TOP 10 TIMES WHEN ANIME WENT TOO FAR
Anime is a medium renowned for its boundless creativity and ability to transport viewers to fantastical realms, where the limits of imagination seem nonexistent. From the heartwarming to the hair-raising, anime has consistently pushed the envelope, leaving audiences in awe and sometimes, quite frankly, flabbergasted. But there are moments when the line between artistic expression and sheer audacity blurs, leading to what we can only describe as “anime gone too far.” In this blog, we’ll embark on a thrilling journey through the top 10 times when anime ventured into the realms of the bizarre, outrageous, or controversial. Buckle up, because we’re about to dive headfirst into a world where the boundaries of storytelling and sensibility often collide!
10. Demon Slayer
Despite its deceptively cute art style, Demon Slayer is undeniably an intense shonen series. Within its narrative, viewers are thrust into a relentless whirlwind of violent confrontations between a myriad of characters, resulting in copious amounts of blood and gore. While this level of graphic content may not be a deterrent for seasoned shonen enthusiasts, it could prove rather overwhelming for those unaccustomed to the grittier facets of more mature series.
Certainly, combat has always held a prominent position within the realm of shonen anime. However, Demon Slayer elevates this fundamental element to unprecedented heights, delivering some of the most ferocious and visceral battles the genre has ever witnessed. So potent is the violence depicted in the series that when the film adaptation, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, graced US theaters, it earned the rarely bestowed R rating. While some may argue the rating’s stringency, it serves as a stark indicator of the franchise’s propensity for unapologetic brutality.
9. Happy Sugar Life
One of the most remarkable aspects of anime is its ability to harness aesthetics to accentuate its underlying themes. Take, for instance, the chilling series known as Happy Sugar Life, where aesthetics play a pivotal role in highlighting the story’s unsettling nature. The narrative revolves around Satou, a teenage girl who becomes consumed by an unhealthy obsession with a young girl named Shio, whom she believes she must protect at any cost.
What’s particularly striking is Satou’s willingness to go to extremes, even taking lives, all in the name of “protecting” Shio. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes evident that Satou’s actions are, in fact, placing the innocent child in grave danger. Happy Sugar Life masterfully delves into the depths of obsession, offering viewers a disconcerting journey through a distorted lens of reality. It’s a narrative so dark and unsettling that it transcends the boundaries typically associated with the shonen genre, leaving audiences in a state of eerie fascination.
The 2019 revival of the timeless classic, Dororo, stands in stark contrast to its predecessor in every conceivable way. Whereas the original series embraced a lighthearted tone and a whimsical, cartoony art style, the 2019 rendition of Dororo takes an entirely different route, one marked by gravitas and an unflinching commitment to a somber narrative. This shift in tone serves to accentuate the bleakness of its underlying premise.
At its core, the series embarks on a harrowing odyssey alongside the protagonist, Hyakkimaru, as he embarks on a relentless quest to vanquish a host of menacing demons and reclaim the body parts that were ruthlessly stolen from him. Set against the turbulent backdrop of Japan’s Sengoku period, this intense shonen adventure plunges viewers into the abyss of a bygone era, unearthing the darkest aspects of a time marked by death, famine, and unrelenting destruction.
7. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion, without a doubt, stands as one of the most revered and iconic anime series in the history of the medium. What’s truly remarkable is its ability to transcend the boundaries of its genre, captivating not only the traditional anime audience but also those who may not typically indulge in animated works. At its core, Evangelion may be categorized as a mecha series, where colossal robots combat kaiju-esque beings known as Angels in a desperate bid to stave off apocalyptic catastrophe.
Yet, what elevates Evangelion to evergreen classic status is its unflinching exploration of the depths of human emotions, particularly the harrowing landscape of depression. This thematic richness is, in many ways, a reflection of the creator, Hideaki Anno’s own mental state during the production period. The series casts its spotlight on Shinji’s inner struggles, making his reservations and complexities the central narrative focus. However, it doesn’t stop there; every character in Evangelion is meticulously crafted as a deeply flawed, achingly realistic human who has endured their own traumas.
Tragically, not all of these individuals possess the strength to soldier on, and Evangelion doesn’t shy away from depicting the raw vulnerability and fragility of the human spirit. It is this profound examination of the human condition, mirrored through a backdrop of giant robots and cataclysmic battles, that has solidified Evangelion’s place as a timeless masterpiece that resonates far beyond the confines of its genre.
6. Chainsaw Man
Chainsaw Man, the latest sensation in the world of shonen anime, lives up to its name with an unapologetic, over-the-top approach to action. At its core, Chainsaw Man introduces us to Denji, an unassuming hero thrust into an extraordinary destiny when he becomes the unwitting host of the Chainsaw Devil. This transformation turns him into a blade-wielding force of nature, capable of tearing through the most dangerous of adversaries.
Yet, amidst the relentless and often gratuitous gore that punctuates the series, what sets Chainsaw Man apart is its willingness to embrace the juvenile motivations that drive Denji forward. In a genre often known for its straightforward heroism and grand ambitions, Denji’s motivations may strike some as unconventional, even absurd. His romantic pursuits, for instance, lead to one of the most traumatic first kisses ever to be depicted in animation.
Chainsaw Man doesn’t pull its punches, both in terms of violence and its unorthodox storytelling choices. It challenges the conventions of shonen anime, offering a thrilling and often jarring experience that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. For those seeking a fresh and unconventional take on the genre, Chainsaw Man has proven to be a captivating and unforgettable journey into the realms of extreme action and dark humor.
