Here we go! The Top 10 disturbing anime. Mature content warning, obviously. The amazing thing about anime is the ability to portray amazingly screwed up situations in completely different ways. The only limit is the animator’s imagination.
The big question for this list is, what makes an anime disturbing? I immediately cut out Hentai, because that’s in a category all it’s own. I also tried to stay away from anything that was bloody, but had no other disturbing elements to it. It has to have the total package to make it on this list.
If you thought Deadman Wonderland was too much too handle, or if Tokyo Ghoul made you cringe, this list is not for you. I’m not looking for single scene wonders either. The infamous “Goosh, goosh” scene in Tokyo Tribe 2 was screwed up, but that was about it for the series. I’m looking for things that make you feel uncomfortable the entire time. Or something that sticks with you for days afterwards.
Ready? WARNING! This is definitely adult subject matter. So 18+ of course. Disturbing imagery, situations, etc.
10. Genocyber (1994)
Ultraviolent is probably the best way to describe this one. The ultimate biological weapon. Imagine if you will, a being that is a literal melding of two others. This being has psychic powers, is incredibly strong and brutal, and can meld with technology like fighter jets. Graphic depiction of the violence is what gets it onto this list though, along with an unflinching look at a child being murdered. There’s plenty in Genocyber that puts it beyond just a gore fest and it definitely has a place here.
9. RIN: Daughters of Mnemosyne (2008)
A mysterious tree shows up in the human world releasing “Time Fruits”. If a “Time Fruit” enters a female she becomes an “Immortal”, if it enters a male they become a crazed being known as an “Angel”. The immortals are exactly that, they cannot die, exactly. They can be tortured, and they are. A lot. Mostly by the “Angels”. RIN plays around with a lot of interesting ideas of sexuality in society. It also has a very unique and weird history within the story. What puts it on this list though is the treatment of the “Immortals” and the concepts behind it all. Definitely one to take slow and let it sink in.
8. Corpse Party: Tortured Souls (2013)
Corpse Party the OVA’s were based on Corpse Party the game, which sadly I have yet to try out. It’s been described as hyperviolent and incredibly disturbed. Yeah, that’s pretty accurate. It starts as most horror movies do. There was an incredibly gruesome and shocking event many years ago at “Heavenly Host school”. It was so horrific that they leveled the entire place. Cut to present day. The idiotic powers that be decided to build a new high school on top of the unhallowed grounds. Then lo and behold, the students decide to play around with the supernatural veil casting a charm. This leads directly into the most sadistic game of all time when the school rises from the grounds and transport the students to a new kind of hell. It’s pretty much a one trick pony, but that one trick is as brutal as they come.
7. Higurashi: When They Cry (2006)
Here we have another video game adaptation. How in the hell does Japan keep getting all these amazing games released?! At it’s heart it’s a murder mystery. It can be hard to follow at times, and seem somewhat disjointed, but it’s worth it! There’s cotton festivals, unfinished dams, twins and loads of unease. When the violence begins, it’s pretty cringeworthy. However, it’s the overall unsettling relationships between all the characters that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Wondering just what in the hell is going to happen next. Trying to figure out who you can trust and who you can’t can be exhausting!
6. Urotsukidōji (1987)
You know this one had to be on here somewhere. It had to be. I almost didn’t include it simply because it is so close to being just straight up hentai. Messed up hentai, but still just that. Anything that’s hailed as the origin of tentacle porn should give you pause. All that being said, it’s got enough terrifying elements to get it on this list. There’s the realm of Earth, the realm of the Demons, and the realm of the Man-Beasts. All three have existed in parallel dimensions side by side for 1000’s of years. There’s a legend of an “Overfiend” that is prophesied to merge all three of these realms. Believe me, these things should never mix!
5. Monster (2004)
Monster can be pretty slow at times, so fair warning. It’s not nearly as violent as most anything else on this list, but this list isn’t about violence. Monster is simply unsettling and disturbing from beginning to end. This one can definitely stick with you as the series goes on. A doctor decides the politics of his hospital’s care policies are completely skewed to benefit the rich and influential, instead of those who actually need help. He decides to act on this and kicks off a sequence of events that leads into to some of the darkest times in human history. If you saved everyone who walked through the door, who may you inadvertently be killing? How do you reconcile that?
4. Elfen Lied (2004)
The opening scene of Elfen Lied really sets the pace for the series. There is a species called “Diclonius”. They are human looking in every way, apart from these bony protrusions from their skull similar to horns. Oh, and they also have a crazy power where they have extra, invisible, deadly, arms that shoot from their backs called “vectors”. Humans being who they are, they decide to kidnap and torture all the “diclonius”. One escapes, but takes a shot to the head that causes memory loss. Then shit really gets crazy. It’s brutal, violent, and there’s plenty of nudity to be had. There’s this feeling that permeates each and every episode of uncomfortableness. Nothing feels right. Then when you remember these kids are teenagers at best, you feel bad about your life choices. Also, if the puppy scene doesn’t bother you, you are a monster.
3. Hellsing Ultimate (2006)
This is a must see for any anime fan. It’s got it all. An amazing story, incredible animation, and one of the most badass characters of all time. Alucard. Hellsing is named after and centered around the Royal Order of Protestant Knights, originally led by Abraham Van Helsing. Their goal is to rid the world of all the ghouls and monsters, to protect the human race. What gets it put so highly on this list though? Well, all the violence and nastiness is a good start. The story itself is pretty damn well done too. Really though, there’s times like when a certain someone is trapped in their own nightmare of their parents being murdered and the mother’s corpse being raped. Yeah. That happened. Any way you look at it, it’s fantastic having vampires being scary as shit again!
2. Blood-C (2011)
Blood-C revolves around Saya Kisaragi. A perfectly normal girl that’s kind and occasionally clumsy. She lives with her father, who teaches her the “art of the sword”. Oh wait, she’s totally not normal! Saya fights what’s called the “Ancient Ones,” or “Elder Bairns”. These are brutally violent creatures with a taste for human flesh. What sets this series apart is the constant feeling that anyone can die at anytime. Humans feel especially vulnerable and squishy. The “Ancient Ones” tear through them like tissues. Saya is truly the only one standing in the way, but the more she fight them, the more she finds out about who she really is. By the time you get to the final episode, shit goes to 11. Remember when you were a kid and you would put olives on all your fingers and eat them? Now if it was a giant-evil-humanoid rabbit that did that with humans? There’s also one kill in particular that has some pleading involved, and the actress really sells the crying as she’s killed. Woof.
1. Midori Shoujo Tsubaki (1992)
This. There isn’t a single thing about Midori that isn’t disturbing. The voice acting, the story, but the animation ties the whole thing together into an underground package that feels like it never should have been opened. Even the story behind the film is all kinds of weird. No studio would finance the production of Midori, so Hiroshi Harada animated the entire thing himself. Page by page for over 5 years. 5,000 sheets of animation by hand. That’s some dedication! A young and poor flower girl ends up working at a freak show. Some seriously bad shit happens, gets better, then completely goes off the deep end. It was nearly lost forever. It’s been destroyed, banned, only had limited showings. It’s a small miracle it’s around at all today. It’s rumored that the version you can find now isn’t the entire thing. That somewhere in all of the real world destruction, some of the film was lost. I have no idea. All I know is that Midori will stick with you for awhile. Good luck.
So there you have it. 10 of some of the most disturbing animes of all time. Some honorable mentions go to Parasyte the Maxim, School Days, and Perfect Blue. Sorry guys, none of them even came close to Midori. In conclusion, we have some catching up to do here in the West!
Thanks for reading!
Editor-In-Chief, SQ Horror Magazine