When Did Anime Get So Dark?

When Did Anime Get So Dark?

Okay this is a bit of a ridiculous question. Anime has always been “dark”, but I think the darker themes have taken to a much wider audience. Psychological torture, murder, and even sexual violence, along with several other things seem to be prominent in most anime series.

When I was a youngling I distinctly remember watching cartoons that were pretty action-y, and they had those weird punching sound effects without actually showing someone getting punched. I also remember shows like Pokemon and Digimon that got around the whole physical violence thing by having, well animals do it, but then I remember Dragonball Z, and that $H!T was brutal.

tien loses arm

Bloody battles in which people lost limbs, head holes blown through their chest, and blown up was a freaking norm by the time we got to the android saga. In fact, one of the most ridiculous moments was having Frieza impale Krillin or Frieza blow Krillin up or Krillin getting his neck nearly snapped….you see where I am going with this, but that show didn’t even scratch the surface.

tien loses arm

It’s my belief that the anime that took the throne of DBZ as being the biggest series in North America was Naruto, and that show was decidedly more violent. Which I believe was mostly due to characters were physically murdering each other as opposed to using hand beams. I believe Kakashi’s fight with Zabuza, which led to the latter havingboth of his arms broken and then being stabbed several times, which happened after Kakashi stabbed the Zabuza’s adoptive son (Man Naruto was good back then) was the first foray into the true violence of the series, but this becomes a freaking norm by the time we get to the latter half of the series where beheadings and being cut in half is practically expected.

kakashi stabbing a child

Now it seems we’ve taken even a darker turn in anime. Without us needing to watch it on TV anymore, anime has gotten much bloodier. Series, such as Tokyo Ghoul, Akame Ga Kill, and of course Attack on Titan are so widely accepted it’s a bit frightening.

....sometimes really frightening.
….sometimes really frightening.

Don’t get me wrong, I love violence and murder and mayhem and I think straying away from it for the sake of censorship is wrong, but I also wonder how much more violent can things get? Why are things getting so much darker in terms of not only visual violence, but tone as well?

Tokyo Ghoul torture
There are some people who are even upset that this stuff is censored.


These questions make me wonder has the audience just grown up? Are the people who were once fans of 90s anime, which were pretty adult for the time, just eager for something more and deeper?

I also wonder has this trend in darker series been going for a bit too long? Will there be a sudden want for something a bit tamer?

Pro...probably not.
Pro…probably not.

I know there are tons of anime options out there, but I am looking at the most talked about series that I have come across so far, and most of them share that same dark tone, and it has reached higher levels. I can only imagine what the second season of Attack on Titan may bring or what new series will come out that are much darker than that.

What do you think? Do you think that the hugely popular anime series have gotten too dark? Do you think they’re not dark enough? How much violence are you okay with in your series? Comment below please.


  1. Reblogged this on ZeAnime | News, reviews and other stuff all in one place and commented:
    Interesting article. I personally think violence is okay if the show has a vibe or is in a genre that kind of needs it. For example Hellsing Ultimate, an anime that is extremely violent (The majority of the series is R18+ in Australia), but Hellsing Ultimate wasn’t trying to be some story epic and more so a simple popcorn flick. Either way good points discussed 🙂

    1. I agree, Hellsing Ultimate is incredibly violent and it establishes itself as such right from the get go. Thanks for the comment! The main thing I was curious about is that something like Hellsing was a bit of a rarity in the past, but now blood gushes forth in many more series it seems. I suppose it just goes to show the evolution in anime and the diverse genres that have come about.

      1. Yeah you most certainly have a point. Like the original Trigun had violence, but that was extremely tame. If someone was shot in Trigun they’d receive a small wound with little blood, got shot in Hellsing and your head comes off 😛

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