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9 Best Mature Anime That Will Disturb You For All The Right Reasons

Among this list: arguably the best mecha anime in history and a film just as acclaimed as the iconic 'Spirited Away'
by Chise Alcantara | Dec 17, 2017
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It’s almost 2018 and we’re so confused as to why people still believe that anime is meant for children just because it’s animated. True, some animes do generally target a younger audience because that’s generally where the money is, but anime creators will probably never stop creating these passion pieces that don’t typically fit the mold of anime that can be shown on TV (and we’re not talking about hentai nor ecchi).

Anime has been a medium to talk about mature topics in ways that can’t be expressed in live action media (unless you spend copious amounts of money on CGI) for decades now. So before you say that anime is just for kids, we implore you to go through some of the shows on our list (with your own child if you want!) and tell us if they don’t leave you emotionally or mentally scarred afterwards.

Barefoot Gen

Don’t be fooled by this film’s art style because things get seriously morbid really fast. This film focuses on the life of a boy named Gen and his family after Hiroshima got hit by the atomic bomb near the end of WWII.

Scenes from this film will leave you heartbroken and your stomachs turning as graphic images of people, women and children included, are shown melting from the blast. Sadly, as you watch the rest of the film, you realize that those caught in the initial blast were the lucky ones.

Berserk

Right off the bat, we’ll deny the existence of Berserk 2016 and focus on the only real Berserk anime adaptation, which was released in 1997. Berserk is an anime that will make your testosterone levels go off the charts with its extremely graphic and badass fight scenes.

Its story revolves around a young mercenary by the name of Guts and his bff Griffith, as they try to conquer the entire land with their group of mercenaries the “Band of the Hawk.”

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This anime doesn’t just have killer fight scenes, but also has really intricate political ideas like usurping traditional and outdated forms of government and moral dilemmas like do lives of the strong outweigh the lives of the weak and defenseless? Characters have to face these trials as they pave the way to fulfill their destinies.

Cowboy Bebop

You may have watched this anime when you were younger and you may have enjoyed it, but have you ever asked yourself why you enjoyed this anime? It’s actually a really hard question to answer if you step beyond reasons like “Space cowboys are cool” or “Faye was hot,” which are valid but aren’t that interesOting to talk about.

On the surface, the anime does give you a few things to hold your interest in the show like the solid fight scenes, the hot women, and its cool story line, but what truly sets this anime apart is the dynamics each of the character have with one another. If you noticed, these characters aren’t newbies at their job, (except for Ed) in fact they had pretty fucked up lives before they met each other and that is what we believe makes them so compelling.

The characters are jaded, somewhat immoral, and are quite dysfunctional as a group yet they find comfort in each other whether they want to admit it or not. We as viewers are also lulled into a comfortable pace as the anime’s episodic nature of the protagonist tackling mission after mission which makes us feel like things could keep going the way they are and we’d still enjoy the show but as the show will eventually let you know, being comfortable and happy with something doesn’t translate into contentment.

Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin

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This shows takes the concept of nakama to a whole other level, as seven young men try to survive their stay in Shounan Special Reform School. These boys are put into hellish conditions (that are graphically portrayed in the anime) by the authorities of the school including sexual abuse and violent acts. They put up with these abuses for the sake of solidarity and to prove that the bonds they build with each other are stronger than anything life can throw at them.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Apart from the iconic jacking off to a comatosed, underaged girl scene (probably the most discussed jizz scene in history), this anime still has loads of mature content that’ll make you go wtf. Others consider NGE the best mecha anime in history while others consider it to be complete garbage, there’s something about NGE that brings about controversy.

NGE tried to be a lot of things, you could probably categorize it as an action-mecha-philosophical-ecchi-drama-comedy-coming-of-age show with some religious undertones thrown in there. At its basics, it’s not just a story of a boy that gets picked by his scientist-father to pilot a robot to defeat giant alien monster but because of its very avant garde choices in storytelling (like really long elevator scenes with nothing really happening and masterful scene cuts that make great use of technology available at the time). it transformed the plot from something honestly generic to something that is still being talked about and is still very relevant to the problems faced by adolescent youth decades later.

Texhnolyze

Probably one of the most effective examples of the idea of show don’t tell. Texhnolyze is a philosophical anime that doesn’t stuff its philosophy down your throat with long-winding monologues.

The story revolves around Ichise, a boxer who got messed up with the wrong kind of people and ends up losing his arm and leg. Ichise is then “saved” by a woman called Doc, who replaces his severed limbs with prosthetics called Texhnolyze. After being released from her care, he finds himself in the middle of a three-way gang fight where different ideologies about technology, politics, and ethics fight to see who will rule over the underground city they’re in.

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It’s a very slow-paced show that’ll turn off most people at the start because it doesn’t really posit anything super interesting at the start because it tries to ease you into the kind of world the anime is set. But after a few episodes is where the anime really makes you uncomfortable by asking (or making you ask yourself) questions like “when will technology go too far?”, “what makes life meaningful?”, “Is there really a god and if there is, why did he make us so powerless?”

This anime digs deep into your skin and disturbs you in all the right ways.

Kaiji: The Ultimate Survivor

This show will make you experience emotional extremes that you’ve never felt for a fictional character before. Kaiji is a big-nosed, gambling addict and is the ultimate underdog. It’s kind of weird to root for an obviously self-destructive person that makes awful decisions because of greed, but that’s exactly what makes the series so great.

It touches on the flaws of humanity so intimately that it makes you question what you would do when you’re put in a position of total despair and hopelessness. It’ll make you appreciate the most mundane things in life like a sip of cold beer after a hard day or a simple thank you from a stranger. It’ll show you how evil and how great human beings can be in the face of adversity.

Cat Soup

We don’t know what is it about Japan that always wants to make cute things disturbing but we like it. Cat Soup is a story about two cat siblings. The cat sister, Nyako is sick and a shadowy/Jizou comes into their house and tries to steal the Nyako’s soul away. The brother cat, Nyatta sees this and pull his sister away from the shadowy figure ripping Nyako’s soul in half. Nyatta puts his sister’s half-soul back into her body and she is revived in a sort of braindead state. They then both get ordered by their mother to buy fried tofu from the shop and their strange adventure starts from there.

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This anime film filled with cute yet graphic violence, scenes of self-cannibalism, and bodily dismemberment. It tackles how death affects the people left behind in a really creative way in how it leaves you traumatized for very different reasons.

Millennium Actress

Widely regarded as Satoshi Kon’s best film (same guy who worked on Perfect Blue, Paranoia Agent, Paprika, and mother fuckin’ Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures) and tied with the unbelievably successful Spirited Away for the grand prize in Japan’s Cultural Affair Media Arts Festival, it baffles us why more people outside of Japan don’t know about this film.

The film is centered around two journalist making a documentary about a legendary retired actress, Chiyoko Fujiwara.The film blurs the lines between the main narrative and the flashbacks of the film Chiyoko is discussing by putting journalist in scenes from Chiyoko’s movies.

The themes of the movie are easily more relatable to people that are older because it’s from a POV of a person that’s has years of experience under her belt but still can’t let go of the times, which she considered the best years of her life.

 

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