Romance has always been one of the most common themes that you can find in any anime series, regardless of what the genre of the series may be. It might be a simple subplot in the greater plot of the anime, but the romantic side almost always finds its way into the storyline of an anime series. And, of course, there are plenty of anime series that are actually about romance more than any other topic or plot.
But while we often look at romance as a happy and lovely thing that can happen to anyone, the world of anime proves that romance isn’t always as bright and shiny as it seems to be. That’s because there can be a dark side to romance, especially when it comes to storylines that are quite dark and psychologically disturbing. Now, with that said, let’s look at the best dark romance anime that will leave you in tears.
20. ‘School Days’ (2007)
MyAnimeList Score: 5.52
One of the most popular romance anime series ever is ‘School Days,’ and it may even be popular for the wrong reasons. That’s because not much romance anime can get as dark as this incredibly insane anime. And it’s the ending that actually takes the cake in terms of how shockingly dark it is.
The story follows a trio of high school students who are still just trying to navigate their way through their teenage years. There is a clear love triangle going on in this trio, and it slowly became clear that it wouldn’t end on a good note. Stay for the ending if you want to see just how dark it can be.
19. ‘Domestic Girlfriend’ (2019)
MyAnimeList Score: 6.67
‘Domestic Girlfriend’ is actually an enjoyable series that’s full of emotion, even though not everyone is a fan of the elements of incest that are present in this anime. Of course, the dark side of the anime is not only the incest part but also the fact that emotions are heavily repressed in a series that is basically the personification of forbidden romance.
The story follows a high school guy who is in love with his teacher but feels hopeless about his feelings for her. Meanwhile, after school, he hooks up with a girl from another school and has sex with her. Later, he found out that the woman that her father wanted to marry was actually the mother of his teacher and the girl he had sex with, as it became a complicated situation in their home. His feelings for his teacher are still present, but things are tense between him and his younger sister.
18. ‘Devils Line’ (2018)
MyAnimeList Score: 6.83
We can never get enough of the forbidden romance between a vampire and a human, as that is what’ Devil’s Line’ is all about. In that regard, the plot is already made clear in the relationship between the main characters of this anime.
‘Devil’s Line’ follows the story of a human and a vampire as the vampire is trying to control his urges because of the fact that emotions are the trigger for vampires to lust for blood. As such, the dark romance plot is clear between the forbidden romance interplay between the main characters of ‘Devil’s Line’.
17. ‘Vampire Knight’ (2008)
MyAnimeList Score: 6.87
This is the final vampire romance storyline on this list, as ‘Vampire Knight’ makes its plot quite obvious with the title. Of course, this storyline is full of action but is more of a romantic series that focuses more on the dramatic side.
In that regard, there are a lot of dark elements in this school-based vampire-focused story as we get to see how it tackles different themes like incest and taboo. It is as dark as it can get, although not entirely too bloody or gory for some people who probably don’t enjoy that kind of stuff.
16. ‘Myself; Yourself’ (2007)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.12
If you’re into an anime series that can be quite dramatic, then ‘Myself; Yourself’ is a good title to follow, as there are plenty of dramatic scenes that you will surely enjoy. However, the dark aspect of this anime can be a little bit too close to home as it is quite relatable to many people.
‘Myself; Yourself’ follows the story of a high school student who goes back to his hometown five years after leaving for Tokyo. However, the friends that he left behind five years ago were no longer the same people as they now hide deep secrets that could shatter the bond that they once had. That is where the dark aspect of the series comes into play.
15 ‘Scum’s Wish’ (2017)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.13
‘Scum’s Wish’ is an anime series that is closer to real life than almost any other title on this list. The darkness of this anime series lies in how selfish, to the core, each character is and how they are merely willingly using each other for their own benefit. In that regard, it is a very different story that can also be quite complicated.
The story follows Hanabi, who is in love with her neighbor and is excited about the fact that he has become her new homeroom teacher. However, she is heartbroken when he falls in love with another teacher, who happens to be someone that Mugi admires deeply. In that regard, both Hanabi and Mugi find romantic and sexual comfort in each other as they try to find sense in their feelings for the ones that they actually love.
