Top 10 dark Anime movies that will send chills down your spine!


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While the general audience may misunderstand anime movies as ‘cartoons’ for children, there is an entire genre of anime aimed at adults, where they push the boundaries with their dark storytelling, which only keeps getting darker with breathtaking visuals.

From gut-wrenching betrayal to the goriest scenes, these movies explore everything to give you a thought-provoking, thrilling experience. So, without any further ado, here are the top 10 dark Anime movies to ever exist.

Disclaimer: The following list is entirely based on the author’s perspective, and we understand that individual choices and preferences may vary.

10. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

Set in a dystopian future with a gothic aesthetic, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2001) is the second Yoshiaki Kawajiri movie in our top 10 dark anime movies list. It is a dark fantasy film incorporating Vampire tales with several violent visuals.

Its main character, D, is a half-human and half-vampire who gets hired by a rich family to rescue their daughter from the vampire. So, the entire movie revolves around his quest through the daunting post-apocalyptic setting.

Alongside the captivating storytelling, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust explores darker themes of mortality, loneliness, and the struggle between good and evil.

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust poster

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

IMDb Animation Action Drama

A legendary dhampir competes with a motley family of bounty hunters to return a young woman, who has been seemingly abducted by a vampire, to her family.

DirectorYoshiaki Kawajiri
Release DateSeptember 23, 2001
StudioKadokawa Daiei Studio
CastAndrew Philpot, John Rafter Lee, Pamela Adlon
WritersHideyuki Kikuchi, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Ellen Moore
Runtime1 hour 43 minutes

9. Berserk: The Golden Age Arc

Berserk: The Golden Age Arc (2012) is an action anime trilogy film, an adaptation of Kentarou Miura’s Berserk manga.

The epic fantasy saga, directed by Toshiyuki Kubooka, is set in medieval Europe and explores the story of a boy, Guts, who was born from the hanging corpse of a woman on a battlefield.

So, it follows the theme of ambition, power, and price for achieving one’s dreams, all with a solid punch of crude reality mixed with cruel and violent fight scenes.

Moreover, like in the real world, every character in the movie is genuine and complicated. Additionally, they hold darker secrets and can conspire, cheat, and go to great lengths for kindness.

So, be prepared before you start the Berserk trilogy, as it plunders characters into grave tragedy when you least expect it.

Berserk: The Golden Age Arc is the first installment of a trilogy, and there are two other Berserk movies.

Berserk poster

Berserk: The Golden Age Arc

IMDb Animation Action Adventure

A lone sellsword named Guts gets recruited into a mercenary band and attempts to help the Band’s leader, Griffith, on his rise to power.

DirectorToshiyuki Kubooka
Release DateFebruary 4, 2012
StudioStudio 4°C
CastHiroaki Iwanaga, Carrie Keranen, Takahiro Sakurai
WritersKentaro Miura, Ichirô Ôkouchi
Runtime1 hour 16 minutes

8. Wicked City

Directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Wicked City (1987) is a pulp detective dark fantasy movie full of graphic scenes.

In the movie, humans and Black World demons that can take human form coexist in unstable peace.

When their balance deteriorates, a male human and a female demon learn that their union might unify their worlds.

Filled with insane graphic content, the movie explores dark, mature aspects like corruption, betrayal, and existential dread in the movie’s dystopian setting. Besides the dark theme, if you are not a big fan of gore, it is better you stay away from this.

Wicked City Cover

Wicked City

IMDb Animation Action Fantasy

While protecting a signatory to a peace treaty between their peoples, a male human and a female demon discover that their mutual attraction may be the key to unifying their worlds.

DirectorYoshiaki Kawajiri
Release DateAugust 20, 1993
StudioJapan Home Video, Madhouse
CastYûsaku Yara, Toshiko Fujita, Ichirô Nagai
WritersHideyuki Kikuchi, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Norio Osada
Runtime1 hour 22 minutes

7. Akira

The 1988 R-rated movie Akira is an adult cyberpunk action anime film that tackles the post-war socioeconomic effects. Directed by Katsuhiro Ôtomo, it is the adaptation of his graphic manga Akira.

