Top 5 Seemingly Cute Anime That Are Really Dark
5. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!
Yeah this one does seem really weird, and I think this may be the only totally out there one on my list, but hear me out. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!'s basic concept (no spoilers) is about a selection of high school students who suffer/have suffered from '2nd grade syndrome' which makes them cast aside reality for a fantasy world. Of course this will appear light-hearted on the surface, but when you actually look into it, this is quite a disturbing concept.
These kids suffering from '2nd grade syndrome' do not want to face the world they live in. They would prefer to create their own one within this where things are much more simple, where magic rules over all and is given to the good and the wicked are defeated, where anyone can be saved and they're not forced to simply 'face reality' without a second thought. They long for a world where embarking on quests can resolve and injustice and the evil in the world may be brought down, where someone is either a hero or a villain.
What I find to be the truly disturbing concept of the anime is how the people around them - even if they may know why they run from reality - are still cruelly trying to drag them back into the real world without any kind of transition. They try to force them to 'accept reality', sending across a message that this is just the way the world is and we can't achieve change with only ourselves and our delusions, the world is unwilling to wait for us.
4. Mirai Nikki
Ugh I feel like this one may either be blatantly obvious or people are just so accustomed to the fact that this is a disturbing anime but I'm kind of going at it from a different angle, the angle of the relationship between Yuno and Yuki. Yeah that thing we all love for some reason even though we really shouldn't. This relationship is well known and also becomes apparent EXTREMELY early in the anime so I don't consider this to be spoilers.
Cut to the start of the anime, we see a cute girl save Yuki (MC) from danger. Ok, pretty standard stuff so far, probably will turn into a ship. Hot on the heels of this though we find out that the girl - Yuno - is in possession of a phone that can only tell Yuki's future. That triggers a red light immediately and as well as this, she takes advantage of her tool and stalks Yuki with it. She even tries to take advantage of him multiple times, yet still between this she appears as cute etc.
Of course the whole fan following (pretty much anyway) ships Yuno and Yuki despite the fact that not only does she stalk him but she is also mentally disturbed. This relationship is just so damned wrong but the anime has managed to almost twist the audience so much so that we ignore all of this, as if we are entering Yuno's own mindset and will ignore any crime for them to be together. Admittedly this disturbing factor is one of the things I love most about Mirai Nikki.
3. Shinsekai Yori
D'aww look at it? Looks so cute, doesn't it? Like a puppy. Yeah this broke me. I will admit this anime was hard to stick with but oh god was it disturbing. The anime begins following a group of four children hearing of the rumor of a great beast that will eat children who stay out late or do anything to break the rules of their society really. You can see that this is already getting disturbing, but in the first few episodes we also see strange creatures known as 'monster rats' that work almost as slaves for the humans even though their intelligence is near their's.
More strange rules of society emerge, such as the very much obscured history of the world and the easiness of love seen later in the anime, and if you've watched this you will agree with me that this is disturbing. Most disturbing is all of the rumors that the people fear, like monsters eating children and people becoming 'ogres', crazed creatures consumed by the powers that the people of this era.
As the anime progresses the group of friends learn of the history, the 'monster rats' that serve them, and the truth behind these rumors that hang over their village, and all of it is extremely sickening, along with the punishment such knowledge brings to the young characters and how it is accepted by everyone else. This one really makes you consider the ethics of our species.
2. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni
Feel like I went obvious again but this one has to be said. Higurashi was originally a visual novel adapted to anime and I think it managed to shock people just as much on both releases with it's violent and merciless themes. When this was suggested to me I didn't believe what people were telling me about it because, although this anime opens with a VERY DARK scene, it immediately does a time warp to cutey and harmless and takes a while to escalate, it kind of gives you this false sense of security.
Higurashi probably is best known for its gruesome violence among the cast of adorable kids. They're each made to be lovable then have the most horrible things done to them and *shudders*. Just when you think this anime can't get more gruesome or cruel, it does.
The cruelest thing in this anime appears to be the strict application of religion over the small village. The whole village seems fishy and as if they're in on this and are simply ignoring the on-goings to their own youth. The discoveries about some of the characters in this anime actually made me really angry. The whole thing is messed up and its hard to put into words anyway, especially without spoiling it.
And here it is! Number one! I bet a lot of people are going to say my two or three should be here but for me personally this one messed me up the most and made the deepest impact on me. Of course this one has to look the cutest to make me sound entirely stupid. Basic summary, Fractale is set in this world that I think is meant to be in the future where rules are followed without question and life is blissful, so long as religion is placed above all and prayers are offered everyday. The main character, Clain, is visited by a mysterious girl and when she leaves finds she has left behind an equally mysterious girl called Nessa.
This anime starts off cute with the initial bad guys being bumbling morons with idiotic plans to kidnap Nessa. Then the anime really kicks off. Fighting, corruption, blood, death, extortion... Everything is in there. And what was really disturbing to me is that it seems like the anime doesn't make a particularly deal of it, that's just how it is and it's not really even made to look unfair, it's as if this is a very well done unbiased documentary.
The further into the anime you go, the more disturbing this gets as you learn the true intentions of the religion worshiped by all in this world and even things as simple as the way that people live and their reliance on an unnatural resource. Even in between this though IT'S STILL CUTE which like I said before makes it that much more disturbing for me.
So that does it for my top five! If this had just been anime that disturbed me the list would have been endless, but I believe anime that are made to look cutesy but are actually disturbing as hell are the best as they throw you for a loop. Each of these anime weigh heavy on my mind every so often which is quite an admirable skill that the creators have managed to utilize. Please, if you have any recommendations for anime similar to these leave them below, sugar coated worlds of struggle seem to make the biggest impression on me.