Have you been looking for the best dark anime series to watch? You are in the right place. Anime series can be some of the most creative T.V. shows on the planet.
They come in all shapes and sizes, so whether you prefer fantasy worlds filled with magic, thrilling sports tales, or sometimes even Pokemon, there is an anime for you.
There’s one genre that often gets overlooked: dark anime. These series are gritty and ultra-violent, sometimes even veering into horror territory.
They’re also wickedly funny and full of fantastic characters that fans can’t get enough of. If you’re looking to dive into this corner of the medium, here are 20 of the best dark anime series to check out:
Table of Contents
- 1. Death Note
- 2. Elfen Lied
- 3. Tokyo Ghoul
- 4. Parasyte: the maxim
- 5. Black Lagoon
- 6. Claymore
- 7. Berserk
- 8. Psycho Pass
- 9. No Game, No Life
- 10. Overlord
- 11. Hellsing Ultimate
- 12. Akame ga Kill!
- 13. Future Diary
- 14. The Seven Deadly Sins
- 15. Blue Exorcist
- 16. Sword Art Online II
- 17. Blood-C
- 18. Elfen Lied
- 19. Attack on Titan (Season 2)
- 20. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
1. Death Note
Death Note is a Japanese manga series by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. It was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from December 2003 to May 2006, with 108 chapters collected into 12 tankobon volumes.
The story follows Light Yagami, a high school student who discovers a supernatural notebook that allows him to kill anyone simply by writing down their name.
The series centers around his attempts to create and rule a world “cleansed of evil” as its god using the notebook and the efforts of detective L to stop him.
2. Elfen Lied
Elfen Lied is a dark anime series that follows Lucy, a female Diclonius with horns who is found by two men and taken in. But when she escapes, it’s only the beginning of her violent spree.
The series explores themes of abuse, abuse, and the formation of monsters. The main undergo various challenges that test their morality, including toasting themselves and others.
Elfen Lied is an animated show from Studio Arms and was directed by Mamoru Kanbe (known for being involved in other works like Kodocha).
It aired from 2002-2003 on Tokyo MX with 26 episodes total produced over two seasons (season one ran eight episodes while season two had 18).
3. Tokyo Ghoul
Tokyo Ghoul is a dark fantasy manga series written and illustrated by Sui Ishida. It was serialized in Weekly Young Jump from September 2011 to September 2014, with a sequel titled Tokyo Ghoul: re-published from October 2014 to September 2018.
In addition, the prequel series Tokyo Ghoul [Jack] ran in the same magazine between January and June 2014.
An anime adaptation by Pierrot premiered on July 3, 2014, on Tokyo MX and later on T.V. Aichi; it also aired on Adult Swim’s Toonami block from January 15 to August 13, 2015. Funimation has licensed the anime for North America, Central America, and South America.
A sequel anime series titled [Hanamonogatari], which focuses on Suruga Kanbaru instead of Tsubasa Hanekawa (from Bakemonogatari), began airing in July 2019.
4. Parasyte: the maxim
Parasyte: The Maxim is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hitoshi Iwaaki. It was serialized in Kodansha’s Afternoon magazine from 1990 to 1995 and collected into 19 tankōbon volumes.
The series tells the story of Shinichi Izumi, a high school student who becomes involved with an extraterrestrial organism that invades bodies to turn them into monsters called Parasytes.
Parasyte has been adapted into two live-action films, an anime television series, five video games, and other merchandise.
A second anime television series based on the manga premiered on October 8, 2015; like the previous anime series, its director is Takashi Yamazaki at Madhouse.
An adaptation of Parasyte -the maxim- to be released worldwide on Netflix’s original content platform was announced in March 2016.
5. Black Lagoon
Black Lagoon is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Rei Hiroe. It is set in the fictional South American country of Roanapur, where the title character works as an information broker who hires himself for criminal organizations.
He’s assisted in his work by Rokuro Okajima, a novice worker at a local hotel whom he finds on their doorstep one day, bleeding profusely after being attacked by thugs.
In addition to the manga series itself (which ran for six volumes), there are also video games based on Black Lagoon produced for multiple platforms, including Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo D.S., as well as an anime adaptation titled Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage which aired from May 1, 2008, until September 26, 2008, with 12 episodes total.
