One of the most appealing qualities of anime and manga is its distinct creativity that goes beyond the imagination. Dragon Ball is famous for introducing international audiences to the whacky hairstyles along with its fast paced action. Sailor Moon gave non-Japanese fans a taste of the big eyes and the Japanese school uniforms.
In many other instances, the imagination of anime and manga can go to unthinkable territories. At times, they have been infamous for being referred to as a form of Japanese porn, and other have whacked out violence. So what are some examples that can be royally screwed up that can really mess with your head? Read our list to find out!
10. Sekaiichi Zankoku de Utsukushii Grimm Douwa
- Author: Aya Kotokawa
- Genre: Dementia, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Psychological, Seinen, Supernatural
- Volumes: 3
- Published: Jul 1999 – Aug 1999
While Disney has a reputation of adapting Grimm’s fairy tales to have a more positive vibe to accommodate modern audiences, Japanese manga will stay faithful to the source material and exaggerate it to new extremities. Some of you are familiar with Cinderella, but one manga adaptation to the original Grimm’s story is Covered in Cinders, which is included in the Sekaiichi Zankoku de Utsukushii Grimm Douwa collection. As most versions go, Cinderella’s widowed father remarries a cruel woman with three daughters who are very abusive to her. The manga’s art style does a very excellent job of expressing her isolation and sadness due to the abuse and makes the reader feel sorry for her.
While Cinderella does get her Prince at the end, her journey to reuniting with him after the ball does have its own difficulties that align with the original story. The stepsisters actually cut their heels and toes in a desperate attempt to fit into the glass shoe. While Cinderella does win in the end, it doesn’t mean she automatically lets go of years of abuse. As she walks down the aisle with the Prince, she actually commands birds to pluck out her stepsisters’ eyes like in the original story showing that karma can be a bitch.
9. Tokyo Red Hood (Tokyo Akazukin)
- Author: Benkyo Tamaoki
- Genre: Action, Fantasy, Supernatural, Horror, Seinen
- Volumes: 4
- Published: Jul 15, 2003 – Aug 30, 2006
We all know the story of Little Red Riding Hood. A little girl wants to go off to see her sick grandmother only to find her to be temporarily eaten by a wolf. So what happens when you adapt that story is a manga? You get Tokyo Akazukin, with Akazukin meaning Little Red Riding Hood. Akazukin in this manga is an amnesiac 11-year-old immortal marksman who is seeking for the wolf in Tokyo of all places. And why does she want to meet the wolf? So she could end her life.
As for why it is messed up beyond what is described in the synopsis, the character is sexually portrayed in unimaginable ways to the point that it might as well be banned in several countries as child pornography. The art style does a very great job of expressing how exploitative it can get, most especially with the expression in Akazukin’s eyes. In addition to being the ultimate lolicon story, it has some pretty twisted violence that rivals Hokuto no Ken. And finally, the final plot twist to Akazukin and her true identity just further defines why this manga is messed up which you have to read for yourself to find out.
8. Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken)
- Author: Buronson (story), Tetsuo Hara (art)
- Genre: Action, Martial Arts, Sci-Fi, Drama, Shounen
- Volumes: 27
- Published: Sept 13, 1983 – Jul 26, 1988
Taking place in the year 199X, the world has been devastated by nuclear war and the only law left is that the strong survive. But who protects the weak? That would be the present successor to the Hokuto Shinken fighting style, Kenshiro, who seeks to reunite with his true love, Yuria. But Hokuto Shinken isn’t about all the punches and kicks, it’s about hitting the right pressure points to get the opponent to explode into a pile of blood and guts. The manga goes balls out on its blood and gore that you’re going to need a supply of barf bags. While Kenshiro does his best to protect women, children, and the elderly, there are many instances this manga shows that he can’t save everyone. But when you kill the weak in front of Kenshiro, it means you’ve signed your death certificate.
In addition to its violence, while it may not have the monsters and demons of Berserk, the series has its full of muscle bound villains who probably took steroids with radiation poisoning. Some of their designs take influence from the pop culture of the 1980s. When you reading, you may recognize Sloth from The Goonies, Mr. T, and wrestling legend Hulk Hogan showing how detailed the art can be. In the end, size and strength aren’t everything when you got the moves to simply kill people simply by touching them. The fact that people can do such tricks in this manga not only makes it messed up but really cool.
