In contrast to the delight that comes from Spring, Autumn, at least for us, is a more depressing month, as the trees wither and the leaves fall around. It’s a time of remembrance and saying goodbyes, perfect for anime with more melancholic tones. There is a tragedy in the air and woes in this post. It’s a time where you remind yourself of the past, while also getting ready for the cold that is to follow. The following is a list of anime that are haunting, chilling stories:
10) Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
Starting this list with an anime that most people don’t know because it’s a Josei/Drama, a combination that most people have no regard for. Not to mention the themes this show deals with are nothing worth of importance to the masses. To put it into perspective, it’s about this stage play called “Rakugo.” Again, many don’t even know it.
Which is a damn shame.
Because, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu ends up being a fantastic show, full of emotion and life. It displays its authenticity by being livid about this unknown type of stagecraft, further enhancing the level of enjoyment one can derive from it. It compares and contrasts the two; life and play by being subtle about one another, and dives into one of the best written old characters. This whole theme fits in well with Autumn, as it’s a month for the departing and the entire series acts like that for this very character. Check it out; it’s sure to please!
Claymore is amazing. we’re going to start with that. Most of the series in this list are, which makes ranking them harder, but we’d like to not think of them as ranking, somewhat more so as just placeholders. Claymore is written and drawn by one of our favorite authors, and the anime adaptation delivers on that up till the final point. The whole series has a lot of badass characters, which is something that most people seem to enjoy, and it shows a strong female lead, which is usually absent from anime. The world is strange and mysterious, but above all, it’s fantastical and one that’s a tragic world to live in, but one you’d want to dive into anyway, because the story is, as aforementioned, amazing.
8) Mobile Suit Gundam 00
Before Mobile Suit Gundam 00, we weren’t entirely huge on mecha shows in general, let alone the Gundam series. Considering it to be one overrated mess, we left it alone. That’s just one of the many mistakes we seem to make. Mobile Suit Gundam 00 taught us that yes, it was deserving of all the praise. The story is a masterpiece with fantastic characters and battles that are a spectacle to watch. The magnitude of this show is on a scale so high that even the best Gundam couldn’t fly so far.
It deals with political issues, something that most anime seem to avoid while showing the brutal side of anime, alongside the lives of many who haven’t been disrupted by the violence of war. Only to cripple them as well, and bring them into the chaos, further enforcing how war is evil for everyone involved in it, and there are no true heroes in it.
And if that doesn’t sell you, give a listen to its soundtracks, and especially its OPs and EDs, they are just stellar.
7) Assassination Classroom
Assassination Classroom, or AssClass as one of our friends aptly put it, is a show that fits this theme very well. It’s a coming-of-age story about different classmates struggling with life as their very school seems to hate them and show that they are inferior, existing only to boost the superior. Their lives are continuously like that, until one day, an alien being appears and offers to teach them on the condition that they assassinate him before the world blows up. Does that sound weird for a plot? That’s because it is! AssClass is undoubtedly very weird but all for a good reason! The show is tragically beautiful in its execution (pun intended) and delivers a fine line between comic subtlety and darker harsher moments. It also reflects on school life and how it can be fun with the proper teacher and classmates. Plus the ending is one to watch every episode for. So go and enjoy this gem!
6) Devilman: Crybaby
We’re big Devilman fans. we’ve watched the earlier OVAs and the manga itself, and we came back expecting the repeat of it all, which is fine to be fair. Because Devilman is a masterpiece already, what else can they fix? Well, they did. They took something that hasn’t aged well, arguably, and adapted it to the modern era, making a masterpiece OUT OF AN already existing masterpiece. The story is still the fantastic gem we read long ago, but now it’s drawn so wonderfully. The animation might be weird getting used to, but the abstract madness fits the theme of Devilman well as it challenges you to question morality and ask the ultimate question: Just who are the monsters? A common theme in anime, but something that wasn’t tackled well until Go Nagai took the front.
Fair warning, the show consists of a lot of nudity as the whole theme is very much for adults. It’s a taste of despair after despair, and ultimately, it just ends you with this sense of longing for something. Kind of like Autumn, no?
5) Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
Kaiji is up there as one of our all-time favorite anime. It’s a show that managed to capture the essence of hope and despair perfectly. People praise Danganronpa for that, but we feel Kaiji one-ups even that. If you enjoyed Kakegurui, well after this show, you’re going to hate it. But that’s kind of where the flaw(?) of Kaiji emerges from. It has zero fanservice. Is that an actual flaw? We disagree, but it’s clear the audience wants more of that, which makes Kaiji not something they’d want to watch, not to mention it has no initial allure with its unique art style, which we also argue fits it perfectly.