It takes place in the futuristic dystopian world of Neo-Tokyo City, rebuilt from the remnants of World War 3.

The story revolves around a biker gang with a leader, Shotaro Kaneda, and his friend, Tetsuo, who becomes a psychopathic psychic with abilities similar to Akira, a force that wreaked the entire Tokyo in the past.

So, on his quest to stop Tetsuo from evil doing and repeating history, Kaneda learns about anti-government, greedy politicians and scientists.

Besides the captivating storyline, Akira features intense graphic scenes of body horror and violence while exploring complex societal themes of existentialism.

Akira poster


IMDb Animation Action Drama

A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psychic psychopath who can only be stopped by a teenager, his gang of biker friends, and a group of psychics.

DirectorKatsuhiro Ôtomo
Release DateOctober 19, 1990
StudioTMS Entertainment
CastMitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama
WritersKatsuhiro ÔtomoIzô, Hashimoto
Runtime2 hour 4 minutes

6. A Silent Voice

The 2017 film A Silent Voice, directed by Taichi Ishidate and Naoko Yamada, is a Japanese anime movie that intertwines dark and positive life aspects.

The movie revolves around Shoya Ishida, who was a bully during his childhood but becomes the victim himself later.

Meanwhile, Shoko is another main character, a girl with impaired hearing, who was bullied by Shoya to the point she had to transfer away. So, Shoya walks down the path to redemption after becoming an outcast.

A Silent Voice cleverly tackles dark topics like bullying, depression, social anxiety, and even self-harm. With excellent storytelling and visual methods, it highlights people’s struggles with guilt and self-hatred.

But that’s not it, it eventually addresses the painstakingly hard path of redemption and hope as well.

A silent voice cover

A Silent Voice

IMDb Animation Drama

A young man is ostracized by his classmates after he bullies a deaf girl to the point where she moves away. Years later, he sets off on a path for redemption.

DirectorTaichi Ishidate, Naoko Yamada
Release DateOctober 20, 2017
StudioKyoto Animation
CastMiyu Irino, Saori Hayami, Aoi Yûki
WritersHideyuki Kikuchi, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Norio Osada
Runtime2 hours 10 minutes

5. Angel’s Egg

1985 film Angel’s Egg is another one from the director Mamoru Oshii that made it to our top 10 dark anime movies list after Ghost in the Shell.

Set in a mysterious and desolate world filled with an oppressively moody and pensive atmosphere, the story of Angel’s Egg follows a young girl obsessed with a large white egg. Moreover, she believes the egg will hatch into a beautiful bird, so she protects it dearly.

Unlike most of the movies in this list, Angel’s Egg allows its audience to draw a message from eye-pleasing visuals. Despite the slow pacing with limited characters, it explores thought-provoking topics like existence, purpose, and faith.

Furthermore, it cleverly covers the Christian themes of Noah’s flood, birth, death, and rebirth while depicting the faith lost through the story of a young girl.

So, if you have an understanding of the Bible, the story and its symbolism will strike you much more.

Angel's Egg cover

Angel’s Egg

IMDb Action Drama Fantasy

A mysterious young girl wanders a desolate, otherworldly landscape carrying a large egg.

DirectorMamoru Oshii
Release DateDecember 22, 1985
StudioStudio Deen
CastMako Hyôdô, Jinpachi Nezu, Keiichi Noda
WritersMamoru Oshii, Yoshitaka Amano
Runtime1 hour 11 minutes

4. Belladonna of Sadness

Released in 1973, Belladonna of Sadness is a dark fantasy anime with an unsettling story. It elaborates on the harrowing story of a young woman, Jeanne, in a medieval French village who becomes a victim of a group assault on her wedding night by the local baron and his courtiers.

After that, the movie follows her trauma and introduces the devil, who later takes her soul in exchange for magical power, and eventually, she meets a tragic end.

Directed by Eiichi Yamamoto, Belladonna of Sadness uses watercolored psychedelic visuals, all while addressing themes of violence, oppression, and rebellion against tyranny.

