For anime lovers, it’s seen as the be-all and end-all of art. Plot lines, characterization, illustration, music, and subtext all seem to be at their peak in the anime world, at least when you’re fully engulfed in anime subculture (which your faithful writer may or may not be). Of course, staying faithful to that theme, violence and gore is also exaggerated and put on clear display in certain anime titles. And, in some of these titles, that violence is overwhelmingly difficult to stomach.
Attribute it to the dreaminess and detail of the animation style or to the writers’ pure, nightmarish imagination; wherever it’s sourced from, the fact is that anime violence can be dark. Like, staple-your-eyelids-shut-and-never-watch-cartoons-again dark. Watch the wrong anime in the wrong frame of mind and you might run screaming from the genre for the rest of your life.
Or, maybe not. Maybe there’s a carnal part of you that likes seeing cartoonish walls sprayed with hyperbolic amounts of blood. Or maybe you like seeing someone breathe in so much dark energy that their organs start spilling out of their skin’s pores. Hey, we’re not here to judge! We’re just here to inform. So, for your information, here are 15 horrifically gory anime shows you might be interested in checking out.
15. Attack on Titan
Over 100 years preceding the events of Attack on Titan, giants appeared on the planet out of nowhere in huge numbers and began eating people. The surviving members of the human race built three cities sheltered by three enormous walls in order to keep the titans out, which worked for a while. However, the series begins with the titans finally breaking through the outer city wall. What proceeds is absolute carnage, escalating in scale and intensity like a roller coaster that only goes up. Anyone looking to get an idea of the violence in Attack on Titan need only watch the first episode, when (SPOILER) protagonist Eren Yeager has to watch his owner mother have her entire torso chomped in half by a complacent titan. Things only get worse from that point as the surviving members of the human race wade their way through a blood-bathed planet infested by giants.
What does an ancient, amorphous, pure evil vampire spend his time doing? Killing people who try to mess with him, of course. And, if you’re part of the neo-Nazi group Millenium, it turns out that your life’s objective is to murder said vampire in order to end a feud that’s been going on since World War II. We’re not necessarily saying that hunting vampires isn’t a beneficial and potentially fun idea, but we’re not talking about a textbook vampire here. Alucard’s powers extend way further than having fangs and living a nocturnal lifestyle— the dude is practically broken. Throughout his centuries of battle experience, he’s mastered dozens of weapons and fighting styles. He doesn’t technically need these, of course, because he can shape shift, produce a variety of deadly shapes from dark aura (including nightmarish hellhounds), and he’s technically immortal (not to mention telepathic). Those looking to get acquainted with the idea of violence need only take a look at how Alucard gets his dark energy dogs to take care of meddlesome neo-Nazis.
13. Elfen Lied
Elfen Lied follows the story of Lucy, who is part of a newly mutated species known as “Diclonius”. Despite how visually similar a Diclonius is to a human, there are several differences between the two, one of them being that a Diclonius has access to invisible, mind-controlled limbs known as “Vectors”. After escaping from a testing facility, Lucy is a free teenage girl out in the open world with unspeakable mutant powers. A memorable example of Elfen Lied’s violent nature is early on in the series, when Lucy makes friends with a group of… brats, to say the least. These kids actually find and kidnap Lucy’s beloved puppy, and proceed to beat it to death right in front of her. Lucy does not like this one bit; she unfurls her vectors and, in one second, paints the room with the brats’ blood. If you’re not into that sort of thing, maybe you should stay away from Elfen Lied, since it tends to show plenty of walls being painted red.
Like plenty of anime, Parasyte does not initially betray its violent nature with its premise. Basically, the show is about an extra-terrestrial parasite who lands on Earth and eventually finds its way to its host, our protagonist Shinichi Izumi. The parasite intended to enter Shinichi’s brain through his nose or ear in order to acquire full control over his behavior. However, he missed, and only managed to take hold of Shinichi’s left arm. While this is a lucky break, Shinichi has to figure out how to live alongside the independent alien consciousness that his arm has turned into. The whole ordeal does come with its perks; Shinichi’s parasitical right arm can perform a myriad of tricks. For instance, he can morph his arm into a variety of shapes and weapons, most of them extremely sharp and pointy. Parasyte is not excessively violent throughout its course, but it is frequently accented with uniquely gory scenes that involve parasitical hands slicing people clean in half.