Claymore is a dark fantasy manga written and illustrated by Norihiro Yagi. The story follows a young Claymore named Clare and her struggle to survive in a world inhabited by Yoma (called “apostlin ), flesh-eating monsters that resemble humans yet feed on human flesh.
In addition, the series has been licensed for an English language release in North America by Viz Media. It was also adapted into an anime series entitled Claymore: The Complete First Season, which aired between July 8, 2007, and September 23, 2008, on the WOWOW satellite television network, where it was later licensed for distribution across Europe & Aisa and North America by Madman Entertainment while FUNimation Entertainment acquired the rights for home video releases only in Australia & New Zealand.
The Berserk story is set in a world where humans are on the brink of extinction, and the only ones who can stop them are a group of supernatural beings called “Adventists.”
The main character, Guts, wants nothing more than to live his life as an ordinary mercenary. But after a series of unfortunate events leaves him with no other options, he finds himself joining forces with the Adventists for them to help him find his lover after she goes missing during one of their missions.
This series is full of action and drama that will keep you hooked from the beginning until the end—and then some! With intense battles between good versus evil characters aboard giant ships floating above Earth’s surface, dark themes such as rape, murder, and torture.
And beautiful animation that brings these stories to life visually speaking (alongside unique voice acting), this show delivers everything needed for an epic dark anime experience!
8. Psycho Pass
Psycho Pass is a Japanese anime series based on a similar-name novel. The story takes place in a dystopian future where the Sybil System is used to measure the likelihood that an individual will commit a crime.
The series follows Shinya Kogami, who works for Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division.
While investigating some murders, he finds himself at odds with his former friend Akane Tsunemori and her mentor, Inspector Makishima Shogo.
The show was praised for its well-written characters and exciting plot twists but also criticized for being sometimes confusing. It makes it into the Best Dark Anime Series list with its Dark theme.
9. No Game, No Life
No Game No Life is a Japanese anime television series based on the light novel series of the same name, written by Yū Kamiya and illustrated by Yūsuke Nakamura.
The story follows Sora and Shiro, a brother and sister whose bodies is in possession by a god and goddess in another world, who were banished there for defeating the other gods in an online game. They try to conquer this new world with their gaming-style strategy and knowledge of other games.
Overlord is an anime series based on the light novel series of the same name written by Kugane Maruyama and illustrated by so-bin. The story takes place in a world where players are trapped in their favorite MMORPG, Sword Art Online.
However, instead of dying when they get “killed,” everyone’s minds are transported into a digital version of the game’s world, where they continue to live as NPCs.
The main character Momonga decides to take advantage of this quirk and becomes one himself, using his knowledge and skills from SAO as he tries to figure out what happened while also building up his base.
Overlord is an example of how dark can be used as a comedy element rather than horror or psychological thrillers—and it works very well! It has some moments that will make you laugh out loud even though they’re entirely inappropriate or inappropriate timing (like when the main character gets killed).
11. Hellsing Ultimate
Hellsing Ultimate is a Japanese anime series based on manga of the same name. The series was created by Kouta Hirano and was first published in Young King OURs in February 1997.
The story follows the activities of Hellsing, an organization dedicated to protecting Britain from vampires, ghouls, and other supernatural foes.
It follows Alucard (voiced by Steven Brand) as he fights against these monsters while clashing with the Vatican’s Iscariot Organization. The latter wishes to see him dead for refusing his former master’s order not to kill humans anymore.
12. Akame ga Kill!
Akame ga Kill! is a manga series by Takahiro and illustrated by Tetsuya Tashiro. It started serialization in Gangan Joker magazine in 2010 and has been collected into fourteen tankōbon volumes as of October 2017.
An anime adaptation of the series was announced on October 10, 2014, and aired from July 6, 2014, to December 14, 2014, on Tokyo MX with 12 episodes.
A second season titled Akame ga Kill! The theater aired between April 7 and June 29, 2015. A third season titled Akame ga Kill! Zero premiered on January 13, 2019.
13. Future Diary
Future Diary is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Sakae Esuno. The series began serialization in the Shōnen Ace magazine, published by Kadokawa Shoten, on January 26, 2006.
