The community darling Made in Abyss won big at the Anime Awards this past weekend, opening the floodgates for those who enjoy a dark fantasy animated experience.
Atmospheric and enthralling with its melodic score and hidden horrors, the show was a surprise hit among anime fans in 2017. Its handling of darker themes while coated in a light and cheery art style took many by surprise and sparked discussion well into this year, no doubt helping give it the momentum it needed to take home the Best Anime of 2017 award.
With its big win, though, comes the standard question among prospective new viewers: once every episode has been viewed, what else is there like it to watch? To that end, we’ve got you covered with 10 anime like Made in Abyss if you’re looking for something similar. *Warning: Some Spoilers Ahead*
If Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is a tragic epic, the 2003 anime is most certainly an epic tragedy. Following Edward and Alphonse Elric, two brothers who lost part or all of their original bodies in an alchemy experiment gone wrong, the story chronicles their adventures toward restoring themselves to normal, battling their way through corrupt state alchemists and beings hellbent on using the world’s magic to become immortal.
Much like Made in Abyss, this early anime takes its viewers down a dark and gruesome rabbit hole complete with human experimentation, embarking on a journey destined for death, and examining the cost of untold powers and possibilities to a human world. If you haven’t seen it already, don’t miss out on this hallmark in dark fantasy anime.
There are anime that lure you in with a cute and bubbly design only to pull the rug out from under you. Then, there’s Higurashi.
Set in a small mountain village, the story follows Keiichi Maebara as he tries to uncover the root of a strange phenomenon. Every year, one person is murdered and another disappears, always after a festival honoring the village’s god. Things quickly escalate, however, when his friends begin to go insane around him, murdering one another and pursuing him with a psychotic rage. His only option is to fight back try to survive and, if all else fails, try it all over again.
Providing a good deal of tension, psychological horror and gore galore, Higurashi is a rare example of a horror anime done right. Fans of the genre, and of good anime in general, won’t want to miss out on this series.
Something is amiss in this anime’s sleepy town. Following a sword-wielding shrine maiden named Saya, the story follows her exploits toward uncovering what has drawn countless demons to her home, how she came to be there, and the reasons for her supernatural fighting abilities.
Chalk full of twists and turns, the series quickly moves from being a happy slice of life show to a gory monster slaying extravaganza. It’s a rare example of someone successfully turning story conventions on their head, and if you enjoy it, there’s also a feature film sequel available for viewing on Funimation.
Shin Sekai Yori
If humans had supernatural abilities, how would they handle them?
This is the question posed by Shin Sekai Yori, a series which follows a group of children who try to learn how to adapt to a society where every person has supernatural abilities capable of great and terrible things. Compounded by the existence of intelligent beings kept under the rule of humanity, the story dives head first into themes of morality, corruption and the loss of innocence as one becomes older.
Much like Made in Abyss, it also paints a grimly realistic take on how humans would handle fantastical phenomena, with everything from murder to immoral greed. This series will crush your heart more than a few times, but it’ll be worth the pain in the end.
Hunter X Hunter
There’s a reason people hold this shonen in as high of regard as they do, and a lot of it has to do with the masterful twisting of its tone. Following the exploits of Gon as he searches for his father, this series takes every convention of a care free and hopeful protagonist’s adventure and flips it on its head. What begins as a cheery journey through a wondrous world quickly takes on darker hues, pushing the heroes to their breaking points and, eventually, beyond them. Murder, death, prejudice and insanity all poke their head through the surface at just the right time, making this lengthier series worth every minute invested.
This series is not kind to its protagonist Subaru, but unfortunately for him, it makes it that much more engaging to watch. After being transported to a fantasy world, Subaru discovers that should he die, he’ll be resurrected at a previous point in time with his memories intact. While this seems good on paper, it quickly proves a curse as he is forced to watch his newfound friends die in front of him, or forget everything they’ve gone through and set their relationship back to zero.
It’s a grim premise that the show doesn’t hold back with, but like Made in Abyss, it provides some of the most heart wrenching lows and exuberant highs anime has offered in recent years. You won’t want to miss out on this stellar and dark isekai.
There’s a melancholy beauty to the world of Wolf’s Rain: set in a land where wolves have been hunted to near-extinction, the remaining few wander its wastes in search of safety and a paradise heard of in legends. Blending moments of hope and despair, companionship and loneliness, it takes viewers on a journey through a hostile world ripe with characters worthy of one’s full attention. And that’s to say nothing of the art and sound work, both of which are stand-out accomplishments in their own right. If you liked the dissonance offered by Made in Abyss’ darkly beautiful world, you’ll love this tried and true classic.
A bit of a cult classic at this point, Haibane Renme none the less deserves attention from anyone who enjoys an examination of the human psyche with a dark fantasy back drop. Set in a town where those who die are resurrected as angels to deal with their grief, the series follows Rakka, a young woman whose only memory is a dream of falling through the sky. Confused and eager for answers, she does her best to adjust to the new world she finds herself in, assisting those like her and delving into the mysteries keeping her tied to undeath.
It’s a heady premise, but one that is executed brilliantly with great writing and believable atmosphere. Even 16 years later, it’s more than worthy of a binge-watch by anyone looking for a hauntingly profound experience.
Grimmer of Fantasy and Ash
Viewers of this series will find themselves in much the same situation as its main cast: dropped into a world of monsters, demons and magic, the show’s main cast must form a party and carve out a life for themselves within this new reality. This is easier said than done though, as they quickly discover that the world’s tranquility and beauty is matched by a brutal violence and fight for survival. If Riko and Reg’s attempts to learn how to survive within their world struck your fancy, you’ll feel right at home with this recent isekai series.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
When this series first released in 2011, few knew what it had in store for them. Masked as a typical magical girl show, the series follows a young girl named Madoka as she learns of the existence of witches and their threat to her world. From there, the show wastes no time drawing viewers into the darker implications of its world with everything from selling one’s soul, double-edged wish-granting, and even a key character getting decapitated by a monster. While it’s not the first show to inject darker themes into a typically light genre, it is the one to hold up as an example of how to do it masterfully.