Made in Abyss became popular through its sweet art style, sense of adventure and utter misery. Although it looks like something children could have seen on a Saturday morning, it gets much gloomier when Riko and her robot friend Reg go through the titular Abyss. Former explorers such as the Cave Raiders have fallen into conflict with the many monstrous, man-eating beasts, and those who survive are usually beaten down with a “curse” that binds them to the abyss.
The manga has gained more and more fans since the 2017 anime series, the movies in 2019 and 2020, and the new series that started on July 6, 2022. Still, it’s just a dark fantasy series, and there are many others for fans of the genre to enjoy. Here are some more anime that Made in Abyss fans should check out.
6 Berserk ’97
Berserk would be the most obvious dark fantasy recommendation if this was for the manga. It’s a more difficult suggestion in anime, since it has not received many. The 3D series released in 2016-2017 was notoriously bad and will probably keep any future animated effort off the table for a while. The The Golden Age trilogy is pretty in the digital coloring style from the 2000s, but the seams become visible after a while.
It leaves the 1997 series. Animated by OLM Inc, the company behind Pokémon (seriously), Berserk ’97 is an adaptation of the manga’s golden age arc, which went into the background of the main character, Black Swordsman Guts, and his encounters with the enigmatic Griffith and his mercenary band. The story is noticeably truncated compared to the manga counterpart, and the animation takes some shortcuts. Nevertheless, it still has the power to move and scare with the score, the storytelling and the twists. It’s harder to find in North America today, but it’s worth tracking down for its shocking climax.
5 Devilman Crybaby
This update of Go Nagai’s Devilman the series is more modern with its surroundings, but no less stunning or dark. Akira Fudo gets in touch with his old friend Ryo Asuka, who tells Akira that his expedition to the Amazon has revealed that demons exist. He takes Akira to a nightclub to expose them, only to end up on the wrong end of a possession of a demon called Amon. Through pure willpower, Akira overcomes it and gains its powers as a devil man.
It’s a heavy story that gets darker and gloomier as it goes on, with a friendship in the heart that is tested to the breaking point. Although based on a 1970s strip, Crying baby moves it to modern times, and transforms the themes of love, sex, bigotry and the notoriously gloomy ending. Those with strong stomachs will appreciate the drama. The little one might prefer the next entry instead.
4 Attack on Titan
Chances are good that this series does not need any introduction. Hajime Isayama’s series has been everywhere since its debut in 2009. It follows Eren Yeager as he tries to avenge the destruction of his hometown and his mother’s death at the hands of the Titans: giant human figures with a taste for meat. As difficult as they are to fight, it is easy to pick them up compared to the twists and turns Eren and his colleagues have to face on the journey.
The manga went on to inspire an anime series, a live-action film and miniseries. It does not include spin-offs as a prequel Attack on Titan: No Regretsand two comedies in Attack on Titan: Junior High and Spoof on Titan. So if the main series’ themes like sacrifice, battle, war and death become too much, there are options to let go of that steam.
3 The Promised Neverland
As Made in Abyss, Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizus manga seems like an innocent story set in an orphanage in the beginning. However, Emma and her friends soon realize that they were not brought up to be adopted. They are raised as food for demons to prevent them from becoming animals and attacking the rest of humanity. Their orphanage is not the only one doing this either. It is just one of many in a network dedicated to this practice.
Emma and the rest escape and take their chances with the wild demons, while trying to find a way to free the children from the other orphanages. The original manga remained strong from the start in 2016 until the finale in 2020. The anime started strong, and then fell apart in season 2 when it told its own, less effective story. Still, the first, more faithful season is still worth watching in its entirety to maintain the manga’s sense of dread and dread.
In the post-apocalypse, the world has been divided into three realms: the pulsating Sorcerers’ World, the garbage-filled human kingdom of Hole and the demon-infested hell. They collide with each other over resources and drugs, and traffick each other for magic (wizards) or to be subjected to experimentation (humans). In this world, the reptile-headed amnesia Caiman fights his way through the Hole to rediscover who he is, with only his friend Nikaido as company.
Created by Q Hayashida, Dorohedoroits original manga ran from 2000 until 2018. Still, it received only a short but sweet anime series in 2020, where its dark humor and scratchy art style received praise from critics. It also received a 6-episode OVA series that was combined into a long episode on Netflix. Here we hope that it is a second season on the road.
1 Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Wait, what? This magical girl show is kind of a dark fantasy? Well yes. Just like Made in Abyss looks more like a JRPG affiliation than a gloomy adventure, Puella Magi Madoka Magica have a dark heart. In it, Madoka and co become magical girls to protect the world from “witches”. Although they get the beautiful dresses and magical sparks, it also comes with a great cost. They give up the soul in an attempt to give energy to their magic, and they can become witches if their despair overcomes their soul.
The girls’ magic can get out of control, best friends die or become witches, and those in power can still benefit from their accusations. Originating as an anime directed by Akiyuki Shinbo and Yukihiro Miyamoto back in 2011, Puella Magi Madoka Magica counters Sailor Moon just like Neon Genesis Evangelion countered Mobile suit Gundam with its dark themes and brutal fight scenes.
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