- Author: Go Nagai
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Psychological, Super Power, Supernatural, Demons, Sci-Fi, Drama, Horror, Shounen
- Volumes: 5
- Published: Jun 11, 1972 – Jun 24, 1973
If anyone can be considered the originator of messed up manga, it would certainly have to be Go Nagai. If any manga helped pave way for the exploitation genre in that medium, it would certainly have to be Devilman. In this series, Akira Fudo is an unassuming latchkey kid who is a target of bullies to the point that he needs to rely on his friends Miki and Ryo. All of that changes when Akira visits Ryo’s house and wears the skull of a demon like a helmet and sees how the world was once ruled by demons. Now they are back with a vengeance and Akira makes a pact with Amon, one of the demons, to combat this threat. Whenever he needs Amon’s power, he becomes Devilman.
Devilman is one of those rare stories where it’s not that nice guys finish last, they just don’t win at all, which is why it’s messed up and yet so captivating beyond its explicit content. While Akira does his best to protect the people he cares about, he, unfortunately, loses some loved ones not to demons, but to humans showing that we are our worst enemy. To top things off, it turns out that Ryo was Satan, the sworn enemy of Amon. In the final battle of the manga, Satan emerges victorious and the Tokyo area crumbles to create the world of the manga’s alternate universe sequel, Violence Jack. So if you want the sickest critique on the worst human nature has to offer, Devilman is it.
6. Tsumi ni Nureta Futari
- Author: Miyuki Kitagawa
- Genre: Drama, Romance
- Volumes: 18
- Published: Oct 24, 1998 – Oct 23, 2004
Kasumi Suzumura was just an ordinary 19-year-old who went on a trip to Italy after breaking up with her boyfriend. While in Italy, she has a one-night-stand with a Japanese young man. Upon her return home, she attends her father’s funeral and meets the person she slept with. To make things more awkward, he turns out to be Yoshiki, her long lost brother. Now that they have taken their initial encounter back to home plate, re-starting the game back to the first inning is going to be the biggest obstacle life could offer them.
The series explores all aspects of how not only the relationship affects them, but the people around them such as family, friends, and former lovers. Once their mother discovers what’s going on, she goes as far telling a guy to rape Kasumi to get her pregnant! Heck, and the guy has some pretty strange motivations why he goes along with the plan which you may have to read to find out.
- Author: Junji Ito
- Genre: Supernatural, Drama, Horror, Josei
- Volumes: 3
- Published: 1987 - 2000
Some of you may know some Japanese horror stories such as Ju-On and the original Ring movies, but nothing can get any freakier than Junji Ito’s Tomie. Like some vengeful spirits, Tomie has terrifying powers to manipulate her victims to their very doom. While Sadako of The Ring movie series assumes a more scary form, Tomie comes to men as a beautiful and seductive woman (but can still assume other forms) and drives them to murderous rages that end in her death.
While you can sort of kill Tomie, she always comes back and how she can is what makes her terrifying. Not only can she regenerate from blood or a severed body part, she can reproduce spawns of herself. The manga does a really crazy job of just getting in your head where the readers can find themselves in the positions the victims of Tomie are in. It really pulls you in and many male readers can find themselves falling for Tomie’s spell of doom. But to make things crazier, even the Tomie clones don’t like each other and are willing to eliminate one another. While some icons of horror eventually get their own origin stories, in some ways it ruins their mystique. With Tomie, the readers are given loose details about her background and her undying mystery helps make her less predictable and frightening.
4. The Black Cat
- Author: Yukari Itou
- Genre: Dementia, Historical, Horror, Psychological, Seinen
- Volumes: 1
- Published: Not available
No, we are not talking about the Shounen Jump manga by Kentarou Yabuki, but a horror manga based on an Edgar Allan Poe story which some of you American readers were probably assigned to read in high school literature. Like the original story, the name of this black cat is Pluto, who gets abused by his alcoholic owner and he murders some people. Now try to imagine the original story portrayed as a Japanese manga and things get way weirder from there. While the story in high school literature was enough to give you chills through the novel, this manga does an excellent job of presenting it visually with its own art form.
The art style perfectly uses shadowing and darker tones to compliment Poe’s writing style. And his name and stories are enough merits to define what is messed up. Beyond its violence, it portrays some rather graphic sexual and/or scenes that really pierces your mind and allows you to see how low humans can go based on the consequences of their bad choices in life.