There are currently seven compiled volumes released in Japan. A two-episode original video animation adaptation was produced by Asread and directed by Tomoki Kobayashi, with character design by Toshiya Kawakami.
Future Diary follows Yuki’s Diary, which predicts his impending death—he must kill one person every day or 656 people total before he kills himself—and those of his friends who each have the diaries that predict the future for themselves only if they win an online game called “The Future Diaries” (or FDS).
14. The Seven Deadly Sins
The Seven Deadly Sins is a fantasy manga and anime series – Best Dark Anime Series. It follows the adventures of the seven deadly sins, who were framed for the murder of their king before they were exiled. The main characters are Meliodas, Elizabeth, and Hawk.
Meliodas: He is a red-haired demon who wields a sword called a broken sword and has two personalities; one where he can be friendly and kind to everyone, but when he transforms into his second form, black-haired with red eyes he becomes violent and aggressive.
Furthermore, Meliodas can also use magic and create portals to teleport himself or others from place to place at any time without losing energy from doing so.
Elizabeth: She is known as “The Goddesses’ Vessel” because she was chosen by King Bartra himself when she was still very young because of her purity inside her own heart, which made him think she would be able to control all seven sins rather than just controlling one specific corruption such as Lust or Gluttony.
15. Blue Exorcist
Blue Exorcist is a shounen anime series set in a fictional world. It follows the story of Rin Okumura and his twin brother Yukio as they begin training at True Cross Academy. Which was founded by Father Fujimoto, who teaches exorcism techniques.
The story is about Rin’s quest to become an exorcist and defeat Satan, who murdered his birth father while possessing him as a child.
Along with Yukio and their classmates, he will learn how to use his powers effectively to defeat demons that threaten humanity itself!
16. Sword Art Online II
Sword Art Online II is a Japanese anime series produced by A-1 Pictures and directed by Tomohiko Ito. It is the sword Art Online’s anime premiereSword Art Online’s anime premiere on July 5, 2014.
The story is set in 2022, when virtual reality gaming is at its peak. Kirito must stop a New World from being created that will allow players to live forever if they die inside.
It was first announced on December 1, 2013, as part of the 15th-anniversary celebrations for ASCII Media Works.
Blood-C is a 2011 Japanese anime television series produced by Production I.G. and Aniplex and directed by Junichi Fujisaku. It is a sequel to Blood: The Last Vampire, Fujisaku also directed.
The series aired from July 4 through September 14, 2011, on MBS’s Animism programming block, with six episodes airing weekly for two months.
The story takes place two years after the events of Blood: The Last Vampire, where Saya returns home with her father. At Home, she finds herself once again taking up arms against monsters.
When a mysterious girl named Fumito arrives at her doorstep with news of her mother’s death. Also asks her to continue her work in eliminating Chiropterans who have infiltrated human society.
18. Elfen Lied
Elfen Lied is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Lynn Okamoto. Serialized between 2002-2005, it was adapted into two 26-episode anime T.V. series produced by Bee Train studios.
It aired between July 2, 2005, and December 27, 2006, with six additional DVD OVAs released over the next five years (until 2011).
19. Attack on Titan (Season 2)
Attack on Titan is one of the Best Dark Anime Series based on the popular manga of the same name. This is one of the best Dark Anime Series.
Here, the show follows Eren Yeager, his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman and their friend Armin Arlert as they join the Survey Corps. The latter fight Titans (giant humanoid creatures that devour humans).
The first season aired from April 6 to September 28, 2013, and the second aired from April 1 to September 30, 2018.
20. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
Finally, on my list of Best Dark Anime Series is – Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is a dark anime that follows the story of two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, as they attempt to restore their bodies after an alchemical experiment goes wrong. After the death of their mother, Edward and Alphonse leave home searching for a way to bring her back.
They soon discover that they have the power to use alchemy and attempt to use it to resurrect their mother, but their attempts have devastating consequences.
The series takes place in a fictional world where alchemists use science and magic together to try to understand the mysteries of life itself.
The story follows these two brothers as they struggle with using this strange power over matter and time to achieve immortality or even go beyond mortality itself!
There you have it. If you’re looking for the Best Dark Anime series, then be sure to check out these 20 best dark anime series we have listed above.