The story of Devilman revolves around Akira Fudo, an initially shy teenage boy who always does his best to steer clear of conflict. However, Akira’s personality is destined to change when he becomes possessed by a demon, thus transforming into Devilman. As Devilman, Akira wields the immense power of the demon known as Amon, while mostly retaining his identity. He has changed, however — after becoming Devilman, Akira grows more confident and assertive, nicely settling into his role of saving the world from the revival of an army of ancient demons. As it turns out, when demons fight, they pay no mind to political correctness. One scene that sticks painfully in mind shows a demon literally ripping the breasts off a woman and eating them. Devilman himself holds absolutely nothing back when he punches horrific holes in demons with his bare hands. We don’t fault him for that, since one must do whatever he needs to in order to prevent the demon apocalypse.
10. Blood C
Blood C centers on Saya Kisaragi, a normal albeit clumsy girl. Like most girls her age, Saya attends school during the day and does her homework at night. At first glance, it would appear that there aren’t many characteristics that distinguish Saya from her peers. Upon further inspection, the truth is revealed: Saya is actually a swordswoman who sees the blade as a pure art form. When night rolls around, Saya uses her sword artistry to slay the monsters that plague her small town. While she dances with her blade beautifully, she sprays gory gallons of her enemies’ blood liberally. The monsters don’t shy away from violence, either; one particularly disturbing scene shows a giant hellhound with extendable arms for ears grabbing a schoolgirl by both legs and ripping her in half. This was after it killed that girl’s sister by using its ear-arms to repeatedly slam her body into the concrete until she stopped moving. You don’t need to see that, you really don’t.
9. Tokyo Ghoul
Taking place in an alternate reality, Tokyo Ghoul tells the story of a world plagued by ghouls, who are defined as people who can only survive by eating the flesh of human beings. These ghouls live out in open society just like everyone else, hiding their true nature in order to avoid any abrasive situations (just in case you don’t categorize eating human flesh as ‘abrasive’ enough). If you were looking for a nice, wholesome entertainment experience in which people aren’t ravenously eating each other, then maybe you should watch Home Improvement or Malcolm in the Middle. Tokyo Ghoul is nothing like those two; a huge component of its plot centers on cannibalism, for crying out loud! What makes the on-screen events even harder to swallow is that we are experiencing them from the perspective of Ken Kaneki, a regular college student who was recently transformed into a half-ghoul and must now consume human flesh to survive.
8. Deadman Wonderland
The violence and gore of Deadman Wonderland begins right at the onset of the series, when our protagonist Ganta witnesses his entire class being murdered by a floating man clad in armor and covered in blood. One might wish that the violence would take a downward curve from that point forward, but one would be sorely wrong. The show is called Deadman Wonderland, after all, which is a name that suggests widespread violence in a whimsical sort of way. Actually, Deadman Wonderland is the name of the prison/amusement park that Ganta was sentenced to after he was convicted of killing everyone in his classroom (he was the only survivor and witness). So, Ganta has to wade his way through a prison sentence in the bizarre institution. Will there be blood? Of course there will be. In fact, Ganta learns to manipulate his own blood and use it as a weapon in gladiatorial death matches. Because, why not?
7. Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show
Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show is about an innocent young girl who finds herself in the most hellish circus show imaginable. The ringleader bases the merit of his show on absurdity and monstrosity. It features a shirtless woman with three faces attached to her head; a man dressed only in his underwear, his innards expanding outwards until blood shoots from his pores and his stomach splits in two; peoples’ heads expanding until their brains explode out of their skulls. Watching Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show is like watching a nightmare while you’re awake. What makes it even more disturbing is how innocent the protagonist is in relation to the inherent horror of her circumstances. The writer of Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show was clearly experimenting with the idea of how even the purest soul imaginable can be tainted by the evils of the world. This anime is worth the watch because it’s interesting and beautifully illustrated; just don’t go into it expecting Mary Poppins.