3. Flowers of Evil (Aku no Hana)
- Author: Shuuzou Oshimi
- Genre: Psychological, Romance, School, Drama, Shounen
- Volumes: 11
- Published: Sept 9, 2009 – May 9, 2014
You may think Takao Kasuga is your typical bookworm but like all teenage boys, he happens to have a crush on some cute girl, Nanako Saeki. One day when he picks up a book he forgot on his way home, he happens to find Nanako’s PE uniform lying around and steals it! Little does he know, his classmate, Sawa Nakamura, witnessed his crime. Instead of ratting him out, Sawa blackmails him to do her bidding. She may be pretty, but looks can be deceiving.
While stealing women’s clothing has been portrayed as a gag in some of Rumiko Takahashi’s earlier mangas such as Ranma ½ and Urusei Yatsura, this sets the premises for a very dark path for Takao. While Takao may have done something bad in the heat of the moment, does that really make him a bad person? That’s one aspect the manga does explore. But does Sawa’s abuse make him any less of a bad person than Takao? Who is to say for sure, but when a person wants to take responsibility in the situation this manga portrays, it all comes down to being stuck between a rock and a hard place, and that is the journey of this manga.
In relation to other real life issues like abuse and assault, this manga does a great job of portraying that at times, young men are capable of being victims and makes readers come to the conclusion that no matter what, it is NEVER the victim’s fault. It shows how people’s actions can result in the consequences in not only the victim but for the families as well.
- Author: Mayu Shinjou
- Genre: Action, Romance, Harem, School, Mystery, Drama, Shoujo
- Volumes: 9
- Published: Feb 5, 2002 – Mar 19, 2004
Everybody wants to do the right thing when they see somebody in trouble. Kurumi Akino is just an ordinary teenager who did what she needed to when she helped a young man who was hurt. The young man tells Kurumi his name is Hakuron and disappears into the night under the assumption she might never see him again. But the next day, she is kidnapped by the Hong Kong mafia and learns that Hakuron is Hong Kong’s most wanted. So what does Hakuron want from Kurumi, for her to stay by his side?
Like a good percentage of the titles listed, this manga explores the dark side of obsession between men and women as well as gender roles. While getting kidnapped by some mafia is one thing, that’s just the beginning when Kurumi becomes the center of some of these mafia wars just so they could get to Hakuron. Hakuron as a male lead is very disturbing not solely because of his extreme actions such as murdering people, but how he presents himself as a white knight when all he does is hurts others. While he treats Kurumi like a prize and goes as far as raping her as a means of control, she still finds herself madly in love with him. As for the ending, we don’t want to give any spoilers but all we can say that you can either think of it as messed up or justice served.
1. Watashi no... Megane-kun
- Author: Amu Sumoto
- Genre: Drama, Psychological, Romance, Shoujo
- Volumes: 7
- Published: Jul 24, 2001 – Nov 10, 2003
You know the old saying that love is blind? Well, Watashi no Megane-kun truly puts that to the test between Chouko Shimota and Taichiro Amakawa, who have known each other since elementary school. Chouko happens to like Taichiro, but Taichiro told her one day that he hated her so much he wanted to kill her. And does that do anything to change Chouko’s feelings for him? Certainly not! However, things take a turn for the bizarre when a senpai notices her and confesses. And to make matters worse, Taichiro suddenly confesses that he loves her too!!
The story isn’t enough to define how crazy this story gets. It shows the dark side of abusive relationships, jealousy, and twisted obsessions in a way you could never expect. Just apply some of the more explicit content that goes along the lines of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and you get a good bulk of Watashi no Megane-kun. The manga goes as far to portray certain extremities with the realities of rape to the point that you want to close the manga and put it down for good. In fact, this series is so disturbing that it may be possible not to recommend it to victims of abuse or with anyone who may have first-hand experience with some of the things they do happen in the manga. This manga is the ultimate critique of a relationship between an abuser and a very manipulative victim.
We understand that some of the manga we shared can be pretty badass, and there are others that are realistically disturbing. Due to the content of some of the manga on this list, we feel the need to address that if you or you know someone that is in any trouble, please get help. If it requires reporting to local authorities, please do so immediately. We understand that victims can be under the control of parents, teachers, siblings, friends, spouses and so on which is why it may be difficult to seek assistance in time of need.
People of authority should never abuse their power to exploit the vulnerable. But the truth is, nobody needs to be in those situations, which is why we are making this disclaimer after making this list. We at Honey's Anime would appreciate it if you took the time to save a life when you see someone that is in absolute danger.