And then there’s the story. Unlike most idealistic-oriented stories in anime, Kaiji is blunt and harsh, delivering a tale of a broken, desperate gambler who’s thrown into debt due to a junior of his. And his adventures as a survivor after that. It’s so masterfully done, with each scene having this layer of terrifying fear behind it, which makes you genuinely feel scared for the character.
You know how some shows have this “plot armor” made to protect their cast? Well, that doesn’t exist in Kaiji, as you experience a thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seats. And if the art style bothers you, get used to it, because trust us, the moment you do, you’ll see how perfectly it fits and how amazing it is.
4) Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a classic. It’s a show beloved by many, especially more so since Netflix gained rights to it and brought it back to mainstream media. It’s rare for a classic to age well, but Neon Genesis Evangelion has aged like a fine wine, delivering still one of the most cryptic, in-depth stories that will leave you questioning it for a long time. We recommended it to our friend, and he isn’t even an anime fan, but he’s been hooked on it. That’s how great it is.
But we find the End of Evangelion to be the pinnacle of greatness this show has ever achieved. Watching that movie was some of the best times we’ve spent and oh God, we loved it all. From the start to the end, it’s been a wild ride, letting us experience the sad tale of a depressed child thrust into a war that adults paved for him. It’s a tragic tale that deals with coming of age, and accepting adult responsibilities while leaving behind the freedom of childhood. It’s a show for anyone and everyone, you don’t need a Ph.D. to understand it, there’s enjoyment for everyone, and we certainly recommend it.
3) Parasyte: The Maxim
Parasyte: The Maxim or Kiseijuu is also another classic, one that got back into the mainstream when Madhouse adapted it into an anime. It’s a brilliant show that dives into a topic that many anime don’t even bother touching: Philosophy. Questioning the acts of humanity and the hypocrisy we display when the same happens to us. Parasyte is a series meant to question our actions towards nature in particular. The action is top-notch, and the OST delivers all the feelings perfectly. As for the Opening song, that’s one of our favorite songs so give it a listen!
This is a no-brainer for most of you. We don’t even think we need to explain the genius of this show, but for those not initiated yet, Steins;Gate is, aptly put a masterpiece. It used to be the second most rated show on MyAnimeList and for a good reason, as it’s a show that does absolutely nothing wrong. From the start to the end, there’s a valuable depth that keeps you engaged. The main character is extremely likable, as are his lines which are straight-up quote-able, and this show hosts two absolute banger waifu’s.
The show features this self-proclaimed mad scientist as he accidentally discovers a time-traveling machine and alongside a well-renowned scientist, as they aim to put it to good use and help others only to cause endless grief to many, as they realize time isn’t one to be tampered with. Putting the Butterfly Effect into good use, Steins;Gate is an excellent, touching tale that everyone should experience at least once.
Monster is a masterpiece.
From the great mind of Naoki Urasawa, Monster follows the tale of a world-renowned doctor as he abandons duty for morality, deciding to save a boy with a gun wound on his head. He succeeds but manages to put his relationship and profession in jeopardy. However, he doesn’t mind, as his sense of justice is strong enough. But this is where Monster pulls the rug from under us, as the boy that Tenma (our main character) saves ends up being a monster. Not literally, of course. But subtlety is Naoki’s strongest suit. And he exploits it well, by displaying a story that is like a puzzle waiting to be solved, as every new episode gives another piece until the final finally concludes it by delivering a fantastic ending.
The characters in Monster are all lovable with Wolfgang Grimmer being perhaps our favorite out of them all. He’s maybe one of the most perfectly crafted characters in the entirety of anime as a medium. That’s, of course, stretching it a bit, but that’s how we feel about this character. And his parallel with “The Magnificent Steiner” is sure to bring a tear out of you. To quote him:
“Do you have any idea how terrible the things you did really mean? Do you understand what it means to destroy a human being’s sense of good and evil? Can you even begin to comprehend what happens when you awaken the monster inside each of us? People should know in their hearts that food tastes good. They should always look forward to having picnics and wonderful places on their weekends. They should think that beer tastes good after a hard day’s work. People should know how they should feel, that they’re supposed to grieve, from the bottom of their hearts when they have to bury their own child.”