Fueled with some really dark films like ‘Interview with the Vampire‘ and ‘The Crow’, the goth culture was starting to take over the west in the 1990s. While in the west it’s associated more with Victorian romance, death and even vampire-themed stories, in Japan, it had a lot to do with a particular character archetype known as the gothic lolita. Gothic, in the world of anime, is not a genre but more of an indicator of style that typically involves themes like darkness, deaths, resurrections, black magic, terror and medieval setups. This ghastly celebration of macabre often attracts a lot of viewers, especially the ones who have a thing for cosplaying. With all that said, here’s the list of top Gothic anime ever made. You can watch several of these best Gothic anime on Crunchyroll, Netflix or Hulu.
10. Le Portrait de Petit Cossette (2004)
‘Le Portrait de Petit Cossette’ is about an art student named Eiri Kurahashi who works at an old antique store that roofs all kinds of weird objects. While working there one day, the image of a girl comes to life right before his eyes and he instantly feels attracted to her. He gets in contact with her the same night and that’s when she reveals that she was murdered and entrapped by another artist named Marcelo Orlando. The only way she can now be free is by convincing another man to take the punishment of Marcello’s sins on his head.
9. Ergo Proxy (2006)
‘Ergo Proxy‘ takes place in an alternative advanced world where humans live with robots known as AutoReivs. But one day, an unknown virus starts to take over these robots and grants them a sense of self-awareness. With this newfound ability, a lot of them go crazy and commit the most brutal murders. When detective Re-l Mayer devotes her entire life to solving the mystery behind the virus, she discovers that all of it leads her to an even bigger conspiracy.
Undeniably, ‘Ergo Proxy‘ has quite an interesting plot that will keep you hooked all the way to the end. But what really gives this anime an edge is its dark washed out background colors that create this sense of tension in the atmosphere. And not to mention, the main character, Re-L, is the perfect embodiment of the goth culture with her pale complexion, heavily dark eyeshadow and all-black clothing.
8. Deadman Wonderland (2011)
Based on a manga written by Jinsei Kataoka and illustrated by Kazuma Kondou, ‘Deadman Wonderland’ is a unique sci-fi horror anime about a prison amusement park. This amusement park makes convicts perform dangerous acts solely for the entertainment of the onlookers. Ganta is a high school student who is supposed to visit this prison for his class field trip. But when his entire class is massacred and he is framed for it, he ends up in the same prison as a convict. In this new dark world of the most gruesome prisoners and deathly games, he must find a way to survive and also find the “Red Man” to eventually get himself out of there.
‘Deadman Wonderland‘ is one of the best shows out there if you’re looking for some pure gory action and weird characters. The concept itself is dark enough to qualify it as a Gothic anime and though it has quite a lot of noticeable flaws, its action scenes are enough to keep you engaged throughout.
7. Berserk (2008-2009)
‘Berserk‘ is one anime that can completely fulfill your bloody, dark, gothic desires. Pretty much everything about this anime is downright disturbing, making it the perfect show for all Goth lovers. It tells the story of a man named Guts whose birth is known as postmortem fetal extrusion. Even the wildest extents of your imagination cannot guess what this is unless you’ve actually seen the anime. But this is nothing compared to what follows. After being born into the world in the worst possible way, Guts still keeps moving forward. But his life is never at peace and his world is constantly haunted by betrayal, sacrificial rituals and the idea of vengeance that is slowly leading him to his own grave. This long-running shounen will take you deep into the most horrifying gothic themes, all of which have been inspired by classic literature.
6. Trinity Blood (2005)
For the most part of it, ‘Trinity Blood’ is lighthearted and unlike most other shows on this list, it never feels extremely dark or oppressive when it shifts its tone. But with its classic architectural backgrounds and vampire-slaying action, it earns its Goth tag. There’s also a constant plague of death that is tied along with its dire characters, making this show perfect for anyone who’s looking for something less disturbing and gory in the Gothic sub-genre.