14. ‘Darling in the Franxx’ (2018)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.20
When you look at ‘Darling in the Franxx,’ it seems to be a mecha anime. However, the truth is that it is more of a slice-of-life anime that’s set against the backdrop of a dystopian world where children are being forced to fight inside mechanized robot suits against gigantic monstrous creatures.
Normally, this may not seem like a very dark series because of how romantic and heartwarming it can be. But the dark part of the storyline comes in how domineering Zero Two is as a girlfriend and how seemingly unadjusted Hiro is to her domineering nature. Overall, it is a great story that allows you to see the interplay of relationships between different characters.
13. ‘Mysterious Girlfriend X’ (2012)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.24
While we may look at darker romances here, ‘Mysterious Girlfriend X’ isn’t that dark. But the thing about it is that it is quite realistic in the sense that the things that happen between the characters in their romantic story are grounded in realism. And if you’ve ever been in any kind of romantic relationship, you would know that love has dark sides.
‘Mysterious Girlfriend X‘ follows the story follows the interplay between the main character and his mysterious and odd girlfriend as he jumps from one emotion to another, all while his girlfriend is undergoing a personal transformation on her own.
12. ‘Sankarea’ (2012)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.28
‘Sankarea’ is a wild anime series that follows a unique storyline that can also be somewhat dark. There are some hints of horror in this, but it is more of a rom-com anime due to how silly yet entertaining the plot is.
The series follows the story of a human guy who accidentally brings a girl back to life when she is trying to kill herself. As such, she becomes a zombie but falls in love with the guy who saved her. So, the dark interplay here comes in the fact that the girl is trying to prevent herself from eating him while the guy is looking for a way to prevent her decomposition.
11. ‘Kemonozume’ (2006)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.35
Nothing is darker than a romantic series that follows the same concept of Romeo and Juliet but takes on a more monstrous twist. Of course, the storyline can be quite obvious, and you would see how dark it actually is when you understand what the plot is on its face.
‘Kemonozume’ follows the story of a monster hunter who ends up falling in love with a flesh-eating monster. Of course, this is taboo in a world where monster hunters are supposed to kill monsters and where monsters are supposed to kill humans. And that is where the dark aspect comes into play, as the dynamic between the two characters can be somewhat awkward.
10. ‘Future Diary’ (2011 – 2012)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.41
While it isn’t a romantic anime, ‘Future Diary’ has a good blend of romance, horror, and action in a storyline that encompasses different timelines and follows a fantasy plot that can be somewhat heavy for others to follow. However, plenty of things make this series a dark romance anime, especially when you look at how crazy the female lead is.
The series follows the story of the main character, who is chosen to participate in a contest to determine who will become the next god. In that regard, the protagonist finds himself having a cellphone that is capable of telling the future and realizes that other people also have similar capabilities. And what makes it dark is that the female lead is so obsessed with him to the point that she becomes quite terrifying.
9. ‘Another’ (2012)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.48
The truth is that ‘Another’ is actually an anime series that takes its cue from the popular Final Destination movies that many of you may be familiar with. ‘Another’ confession here is that the romance aspect is only something hinted at and not openly admitted. Still, the main characters clearly care for one another.
‘Another’ follows the story of a boy who ends up enrolling in a class that harbors a dark secret. It is actually a cursed class in that the students are supposed to die one by one unless they deliberately treat one of their own as someone who doesn’t exist. However, the boy didn’t know about the secret, so he broke the countermeasure for the curse when he outrightly tried to befriend this mysterious girl. That is when all hell breaks loose as the students die individually.
8. ‘Elfen Lied’ (2004)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.48
This show is as gruesome as it gets, as ‘Elfen Lied’ is known to be one of the most notorious anime series of the 2000s for how brutal it can be. There is a lot of violence in this series, and all of the violent and shocking scenes are connected to the very nature of what it is about. However, there is also a romantic side to it, as we see the feelings developing between the characters.
The romance side in ‘Elfen Lied’ isn’t quite as focused as the other titles on this list, but you’re in for a treat if you want to watch a brutal, dark, and violent series full of blood and flying body parts.