Berserk follows the story of Guts, the “Black Swordsman”, a travelling warrior who joins a mercenary group called the Band of the Hawk. After escaping a ritual in which the group’s leader sacrificed all of his followers in order to earn the status of God Hand, Guts was branded with a mark that attracts evil spirits and all assortments of malicious entities. This, obviously, leads to some conflict in his life, which itself inevitably leads to violence. Horrific, gory violence. Of course, even if Guts wasn’t branded, he would still find himself in a variety of endlessly grim situations, since he’s on a diehard mission to find his ex-mercenary group leader and make him pay for what he did. Whether it’s Guts dishing out the horrifying punishment himself, or if he’s being bloodied down by a group of demons, Berserk promises to supply viewers with ample violence at every turn.
The background story for Another is painted as follows: a student of Yomiyama North Middle School’s class 3-3 named Misaki died in 1972, causing a dark atmosphere to surround the town of Yomiyama in the decades that follow. The story then begins in 1998, when 15-year-old Kouichi Sakakibara joins class 3-3. Like everyone else, Kouichi notices the eery vibe that surrounds the school and the town of Yomiyama. Unlike everyone else, however, Kouichi decides to dig deeper into the mystery. This results in… complications, to say the least. Let’s just describe one scene in Another: a woman holding an umbrella falls down a flight of stairs, causing the end of the umbrella to pierce her neck. She is then shown struggling, still alive, with a thick flow of blood running down the umbrella end, onto the floor. If you’re not into stuff like that, you should pick another anime to watch. If you are, maybe you should consider therapy.
4. Corpse Party
With a name like Corpse Party, you can’t reasonably expect this anime to be all about cotton candy and pony rides. No, Corpse Party centers on nine students who commune in their high school one night in order to say goodbye to a friend. Following custom, the group performs a certain type of good luck ritual using doll-shaped paper charms in order to properly bid their friend farewell. What the students don’t know is that the items they used for the ritual are related to the Heavenly Host Academy, which is an elementary school that was destroyed a long time ago following a succession of horrific murders. In fact, what survived of that elementary school lies buried beneath the foundation of the students’ own school, right as they gather to perform a friendly goodbye ritual for a beloved ally. Can you guess what follows? If you guessed brutal violence, you are absolutely right.
3. When They Cry
The anime series When They Cry is based on a murder mystery soft sound novel series of the same name. For those who don’t know what a sound novel is, it’s similar to a visual novel in that the progression of the experience does not rely heavily on player interaction, since the bulk of the story comes from text dialogues. The plot centres around Hinamizawa, a fictional rural village, in 1983. Although it seems like an ordinary, albeit somewhat detached village, Hinamizawa is certainly anything but. It is soon revealed that the village worships their own god called Oyashiro. For the past for years, a person has been murdered in the village, and the story’s characters begin to suspect that this has something to do with Oyashiro. If your stomach can handle the brutal visuals, When They Cry makes for an interesting watch (or an interesting playthrough, depending on how you’re experiencing it).
When it comes to realistic graphic violence, Shigurui is among the most popular names in anime. Of course, there are a subset of anime lovers out there who exclusively seek the brutal and violent, and those anime lovers hold Shigurui in a special, albeit bloody place in their hearts. This story is set in the 17th century, revolving around a tournament in which fighters use traditional Japanese steel swords rather than bokken (wooden swords). Specifically, Shigurui’s story centers around a particular fight between blind samurai Irako Seigen and one-armed swordsman Fukiji Gennosuke, digging retrospectively into the circumstances that unfolded leading to these two facing off in the tournament. While not a central anime title in the western world, Shigurui is renowned in the anime subculture as something to stay the hell away from if you’re not into blood and gore. If you are into those things, however, then Shigurui might just be the title for you.
When it comes to OVAs, there’s an unwritten rule which states that a child should never be shown getting seriously hurt or killed. Well, Genocyber breaks that rule, and it doesn’t seem to be too sorry about it, either. Genocyber takes place in the near future; the nations of the world are coming together in the formation of a new world government, eventually creating a “Genocyber”, which is a biological weapon formed by the formidable powers of two psychic sisters. Under a premise like that, it’s easy to understand that violence stains the progression of the story, but the extent of that violence can only be understood by watching the OVA. To give you a hint: one segment of the show features a good-intentioned police detective who, after undergoing an involuntary form of “surgery”, finds all of the muscle tissue and skin covering his abdomen, chest, and pelvis to be exposed, which makes all of his internal organs entirely visible. Basically, Genocyber is an extremely violent anime.