You know how you think you know a person, and then suddenly you follow them to a shady night club an realize you actually know nothing about them at all? Anime can be like that too. Far too often an anime series starts off light-hearted and super cute, and then someone gets hit by a car or beaten to death with a bat and everything kind of changes.
They’re the kind of shows that break your tiny trust to the point where you start watching innocent shows like Non Non Biyori or Minami-Ke and expect things to, at some point, turn horrible. They are terrible, and scarring, and gruesome, but so very awesome that they leave you wanting more. They leave your mind twisted and crying in a corner, but completely addicted and looking for that next fix.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica’
Madoka Magica looks so god-damned moe that you may have put off watching it for years. You don’t need more brightly colored girls being cute in your life. That’s how waifus get jealous. Regardless, when you finally get around to it, everything seems normal. They get their powers from a super cute cat-bunny creature and Akemi looks like the villain for trying to hurt it. Then they go on a hunt to kill some evil witches. It is going to be so adorable watching them go bop some baddies on the head with their little heart wands until…
Oh. Okay then.
If you don’t look close enough at the anime poster, i.e. see the ruined school building behind the characters, you can easily think School Live! is yet another slice of life anime set in school. Of course, as you watch the first episode, you will continue thinking that. It is actually pretty ingenious of the animators when you realize what was actually going on. Especially since what you are seeing is the main character’s delusions since she can’t handle the reality of her actual setting in the zombie apocalypse.
By all rights School Days should have been a touching romance. It’s all shy stares and secret loves at first then it goes downhill into man sluttiness, nice boats, and cutting open wombs to check for babies. It goes downhill at a pretty steady clip too, which is generally why many fans hate School Days. Yet, in reality, it was a great way to parody the romance genre and scar its fans at the same time. That’s what you get for believing in love, hopeful fools.
Higurashi: When They Cry
In Higurashi, it is kind of hinted that things are going to go a bit sideways when you have to listen to the meaty slapping sound of a baseball bat on flesh during the first few minutes, but still, it makes it no less jarring. You watch the main characters go to school and play games while an eerie mystery is built up. Suddenly you are watching a girl just barely older than a baby stab her neck into a knife. Not stab a knife into her neck, stab her neck into a knife.
So far Higurashi is the only anime to ever give me nightmares.
Shadow Star Narutaru
Shadow Star Narutaru is about a 12-year-old girl that goes to visit her grandparents and meets a starfish-esque “dragon” that she becomes friends with. She then goes home and proceeds to have battles with other kids that have these “dragons”. However, instead of a Pokemon-type romp, the series gets pretty dark, especially if you venture deeper in the manga. However, the graphic gore and sexual violence of young kids is kind of par for the course considering Narutaru was made by the same mangaka that wrote Bokurano.
Shiki is kind of like a piece of classical music. It starts off light and with events that seem of no consequence. You know, a dead person here, and accident there, but no one really important. Then it just builds and builds, right up to the climax in which huge, catastrophic events are just happening one after another. It seems something like a murder mystery at first, but by the time you put an end to it, there is no question to its spot in the supernatural genre.
Now and Then, Here and There
You’d be forgiven in thinking that, at a glance, Now and Then, Here and There was just another shounen adventure series. However, not unlike the movie Bridge to Terabithia, your light-heart child adventure is going to hurt your heart in the end. It is one of those shows that you finish up and just sort of sit there reflecting on and wondering how to went from being like the beginning of Naruto all the way to Grave of the Fireflies.
Nothing says “how the hell did we get here?” than watching child soldiers cart off young girls for future breeding.