Anime. It can be beautiful, sweet, touching and tender. It can also be a hideous carnival of violence and gore. For the purposes of this small article, we will explore the latter. So grab your behelit and make a pact with the dark gods, because we’re about to dive deep into the scariest anime ever.
The terror factor of this anime is legendary. The setting is a cruel pastiche of medieval Europe, with fanatical tyrants and bloodthirsty mercenaries, and it’s before the demons appear. The design of the series’ hellish antagonists, the Apostles, is enough to send shivers down the spines of even the stiffest spines.
These things are made to kill, and kill, they do. the infamous Golden age arc culminates in one of the most gruesome orgies of violence I have ever seen in any medium, animated or not. But to say blood, guts and demon-eaters is the the most frightening some of this series, I believe, actually does the deeper, more disturbing themes a disservice.
Berserk is an anime about violence, like most anime. But Berserk is unique in that it paints a picture of a wide range of violence, including the most shocking of all: sexual violence.
–Trigger warning for next paragraph–
The three main characters of Berserk were sexually assaulted. And just like children. So there is a terrible trauma from their past that affects each of them. The characters’ capacity for violence and distrust is so deeply ingrained due to the horrific violence they endured at a vulnerable stage in their development. Berserk is not popcorn horror, but a close examination of evil and the vilest aspects of the human psyche. This show will haunt you, and that’s the point.
elf lied is sometimes legitimately hard to watch. The story centers on a young girl, named Lucy, with a rare genetic mutation that caused her to evolve into a diclonius, a human-like species with horns and invisible telekinetic arms called “vectors”. Most diclonii in Japan are incarcerated in a facility intended to house and study them. Lucy is a victim of it. However, she quickly breaks free from captivity after slaughtering some of the staff at the facility. While on the run, she is saved by a young boy who has no idea who or what she really is.
Due to her treatment, Lucy has an innate desire to kill human beings, and she does it in a myriad of gruesome ways. His victims are dissected, dismembered and decapitated. She is also the target of violence from government and military forces determined to hunt her down ruthlessly. It’s hard not to feel conflicted watching Lucy. Sometimes she’s a cold-blooded, vicious killer, and other times she’s an innocent child who desires nothing more than safety and belonging. The series also features an infamous depiction of animal cruelty, as Lucy’s pet dog was beaten to death by a group of young boys when she was a young child. As Berserk, this is a series about the depths of human evil and the ability of living beings to do harm when they have no other options.
Set in a small town in the Japanese countryside, all is peaceful for the townspeople until a series of strange deaths begin to occur. These deaths coincide with the mysterious Kirishiki family, who moved into a previously abandoned castle on the outskirts of town. After an investigation by a doctor at the city’s one and only hospital, the deaths are attributed to creatures called “shiki” – vampire-like beings whose name translates to “demon corpse”. Yeah.
Although less thematically disturbing than the previous two integers, shiki scares book. Most infamous is a scene where the head of a young woman who has become shiki is crushed by the wheel of a tractor. The worst part? She is still alive after this happened.
This 10-episode remake of the famous anime evil man is as gruesome as it gets. In this story, supernatural demons run rampant across the world, possessing and devouring humans as they see fit. The main character, Akira Fudo, is a unique human/demon hybrid called “man-devil”, and is tasked with saving the world from the threat of hell. It’s not going as planned. This anime pulls all the horror stops out of the word “go.” In the first episode, demons possess the bodies of a group of teenagers partying at a nightclub, and the result is a truly sickening display of body horror and sexual abuse. Things only get worse as the demons begin to possess more and more of Japan’s population, until the series finally culminates in tragedy in the truest and most Shakespearean sense of the word. The series ending is a masterstroke of cosmic horror that, as the title suggests, may bring you to tears.
Junji Ito collection
Come on, did you really think I would leave out Junji Ito, the Stephen King of the anime? The work this man produced single-handedly changed the paradigm of animated horror forever. It terrifies viewers in ways other creators can only dream of doing. His job is scariest ever. The Junji Ito Collection is an anime adaptation of some of the author’s bloodiest manga stories. He has got everything. Body horror. Murder. Cannibalism. Cosmic horror. Curses. But the most unique thing about Junji Ito is his ability to find horror in the most unexpected things: slugs, grease, even a jar of honey. When it comes to horror, Junji Ito is truly incomparable. You do not believe me ? Watch an episode of this anthology with the lights off and you’ll see what I mean.
(featured image: GEMBA)
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