What Is Dark Fantasy Anime & What Are the Best Series to Watch?

Fantasy anime are fun, but there’s something fascinating about the thickness of dark fantasy shows such as Madoka Magica and Dorohedoro.

The idea of ​​fantasy anime seems like a fun concept. A world where magical powers, mystical creatures and other things not found in the real world sounds interesting and exciting. However, for every cool-sounding fantasy element, there’s a not-so-cool interpretation of it.

The dark fantasy genre is chock-full of not-so-cool interpretations of fantasy. It takes the genre’s elements and makes them unpleasant, violent and downright terrifying. Most fantasy stories make audiences wish they could explore and be apart of their worlds. Dark fantasy stories, on the other hand, make them feel content with their peacefully mundane lives. Regardless, there are plenty of good, entertaining stories to be told by good writers. In order to get started on a good dark fantasy anime or manga, here’s what to look out for.


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One of the primary goals of dark fantasy is, ironically, disenchantment. With dark fantasy, the writer will try to show a world where magic and other elements of fantasy might not be the escapist dreams that audiences hope for. A good example of this would be something like Puella Magi Madoka Magica; this series takes the magical girl genre that seems to have been played out by series like sailor Moon and PrettyCure and adds its own horrifying twists. In this sense, dark fantasy series can be interpreted as cautionary tales advising audiences to be careful what they wish for.


Dark fantasy will generally make their characters much more prone to death than other genres. This doesn’t just apply to villains and side characters, either. Some authors of dark fantasy are bold enough to kill off main characters and fan-favorites without a moment’s notice. Those interested in a fantasy series where anybody can die at any time may want to check out series like Akame ga Kill! or Attack on Titan.

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Another thing that can make a fantasy anime dark is how bleak and dreary it looks. Dorohedoro is a good example of this. Not only does the sorcerers’ magic come out as this unappealing black smoke, but the setting and characters have this run-down look to them. This is mainly caused by the series’ washed-out color palette and the general grimy details of any given background, especially the dead bodies, flies and blood splatters. Everything about this world, despite being wholly fantastical, looks disgusting and uninviting. This is to say nothing of the demonic nature of the spells or the characters’ general disregard for human life.


Any series that’s been published by Shōnen Jump will be hard-pressed to fall into this genre. Jump’s Optimistic themes of friendship, effort and victory often come at the cost of the gritty realism present in dark fantasy. There may be some exploration of the harsher truths of reality, but the goal of most Jump protagonists is to find a way past that harshness. As such, readers can expect everything to work out in the end.

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Of course, just because Jump focuses on finding positive solutions to life’s problems doesn’t mean it can’t have darker elements. Such elements include making Faustian bargains for power, macabre abilities and aesthetic choices — and of course, death around every corner. works like Hunter x Hunter, jujutsu kaisen and chainsaw man all have dark fantasy elements to them because they still technically adhere to Jump’s core themes.


death noteother Jump original, can also be viewed as a dark fantasy despite its setting. While the series takes place in modern Japan, its main character uses a magic notebook that can kill whoever’s name is written in it. The book itself comes from the world of the Shinigami — grotesque creatures with dominion over death. This series, despite its real-world setting, qualifies as dark fantasy because it uses supernatural powers in morbid and horrifying ways.


Berserk Poster

It’s important to remember that just because a fantasy anime is dark doesn’t mean it has to be completely dark. Take Berserk, for example. This series is infamous for its demonic entities, excessive violence and heavy sexual undertones. The very first scene of the manga has the protagonist Guts fornicating a demon and then killing it. This sets the tone for most of the series to be about over-the-top mature themes and content, but it’s not everything. Sure there are trolls and ogres, but there are also unicorns and elves. For every landscape made out of anguishing human faces, there’s an enchanted forest that’s beautiful and even pleasant. A good story, whether it’s a dark fantasy, regular fantasy or even non-fiction, knows how to showcase both the light and dark of its setting.


As unfun as dark fantasy sounds, there is an appeal to the genre. These titles trigger people’s morbid curiosity in ways other genres can’t, and anyone who can stomach its more thick moments will be rewarded with engaging and entertaining stories.

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