Ever been fooled by a film or TV series promotional poster that looks light-hearted enough to make you watch it, thinking that this might brighten up a downtrodden day but instead makes you question the whole existence of humanity? You are not alone.
To anyone unfamiliar with the expansive world of anime, many will be fooled by the conviction that anime is comprised of mainly adorable characters engaging in hilarious ventures catered to audiences under the age of 18. On the contrary, some anime beg to differ with their innocent. facade shrouding over immeasurable darkness and twisted narratives that seek to challenge mature audiences.
From lovable penguin mascots to catchy musical numbers, Mawaru Penguindrum is adamant about convincing audiences with its seemingly jolly exterior. Nonetheless, the series can be described as an optimistic commentary on pessimism.
Kanba and Shouma Takakura are thrown into despair due to the declining health of their beloved little sister Himari. After her miraculous recovery after being revived by a penguin hat, the two brothers, Kanba and Shouma, are forced to embark on a journey to secure the mysterious “Penguin Drum” to keep Himari alive. Inspired by the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack, the psychological drama deals with issues such as terrorism and extremism despite its many comedic elements.
‘Clannad: After Story’
The sequel to its comparatively light-hearted predecessor Clannad, Clannad: After Story sees the continuation of Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa’s journey as a couple after graduating from high school. Following the struggles and heartbreaks of the young married couple, the romance drama is a realistic portrayal of learning to adapt to the emotional roller-coaster ride known simply as life.
Continuing Kyoto Animation’s legacy of adorable characters with memorable quirks placed in psychological turmoils, audiences are bound to cry from the critically acclaimed series.
‘The Promised Neverland’
The Promised Neverland takes place in the Grace Field House, inhabited by a purportedly idyllic community of happy-go-lucky orphans. Look after by their “Mama”, the children relish doing tasks assigned and playing with one another, as long as they comply with one rule: never venture outside. The fun is put to a halt when three of the oldest orphans discover the dark truth lingering behind the existence of their orphanage and the warped identity of their beloved “Mama.”
Garnering influence from fairy tales like Hansel & Gretel and Peter Panthe adventure anime series is still a must-see for fans of twisted fairy tales where children are obligated to cope with the aftermath of a false promise despite a subpar second season.
Your Lie In April
Fans of musical anime will be delighted and moved to tears with Your Lie In Aprila musical drama brimming with emotional resonance from its incredible soundtrack, relatable characters, and heart-warming storytelling.
Deemed a child prodigy, Kousei Arima dominated every piano-playing competition he entered until his mother untimely death. After suffering from a mental breakdown, Kousei becomes partially deaf – he could not hear the sound of a piano, although his hearing is mostly unaffected. Leading a monochrome life away from the spotlight in junior high school, Kousei’s zeal for music is reinvigorated when he encounters Kaori Miyazono, a free-spirited violinist harboring a devastating secret.
March Comes In Like A Lion
A poetic account of making peace with the past and figuring out the direction to the future, March Comes In Like A Lion focuses on the life of Rei Kiriyama, an introverted professional shogi player who tends to struggle with his social life.
Arriving in Tokyo after seeking independence from his adoptive family, Rei meets a trio of sisters living with their grandfather, who runs a wagashi (Japanese traditional candy) shop. Through their fateful meeting, Rei grows out of his reclusive personality and develops a better understanding of complex human emotions and relationships.
Ranking of Kings
Ousama Ranking is one of the break-out shows released in 2021, with its unique blend of childish character designs and countless unpredictable plot twists that surprised many viewers.
Sneered by the people of his kingdom as “The Useless Prince,” Prince Boji, a boy who is deaf and naive, has a heart of gold and determination of steel that make up for his lack of strength. After forming an unlikely friendship with a shadowy creature called Kage, the duo faces countless complications on their pilgrimage to fulfill Boji’s wish of becoming the best king he can be.
‘Girls’ Last Tour’
The bleak and dreary world of Girls’ Last Tour is undoubtedly made brighter when looked through the perspectives of its two charming protagonists, Chito and Yuuri.
The slice-of-life adventure series mainly details the two girls exploring the deserted city due to an unknown apocalypse, searching for food and supplies while running into other survivors. Undeterred by their contrasting personalities, Chito and Yuuri convince audiences that having a companion in a wasteland would not be the worst idea.
‘Made In Abyss’
Bearing similar character designs to Girls’ Last Tour, the most notable difference between the two series lies in their settings and approaches to survival. While Girls’ Last Tour takes place in a more futuristic but realistic world and paints a hopeful tale of civilization, Made In Abyss starts as a magical fantasy brimming with wonder and hope but soon descends into despair.
The fantasy adventure anime series depicts the journey of a girl and a robot determined to travel to the bottom of “The Abyss,” a hole plunging deep into the center of the Earth where those who drifted too far down never returned.
It’s hard not to describe the premise of School-Live without giving away the primary gist of the story, so spoilers ahead!
On the surface, Yuki Takeya is a cheerful high schooler and a member of the School Living Club, the latter of which prides on a single rule: all members must not stray away from their school compound. In reality, Yuki has suffered from a mental breakdown due to a zombie outbreak that renders Yuki and her friends the sole survivors of the city.
‘Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica’
The series that both revived and deconstructed the “magical girl” genre, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, is a defining show that demonstrates how being the “chosen one” isn’t always the best and the enormous price you have to pay to make dreams come true.
Madoka Kaname and her best friend Sayaka Miki are just regular high school girls when they encounter a magical cat-like creature named Kyuubey. Kyuubey offers to grant the girls one of their wishes, and in exchange, they will be equipped with magical powers. However, transfer student and magical girl Homura Akemi tries to dissuade the two girls from agreeing to Kyuubey’s proposition as she knows very well the dreadful consequences of being a magical girl.
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