his imaginary friend Deus Ex Machina and turns to his phone to record his everyday activities. When Yukiteru discovers that his imaginary friend is very real and the lord of space and time, he is thrust into a deadly cat-and-mouse game to determine the next lord of space and time. Yukiteru is gifted a phone diary that can predict moments in the future. Using this, he must fight off and kill 11 others diary wielders with the help of his stalker, another diary wielder named Yuno Gasai, if he hopes to survive.
This is the point in our list where things turn from bad to worse. Future Diary, like Tokyo Ghoul, has its own following of fans. Like Tokyo Ghoul, there should initially be expectations of violence and blood. What makes this anime special is how it manages incorporate the concept of time, with the diaries, and use it to further increase suspense for the audience until the moments where all hell breaks loose.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2012 – March 2012
The sudden death of a student in Yomiyama North Middle School's class 3-3 in the early 1970’s created an aura of fear amongst the town that follows up the present day when new transfer student, Kouichi Sakakibara finds himself it that same class where the mood is cold. This is especially the case for a mysterious girl in the class named Mei Misaki who is fearfully ignored by her classmates and faculty. Overtime, Kouichi will discover the beginnings of a deeper more terrible mystery that has been ignored and will work with Mei and his classmates to try and find answers before it is too late.
P.A. Works brings you anime in which violence and gore is directly tied to the development of the mystery elements of this stories plot. Meaning the further along one gets, the more creative the show becomes in how it creates shock value for the audience. If you enjoy a dash of mystery with your senseless violence than this is an anime for you.
5. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When They Cry)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2006– September 2006
Keiichi Maebara arrives in the village of Hinamizawa in the summer of ’83. There he is quick to form new friendships with a group of his female classmates. All seems fine but as time creeps closer to the summer festival, Keiichi becomes familiar with local legends and murders that haunt the village’s recent history, and what is more disconcerting his friends silence to his question. Will madness and paranoia take hold of these characters as more of the mystery is uncovered?
If you have ever browsed a list of shocking or disturbing anime, no doubt this anime has a spot on it. What makes Higurashi no Naku Koro ni so hard to watch is not only the increasingly violent nature of various characters’ deeds in an anime that appears to be normal at first, but the mass of confusion the plot of this psychological horror anime creates. One way to describe this anime is as a very long fever dream. If you enjoy psychological heavy anime then we cautiously recommend this to you.
4. Akame ga Kill!
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July 2014 – December 2014
We join Tatsumi, a young naïve village boy who sets off on an adventure to make a name for himself until he discovers the darkness that lies in the hearts of the country’s most powerful and privileged. While on a job, he crosses paths with members of Night Raid, a group of revolutionary assassins who seek to bring down the greedy and tyrannical rule of the corrupting prime minister and the naïve young emperor. They must succeed but at what cost?
The studio White Fox brings a very different take to the typical hero-on-a-quest anime many may be accustomed to. While, like many others on the list, this anime has its fair share of violence, what is most shocking is the direction that they take the various characters in. If you are looking for a new fantasy and adventure anime to sink your teeth into, one that carries that shock factor, this is one for you.
3. Elfen Lied
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2004 – Octember 2004
The story follows a "Diclonius" named Lucy. Diclonius are humans with horns and strange invisible hands. Held captive by the government and put through tortuous experiments by the scientist, she becomes twisted with a hatred for her captors and unleashes hell upon the facility that she escapes from. Receiving trauma to the head, she gains a split personality and, while docile, is discovered by two college students who have no idea what they got themselves into.
Elfen Lied is an action-oriented horror anime with some romance where the violence directly correlates to the psychological state of its protagonist Lucy. Elfen Lied is well known, in some cases infamously so, for the sheer amount of gore that is present in the anime. Watching this anime could be described as akin to riding a roller coaster of emotion as it switches between the different states of the protagonist’s mind. What brings this anime into the top three is one scene with a puppy, you have been warned.
2. School Days
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2007 – September 2007
Makoto Itou has a crush on a girl from his high school, Kotonoha Katsura, who he has been riding the same bus with every day since the start of the semester. The only problem is he has never approached her to express his feelings Sekai Saionji notices this and befriends Kotonoha to help while trying not to let slip her own feelings. Thus, begins a love triangle that leads to drama and romance.
It should be no surprise to find School Days on the list for anyone who has previously watched the anime. School Days, as can be inferred from its plot description, is a slice of life, drama, and romance anime that brings you a divisive protagonist in Makoto Itou. This anime has a late pay-off so be sure to sit back, watch, and wait for the reason it made the list.
1. FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: April 2009 – July 2010
There exists a world where the science of alchemy is sound and its law of equivalent exchange, must never be broken. The Elric brothers, Edward and Alfonse, both gifted for their age attempt the most forbidden aspect of alchemy: human transmutation. However, in keeping with the law “to obtain something, something of equal importance must be lost”, unable to complete the task, Edward is left missing an arm and a leg, and Alfonse is left with his soul. If they hope to recover their bodies, they must become state alchemist and begin a long journey to uncovering answers in search of the one thing that can make things right, the philosopher's stone.
For many of us, FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (FMAB) or its predecessor, FullMetal Alchemist, was the show that introduced us to the world of anime, so it may come as a shock to find it in the top spot on this list. Yet this is where the intricacies of what we define as shocking, come into play. FMAB takes the top spot for its incredibly layered story that bring great reveals of key plot points whether in the form of a character’s history or their demise. FMAB is filled with moments which force the audience to become engaged. Whether we feel horror, sadness, anger, or happiness, the moments tend to always precede tiny or large feelings of shock by the audience. If you are looking for a great anime that has plenty of twists, this is the one for you.
We hope you have enjoyed this list of shocking anime. This topic is always a difficult one to work with as what we find shocking and what we want to encourage others to go and watch is always a fine line. What did you like or didn’t like about the list? What would you have added? Comment below!