Dark Anime Worse Than The Dark Trio (2024)

Anime come in all shapes and sizes, but there are also many trends that take over the industry, such as the recent influx of darker and more mature series. The “Dark Trio” is a name that’s been given to Jujutsu Kaisen, Chainsaw Man, and Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku, three adult series that concurrently ran in Weekly Shonen Jump. These three series have earned this foreboding moniker through challenging storytelling that constantly puts its characters and worlds in danger.

The Dark Trio is a great place for shonen fans to experience more mature stories, but they’re hardly the only anime that visit such dark places. In fact, there are some exceptional series out there that put the Dark Trio to shame when it comes to vicious, violent, and provoking content.

Related

Anime has always had a dark side, and the modern "Dark Trio" shonen series are a part of a long-lasting trend.

10 Attack On Titan

89 Episodes

Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan has been one of the biggest anime sensations of the decades, which is even more impressive considering the bleak, nihilistic places the series visits. Attack on Titan is dense in death and destruction ever since its first episode, but the series’ drama evolves into more complicated conflicts as man increasingly turns on each other.

The clear-cut Titan monsters that punctuated the anime’s start become foregone conclusions as Attack on Titan emphasizes the casualties of war and sins of humanity. Attack on Titan features constant fatalities and betrayal, all of which culminates into an apocalyptic climax that’s triggered by the series’ hero.

9 Paranoia Agent

13 Episodes

Satoshi Kon is a master of psychological horror who's responsible for totemic anime feature films like Perfect Blue and Paprika. Paranoia Agent is Kon's only anime series and the transgressive storyteller uses the medium's episodic nature to engage in a fascinating case of shifting perspectives, unreliable narrators, and the transforming nature of mob mentality.

Residents of a small Tokyo community are afflicted by a serial assailant, Lil' Slugger, who wields a bat. A tragic story plays out between these seemingly unrelated victims who may have more in common than they initially thought. Paranoia Agent isn't afraid to show people at their most scared and vulnerable.

8 Puella Magi Madoka Magica

12 Episodes

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a fascinating magical girl subversion that dresses itself up as a cute and friendly shojo series, only to reveal debilitating stakes in a broken world where victory is impossible. Magical girls are typically treated like heroic figures, but in Madoka Magica this commitment is tantamount to a death sentence.

The whole series hinges on whether Madoka will agree to sign away her future to fight Witches as a magical girl. Not only are these emotional stakes grueling, but Madoka Magica is set within a twisted timeline that seems designed to oppress and control magical girls. Any success is temporary and welcomes forward greater dangers.

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10 Dark Trio Moments That Other Shonen Should Learn From

Chainsaw Man, Jujutsu Kaisen, and Hell's Paradise all feature memorable, impactful scenes that set a new standard for shonen storytelling.

7 Monster

74 Episodes

Monster is the longest anime on this list and although it's a commitment at 74 episodes, it tells a brilliantly-paced story that never feels as if it's padded. Monsterriffs on the Frankenstein's Monster narrative, albeit with a cold serial killer in place of a reanimated corpse.

Dr. Kenzo Tenma is a renowned neurosurgeon who saves the life of a patient, Johan Liebert, who turns out to be a prolific serial killer. Liebert engages in another killing spree, which Tenma feels responsible for since he saved Liebert's life. Monster is a rich drama about morality, forgiveness, and the cost of a human life. It's as psychologically daunting as it is frightening and violent.

6 Devilman Crybaby

10 Episodes

Devilman Crybaby is Masaaki Yuasa's reimagining of Go Nagai's classic Devilman coming of age horror story. Devilman Crybaby sticks to its source material's broader story beats, but gets incredibly indulgent when it comes to its ultra-violent demon massacres. Akira Fudo learns that he's actually Devilman, a powerful monster who benefits from the pure heart of a human.

Akira uses his Devilman powers to fight against more malevolent monsters, but he slowly learns that he may just be a pawn for something grander. Devilman Crybaby sensationalizes violence, but there's also a heartbreaking resolution when it comes to Akira and Ryo's friendship.

5 Berserk

25 Episodes (1997 Series); 24 Episodes (2016 Series)

Kentaro Miura's Berserk has become one of manga and anime's most celebrated dark fantasy series and it doesn't disappoint in this regard. Guts is a stoic warrior who wields a gargantuan blade and wanders a desolate wasteland that's overrun by demons. Guts is a remarkable warrior, but he's only reached this status after a lifetime of tragedies and abuse.

Guts has put up walls to prevent himself from getting hurt again, but he gradually lets others into his inner circle. Guts' efforts to protect those he cares about and get revenge on those who have betrayed him is an arduous journey that's filled with death and demons.

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10 Things The Dark Trio Does Better Than The Shonen Big Three

With superior animation and no filler episodes, the Dark Trio has surpassed its predecessors in many ways.

4 Texhnolyze

22 Episodes

There is no shortage of dystopian anime series, but Texhnolyze is one of the bleaker efforts to come out of the '00s. Texhnolyze is set in Lux, an underground city where the destitute are forced to participate in combat as a form of entertainment for the upper class.

Ichise is one such fighter who's difficult life further falls to pieces when he's manipulated, blackmailed, and forced to go on the run. Ichise begins Texhnolyze with so little, but he continually loses more and is left as a shell of his former shelf. A bleak future that thrives on domination and abuse is the name of the game in Texhnolyze.

3 Elfen Lied

13 Episodes

Elfen Lied is an anime from the early '00s that's an extended exercise in trauma. An amnesiac alien named Lucy is found by two sympathetic, kind-hearted university students who try to help her regain her footing. Unfortunately, Lucy is a deadly creature with devastating psychic abilities that makes her a feared killing tool whenever she's "activated."

Government agencies and scientists struggle to reclaim Lucy while this confused character gets pulled in two different extremes. Elfen Lied gives Lucy a valuable safety net, which only makes the series' pessimistic ending hurt even more. Elfen Lied presents humanity as a petty, regressive species that's doomed to fail and wipe themselves out over time.

2 Wonder Egg Priority

12 Episodes

Wonder Egg Priority is another modern magical girl narrative that uses the genre’s sweet, inspirational nature to tell a dark psychological horror story. Ai and three other girls find themselves elevated to magical girl status, only the monstrous "Wonder Killers" they take on are gruesome manifestations of their respective traumas.

Ai and these other girls have all lost people close to them and their confrontations with these Wonder Killers are emotionally draining and not always successful. Wonder Egg Priority is a beautiful representation of how people come together during times of crisis and can own their painful pasts to grow stronger. Wonder Egg Priority is raw in emotions, and it never lets the characters forget about their pain.

1 Made In Abyss

25 Episodes (Ongoing)

Made in Abyss is a master class in tone and serialized storytelling that lulls its audience into a false sense of security because of its cute art design and young, adorable characters. Riko is a young orphan who dreams about venturing deep into the mysterious Abyss, where she hopes to find her missing mother. The Abyss is a feared destination that features horrors of increasing intensity at each new level.

This allows Made in Abyss to get darker with each passing season as Riko descends deeper and accepts her cursed fate. The Abyss also introduces a horrifying system where innocent individuals get transformed into amorphous monsters. There's a growing sense of dread with each new episode.

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