Top 10 Best Dark Anime of 2018 [Best Recommendations]

Anime is known for some of its entertaining and enthralling stories, but sometimes, more often than we think, anime tends to delve into the darker aspects of our existence. Intense violence and themes that are a little bit heavier to take in all at once are common when it comes to dark anime. Some of these shows are interesting because of just how far they can go and knowing just how entertaining that can get, we’ve put together 10 of the darkest shows from last year!

10. Mahou Shoujo Site (Magical Girl Site)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2018 – June 2018

Asagiri Aya is a girl who thinks about killing herself every single day. She is viciously bullied at school, and at home, her older brother relieves the academic stress put on him by their father by physically abusing her. Laying wide awake one night, she comes across a strange website called Magical Girl Site, which promises to grant her magical powers. She is in disbelief at first, but when she finds a magical gun in her locker at school the next day, she is confused. She takes the gun with her and uses it in a desperate attempt to get away from her bullies, who are mysteriously killed soon thereafter. Struggling to accept that she killed her own classmates, Aya gets into more trouble, but this time, she is saved by Yatsumura Tsuyuno, a classmate who is able to use magic to stop time. The two team up alongside other magical girls while also trying to uncover the truth about the mysterious Magical Girl Site, as well as the ominous apocalyptic event known as “The Tempest” which looms.

Magical Girl Site can be considered part of the small but growing legion of genre deconstructions in anime. This show takes the magical girl trope and subverts it with heavy dramatic elements and some absolutely terrifying characters. Magical Girl Site is quite rough with themes like bullying, abuse, murder and revenge being the most pervasive in the context of the show.

9. Goblin Slayer

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: October 2018 – December 2018

Goblins are seen as lowly creatures, known for their ferocity, cunning and rapid rate of reproduction. Despite these facts, they’re often overlooked even as they raid rural civilisations to kidnap females of other species in order to breed. Adventurers simply turn to face more fortuitous pursuits. 15-year-old Priestess is commemorating her first day as a Porcelain-ranked adventurer, joining a band of enthusiastic young adventurers like herself to investigate a goblin tribe responsible for several disappearances. Their inexperience proving to be their downfall, Priestess’s entire squadron is brutally murdered and she resigns to her fate. However, the Goblin Slayer arrives just in time and destroys the entire goblin nest with minimal effort. Ranked a prestigious Silver, the Goblin Slayer allows Priestess to accompany him while he helps the Adventurer’s Guild with goblin-related issues. Together with Priestess, High Elf, Dwarf and Lizard-man, Goblin Slayer will not stop until every goblin has been exterminated.

The first episode of Goblin Slayer shocked scores of people when it first aired. This was of course due to the gratuitous and unexpected decimation of a band of novice adventurers whose deaths were detailed and gruesome. This aspect was only half of what made that episode set an incredibly dark tone for the remainder of the series, the other half being the bloodcurdling suggestion of goblins raping female adventurers. Overall, Goblin Slayer is not the darkest show one could find, but when it does get dark, things become a little bit messy and hard to stomach for sensitive viewers.

8. Kokkoku

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: January 2018 – March 2018

After failing 19 job interviews in a single day, Yukawa Juri’s dreams of moving out of her parents’ house are dashed. Stuck living with her working mother, laid-off father, NEET brother Tsubasa and single-parent sister Sanae, this family’s last chance at raising a “decent adult” is Juri’s nephew Makoto. However, things get ugly when Tsubasa and Makoto are kidnapped and held at ransom. They have 30 minutes to deliver 5 million yen, so Juri’s grandfather reveals a dangerous trump card: a mysterious stone which allows them to enter the world of “Stasis”, a version of the world where time has stopped for everyone but the users. Arriving at their destination, their rescue mission takes a turn for the worst when there is a group of individuals somehow capable of movement within Stasis and a monstrous giant known as the Herald appears.

