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Demons and anime go hand-in-hand like peanut butter and jelly. They allow quick access to the supernatural and generally provide a root of evil for the forces of good to fight. However, demons not only provide creators with a constant source of villains, but also extremely unique characters. Demon protagonists or anti-heroes generally allow for a deep exploration of internal strife as they deal with being ostracized. Considering how ripe the anime world is with hordes of demons to slaughter, these characters also provide ample grounds for writers to flip the demon narrative on its head. All in all, demons have and always will be a deep well for storytellers, and so here is a shout out to the best demon anime out there.
10. Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct. 2013 – Dec. 2013
As a spirit warrior, it is Mirai Kuriyama’s duty to take down “youmu”, demons that are created by the congregation of negative human emotion. However, one day, she attacks Akihito Kanbara, a youmu half-breed who also happens to be immortal. Thankfully, her attack doesn’t kill the boy and they are able to form a friendship that helps boost Mirai’s confidence.
Though it is not the most unique plot, Kyoukai no Kanata takes the common and makes it beautiful. This is both in the literal sense as well as a more figurative one. As to the literal, one of the strongest aspects of this anime is its wondrous animation, both on and off the field of battle. As we watch spirit warriors battle against demon, we are mesmerized and brought into an incredible fantasy. In regards to the figurative, there are several touches here and there of humor and tenderness throughout the story. The timing and placement of these moments show a certain amount of care and an understanding of how to embellish a narrative.
9. Hataraku Maou-sama! (The Devil is a Part-Timer!)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr. 2013 – Jun. 2013
The Demon Lord Satan had put into action his plans of conquering of Ente Isla. His plans, sadly, are ruined by the hero Emilia as she cuts through his forces. Before she can land the finishing blow though, Satan and his most loyal servant, Alsiel, are transported to a new world, Earth.
The writers behind Hataraku Maou-sama! did a great job flipping the typical demon storyline on its head. Instead of focusing on epic battles and gore, this anime finds relief and enjoyment in the most ordinary aspects life. In this way, the show succeeds tremendously as you truly feel connected to the relationships that grow within its 13-episode run. You feel connected and you realize just how important relationships are vs. money and other facets of society. Admittedly, the animators did a tremendous job on the initial battles and most people might have just been perfectly content watching 13 episodes of that glorious action.
- Episodes: 15
- Aired: Jul. 2009 – Jun. 2010
Bakemonogatari follows Koyomi Araragi after he’s been cured of vampirism and by some circumstances of fate, continuously runs into people who have been affected by supernatural events. The first he meets and who holds a major role in both Koyomi’s development, as well as the plot, is Tsubasa Hanekawa.
Many of you are probably wondering why Bakemonogatari isn’t higher up on this list. In terms of production quality, story, and most other components in an anime, this show is one of the best. However, its actual focus on demons is more conceptual. Despite relying heavily on a spirit world, this show isn’t the typical demon anime. Yes, there are demons that must be faced and handled on an episodic basis, but the true demons are inside. The true demons are the thoughts and feelings that live within us after an event and cause us to rescind from normal and healthy interactions.
- Episodes: 167
- Aired: Oct. 2000 – Sep. 2004
As mentioned above, this list has some oldies. Now if you haven’t seen or heard about Inuyasha then you have some catching up to do. Following Kagome into a past world full of demons, InuYasha tasks Kagome with the responsibility of gathering the shards of a sacred jewel before they fall into the wrong hands.
Both action/adventure and love story, InuYasha has something for everyone. It deftly handles social constructs, prejudices, and other conflicts as Kagome befriends and works with the half-human, half-demon Inuyasha. The best part of this show though, is that the primary demon antagonists all have massive and intriguing personalities. The early antagonisms of Sesshomaru force a lot of action as well as character development. The reasons behind Kagura’s attacks will break your heart. Overall, it’s the backstories of the demons and their personal struggles that really add a certain flavor to the show.
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr. 2007 – Sep. 2007
It’s a morbid world to begin with, and the fact that demons, which feast on human flesh, can easily blend into society doesn’t make things easier on humans. Luckily, there are women who are able to fight off these demons. However, their bravery comes at a cost. These women themselves are half-demon and so are shunned by the very society that they protect.
Claymore, for those who haven’t seen it, is somewhat like an older, gorier, and more adult version of Madoka Magica. Female guardians alone have the power to take out these demons. However, their powers ostracize them and can ultimately turn then into that which they hunt. Specifically, following Clare through this setting, we get a first-hand glimpse of the daily hardships that these women face. We are also asked what power relationships, even the lack of them, have on a person.
5. Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Oct. 2008 – Mar. 2009
Cecil Phantomhive’s parents were murdered when he was still a very young child, leaving him in charge of one of the most prosperous houses in England. In order to achieve revenge and thrive in the cut-throat world he’s been thrust into, the young master makes a contract with a demon. The demon shall be his butler and fulfill Cecil’s each wish in exchange for the boy’s soul when all is said and done.
Sebastian. Sebastian Michealis is all that needs to be said. This demon is one hell of a butler and on an episodic basis proves his incredible. Whether it’s cooking the best dish of curry or dispatching threats to Cecil, he is perfection incarnate. Pulling off the contrasting personas of obedient servant and ultimate bad boy, Sebastian charms just about anyone and everyone who watches the show.
4. Ao No Exorcist (Blue Exorcist)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr. 2011 – Oct. 2011
Following Rin Okumura, Ao no Exorcist throws us into a world where demons consistently try to find their way into the human world. In fact, Rin Okumura himself is sort of one of the demons as he has been infused with Satan’s power, which in a way makes him the son of Satan. Well, he’s not only the son of Satan, but also the possible gateway for the demon king into the human world.
In terms of enjoyment and action, few can compare to Ao No Exorcist. Its production qualities are top notch and engage viewers immediately. Its first episode is dramatic and powerful and will hook you in on the spot. From there, it has good character development that is joined by the common ‘power vs. control’ motif. Admittedly, the story does feel a little drawn out over its run, but it’s all worth it when you watch Rin unleash his inner demon.
- Episodes: 103
- Aired: Oct. 2006 – Sep. 2008
Similar to Ao No Exorcist, D.Gray-Man is an action shounen that chases after Allen Walker as he and his fellow exorcists try to dispel demons and stop the Millennium Earl from destroying the world.
For those asking why D.Gray-Man is higher up than Ao No Exorcist, the answer is story. D.Gray-Man’s story is a step or two above the normal shounen arc. Yes, it still has a lot of typical elements, but there’s a lot more focus on the emotional and mental viewpoints of the characters. Each character has quite a bit of depth that he/she must wade through and each character has their own motives for fighting. In the end, the show is even able to blur the lines between who is good and who is bad. Would you expect anything less though from a show that has its initial and constant conflict arise from the fact that the deceased are being called back into torture by the suffering and love of their loved ones?
2. Berserk (2016)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul. 2016 – Sep. 2016
Berserk continues to follow Guts when Guts is more pissed off than you could ever imagine. He’s been betrayed and branded and he’s out for blood with a determination that is akin to the hell-bent forces that chase him. The man’s taken up an iron slab to literally smash his enemies in a rather personal and brutal manner.
Berserk is one of those anime that lives off the presence of demons. Demons in human form control so many aspects of this world’s setting and provide numerous threats and obstacles. However, what truly pushes this show forward is how easily human nature can be molded into that of demons. Political intrigue, corruption, blind faith and so much more depict the uglier side of humanity as humans fight one another as much as they do the forces of the undead.
1. Hoozuki no Reitetsu (Hozuki’s Coolheadedness)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jan. 2014 – Apr. 2014
Let’s be real. Hell, whether acting as simply the after life or the specific destination for eternal damnation, has a lot of souls going its way. Now, one might argue that such a world doesn’t require law, but the truth is that punishment and favors need to be met. As a result, a well-functioning bureaucracy is key to a successful Hell. Go figure.
In terms of demons, you don’t get much better than the setting being the underworld. Yokai fill up every minute of this anime and in a rather unique way, as the show focuses more on discourse than fighting. Showing everyday moments that deal with Hoozuki hustling other spirits and handling grievances, Hoozuki no Reitetsu proves that life isn’t so different on the other side. Helping to push this mold-breaking anime, is it incredible use of sound, especially its awesome intro song, and its beautiful artwork that incorporates a more traditional look. Altogether, these factors mix into a fresh and respectable comedy that will have you laughing each time Hoozuki enacts some form of torture.
Admittedly, it was rather strange and personally surprising to end a demon list off with a feel-good show. Demons usually have dark connotations tied to them, but it’s exactly because how seamlessly Hoozuki no Reitetsu flipped all of those ideas that it took the number one spot. That aside, the list also tried to focus on shows that had heavy representation of demonic folk, whether through simple numbers or on-screen time, which is why Kyoukai no Kanata and Bakemonogatari are so in their respective spots. All of that said, were there any demon anime that you believe should be on this list?