5. The Promised Neverland
The Promised Neverland is a masterful example of a series that lures its audience into a deceptive sense of security before unveiling a nightmarish truth. At the outset, it appears to be a heartwarming, feel-good narrative, with a group of children residing in the idyllic confines of Grace Field House. Under the care of a loving maternal figure, they exude the aura of one big, happy family.
Yet, this semblance of tranquility shatters into a thousand pieces when two of the older children unearth a bone-chilling secret that turns their world upside down. The horrifying revelation is nothing short of gut-wrenching – Grace Field House is nurturing these innocent children for a grotesque fate, as they are destined to be shipped off as food for horrifying monsters.
The Promised Neverland delves into the darkest recesses of suspense and horror, punctuated by scenes of child death and a relentless sense of dread that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. In an unexpected twist for a shonen series, it tackles themes and narratives that are not just intense but genuinely disturbing, leaving an indelible mark on those who dare to venture into its gripping and emotionally harrowing tale.
4. Your Lie In April
Your Lie in April is a prime example of the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” in the world of anime. At first glance, it may appear to be a charming and cute romantic comedy, luring newcomers into its seemingly innocent embrace. However, this modern classic has earned its reputation as one of the most heart-wrenching anime series of all time, delivering emotional depths that can catch even the most seasoned viewers off guard.
As the story unfolds, the initial innocence is shattered by a poignant revelation about Kaori Miyazono, the central character. This pivotal moment marks a dramatic shift in the narrative, plunging viewers into a gut-wrenching tale of grief and loss that is nothing short of emotionally devastating. Your Lie in April, while undoubtedly a beautiful and touching story, defies expectations with its deceptive tone, blindsiding its audience and leaving them grappling with a torrent of tears and complex emotions. It’s a testament to the power of storytelling and the ability of anime to explore the full spectrum of human experiences, even when cloaked in a seemingly lighthearted facade.
3. Attack On Titan
Hajime Isayama’s magnum opus, Attack on Titan, has undeniably carved a significant legacy as one of the defining shonen series of the decade. With the anime adaptation poised to conclude its monumental journey, it’s worth reflecting on the dark and gripping narrative that has enthralled audiences worldwide.
Attack on Titan thrusts viewers into a bleak and unforgiving world, a place where humanity is locked in a relentless struggle against monstrous adversaries. The series wastes no time in immersing us in this grim reality, and as the story unfolds, it only becomes progressively more intense. The toll of casualties mounts, and even the most trusted individuals are forced to confront harrowing moral dilemmas, evolving into complex and sometimes troubling vigilantes.
Perhaps one of the most riveting aspects of Attack on Titan is its meticulous character development, particularly in the case of Eren Yeager. His transformation and the subsequent consequences of his actions serve as an extended exercise in dread, as the story navigates uncharted territory filled with moral ambiguity and existential crises. It’s a testament to the series’ ability to push boundaries and challenge the very notions of heroism, making it an experience that is at times almost too much to bear, yet undeniably one that has left an indelible mark on the world of shonen anime.
2. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Hirohiko Araki’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is an anime and manga phenomenon that has defied the test of time, celebrating an impressive 35-year run and counting. What sets JoJo apart from many other shonen series is its remarkable ability to constantly reinvent itself with each new story saga. This penchant for character, genre, and storytelling pivots has undoubtedly contributed to keeping JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure fresh and exciting, even after all these years. However, this commitment to innovation hasn’t been without its consequences.
One of the distinctive traits of JoJo’s is its willingness to take bold risks, including the unexpected demise of main characters. While this audacity can inject a sense of realism and urgency into the narrative, it can also come across as callous, leaving fans emotionally bruised by the loss of beloved characters.
The zenith of this recklessness is perhaps most evident in the conclusion of Stone Ocean, where JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure essentially hits the reset button on time itself, ushering in a new alternate reality. This audacious move symbolizes the franchise’s penchant for pushing boundaries and defying conventions, even if it means upending the very fabric of its own continuity.
In the end, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure remains a testament to the power of creativity and reinvention in storytelling, showcasing both the highs and the lows of taking bold narrative risks. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its ability to captivate and surprise its audience, making it a truly exceptional and, well, bizarre shonen series.
1. Death Note
Death Note, a timeless classic in the world of shonen anime, derives its enduring appeal from a deceptively simple yet captivating power fantasy premise. At first glance, it’s easy to believe that someone given the power of a Death Note might use it for noble purposes. However, this anime takes a chilling and unflinching approach by consistently reinforcing the opposite.
Death Note doesn’t shy away from crossing moral boundaries when it comes to selecting its victims. It confronts viewers with a relentless exploration of the consequences of wielding such destructive power. What makes the series all the more disturbing is its deep dive into the psyche of serial killers who develop misguided God complexes. This introspective journey into the minds of characters like Light Yagami is unnerving because it’s too easy to picture individuals with similar tendencies in the real world, individuals who would undoubtedly abuse such a devastating power if given the chance.
In essence, Death Note is a stark reminder of the thin line that separates the allure of power from the corruption it can sow within the human soul. It’s a thought-provoking and unsettling narrative that forces us to confront uncomfortable truths about human nature and the moral ambiguity that can lie dormant within even the most seemingly virtuous individuals.