An uncomfortable aspect to Kokkoku as a concept lies in the pervasive sense of failure and shame exuded by Juri’s family and their difficulties. Moreover, Juri’s specific 19 failures in a single day are hard-hitting when considering how painful and harmful to one’s own psyche unemployment can be. That aside, the show also features some significant violence present in combat, in the kidnapping of Juri’s brother and nephew, as well as when the Herald appears.

7. Sirius the Jaeger

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2018 – September 2018

In the Imperial Capital in the year 1930, a group of people known as “Jaegers” landed on Tokyo Station, carrying musical instrument cases. They have come to hunt vampires. A man named Yuliy was part of this consort, but different from them somehow. Having had his home village destroyed by vampires, Yuliy is a vampire-hunting werewolf engaging in battle against the mysterious holy arc known as “The Arc of Sirius”.

Anime featuring supernatural creatures like vampires tend to go straight into the deep end when it comes to dark content, and Sirius the Jaeger is no different. There is some notable violence in this show that is unmistakably a symptom of the supernatural elements that make up parts of this show. The show’s main character also has a characteristic dark past which involves the genocide of members of his village and speaks to the dark tinge Sirius the Jaeger has.

6. Dorei-ku The Animation

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2018 – June 2018

Eia has always been seen as emotionally distant. As a result, Eia has gradually isolated herself more over time, accepting that she may well be emotionally distant. However, when she runs into Outa Yuuga, she finds someone who believes in her and he takes her to a world she didn’t even know existed. Yuuga shows her the “SCM”, the Slave Control Method, a device which allows people to completely subjugate others through participating in SCM duels. Yuuga wishes to test his own potential through these duels, while others are happy to use the devices to make people into their willing slaves. Eia takes to this new world, but at what cost?

Slavery is an act which prevails in most of human history and even continues today. It is one of the most atrocious conditions in which a human being can possibly find themselves, and Dorei-ku makes doubly sure that that truth remains well understood. The psychological element added by the SCMs in the series creates some interesting tension which is augmented by the dark elements present in the premise.

5. Satsuriku no Tenshi (Angels of Death)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2018 – September 2018

13-year-old Rachel wakes up and finds herself trapped in the basement of an abandoned building. With her memories missing, she has no idea where she is and wanders the building hoping to figure something out. She comes across a man covered in bandages, who goes by the name Zack and wields a scythe. They form a strange bond, working together to find their way out of this strange building, as well as the reason why they were there in the first place.

A young girl trapped in an unknown building and running into scary people and strange phenomena which have significant potential to become dangerous is quite the heavy situation to consider. However, this is the situation in Angels of Death. The series features some mystery and psychological elements stemming from the unknown factors in the plot, like Rachel’s memories.

4. Happy Sugar Life

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2018 – September 2018

Matsuzaka Satou is a beautiful high schooler who has a bit of a reputation of promiscuity. However, a chance encounter with a girl named Koube Shio makes Satou realise that this is the first time she has felt actual love. She tells others that she lives with her aunt to cover up the fact that she is secretly sharing an apartment with Shio. Satou is determined to do anything to protect Shio and prepared to do anything to ensure that their “happy sugar life” continues.

The Yandere archetype is one which has found itself somewhat synonymous with that which is dark and uncomfortable. The difference is that they are celebrated; however, from a realistic perspective, obsession in relationships is dangerous. Satou’s obsession with her relationship with Shio causes her to make some incredibly drastic and even frightening decisions in order to protect her relationship. Happy Sugar Life has various dark themes which continue to bounce off the main concept of love or develop somewhat from it and that final aspect is what makes it considerably dark: the reality of it.

3. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) Season 3

  • Episodes: 12 (split-cour)
  • Aired: July 2018 – October 2018

Several centuries ago, giant humanoid creatures known as Titans appeared, driving humanity to the brink of extinction. Their appetites for human flesh know no bounds, and soon after their appearance, humanity began fighting a seemingly hopeless fight for survival. If it weren’t for the remnants of humankind choosing to find refuge behind tall concentric walls, human beings would have long since gone extinct. Eren Jaeger, Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert are three children living in the town closest to the outermost wall. They dream of one day exploring the world beyond the walls. One day, this peaceful scene is destroyed when a massive Titan appears and tears a hole in the outermost wall, letting in hordes of Titans which then tear apart the town. Eren promises that he will eradicate every single Titan on earth in hopes that one day, humanity will be able to live without fear. Now in the third season, we come to realize that the true enemy was closer than we thought.

In the third season of Attack on Titan, humanity’s battle against the Titans spills over into intense politics. Politics, of course, goes hand-in-hand with the concept of people and society, and these two interconnected aspects mean that we see some truly terrible, almost despicable things from humanity in this season. This is of course over and above the gore and the incredible sense of despair and fear which permeates the entire lives of every single character in the series.

2. Steins;Gate 0

  • Episodes: 23
  • Aired: April 2018 – September 2018

Traumatized and depressed after his ordeal concerning his friend Makise Kurisu, Okabe Rintarou is no longer the eccentric we once knew. He now lives life as a regular college student and spends his days trying to forget his past alone. While working at a college technology forum presentation one day, Rintarou meets Hiyajo Maho, the interpreter at the presentation hosted by one Professor Alexis Leskinen. They reveal Amadeus, an AI capable of storing a person’s memories and creating a perfect simulation of that person’s likeness and personality. Okabe learns that Hiyajo and Leskinen were friends with Makise Kurisu and simulated her in Amadeus and they hire him to test the AI, a task which brings him face-to-face with the very demons he’d been trying to escape.

A friend’s death, the appearance of a strange lookalike and the looming danger of a World War all packed into the continuation of the Steins;Gate series. The series takes a somewhat sobering approach with a major change to the character and mannerisms of Okabe Rintarou, who is very clearly experiencing severe PTSD from his ordeal with the Phone Microwave which allowed him to alter the past.

1. Devilman Crybaby

  • Episodes: 10
  • Aired: January 2018

Devils are immensely powerful beings that are hindered by one fact: they cannot take form without a living host. However, if the will of the host is strong enough, they can overcome the possession and become a powerful being known as a Devilman. Fudou Akira is an intensely empathetic high school student who decides to help his childhood friend Asuka Ryou in his quest to uncover some devils. When they arrive at the scene of Sabbath, a party characterised by high levels of degeneracy, they witness demons turning people into monsters and spilling the blood of innumerable people. In an attempt to save Ryou from one such monster, Akira unwittingly merges with a devil known as Amon and becomes a Devilman. The new power changes Akira physically but with the same empathy he has always had, Akira must navigate his newfound strength and use it to protect the people he loves.

In the end, everybody dies and a victorious Satan lies still on the mood, contemplating the ruined figure of the Earth in the distance. Devilman Crybaby’s intense gore went the extra mile and some of the scenes in the show commit themselves to memory for their sheer darkness. Being a reboot of Nagai Go’s original, the Crybaby adaptation shocks the viewer to the core in ten concise episodes that are concentrated with some dark elements like demonic possession, violent death and the corruption of the self.

Final Thoughts

Dark anime are an excellent supplement to some of the cute and cuddly, heart-warming and overall beautiful shows that we get to watch every season. The darker shows enable us to visit themes that generally do not get too much attention for various reasons and also keep you at the edge of your seat in anticipation! Are there other dark anime titles from 2018 you have enjoyed? Drop a comment below and tell us all about them!

Goblin-Slayer-Wallpaper-507x500 Top 10 Best Dark Anime of 2018 [Best Recommendations]


Author: Hoshi-kun

I’m South African, harbouring an obsession for anything remotely related to Japan, mostly anime, of course. I draw sometimes. Some people call me Naledi, it’s my real name, or something like that. People think I’m stoic because I don’t smile often (I do sometimes). I like languages. Hoshi-kun and Naledi are the same side of the same coin.

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