There's something for absolutely everyone when it comes to anime. The animated medium engages in exaggerated storytelling and visual spectacles that often feel like they'd be impossible anywhere else. There are certain tropes that define the many unique genres that anime embraces, but there's also a wonderful ability for anime to use these very conventions to subvert expectations about where the story is headed. Anime can be highly inspirational or deeply pessimistic and some of the most fascinating programs are the ones that don't shy away from dark impulses. Sometimes an anime needs to ease into its wicked nature while other series begin in bad places and only drag its characters and audiences further down into darkness. The magical girl genre is a cheerful and optimistic style of anime storytelling, but Puella Magi Madoka Magica uses these well-established tropes to tell a psychological horror story where magical girls are manipulated into eternal contracts that end in widespread destruction. Madoka wrestles over whether she should accept this magical responsibility, but as she weighs her options, she witnesses the deaths of her closest friends. The most crushing element of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is that it cleverly earns a happy ending, only to callously dismiss it at the last minute in favor of forever trapping its magical girls in endless conflict and misery.
The basic premise behind Elfen Lied is something that conditions the audience to expect a happy ending. Kouta encounters a human-looking alien who's lost her memories, but possesses extremely deadly psychic powers that threaten humanity's existence. Elfen Lied constantly tortures its Diclonius test subjects, who are repeatedly told that they don't belong. Kouta's efforts to provide these creatures with some sense of normalcy is way beyond his means. The Diclonius try their best, but Elfen Lied chronicles years of abuse and presents a grim finale that reinforces the dangers of the unknown rather than the importance of acceptance and understanding. One area in which anime remains unparalleled is its ability to hide behind genre conventions and embrace a reassuring art style, only to pull the rug out from under the audience and create an experience that's deeply disturbing. At first glance, Happy Sugar Life looks like a cheerful slice of life series about two friends. In reality, Satou Matsuzaka is a highly unstable individual who kidnaps a young girl, Shio, after she becomes obsessed over the innocent child's purity. Happy Sugar Life is only 12 episodes, but death, abuse, and mental manipulation are par for the course in each installment. Many anime series are set in nihilistic dystopias, but there's frequently at least a glimmer of hope or some guiding light to help the disenfranchised characters move forward.
39;s sincerely tense as Yuki and Yuno progress further in this sordid game.
Texhnolyze is an exercise in endurance that begins with Ichise, an entertainment fighter, falling onto harsh times that only progressively kicks him more once he's down. Ichise is forced to go on the run, losing vital pieces of himself in the process. Texhnolyze is only 22 episodes, but there's enough dread and gloom to last double that length. Ichise is repeatedly confronted with proof that the world is a jaded, broken prison. Radical death games have become increasing popular in anime and programs like Future Diary are enlightening deconstructions of the corruptive nature of power. A group of teenagers are suddenly in the running to become an omnipotent being, which triggers a violent and bleak game of cat-and-mouse between the potential candidates. Future Diary's premise is inherently depressing, but most of its cast are damaged and on the brink of losing themselves. It's sincerely tense as Yuki and Yuno progress further in this sordid game. The anime's grand finale can technically be seen as optimistic under certain conditions, but Yuki is resigned to an empty, lonely existence.
Higurashi: When They Cry is another masterpiece of subterfuge that secretly unleashes its dark themes when the audience least expects it. The cute "moe" character designs create a false illusion of safety that's quickly stripped away through rampant murders, a mysterious viral disease, and a time loop narrative that hammers in the bleak idea that success is impossible. Higurashi: When They Cry has turned into a complex franchise with many moving parts, but it's very comfortable repeatedly executing its innocent characters as others struggle with their hopeless endeavors. Whenever happiness is achieved it feels as if it will immediately be taken away. Neon Genesis Evangelion has elevated itself to one of the most celebrated anime of all time and it's so much more than a mecha series where giant robots take on intimidating monsters. Neon Genesis Evangelion is an anime about depression and loss, which only becomes more oppressive in its narrative. Admittedly, the first handful of Neon Genesis Evangelion episodes are the lightest of the lot as the mecha series finds its footing, but they're still full of death, loneliness, and the start of Shinji Ikari's crippling depression. These brief moments of peace are completely impossible by Neon Genesis Evangelion's end. Another is a pitch-black psychological horror anime that keeps the audience consistently on their toes over the course of a dozen suspenseful episodes. Koichi Sakakibara is a simple transfer student who experiences a rude awakening when his entry to Tomiyama North Junior High is steeped in death and sorrow.