7. ‘Blood+’ (2005 – 2006)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.62
When it comes to black romance, a vampire-oriented storyline usually fits the bill because the taboo topic is often at the center of the storyline. That is exactly why ‘Blood+’ is on this list, as this is a vampire-themed anime that has a few elements of a dark romance.
‘Blood+’ follows the story of a girl who has forgotten a good chunk of her past. However, one night, she gets attacked by a creature that feeds on blood, and here comes a man who saves her. The mysterious man makes her drink her blood so that she will survive, and this leads to a transformation that allows the girl to gain enough power to slay these monsters. In that regard, the series follows the journey of these two characters as they slay hellish creatures while trying to find out more about the character’s past life.
6. ‘The Flowers of Evil’ (2013)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.64
‘The Flowers of Evil ‘is an anime series that can be really difficult to watch because of how somewhat weird its animation is despite it getting an animated version during a time when animation had already become quite modern. Nevertheless, the animation of this series actually fits well with the dark and gloomy themes that come with its equally dark and gloomy storyline.
This series follows a high school student that is borderline obsessed with poetry and with the author of ‘The Flowers of Evil’ poetry book. However, he left his copy of the book back at school, and that was what prompted him to go back and get it. While he does retrieve his book, he ends up stealing the sports garment of a model student that he admires. But the problem is that one of his classmates, a social outcast, knows about it and blackmails him into partaking in her disturbing fantasies.
5. ‘Golden Time’ (2013 – 2014)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.74
Normally, ‘Golden Time’ isn’t about dark themes, but there is still a dark aspect in this popular romance anime. It will make sense as you go along with the storyline, but it might not be something that all people will catch on to quickly. But the fact is that this anime series can be quite sad to a degree.
‘Golden Time’ follows the story of a young man who falls in love with a strong-willed rich girl after attending college in Tokyo. However, the catch is that he is an amnesiac who doesn’t remember everything that happened before the accident that caused him to lose his memories. The worst part is that his old self is on the outside looking in as he is observing him living the life that should have always been his.
4. ‘Dusk Maiden of Amnesia’ (2012)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.82
The title itself already gives away the dark themes behind this anime series. Of course, it really is dark when you look at how it was able to portray the relationship between a guy who hangs out and is being flirted with by a ghost. And that is where the dark romance comes into play.
As mentioned, ‘Dusk Maiden of Amnesia’ follows the story of the relationship between a young man and a ghost that has been flirting with him. It can be dark, but it can also be very deep, especially when you get to the point where the dark past of the girl becomes apparent.
3. ‘From the New World’ (2012 – 2013)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.28
In ‘From the New World,’ the type of romance you get to see is somewhat similar to what is often presented in real life. Of course, as we have established, some anime series only includes the romance aspect as a subplot, and that is similar to From the New World. However, the romance aspect here is an important theme despite the fact that it isn’t entirely important.
‘From the New World’ follows the story of a small group of kids that start to develop complex feelings for one another. The world seems to be innocent while they are still children. However, the romantic aspect of the storyline and the entire world around them turns darker as they age. And that is where the dark aspect of the storyline can be found.
2. ‘Welcome to the NHK’ (2006)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.31
‘Welcome to the NHK’ is an anime series that doesn’t really focus on the romantic side of the story, but romance is still a key part of this popular title. The dark part of the romance comes when you realize that a seemingly innocent relationship has become entirely messed up. Of course, the entire anime series itself is kind of messed up and problematic as well.
The story of ‘Welcome to the NHK’ follows an isolated young man who believes in a conspiracy theory about a secret organization that has been spreading this culture of isolation. In that regard, it is a psychological comedy-drama series that allows you to step into the protagonist’s shoes and how he is forced to confront his greatest fear, which is society itself.
1. ‘Nana’ (2006 – 2007)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.54
‘Nana’ is actually a story that focuses on two women with the same name as they leave their own respective hometowns to try to find new beginnings. Of course, romance is one of the main themes surrounding this storyline of two different women with different backgrounds in life.
The thing about this story is that it isn’t technically that dark, but it allows you to see a microcosm of the same kind of unhappiness that people in real life feel because the characters in Nana feel unhappy and miserable with their own lives. The thing is that they often make the same kind of mistakes that real-life people make when choosing routes that they believe are best for them and their romantic lives.
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