5. Hellsing Ultimate (2006)
Adapted from a manga written by Kouta Hirano, ‘Hellsing Ultimate‘ follows the adventures of the Hellsing Organisation that is responsible for protecting England against dark supernatural forces. While the characters of this one are similar to that of the classic OVA, ‘Hellsing’, it takes up storylines that were previously left unexplored. The mere involvement of a badass vampire, who has been created by the great Van Hellsing himself, is enough to make this show Gothic. Not to mention, ‘Hellsing Ultimate’ is full of dark colors and violence that may not be suitable for all. But if you consider yourself to be a true Goth, then you’ll definitely enjoy the gorefest that it offers.
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4. Soul Eater (2008-2009)
Produced by Studio Bones, ‘Soul Eater’ has a classic shounen setup that involves some of the most epic fight scenes. It centers around an academy that is run by the Lord of Death himself. His motive is to raise the strongest human hybrids known as Death Scythes and then use them for destroying all the evil in the world. But to become a Death Scythe, a hybrid must consume the soul of 99 evil creatures and one soul of a witch. Soul Eater Evans is one such hybrid who, along with his friends, takes on the mission of killing evil beings and acquiring their souls. This way he not only gets to fulfill his dream of becoming a Death Scythe but also gets to save the lives of innocents from dark forces.
‘Soul Eater‘ is a Gothic series because its entire setup relies on the classic Goth horror culture. The students of the Academy are taught by Frankenstein and their headmaster is a Shinigami. In the first episode itself, Evan ends up eating the soul of Jack the Ripper. The anime also involves several dark mythical creatures such as werewolves, vampires, demons and even witches. What more can you ask from a Gothic anime?
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3. Gosick (2010-2011)
Kazuya Kujou moves to the city of Sauville to join the renowned Saint Marguerite Academy. Being of Japanese origin, from the first day of school itself, Kazuya feels ostracized by all the European students who study there. They even start calling him the “Black Reaper” because of how different he looks. Luckily for him, he later ends up becoming friends with a beautiful girl named Victorique who is obsessed with solving all the ghostly mysteries that surround their town. Soon, even Kazuya joins her and the two set out on an unforgettable Sherlock Holmes-style adventure. ‘Gosick‘ perfectly fits in the Gothic sub-genre with its classic European setup and dark countryside vibe. Apart from that, the show also brings in some supernatural stories that are rooted in the history of classic horror. ‘Gosick’ is simply as perfect as a Gothic anime can ever be.
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2. Black Butler (2008-2009)
Set in Victorian London, ‘Black Butler‘ revolves around Ciel Phantomhive, whose entire family gets murdered. At a sensitive age of just 10, Ceil decides to summon a demon named Sebastian. He sells him his soul and asks for his help in getting revenge from those who have wronged him. Soon, the word about him and his demon Butler spreads all over the country and the two are then hired as the Queen’s protectors. While they still try to unravel the mysteries behind Ceil’s family’s murder, they also get to investigate many sinister incidents that commonly occur in the dark corners of London.
The classic Victorian setup itself is enough to qualify this show for the Gothic subgenre as it’s this time period that first gave birth to classic Gothic literature. The main character’s background is quite grim, and even the present cases that he works on involves the deadliest of monsters and killers. It’s all of these aspects that make it an almost perfect Gothic anime.
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1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009-2010)
For some, ‘Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood‘ is nothing but a mere remake of the original, whereas for others, it’s the greatest anime ever made. It tells the dark tale of two brothers who try to harvest the power of alchemy to revive their dead mother. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned and the two brothers end up paying the price for performing the forbidden act of human transmutation. What follows is the grim adventure of the two who start looking for the philosopher’s stone just to bring their lives back to normal.
If you think about it, Alchemy itself is another theme of gothic lit. The show is actually quite lighthearted but it also explores dark, tragic themes including death and grief. Humans have an undying greed for power and ‘Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood‘ perfectly explores this idea. It is, without a doubt, one of the best Gothic anime out there.
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