While the story’s message remains open to many interpretations, the movie’s beautiful imagery and harrowing narrative can provoke conflicting emotions within you.

Belladonna of Sadness poster

Belladonna of Sadness

IMDb Animation Drama Fantasy

After being ra*ed by an evil feudal lord and subsequently getting banished from her village, a peasant girl makes a pact with the Devil to gain magical powers and take her revenge.

DirectorEiichi Yamamoto
Release DateJune 30, 1973
StudioMushi Production
CastAiko Nagayama, Chinatsu Nakayama, Masaya Takahashi
WritersJules Michelet, Yoshiyuki Fukuda, Eiichi Yamamoto
Runtime1 hour 26 minutes

3. Ghost in the Shell

The 1995 Ghost in the Shell is in no way an animated film for children in any sense. It is an adult thriller that dares to take you on an emotionally turbulent journey you might never have experienced before.

The film takes place in a futuristic world where humans have become cyborgs by learning ways to merge with machines despite its drawbacks.

Ghost in the Shell revolves around the protagonist, Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg policewoman who is on a quest to identify The Puppet Master, an illegal hacker.

Like any other movie in this list, Ghost in the Shell also investigates thought-provoking questions like what is reality and what if everything is a simulation.

Moreover, alongside the multiple graphic content, the movie is filled with thrilling dark concepts to keep you entertained the entire runtime.

Ghost in the shell cover

Ghost in the Shell

IMDb Animation Drama Crime

A cyborg policewoman and her partner hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker called the Puppet Master.

DirectorMizuho Nishikubo,
Mamoru Oshii
Release DateMarch 29, 1996
StudioProduction I.G
CastAtsuko Tanaka, Iemasa Kayumi, Akio Ôtsuka
WritersShirow Masamune, Kazunori Itô
Runtime1 hour 23 minutes

2. Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue, a 1997 psychological thriller directed by Satoshi Kon, is another dark anime movie that explores the nonchalant darker side of the glamorous showbiz industries like J-pop and K-pop.

The movie is centered around the protagonist, Mima, a Japanese idol who wants to pursue a career in acting. There, she has to pay the price of fame, which eventually leads to utter madness where she forgets the lines between reality and illusion blur.

Unlike typical horror movies, Perfect Blue extracts mind-bending elements from within the human psyche.

Aside from a harsh reality, the movie contains multiple terrifying graphic scenes that can keep you awake and disturbed at night. So, the movie is definitely not for the faint-hearted audience.

Perfect Blue poster

Perfect Blue

IMDb Animation Crime Drama

A pop singer gives up her career to become an actress, but she slowly goes insane when she starts being stalked by an obsessed fan and what seems to be a ghost of her past.

DirectorSatoshi Kon
Release DateFebruary 28, 1998
CastJunko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shinpachi Tsuji
WritersSadayuki Murai, Yoshikazu Takeuchi, Rika Takahashi
Runtime1 hour 21 minutes

1. Grave of the Fireflies

Directed by Isao Takahata, Grave of the Fireflies (1988) is a heart-wrenching animated film that sheds light on the survival story of two siblings in the waning days of World War II.

The two young children, Seita and his sister Setsuko, found themselves homeless and separated from their parents in Japan in the backdrop of WWII.

So, the movie features accelerated growth and the responsibility of Seita to provide for his sister.

Meanwhile, despite being just six years old, Setsuko tries her best to handle herself against all odds, even in such turbulent times.

Grave of the Fireflies beautifully captures the tragedy that war brings forth in the lives of countless innocents. Moreover, the storytelling and character visuals with a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack can break your heart into pieces.

So, the movie alone can give you a clear picture of how cruel the world can be and make you appreciate what you have.

Grave of the fireflies poster

Grave of the Fireflies

IMDb Animation Drama War

A young boy and his little sister struggle to survive in Japan during World War II.

DirectorIsao Takahata
Release DateJuly 26, 1989
StudioStudio Ghibli
CastTsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Akemi Yamaguchi
WritersAkiyuki Nosaka, Isao Takahata
Runtime1 hour 29 minutes
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