Koichi befriends a moody girl, Misaki, but he's soon left to contemplate if she's in need of his help or some lost spirit. Another begins in a dark place, but the mystery that plays out grows increasing morose as the characters and audience are left to consider who is truly dead in this story. Anime frequently meshes together science fiction and horror to great effect and many of these productions amount to deeply dark stories. Blue Gender looks at humanity on their last legs as they retreat from an alien menace that's taken control of Earth. Blue Gender treats survival as a lost cause and Yuji Kaido becomes an excellent audience surrogate as he's awoken from his cryogenic slumber in a new world that barely resembles what he's known. Yuji's unique condition positions him as a crucial figure in this extraterrestrial conflict, but death and body horror dominates the storytelling. Attack on Titan has become one of the biggest anime of the decade and its long-form serialized storytelling is on a whole other level. By the time that Attack on Titan's final season arrives, the world is immersed in darkness and the audience doesn't even know why they should trust in this generational war. Betrayal mounts and the series' stalwart hero, Eren Jaeger, naturally transforms into humanity's greatest threat. Attack on Titan embraces evil and corruption, but this is also an anime that features the graphic death of Eren's mother in the very first episode.
Moon Breathing (月 (つき) (こ) (きゅう), Tsuki no koky? ) is a Breathing Style derived from the Sun Breathing used by Upper Rank One, Kokushibō, who was one of the first Demon Slayers who utilized breathing techniques. The techique allows the user to create many "chaotic blades" when slashing that varies in length and size. It is known that Kokushibō continued to develop and add techniques to the Breathing Style over the centuries as an immortal Demon. At this point in the story, it is the only known Breathing Style to possess at least 20 different techniques, easily surpassing the other Breathing Styles. It has been revealed that, like all of the other original breathing styles, the Moon Breathing also branched out of the Sun Breathing. When its creator, Michikatsu Tsugikuni, attempted to learn the Sun Breathing from his twin brother, Yoriichi Tsugikuni, he discovered he was unable to master the breathing style and so was instead trained in an alternate Breathing Style. Yoriichi created it fit and cover his individual strengths and weaknesses, and Michikatsu then continued to train and develop this breathing until it eventually evolved into its own unique Breathing Style, which he named the Moon Breathing.
First Form: Dark Moon, Evening Palace (壹 (いち) (かた) (やみ) (づき) (よい) (みや), Ichi no kata: Yamidzuki - Yoi no Miya?) - Kokushibō draws his sword and slashes swiftly in a single motion; like with all Moon Breathing techniques, numerous chaotic blades originate from the slash. This technique resembles Iaijutsu. Second Form: Pearl Flower Moongazing (貳 (に) (かた) (しゅ) (か) (ろう) (げつ), Ni no kata: Shuka no Rōgetsu?) - Kokushibō performs several slashes while sending a barrage of chaotic blades forward. Third Form: Loathsome Moon, Chains (參 (さん) (かた) (えん) (き) (づき) (つが), San no kata: Enkizuki - Tsugari?) - Kokushibō swings his sword rapidly in two gigantic crescents slashes, from which a storm of smaller crescents spread.
This technique causes huge destruction in a small area. Fourth Form: Solar Rings, Frostmoon (肆 (し) (かた) (たい) (よう) (りん) (しも) (づき), Shi no kata: Taiyōrin - Shimodzuki?) - Kokushibō performs a circular small cyclone slashes of chaotic blades straight towards his opponent. Fourth Form: Improved, Red Sun over Paradise (肆 (し) (かた) (かい) (あっき) (よう) (らく) (えん), Shi no kata kai: Akk' yō Rakuen?) - Kokushibō spins his blade slicing through the ground and ripping it out. Causing multiple 180 slashes across the area to be sented towards his opponents as chaotic blades appear when near the enemy slicing into their body. As the circular slashes spin grinding into the enemys skin.