Don’t let the bubbly characters and flowery names fool you, these shows are straight-up devastating.
Anime, as a medium, contains multitudes. It can deliver anything from slice-of-life to romance to straight-up horror and everything in between. But one of its biggest strengths is its ability to take those genres and ideas and mash them together into new and unexpected combinations. We see this all the time, even in the mainstream–sports-focused shows will blend in elements of big Shonen-style fights and power battles, romance stories will pull in supernatural or sci-fi elements, just about everything under the sun can be turned into an Isekai story where a protagonist gets sent into a different world or universe.
But one of the most under-appreciated genre-blends in anime has to be the “cute-but-horrific” combo. Broadly speaking, anime is understood to be home to some of the cutest and most cuddly characters around, and with its penchant for stylization and colorful costumes, it’s not difficult to see where that reputation came from–and these are stories that use those assumptions to their advantage to deliver maximum shock and awe. We’ve collected 11 shows that lure you in with adorable characters, bubbly protagonists, and happy-sounding titles and then bring the pain.
Some of these shows may be perfect for Halloween viewing, while others may be best suited for when you’re in the right mind to shoulder some major existential dread. They range from serial killers and tragic magical girls to full-on blood-soaked explorations of loneliness and suicide, so consider this your warning moving forward!
And in the meantime, head over to Hulu for all the latest streaming anime, like Chainsaw Man and Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War. Or, if you’d rather spend you time on an anime-specific streaming platform, check out Funimation!